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Barbara Stanwyck Signature Collection (R1) in October - Artwork added

On 30th October 2007, Warner Home Video will honour the 100th birthday of one of the motion picture industry’s most glamorous icons with her first-ever DVD set, Barbara Stanwyck The Signature Collection. The Region 1 DVD release includes six titles across five discs -- Annie Oakley, East Side, West Side, Executive Suite, My Reputation and a Double Feature disc, To Please A Lady and Jeopardy. Each of the discs in the collection contain various special features, including radio programs, vintage cartoons and shorts, and most notably, an incisive commentary by Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone, with his take on Robert Wise’s powerful all-star drama, Executive Suite. The Collection will be available for $49.92 SRP; individual titles sell for $19.97 SRP.

Born Ruby Stevens in Brooklyn, N.Y. on July 16, 1907, Barbara Stanwyck was orphaned as a toddler and raised by her older sister. However, even at an early age, she was determined to be successful and land her first acting role on Broadway while still in her teens. By age 20th, she made her mark in several early Frank Capra-directed features, after which she moved to Warner Bros. where she cemented her place as one of Hollywood’s foremost leading ladies (including Baby Face, the infamous film - also available from WHV- that created the production code). After her Warner contract ended, Stanwyck preferred to “freelance,” developing a reputation for shrewd business acumen and ending up, at the time, one of industry’s highest paid talents.

During her 37-year career, Miss Stanwyck earned four Oscar® nominations and several Emmy Award® awards, including two for her hit series “The Big Valley.” Her final Emmy was for “The Thorn Birds” in 1983. Her incomparable contribution to motion pictures was finally honoured with an Honorary Oscar in 1982, and in 1987, the American Film Institute honoured her with its “Life Achievement Award.”

The Films

Annie Oakley (1935)
Over a decade before the story of “sure-shot” Annie Oakley served as the basis for Irving Berlin’s hit Broadway musical starring Ethel Merman, it was Barbara Stanwyck who first took on the film role of the famous female wild-west show sharpshooter. Although the story of the film bore little resemblance to the true story of the real Oakley, the freshness of its screenplay made for a superb cinematic treat for audiences. Under the impeccable direction of the great George Stevens, and playing opposite Preston Foster as Toby Walker, the professional rival who soon becomes the object of Annie’s affections, Stanwyck makes the role her own, and the result is a delightful comedic Western that did a great deal to propel the careers of both its director and its star. Over 70 years after it was first released, this film retains all the remarkable freshness that made it a hit with audiences and critics alike.

Special Features:
  • Main Street Follies, vintage 1935 short starring Hal Le Roy
  • Into Your Dance, vintage 1935 cartoon
  • Subtitles in English and French

East Side, West Side (1949)
Stanwyck shines as a devoted Manhattan wife who has trouble holding on to her husband (James Mason) after he has been hopelessly seduced by a beautiful and bold vixen, played with shameless sensuality by the captivating Ava Gardner. The film gives Stanwyck a plum role, and an inspired group of co-stars including Van Heflin and, in a rare dramatic role, the lovely Cyd Charisse. Scored with gusto by the legendary Miklos Rozsa, the film is hard to resist.

Special Features:
  • Counterfeit Cat, vintage M-G-M Tex Avery cartoon
  • Stuff for Stuff, vintage M-G-M short subject
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Subtitles: English and French

Executive Suite (1954)
Barbara Stanwyck is reunited with William Holden (her life-long friend, and co-star in 1939’s “Golden Boy”) in this landmark, all-star film which gave a new definition to the term “Boardroom Drama”. Only M-G-M could have established such an impressive cast for this box-office smash, which was adapted from Cameron Hawley’s best-selling novel by Ernest Lehman, in the first of his several magnificent collaborations with legendary director Robert Wise. In an era where Hollywood was moving into the world of lavish spectaculars on wide screens, in color, and using stereophonic sound, Wise took a completely different direction from the environment of the era, by making his film in B&W, without widescreen processes, stereophonic sound, or even a note of underscoring. It’s a taut, captivating story that gave Stanwyck her best screen role in several years, and provided equally impressive roles for Holden, Frederic March, Walter Pidgeon, June Allyson, Shelley Winters, Paul Douglas, Louis Calhern, and Nina Foch (who earned an Oscar nomination for her work). Executive Suite was invited to the prestigious Venice Film Festival, where it earned a special Jury Prize. It remains a compelling and powerful drama about big business that has rarely been equalled.

