Barbara Stanwyck

All posts tagged Barbara Stanwyck

Va-Va-Villainess: Leslie Brooks

Published November 21, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

“It’s called tonight…or never!” –  Miss Medwick (Leslie Brooks), Romance on the High Seas.

Crisp and cool, the glorious Leslie Brooks always shot from the hip, especially in 1948, the year that marked her most notorious cinematic undertaking. As the gleefully immoral Claire Cummings Hanneman in Blonde Ice, she calmly manipulates her way through a trio of beaus…including one who winds up dead and another who she frames for his murder. Coming on like a lethal version of Barbara Stanwyck’s fabulously Pre-Code Baby Face, Brooks is unforgettably malevolent here, creating an iconic B-Movie noir monster.

That same year in Romance on the High Seas, a much frothier, big budget Warner Brothers musical, she is less destructive. Still, as Miss Medwick, she makes an obvious play for her married boss, using a seductive tone and an arched eyebrow (or two) to try to sway him into her arms. Capitulating to his devotion to his wife, she eventually becomes a model employee. Thus, in her final scenes, Brooks radiates with a strong efficiency and warmth.

Despite those qualities, seemingly due to a disastrous divorce and vicious custody battle for her daughter that same year, Brooks soon disappeared from the screen. But her work as a worthy femme fatale will never be forgotten.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Va-Va-Villainess: Mabel Albertson

Published August 22, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Mabel GlamourBest known for portraying the (occasionally) disapproving mother-in-law of Samantha on the classic supernatural comedy Bewitched, the distinguished Mabel Albertson made many other appearances on the stage and in film, often playing the matriarchal figurehead to the characters that each specific project focused upon.

In one earlier assignment, Albertson showed she could amp up the dramatic proceedings with a true sense of overbearing vengefulness. Playing out all the destructive impulses of Mrs. Conway, the commanding mother of Julie Adams’ hopeful starlet in the glossy 1957 Universal Pictures’ melodrama Four Girls in Town, this well-traveled performer brings a crushing weight to her fictional actions. Thus, this character’s overpowering persona almost destroys her daughter’s chance at true happiness and, often swiftly and subtly, Albertson makes her poisonous mark truly felt here. Mabel Four Girls in Town

Considering that almost everyone has dealt with the stinging pressure of a mentor or family member, Mrs. Conway emerges as a creature whose supposedly concerned and supportive sense of evil is just as great as any of the grander schemes provided by such notorious creatures as Lady Macbeth or Julia Cotton…a testament to the honest power of Mabel Albertson’s skilled work.

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Horror Hall of Fame:

Among her many other credits, this grand dame of expressiveness appeared on a popular episode of The Munsters and co-starred with the iconic Barbara Stanwyck in 1970’s The House That Wouldn’t Die, an early example of the made for television horror movie.

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Mabel House

Albertson reacts to the horrors of The House That Wouldn’t Die!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Theresa Harris

Published June 15, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

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Theresa Harris should reside fondly in the hearts of those who adore classic horror. After making bright appearances in two moody terror fests from legendary producer Val Lewton, Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie, she went on to appear on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and in such noir-flecked extravaganzas as The File on Thelma Jordan.

Unfortunately, prejudice kept her from ascending to the cinematic heights that she deserved. But those in the know recognize her as a true triple threat – a fine actress, dancer and singer!

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Theresa I Walked With A Zombie

Unsung Heroines of Horror: Theresa Harris

Published June 12, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

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Creating as much captivating celluloid magic as Barbara Stanwyck in the 1933 Pre-Code classic Baby Face, actress Theresa Harris would surely have had a much bigger career if she had been born in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and talented Harris, akin to such filmic contemporaries as Nina Mae McKinney and Louise Beavers, often found herself playing maids and other unglorified subservient types for the thirty years that encompassed the entirety of her career.

