For Reel

So Big! (1932)
December 2, 2011, 8:10 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: William A. Wellman

Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Edna Farber, So Big! was considered by Barbara Stanwyck to feature one of her very best performances. While it is undoubtedly a comparatively showy part for her at this stage of her career – she often played manipulative sex pots in films like Baby Face and Ladies They Talk About in the pre-Code era – the film has not aged particularly well. The short length is perhaps the biggest detriment to the material, as Wellman doesn’t quite know how to logically progress a narrative so expansive in such a short running time. Early in the picture, for instance, Stanwyck dreams of becoming a school teacher, however her passion is soon discarded without much consideration. Nevertheless, the film has two very good supporting performances in Dickie Moore – who convincingly conveys sexual frustration in his early scenes with Stanwyck – and a young Bette Davis – who steals a memorable scene in which she is romantically pursued by Stanwyck’s son and professes, “You’re all smooth… and I like ’em bumpy!”

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