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Ladies of Leisure

Screening on Film
Directed by Frank Capra.
With Barbara Stanwyck, Ralph Graves, Lowell Sherman.
US, 1930, 35mm, black & white, 102 min.
Print source: Sony Pictures

I had assembled a fine cast for Ladies of Leisure. Ralph Graves, Marie Prevost, Lowell Sherman, George Fawcett, and the stage star Nance O’Neill. All we needed was a leading lady to play the ‘party’ girl. I wanted a certain actress, but Harry Cohn dragged his feet about signing her. He asked me to talk to an ex-chorus girl who had made a hit in the stage play Burlesque. [….]

Thus began my long personal and professional association with Barbara Stanwyck. Underneath her sullen shyness smoldered the emotional fires of a young Duse, or a Bernhardt. Naïve, unsophisticated, caring nothing about make-up, clothes, or hair-dos, this chorus girl could grab your heart and tear it to pieces. She knew nothing about camera tricks: how to ‘cheat’ her looks so her face could be seen, how to restrict her body movements in close shots. She just turned it on—and everything else on the stage stopped. — FC

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