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“An Artist in her Own Right: Barbara Stanwyck and the Modern American Woman” Free Film Series

For Immediate Release

July 08, 2009

The “An Artist in Her Own Right: Barbara Stanwyck and the Modern American Woman” film series at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute surveys the best of Stanwyck’s groundbreaking work, which according to film scholar David Thomson, reveals the most “credible portrait in cinema of a worldly, attractive, and independent woman in a man’s world.” Films, held on Saturdays starting July 18 at 2 pm, are free and open to the public.

On July 18, catch Alfred E. Green’s Baby Face (1933, 70 min.), named an all-TIME Best Film by TIME magazine. Starring Stanwyck and George Brent, the film tells the story of a barmaid who marshals her assets and climbs man by man from the basement to the penthouse. Originally banned in some U.S. cities due to its sexual innuendo, Baby Face won the National Film Registry award in 2005.

In Stella Dallas (1937, 106 min.), shown on July 25, a millworker (Stanwyck) marries a rich man (John Boles), and after a divorce, poignantly gives up her daughter to a better life. Directed by King Vidor, this film was nominated for two Oscars, including Best Actress in a Leading Role (Stanwyck) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Anne Shirley). Stella Dallas inspired an American radio soap opera of the same name that ran from 1937 to 1955.

Howard Hawks’ Ball of Fire (1941, 111 min.), shown on August 1, is a screwball twist on the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The comedy follows a gang moll that takes refuge with a group of seven professors and helps them compile an encyclopedia of slang. Starring Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, and Oskar Homolka, Ball of Fire garnered four Oscar nominations, including Best Actress in a Leading Role (Barbara Stanwyck) and Best Writing, Original Story (Thomas Monroe, Billy Wilder).

Lady Eve (1941, 97 min.), shown on August 8, is one of TIME magazine’s All-TIME 100 Movies and was selected to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress in 1994. Stanwyck stars as a con-woman supreme who wraps a bumbling herpetologist beer heir (Henry Fonda) around her little finger—twice! Roger Ebert heralded director Preston Sturges for his seemingly effortless ability to perform a “breathless balancing act…involving romance, deception and physical comedy.”

Finally, Stanwyck plays the ultimate femme fatale in Double Indemnity (1944, 107 min.), shown in August 15. Co-starring Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson, the film follows a seductive housewife who lures an insurance agent into a plot to kill her husband. Double Indemnity garnered seven Oscar nominations. Roger Ebert applauded director Billy Wilder’s rare ability to craft a film “so taut, savvy, cynical and, in many different ways and tones, funny.” In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked the film number twenty-nine in the Greatest Movies of All-Time.

Like Stanwyck’s, Georgia O’Keeffe’s career spanned most of the twentieth century. On view at the Clark is the exhibition Dove/O’Keeffe: Circles of Influence. Georgia O’Keeffe burst onto the New York art scene in 1916 and captured the imagination of people around the world, not only with incredible artistic talent, but through her bohemian spirit as well. Experience this distinctly American artist’s early works with those of modernist Arthur Dove, whom she credited as having the most significant role in the formation of her abstract works.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, MA. The galleries are open 10 am to 5 pm daily in July and August (closed Mondays September through June). Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. Admission is free November through May. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit clarkart.edu.

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