Theresa ZombieNicely, two of the over 100 credits that distinguish her creative output include Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie. These Val Lewton masterpieces did cast Harris as a happy-go-lucky waitress and a loyal maid…typical, prejudiced fare. But she fills Zombie’s Alma with a sense of beauty and strength even when the character confides her love of domestic duties to the film’s heroine. Harris’ matter of fact essence gives the role a seriousness and sense of class, thankfully eradicating any comic qualities or unceremoniously stereotypical gestures. Theresa Cat

Minnie, the all-night café goddess of Cat People, meanwhile comes off as a friendly companion to the film’s leads when they visit her place of work. With the help of director Jacques Tourneur, Harris brings a sense of humor and equality to her exchanges with her co-stars. In fact, the pure wattage of her star power almost completely eradicates them from the proceedings, making one long for a redo wherein the roles she was given actually reflected the gloriousness of her too often overlooked personality.

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0365382/bio

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: K.T. Stevens

Published September 27, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Sometimes heroines of horror are unsung simply because they don’t have any true horror projects to their credit. Take the unforgettable K. T. Stevens for example. While she doesn’t have a Frankenstein or Dracula on her resume, she did play Vanessa Prentiss on The Young and the Restless for years. Her face hidden behind magnificent veils due to traumatic scarring, this character was one of the more gothic villainesses of the classic early ‘80s of soapdom. The perfect amalgamation of one dark stormy night theatrics, Vanessa made life a living nightmare for Laurie, the soap’s most prominent anti-heroine. In fact, upon learning that she was terminally ill, Prentiss staged a fight with her rival and then threw herself off the balcony of her apartment building. This assured that Laurie would be charged with her murder, a final revenge as surely psychotic as anything that Peter Lorre cooked up in Mad Love. KT 3

Starting out as a juvenile lead opposite Barbara Stanwyck in The Great Man’s Lady, Stevens enjoyed a fairly distinguished career including noir adventures (Port of New York) and guest shots on classic television shows (I Love Lucy, The Big Valley). She even took a shot gun blast to the chest as a supporting player in the T & A thriller They’re Playing with Fire.

Graced with a layered yet formidable presence, she was also a favorite of the producers of Thriller; the Boris Karloff hosted anthology series that always dealt with matters of the macabre. Stevens’ episodes were more criminal minds in nature than exercises in terror, but she got to show some range. She was the Capri pants wearing, con minded other woman in a first season episode entitled The Merriweather File. The second season’s Kill My Love found her calmly enacting calculated patrician control as the wealthy Olive Guthrie. Even though Guthrie is ultimately the victim here, her chilling use of subtle silence lingers long after the episode ends.

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The eclectic professionalism of Stevens, who passed away at the age of 74 in 1994, should come as no surprise, though. Her father was director Sam Wood (A Night at the Opera, King’s Row) and she made her debut at the age of two in one of his silent features with (child prodigy) Jackie Coogan, later Uncle Fester in the original The Addams Family.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Barbara Stanwyck

Published September 8, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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One of the most distinctive and skilled of the golden age performers, Barbara Stanwyck excelled in dramas (Stella Dallas, My Reputation), gritty noir classics (Double Indemnity, The File on Thelma Jordan) and comedy (Ball of Fire, Christmas in Connecticut). Several of the films that she embraced with her throaty presence in the ‘40s and ‘50s, including the tautly melodramatic Two Mrs. Carrolls and the chilling Sorry, Wrong Number, also featured significant elements of the horror canon.

Nicely, she fully embraced the genre in such latter day projects as William Castle’s The Night Walker and ‘70s television films like A Touch of Evil and The House That Would Not Die (above).

As with many silver screen damsels with numerous credits, a percentage of her saucy, hardened characters sang. Occasionally, she was dubbed by more skilled vocalists. But with projects such as the fun and frisky Lady of Burlesque, her own whisky tones were allowed to sell the tune.

Nicely, https://www.barbara-stanwyck.com/, a fan created site, plays eternal homage to this one of a kind icon and golden throat nominee.

Lady of burlesque

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Horror, She Wrote: Sandahl Bergman and Sally Kellerman

Published November 20, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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Horror, She Wrote explores the episodes of the ever-popular detective series Murder, She Wrote, featuring Angela Lansbury’s unstoppable Jessica Fletcher, that were highlighted by performances from genre film actors.

