10 Greatest Films of Barbara Stanwyck

  1. 10.
    Roustabout (1964) - Okay, yes there are better films that could have filled this slot, but I'm too big of an Elvis fan to not pick Roustabout. Barbara Stanwyck plays Maggie, the owner of a struggling carnival that is aided when a young singer shows up to entertain.
  2. 9.
    Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) - Barbara received her fourth Academy Award nomination for playing a bedridden woman that overhears a murder plot on a telephone crossed line. The film is told largely through flashbacks alternating with Barbara's character becoming more and more hysterical as she starts to put the puzzle together.
  3. 8.
    The Miracle Woman (1931) - Frank Capra directed Stanwyck as a charismatic evangelist making money from fake revival meetings, that has a crisis of faith. The character was inspired by the true story of Aimee Semple McPherson.
  4. 7.
    There’s Always Tomorrow (1956) - Douglas Sirk directs this, the fourth and final collaboration between Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. MacMurray plays a married man with three kids. He is in a rut and when he runs into an attractive former employee, he falls for her. She finds herself having to decide whether to tear a family apart.
  5. 6.
    Baby Face (1933) - In this Pre-Code film, Barbara plays a young woman that uses her sexuality to advance her fortunes. The film isn't subtle - there's no way it could have been made in the 1940s-1950s. A 26 year-old John Wayne plays one of her lovers. The Amazon digital version is remarkably sharp. It looks like it was filmed today.
  6. 5.
    The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) - this film noir tale of obsession and murder is noted for being the film debut of Kirk Douglas.
  7. 4.
    Ball of Fire (1941) - A screwball comedy take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, except Snow White (Barbara Stanwyck) is a nightclub performer and the dwarfs are university professors (one of whom is played by Gary Cooper). Stanwyck received her second Oscar nomination for this film.
  8. 3.
    Stella Dallas (1937) - Stanwyck received her first Oscar nomination playing a factory girl that marries upwards but can never fit into that society. She and her executive husband have a daughter but are estranged. Stella must sacrifice her own happiness for the welfare of her daughter.
  9. 2.
    The Lady Eve (1941) - This screwball comedy, written and directed by Preston Sturges has Barbara Stanwyck wiping the floor with Henry Fonda. Charles Coburn and Barbara Stanwyck play cardsharks on a cruise ship and Henry plays a wealthy target. This film is a great showcase of her comedic skills.
  10. 1.
    Double Indemnity (1944) - Director Billy Wilder and writer Raymond Chandler spin a web of manipulation in which a woman (Barbara Stanwyck) seduces an insurance salesman (Fred MacMurray) into killing her husband. This is one of the iconic themes of noir - a weak man surrenders to temptation. Stanwyck received her third Oscar nom for this film.