SPOTLIGHT: Sizzling Pre-Code Stanwyck (VI)

Welcome to a new Film Friday and the continuation of our spotlight series on the Pre-Code work of Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990), one of Hollywood’s most respected leading ladies. Known for her snarky and cigarette-filled performances, many of Stanwyck’s Pre-Code films have become notorious for their delightful disinterest in adhering to the provisions of the 1930 Production Code. Surprisingly, we’d only featured one Stanwyck film here before, Night Nurse (1931). So far in this survey of her work, we have covered Ladies Of Leisure (1930), Illicit (1931), Ten Cents A Dance (1931), The Miracle Woman (1931), and Forbidden (1932). Today…


Shopworn (1932)


A waitress falls for a wealthy young man but has to fight his mother to find happiness. Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Regis Toomey, ZaSu Pitts, Lucien Littlefield, Clara Blandick, Story by Sarah Y. Mason. Dialogue by Jo Swerling and Robert Riskin. Directed by Nicholas Grinde.


“When her father dies in an avalanche, young Kitty Lane is orphaned and goes to work as a waitress in her Aunt Dot’s and Uncle Fred’s cafe, The Campus Inn. One day, while waiting tables, Kitty meets college student Dave Livingston, and they begin dating. When Dave’s mother Helen, an aging society matron, sees that her son is dating Kitty, she tells him that she is displeased at his choice in women and recommends that he stop seeing her. Later, Helen tries to break up Dave and Kitty by feigning a heart ailment and asking Dave to accompany her to a specialist in Europe. Dave consents to the trip but ruins his mother’s scheme when he asks Kitty to marry him and join them.


“Helen tries to prevent the marriage by having her friend, Judge Forbes, bribe Kitty to leave town, but when that attempt fails, they bring a trumped-up morals charge against her.While Kitty is sent to the State Home for the Regeneration of Females for ninety days, Dave goes to Europe with his mother. Six years pass, during which time Kitty, aided by wealthy admirers, gains notoriety as a showgirl and actress. When she and Dave finally meet again…” (This abbreviated, and spoiler-free summary is brought to you courtesy of TCM.)



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