Friday, July 17, 2020

THE BARBARA STANWYCK BLOGATHON: The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Sign of the Zodiac, 1961


Gabriela's site Pale Writer is hosting The Queen of Sass: Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon on July 17-18. The blogathon event we need in these times! Join the party HERE.


The anthology series The Barbara Stanwyck Show ran for one season on NBC in the 1960/1961 season. The Emmy won by Barbara Stanwyck for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead) was her first competitive award. You can learn more about the series in the post here from 2013 and watch the Emmy presentation here.


SIGN OF THE ZODIAC
Season 1, Episode 26
April 3, 1961


"Good evening. Tonight Your Gas Company Playhouse presents a tale of torment, obsession, and guilt written by A.I. Bezzerides and directed by Jacques Tourneur. Guest stars Dan Duryea and Joan Blondell appear with me in the dark and mysterious melodrama with overtones of the supernatural. It is a strange story, and I think you will find as much excitement in watching it as we did in making it. And now in just 60 seconds, the first act of Sign of the Zodiac."

Joan Blondell, Dan Duryea

Pierre (Dan Duryea), a crystal gazer with business on a seedy dock has a charm about him that keeps his lady customers happy. A repeat client is Helene Terry (Joan Blondell), who this day has convinced her widowed sister-in-law Madge (Barbara Stanwyck) that it would be fun to have her fortune read. Part of the reason for the outing is to get Madge out of the gloomy house she shared with the late Edwin. There are other reasons which become known as the story unfolds.

Madge was none too thrilled with the excursion in the first place and becomes increasingly agitated as the reading progresses. Helene tries to keep things light and friendly while Madge insults everyone and runs away. Back at home, Madge continues to rebuff Helene's kindness, ordering her sister-in-law out of the house. When Madge realizes she has left behind a memento of her husband's, an antique watch, at Pierre's place, she returns to retrieve it with a gun. The soothsayer was wisely not at home.

Barbara Stanwyck

Helene, taking Madge at her word, has moved out. Alone, Madge finds the night is fraught with imaginings and the unexplained return of the antique watch. What is the reason for her next visit to the clairvoyant Pierre? Why the change in her attitude from belligerent to pleasing? Why does she still have the gun in her purse?

Twists and turns await the viewer of Sign of the Zodiac. Just when you think you have everything figured out, you might find the rug pulled out from under you.

Jacques Tourneur
1904-1977

Jacques Tourneur directed 12 of The Barbara Stanwyck Show's 36 episodes. The pair had never worked together in a feature film and the idea of their collaboration is intriguing. Tourneur's resume boasts such favourite films as Stars in My Crown, Canyon Passage, NightfallOut of the Past, The Flame and the ArrowThe Comedy of Terrors, and Night of the Demon. Tourneur was a two-time Hugo nominee for Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie.

Noted cinematographer Hal Mohr (1894-1974), a write-in winner for A Midsummer Night's Dream, shot 9 episodes of the series including Sign of the Zodiac. The anthology series was also his first experience working with Barbara Stanwyck.

Night Nurse

Early in their film careers, Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell crossed paths in 1931s Illicit directed by Archie Mayo and Night Nurse directed by William Wellman. It was 30 years between those films and the reuniting of the dream team on The Barbara Stanwyck Show.

Ball of Fire

It was 20 years between Missy and Dan Duryea's working together in 1941s Ball of Fire for Howard Hawks until Sign of the Zodiac. Note: the above picture bears no relation to anything in the movie, with the exception of the costumes.












25 comments:

  1. Did Stany think Duryea stole the watch? Is that why she comes back with a gun? Seems a bit like an overkill reaction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Madge wasn't too stable at this point. She'd gotten rid of Helene, in a way, but Pierre remained a threat.

      Delete
  2. Wow -what credentials this show had! Bezzerides writing the script, Tourneur directing it, Mohr photographing it, not to mention Blondell, Duryea, and Missy herself acting in it. I'm gonna have to look this one up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can find such treasures rummaging around the Classic TV trunk.

      Delete
    2. Classic TV...In the last two weeks, I've seen Clint Eastwood and Barbara Eden on Broderick Crawford's "Highway Patrol" before anybody had ever heard of them.

      Delete
    3. That's fun. I watch lots of classic TV on YouTube during my dialysis treatment. I think it is the best use of my time. Highway Patrol was something I hadn't seen growing up so that was a kick.

