A Thrilling Barbara Stanwyck Double Feature

Barbara Stanwyck

Studio portrait of American actor Barbara Stanwyck (1907 – 1990) leaning forward on an ottoman and wearing a fur coat and diamond necklace,1949. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

One of my favorite film actresses of all time is the inimitable Barbara Stanwyck. If you’re not a classic movie buff like I am, you may not remember that she was once more than just a television star. TV audiences likely recognize her for playing iconic roles like Constance Colby Patterson in The Colbys (a spinoff from the 1980s hit Dynasty with Joan Collins) and Victoria Barkley in the 1960s western series The Big Valley (with Linda Evans). But before she turned to television, Stanwyck led a very successful career as a movie star and was nominated for the Oscar four times.

Today, as 2012 drew to a close, Heather was sick and in between tending to her needs and catching up on a bit of reading, I sat down for a Barbara Stanwyck double feature on Netflix. Both films were classic suspense tales, which is undoubtedly my favorite kind of movie. Although I’d seen Stanwyck in other thrilling tales like Lady of Burlesque (1943) and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) with Burt Lancaster, this was the first time I’d had the chance watch Witness to Murder (1954) and No Man of Her Own (1950). So I was in for a treat!

In Witness to Murder, Stanwyck plays Cheryl Draper, a woman whose sanity comes into question when she thinks she sees her neighbor, writer Albert Richter (played by George Sanders), strangle a woman in his apartment. Sanders plays Richter with understated relish in this game of cat and mouse, all the way until the heartstopping climax.

In a performance that is equally gripping, Stanwyck plays Helen Ferguson, a woman penniless and pregnant who is dumped by her boyfriend in No Man of Her Own. Rejected, Ferguson boards a train and heads for home. On her journey, she meets a kind couple who is also about to have their first child. But before they arrive at their destination, a horrible accident leads to a case of mistaken identity, blackmail and murder. Caught in a tangled web of deception and violence, will Helen escape her past and find happiness?

If you have a Netflix subscription, do yourself a favor and add these breathtaking films to your streaming queue. They’re unforgettable classics that you won’t want to miss.

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About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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