Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 1, 2012



There are three outstanding episodes in volume 2 of The Barbara Stanwyck Show, but the rest are catch as catch can. Kent Smith, Robert Emhardt and John McGiver guest-star in "The Golden Acres," about a manipulative woman who lost out on love and now just wants cash. "Adventure on Happiness Street" has Stanwyck again playing Josephine Little in Hong Kong, a downbeat story of a doctor (Lew Ayres) who needs drugs for his free clinic and makes the mistake of dealing with Robert Culp. "High Tension," very well-directed by Robert Florey, is an excellent suspenser in which Barbara plays a woman returning a deaf adopted child to the orphanage when the bus they are on hits high-tension wires trapping everyone but the child aboard. [This is an especially ironic episode considering Stanwyck herself adopted a son and it didn't work out too well.] As usual, Stanwyck gives excellent performances in these, although she's miscast and somewhat weak in a black comedy called "Assassin." She appears in every episode except "Big Jake," which stars Andy Devine. A couple of episodes are nearly unwatchable, but other episodes that are entertaining include "Frightened Doll," in which Babs runs off with mob money, and "The Hitch-Hiker," in which she plays a lady lawyer married to Joseph Cotten. Other guest stars include Dana Andrews, Peter Falk, Joan Blondell, and Robert Horton. Sometimes the show is introduced as The Barbara Stanwyck Theatre and Babs herself always calls it "your gas company playhouse." Jacques Tourneur directed most of the episodes.NOTE: Click here to read a review of Volume One.

Verdict: It's always fun to watch Stanwyck. ***.

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