Special Features:
  • Feature commentary by Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone
  • Out for Fun, vintage M-G-M Pete Smith Short
  • Billy Boy, vintage M-G-M Tex Avery Cartoon
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Subtitles: English & Spanish (feature film only)

My Reputation (1946)
This is a classic 1940s Warner Bros. “woman’s picture” with Stanwyck taking on the kind of role she was most famous for. Here she portrays Jessica Drummond, a wealthy suburban housewife, grieving over the loss of her beloved husband, who was killed in battle. Stanwyck’s character is a woman suffering unavoidable grief over her loss and overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising her two adolescent sons. Her unhappiness is further complicated by the advice and meddling of her “society friends”. Stanwyck’s talents allow her to play these scenes to evoke a natural empathy from the audience.

A chance meeting with an Army officer on leave (played by Warner veteran George Brent) leads Jessica to find love again, much to this consternation of everyone in her social circle. Impeccably photographed by James Wong Howe, and appropriately scored by the legendary Max Steiner, this is Warner melodrama at its best, directed with authority by Curtis Bernhardt (who would go on to draw similarly impressive performances from Warner’s other leading ladies, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in the following years with A Stolen Life and Possessed, respectively.

Special Features:
  • Jan Savitt and Band, vintage Warner Bros. musical short
  • Daffy Doodles, vintage Warner Bros. cartoon
  • Audio Only Bonuses: Vintage Radio Versions - Lux Radio Theater adaptation with Barbara Stanwyck (4/47) and Screen Guild Theater adaptation with Alexis Smith (7/47)
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Subtitles: English, French & Spanish (Feature film only)

Barbara Stanwyck Double Feature: To Please a Lady and Jeopardy

To Please a Lady (1950)
In To Please A Lady, Barbara Stanwyck co-stars for the second time with the King of Hollywood…Clark Gable. The first time they worked together was nearly 20 years earlier in Warner Bros. film Night Nurse ((coming soon from WHV), where Gable played a small part as a smarmy gangster in the surprisingly edgy pre-code film which was one of Stanwyck’s first starring roles. This reunion is an exciting saga set against the backdrop of auto racing. Gable stars as a renegade racing driver whose questionable driving manoeuvres during a race end up killing another driver. Stanwyck plays a no-nonsense newspaper reporter out to expose Gable’s professional tactics and end his career. Despite their initial opposition to each other, they end up falling in love, which causes unexpected complications for both. The highlight of the film is unforgettable racing sequences actually shot at the site of the Indianapolis 500. One of M-G-M’s longest tenured, and most respected directors, Clarence Brown directed this action-packed story, creating such exciting racing scenes that they have given this film a cult following amongst long-time auto racing enthusiasts.

Jeopardy (1953)
A fast-paced thriller filled with suspense, Jeopardy gave Stanwyck a plum role to exhibit her talent for being terrified. Once it starts, it grabs the audience, and won’t let go. Most of this is due to the extraordinary talents of its then-young and up-and-coming director, the masterful John Sturges. Barbara Stanwyck and Metro stalwart Barry Sullivan play a married couple happily vacationing along the Mexican coast with their young son. Their pleasure trip soon turns into a nightmare when the boy strays and becomes lost. Stanwyck and Sullivan’s efforts to find their son soon lead to plot twists and turns too unexpected to reveal here. Co-starring Ralph Meeker, Jeopardy was an unexpected smash hit for M-G-M at the box-office, and remains an irresistible example of cinematic suspense, buoyed by Stanwyck’s exceptional performance, and guaranteed to have viewers on the edge of their seats.

Special Features:
  • To Please A Lady original theatrical trailer
  • Jeopardy original theatrical trailer
  • Audio Only Bonus: Jeopardy 1954 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast with Stanwyck
  • Subtitles: English, French & Spanish (feature film only)

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