      Delete
  3. Paddy Lee, you have wet my appetite for more of THE BARBARA STANWYCK SHOW(1960-61). I haven't seen this episode yet, but it sounds good too me. Recently I caught "The Key to the Killer"(10/31/60) with Barbara Stanwyck and Vic Morrow. It is a good one.

    During the 1950's and '60's there were so many good anthology series to pick from. Thank goodness for todays technology, so that we can watch them again.

    Look forward to your next good write-up. Walter S.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You hit the nail right on the head. We are blessed to have access to the art and entertainment of decades, and even centuries at our fingertips. More than ever, we are our own programmers.

      Delete
  4. HAL MOHR was married to actress EVELYN VENABLE from 1934 to his passing in 1974. According to imdb she was the model for the original COLUMBIA PICTURES logo. She had a part in ALICE ADAMS with KATHARINE HEPBURN and FRED MACMURRAY. It also had HEDDA HOPPER, the mother of WILLIAM HOPPER. William is, of course, best known for playing PAUL DRAKE on PERRY MASON. It goes back to Perry!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It may be that Hal met Evelyn working on the movie David Harum.

      Indeed, all roads lead to Perry Mason.

      Delete
  5. Thanks to your previous discussion of her show, I've looked up episodes of The Barbara Stanwyck Show on YouTube. What a great idea and a terrific vehicle for this talented actress. I haven't seen this episode yet, but happily my pals at YouTube have thoughtfully uploaded a copy...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The inestimable YouTube is both a life-saver and an infinite rabbit hole!

      Delete
  6. DAN DURYEA was on PEYTON PLACE from 1967 to 68 as EDDIE JACKS, the estranged husband of ADA and the father of RITA. He had left his family but comes back and becomes close to his daughter. I have mentioned before that I have never seen the show but I have read about it a lot. I have also seen some clips.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have seen the first couple of seasons and really enjoyed them. I hope someday to catch up to the later years and see Dan Duryea, who is a favourite.

      Delete
  7. This sounds a great series Paddy, and a great episode to check out too. Thanks for telling more about it too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pleasure. Barbara Stanwyck looked like she was having fun with the chance top play in all these different stories.

      Delete
  8. Besides BARBARA STANWYCK, there were at least three other actresses that had anthology shows. There was LORETTA YOUNG whose show was very successful. There were JUNE ALLYSON and JANE WYMAN. I cant remember if you have seen the show that Loretta had but I know that you saw THE NEW LORETTA YOUNG SHOW that was not an anthology. Have you seen the ones with June or Jane?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't seen Jane or June's programs, but they are both actresses I enjoy.

      Delete
  9. Whoa, what talent! Thank goodness this series is on Amazon Prime. I love the idea of seeing Stanwyck, Duryea, AND Blondell together after previously working with each other years earlier.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think it would have been good if BARBARA STANWYCK and DAN DURYEA had done a western movie together or he could have guest starred on THE BIG VALLEY. Also I would have liked to see Barbara in a western movie with the one and only JOHN WAYNE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd pay to see a Stanwyck and Duryea western.

      While they are both favourites, I can't imagine a good project to harness the strength and star power of both Stanwyck and Duke.

      Delete
  11. SAM BEHRENS is 70 today. You may know him from some of his daytime soap roles. First he was on RYANS HOPE and then GENERAL HOSPITAL. I remember that you know those shows. He was also on SUNSET BEACH and THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. (Sunset Beach was produced by AARON SPELLING-a friend of BARBARA STANWYCK.) I remember Sam from the MURDER, SHE WROTE ep with JESSICA WALTER as a writer out to get dirt on a former movie star(BARBARA BAIN). Sam played the husband to MISS WALTER and BRADFORD DILLMAN played the husband to MISS BAIN. It also had CATHY PODEWELL(DALLAS) and ANDREA THOMPSON(FALCON CREST). Sam had been on KNOTS LANDING as DANNY, a disturbed man that marries VAL(JOAN VAN ARK).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I recall that Murder, She Wrote episode. I may dig out the DVD to watch this weekend.

      Sam Behrens was a favourite of mine as Jake on General Hospital. He is married to Shari Belafonte who most recently played the Mayor on General Hospital.

      Delete
  12. I'm going to have to look these up--how cool is it that Stany had her own show, even if it didn't last too long? Very interesting stuff. :-)

    ReplyDelete

120 "SCREWBALL" YEARS OF JEAN ARTHUR BLOGATHON: If You Could Only Cook, 1935

Virginia of The Wonderful World of Cinema is hosting the 120 Screwball Years of Jean Arthur Blogathon . The October 15 - 17 tribute to t...