Loading Events

A Star is Born: Barbara Stanwyck and Hollywood Study Day + The Lady Eve

Sat 25 May, 10:30am at Cornerstone Room

Tickets: £18 (£12 Concessions) , approx running time: 10:30am-4:30pm

Age: U

Barbara Stanwyck was a Hollywood star, one who apparently inspired the classic story of a woman’s rise to fame.  In modern times, star seems an overused term for a devalued commodity and Stanwyck and her female contemporaries appear even more to represent a gold standard now consigned to the past.

Women, such as Stanwyck, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, forged their own unique paths through more than one genre in the studio system. Their names are indelibly linked to melodrama, noir and screwball comedy demonstrating, not just their versatility, but also their fundamental role in establishing the innate qualities of these Hollywood genres. Stanwyck worked in films from the 1920s to the 1950s, with a later career in television into the 1980s and was recently described as ‘the good girl, the bad girl, and everything in between’ (Molly Haskell).

The day will include a full screening of ‘The Lady Eve’ (1941), directed by Preston Sturges and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.  Sturges’ film is a Classical Hollywood screwball comedy, a description that steals a term from baseball for a ball thrown ’fast and with a twist’ to confuse the batsman. It’s a perfect vehicle for Stanwyck to take up the pitching position in the battle of the sexes and show us all of her best moves!

Our day spent in Stanwyck’s company will celebrate her unique talent, her importance as a female film star and, briefly, her work in television. The presentation will include the shift from a pre-code to a Hays-code Hollywood, the complex constitution of the studio system and its people and how women negotiated their position within it.  We will be able to consider how women’s work, then, is still important to understand today, and is being reassessed further for its enormous cultural contribution.

Dr Rona Murray has written and presented on a number of film and media topics.  Her own research focusses on various aspects of women and authorship in both film and television.  She has recently published on filmmakers Agnès Varda and Kim Longinotto.  She is a member of the steering committee for Women’s Film and Television History Network (UK/Ireland).