His critical analyses of her performances are not, thankfully, uncommitted, academic regurgitations of what others have written, but highly observant, passionately written considerations of her artistry.
Callahan writes persuasively that this gifted, driven actress’s early years are also responsible for her later, troubled private life, although the source of Stanwyck’s right-wing political leanings deserves more careful consideration.
Finally, Callahan’s biography helps explain what to this reviewer’s mind is Stanwyck’s gift to the cinema: a “less-is-more” approach to acting that asked her audience to take her characters on their (the characters’) own terms.
Born Ruby Stevens on July 16, 1907, in Brooklyn, Barbara Stanwyck would later admit to having “had a terrible childhood. Let’s just say,” she added, “‘poor’ is something I understand.”
Like Bogle, I think Stanwyck was one of the great film actresses. (Though I'd rate "No Man of Her Own" as better than "Stella Dallas" in terms of Stanwyck's performance.) Unlike him, I am not puzzled by her right-wing beliefs.
Bogle seems unaware that she hung out with a lot of lefties. He disagrees with Callahan that her husbands views made her a right-winger. But part of the right-wing shift is her husband Robert Taylor. It is also, more importantly, the witch hunts going on. If you had something to hide, you went to the right. And if you didn't want to be Luise Rainer, you went to the right. (Rainer won two Best Actress Oscars but found her career over quickly and that's usually said to be because of her marriage to Clifford Odets and the witch hunt.)
Stanwyck never won an Oscar. She was the poor relation when she came to Hollywood, she was still the poor relation decades later.
Mainly though, Stanwyck had a secret. Love affairs with women.
If you were a lesbian, getting into a lavender marriage (she did) and moving right (she did) was one way to ensure safety.
I think the fear and probably shame she felt over her sexuality goes a long way towards explaining her right-ward shift.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"