Barbara Stanwyck in All I Desire (1953)

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All I Desire is a strange case. Considering how weak the 1953 actress lineup is (imo), I was surprised that Barbara Stanwyck got overlooked for her performance here. Undeservedly, I may add.

Was I particularly eager to watch All I Desire? No. I only wanted to watch it for one reason, and that’s because of the praise for Stanwyck’s performance. Thankfully, it’s not too bad a film. With a running time of approximately 1 hour 15 minutes, the melodrama doesn’t drag out too much. That being said, I hated the last 15 minutes. I’m not going to reveal too much but I thought the extra plot line involving the shooting was contrived and it was too hastily resolved. That being said, it’s still a watchable film and I would highly recommend it to Stanwyck fans.

Barbara Stanwyck was such a fascinating actress – she wasn’t traditionally beautiful and she wasn’t the most sexy, but what she had was enormous acting talent. She has this very natural screen presence like Irene Dunne, and it just works so well with the stylized films from that era. I mean, she seemed like such an unlikely choice for Double Indemnity, and yet she gave a tremendous and iconic performance that should have won the Oscar instead. While I admit that I’m not too familiar with her works (I loved that clip from The Thorn Birds on youtube though), I am definitely going to find out more about this fantastic actress’ performances in the future.

Naomi Murdoch is a pretty great role: A mother who leaves her family to be an actress, only to revisit them years later after being invited back by her daughter. Barbara Stanwyck nails the part – I loved how she reveals a different side of the character through her interactions with the characters in the film. She is a caring mother to her youngest children, a threat to her eldest daughter, a scandalous figure of the town and a loving wife to her husband.There’s this inner conflict within Naomi that is always explored by Stanwyck – on one hand, she’s clearly ravaged by the guilt of deserting her family but at the same time, she enjoys the freedom of fooling around and flirting with the men she interacts with. Stanwyck can be so irresistibly charming at one moment that you can understand why the men are all so drawn towards her, but she also provides the emotional punches so fantastically. There are so many scenes that come to mind: the pride in her eyes when she sees her daughter performs, the way she performed the lines to her husband, the final scene where she tells her son how much she loves him – even if she doesn’t express if properly. I loved every minute of Stanwyck’s performance, and if it had been played out more properly or longer, it would have been a no-brainer pick for the gold in 1953.

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