Movie Reviews

DVD Review: “Barbara Stanwyck: The Signature Collection”

(Warner Home Video. 2007. 5 Discs. Not Rated. Full screen.) Annie Oakley (1935, directed by George Stevens), My Reputation (1946, Curtis Bernhardt), East Side, West Side (1949, Mervyn LeRoy), To Please a Lady (1950, Clarence Brown), Jeopardy (1953, John Sturges), Executive Suite (1954, Robert Wise).

Uneven collection from Stanwyck’s heyday, released to commemorate her 100th birthday: one early effort from her RKO years (Oakley), and five melodramas from her MGM and Warner’s period. Reputation is mid-40s Warners from top to bottom, with Babs playing opposite Bette Davis’ longtime co-star, George Brent; even Max Steiner is on hand. But the story, about a young widow keeping company with an Army major, plays like something Bette – or even Stanwyck – would have done 10 years earlier. Best of the lot is MGM’s East Side with the velvet-voiced James Mason as Babs’ philandering husband; his drug is the stunning Ava Gardner, at least until she turns up dead. Reliable Van Heflin brings up the rear, and Cyd Charisse is also around to remind us again that as an actress, she’s a great dancer. Extras include period shorts and cartoons. Handsome box set (the movies look great), but lacking Stanwyck’s best work, like Double Indemnity, Stella Dallas, Ball of Fire, etc.