Thursday, February 23, 2012
THE BARBARA STANWYCK SHOW VOLUME 1
When she was 53, Barbara Stanwyck did one season of a half hour anthology show in which she starred in most of the compelling mini-dramas. The show was a class production, with a nice dramatic theme and a moderately expensive look. While there were a few mediocre episodes, in general the stories were good and some could have been expanded into feature-length. Among the more memorable were: "The Miraculous Journey of Tadpole Chan," in which Babs is a woman in Hong Kong who helps a little boy get to the United States;"The Secret of Mrs. Randall," in which Stanwyck is a widow in a war with her mother-in-law [a superb Doris Packer] over an ex-con who may have stolen a payroll; "Size 10," in which she plays the head of a fashion house who has to question her loyalties when one of her top designs is stolen; "Big Career," in which she is a businesswoman with a philandering husband and a disapproving mother-in-law [Elizabeth Patterson, "Mrs. Trumble" of I Love Lucy, in an excellent turn]; and "Confession," in which she's teamed romantically with -- of all people -- Lee Marvin as a lawyer who helps her get even with her jealous husband. Guest-stars on the show included everyone from Yvette Vickers to Ralph Bellamy to Anna May Wong to Gene Raymond. An excellent actress, Stanwyck is outstanding in virtually every episode aside from "Shock," in which she plays a mother who is traumatized by the death of her little daughter. She doesn't quite get a grip on the more dramatic moments, a very rare occurrence for this gifted woman.
Verdict: Good classic television. ***.