Oscar Actors: Stanwyck, Barbara–Career Shape

Barbara Stanwyck, a four-time Oscar nominee (all in the lead category), is considered one of the most versatile and professional actresses in Hollywood’s history.

A screen actress of wide range, commanding force, and strong personality, she was appealing and photogenic but never beautiful in the conventional sense of the term.  Stanwyck  reached the climax of her career in the early 1940s, with such films as Meet John Doe, Ball of Fire, The Lady Eve, and Double Indemnity.

She made a strong mark on various genres (melodramas, comedies), but especially in film noir, appearing in pictures directed by such masters as Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, Robert Siodmak, and Anthony Mann.

The great critic Andrew Sarris has observed that Stanwyck was of blue-collar origins, literally rising from the streets of Brooklyn with savvy and spiritual grandeur way above her social class.

Blessed with the facility of delivering quick and witty comedy, she excelled in such bright, dialogue driven comedies as Remember the Night (1940), Ball of Fire (1941), and The Lady Eve (also 1941), in each film initiating a sexually charged relationships with timid and shy, often repressed males (such as Henry Fonda), and carried her specialty to an extreme in Wilder’s Double Indemnity, in which she played a shady and heartless siren opposite the passive and easily manipulated Fred MacMurray.