Dr Andrew Klevan, Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Oxford,
UK, discusses the rationale behind his recent book on Hollywood film star Barbara Stanwyck (London: BFI/Palgrave, 2013) with Film Studies For Free. He also talks about
some of the issues that arise when film performance is the object of
study, around intention and attribution of agency and value.
Stanwyck's illustrious career began in the 1920s and spanned
sixty years. During that period she starred in major films of many
genres and worked with some of the most distinguished Hollywood
directors. Devoting each chapter of his monograph to a significant quality of Stanwyck's performances, Klevan foregrounds crucial scenes from her
exemplary films, including Stella Dallas (1937), The Lady Eve (1941),
and Double Indemnity (1944). Through the lens of her achievement, Klevan
examines the wider concerns of these films while revisiting classic
topics from Film Studies - psychoanalysis, medium reflexivity, and the
representation of female roles such as the 'sacrificial mother' and the
'femme fatale'. In paying close attention to the various aspects of
Stanwyck's skilfully executed performances, this book enhances
familiar understandings and aims to provide fresh illumination.