Oh, creativity – that ever elusive muse. Even Angela Lansbury’s ever resilient mystery writer Jessica Fletcher must have sipped from an ever emptying cup of ideas every once in awhile!

But, in The Petrified Florist, a fun Season 9 episode of the redoubtable series, Fletcher lets the dizzying participants of a Los Angeles dinner party serve as inspiration for her latest unexpected thriller. Jet lagged, this well loved character falls into a dream-tale involving the murder of a flamboyant botanic renegade. Soon, Wizard of Oz style, her friends and acquaintances are given flowery motivations and all are, eventually, blooming with suspicious activity. Horror 4

The guest cast, this time, features Sandahl Bergman and Sally Kellerman, two distinguished performers who sidelined in plenty of exploitation fare. Bergman, whose involvement with Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz highlighted her beauty and grace, went on to be acknowledged as a foremost action star due to her participation in Conan the Barbarian and the fun Hell Comes to Frogtown. Her elastic physicality and forceful presence also lent much to her appearances on such shows as Swamp Thing and Freddy’s Nightmares and in such glorious cable and video store treasure as Programmed to Kill and the thriller Raw Nerve (featuring the legendary Glenn Ford and the iconic Traci Lords). Kellerman’s clipped and emphatic delivery, meanwhile, imbued such comedies as MASH, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers and Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins with silken archness. But her sly mannerisms made her perfect for the mysterious activity and outright villainy of such 90s exploitation efforts as Doppelganger (with Drew Barrymore), Mirror Mirror II: Raven Dance (with Roddy McDowall) and Drop Dead Gorgeous (AKA Victim of Beauty).

Horror 3She plays into that acidic type with Junie Cobb, her impervious gossip maven here. As her character is threatened with the reveal of an affair, Kellerman double crosses and denies like she has just been outfitted with a pair of Barbara Stanwyck heels, proving, once and for all, that nobody should mess with a blonde with experience!

Bergman is allowed to have fun here, as well. Honing in on title’s none too so subtle take on the famous play (made movie) The Petrified Forest, she supplies what is most enjoyably theatrical about this episode. As Daisy Kenny, a police officer with dreams of a show business career, Bergman is eager and enthusiastic, showing her versatility as a performer. Self assured but far from the snarly kick-asses of her action pieces, this veteran performer shows she has a way with comedy – and the collar. Disguising herself as a blackmailing maid, Daisy helps Fletcher finally catch the backtracking Kellerman and proves that the character’s upcoming take on Miss Jean Brodie would be something that no true fan would ever want to miss.

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Ava Gardner’s Real Life Scare!

Published August 18, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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The timelessly gorgeous Ava Gardner may have sold Christina Raines’ character a hellish bit of goods in 1977’s creepy spectacle The Sentinel, but she must have felt some real fear, herself, on the set of 1949’s melodramatic noir East Side, West Side.

In a case of art imitating life, Gardner’s Isabel Lorrison seduces James Mason’s randy Brandon Bourne, the husband of Jessie Bourne, played by eternal movie goddess Barbara Stanwyck. According to Lee Server’s biography of Gardner, Love is Nothing, shortly before filming began, Gardner had an affair with Stanwyck’s actor husband, Robert Taylor. The still furious Stanwyck refused to even be introduced to Gardner, surely giving their characters’ confrontation scene in the film a very special edge.Ava 1

Even though their affair was long over, the suspicious Stanwyck, whose own terror efforts include The Night Walker (made with Taylor in 1964) and two 70s television films, even had her husband trailed, in the years to come, whenever Gardner seemed to be lurking near.

Meanwhile, Stanwyck and Gardner’s one filmic collaboration was a solid one with inspiring performances from everyone from Gale Sondergaard to future White House doyenne Nancy Davis. Blonde 50s noir babe Beverly Michaels especially resonates here as a powerfully antagonist rival to Gardner’s greedy bombshell.
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To keep track of an upcoming book of Gardner’s cinematic contributions, be sure to check out https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ava-Gardner-A-Life-in-Movies.

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