A great daughter of Brooklyn turns 100. Barbara Stanwyck (born Ruby Stevens and brought up in foster homes) went from telephone company employee to Broadway chorine to Hollywood star—and broke my teenage mother’s heart when she married Robert Taylor. Always a tough cookie, fast-talking Stanwyck broke in as a pre-Code sex star (Baby Face), worked with Frank Capra (The Bitter Tea of General Yen), graduated to screwball comedy (Howard Hawks’s Ball of Fire), played the greatest of film noir femmes fatales (Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity), aged into family melodrama (Douglas Sirk’s There’s Always Tomorrow), and rode into the sunset as a Western cattle queen (Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns). All of these manifestations are included in Ball of Fire, BAMcinématek’s centennial celebration, along with Capra’s downbeat political satire
Meet John Doe; Lewis Milestone’s nutty noir-o-drama, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers; and a William Castle horror flick, The Night Walker. Only thing missing is Stanwyck’s sensational turn in Preston Sturges’s The Lady Eve—but you know you can always rent that one. April 25 through May 6, BAM.
Also: All the early, Sean Connery Bonds are here in Vintage 007— Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever—but what really gives this three-week Film Forum series its Day-Glo swirl is the complementary selection of other ’60s spy capers: Dean Martin in The Silencers, James Coburn as Our Man Flint, Michael Caine cracking The Ipcress File, and, on a more somber note, Richard Burton playing The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. For a taste of Austin Powers avant la lettre, don’t miss Mario Bava’s 1968 Danger: Diabolik and the 1967 Casino Royale. April 27 through May 17, Film Forum.
The late structuralist filmmaker Joyce Wieland’s 1969 road trip La Raison Avant la Passion is a feature-length tribute to the Canadian landscape that, eccentric as it is, conveys a lyrical patriotism. (The title comes from a speech by Pierre Trudeau.) It’s not part of Anthology Film Archive’s “essential cinema,” but there’s no other venue where you’re likely to see it.
April 27 at 8 p.m., Anthology Film Archives.
Mark McElhatten, the Collective for Living Cinema’s last programmer, assembled the last of Orchard’s tribute shows: Fear of Whiteout: The Substance of Things Hoped For Evaporates in the Blink of an Eye, a characteristically gnarly extravaganza with unnamed films (by Ernie Gehr, Lewis Klahr, and Julie Murray, among others) plus a roundtable discussion in which a half-dozen other filmmakers will focus on the “merging” of film and video in the days “before the installation.” April 28 at 8 p.m., 47 Orchard Street.