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.
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 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, Nightfall, Out of the Past, The Flame and the Arrow, The 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.
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.