“Sometimes hope can be a false prophet.”
Today is the 105th birthday of the lovely and incredibly talented Barbara Stanwyck. She was born Ruby Catherine Stevens on July 16, 1907 in Brooklyn, New York. I cannot remember the first film I ever watched of Stanwyck’s, I wish I could but all I know is that is must have been really good because she became one of my all time favorite classic actresses. Stanwyck could play any role be it a racy woman in a pre-code, a woman in trouble in dramas, a wonderful comedic character in a screwball comedy, or a perfectly bad femme fatale in a Noir. Stanwyck is one of those perfect classic actresses where if the film itself is terrible she still turns out a great performance. Director Frank Capra, who directed Barbara Stanwyck in films such as Ladies of Leisure (1930), The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), and Meet John Doe (1941) sums up her as an actress:
“Stanwyck doesn’t act a scene. She lives it. Her emotions are so genuine that they must be captured in their first expression. Her best work is the result - not of timing and rehearsing and study - but of pure feminine reaction. She gives everything she has, and its great sincerity and strength must be caught at fever heat.”
In all the Barbara Stanwyck films I have seen Capra’s quote explains her perfectly. Her emotions are so real you want to cry when she cries and be happy as a person can be when she is happy.
I have yet to see what are considered her best films like Lady of Burlesque and Sorry, Wrong Number but the films I have seen of her I have liked very much (well except for Double Indemnity… read my post to see why). The Lady Eve is probably my favorite out of Stanwyck’s films I have seen so far. I remember seeing it and just loving everything about especially her voice it was the first time I took notice of her voice and her Brooklyn accent and loved it. I must say I love sitting through her version of Annie Oakley because of her accent, it is hysterical hearing a Brooklyn accent coming out from a character who is supposed to be from the Midwest. Besides her incredible acting Stanwyck’s accent is my favorite thing about her. It somehow always added to her characters especially when they needed to be tough like she had to be in Baby Face. It made her real and made her characters real.
In honor of Barbara Stanwyck’s birthday I have decided to watch and review her 1937 drama with Joel McCrea Internes Can’t Take Money.
Internes Can’t Take Money is the first time the character of James Kildare was put on the screen. This film was done at Paramount but MGM eventually gained the rights to the character and turned it into a successful series of films starring Lew Ayres as the title character and Lionel Barrymore. I have yet to see the more famous Dr. Kildare films so I cannot compare them with this version. But I can say I like Internes Can’t Take Money for its good story and fabulous acting by McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck.
James Kildare is an intern at a hospital in New York City. He is a very smart man and works very hard at what he does. At ten dollars a month he is studying to be a surgeon. One day while on the floor he is given a patient named Janet Haley (Stanwyck). She has an infected burn on her wrist from a pleating machine that she works on. When Janet gets up to leave she faints from what James says is malnutrition.
After Janet rests for a bit she walks across the street to the local bar where gangsters and thugs hang about. She is there to meet a gangster named Dan Innes. He asks her why she is mixed up with gangsters and she tells him that two years ago she was sent to prison because her husband, with whom she was estranged, was a bank robber and died in her arms after he had been shot in a robbery. The cops sent her to jail because she would not say anything about her husband. She did not say anything because her husband took their daughter when he left so she would not talk to hurt the daughter. The bum hid the daughter from Janet under a different name and she cannot find her little girl. For months Janet has gone broke from false leads and now she desperate and goes to Innes who is as crooked as they come. Innes tells her for a thousand dollars he can tell her where her daughter is.
James comes into the bar. Not long after a man comes in with a bullet in his arm and faints. He wants to take the man to the hospital but he is stopped. James has no choice but to operate on the man in the bar. He sees Janet and asks for her help. James saves the man’s life. Janet is happy to see James again. From the moment they met there was a spark between, a spark so strong that she does not even realize she is smiling at him.
Innes goes to Janet at her apartment. He makes her life hell saying that he can get her daughter but what about money and a place to live. Innes tells Janet to forget the thousand dollars if she comes to stay with him at his place in the country she can live there with him and her daughter. That is the last thing Janet wants to do so she tells him she will get the money somehow. That night James goes to the bar and the bar tender hands him a thousand dollars from the gangster Hanlon whose life he saved. James feels bad about taking the money because he is not supposed to accept money as an intern it is against the rules. He gets Janet’s address from the hospital records and takes food over to her place. James tells her about the money and how he cannot take it and she becomes very upset. Janet says she needs the money but cannot tell him why. He places it in his coat pocket and Janet takes it out and hides it when he is in the kitchen. Unfortunately James saw what she did and leaves.
When James sees Hanlon to give the money Hanlon tells him that instead of the money if he (James) ever needs a favor to come to him and he will work it out. The favor comes just in time as James finds out what is happening to Janet. Hanlon has his men find Inness and Janet before they can leave the city and bring them back. Innes gets shot in the liver by one of the men. James saves him but Innes still will not give up the daughter’s location. Eventually Innes tells Hanlon where the girl is after Hanlon tells him that James will leave and without James around he will die.
Happy ending, Janet finds her daughter in an orphanage.
Not one of the best films ever but Joel McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck were excellent. Frank Capra was so spot on in his description of Stanwyck’s acting. She was such a great actress you feel every emotion as she plays it on the screen. You believe she is her character an emotionally and physically drained woman desperately looking for her daughter. The more I see of Joel McCrea the more he is becoming my knight and shining armor haha. I love and adore Joel McCrea. He is such an underappreciated actor he was so good. Stanwyck and McCrea had great chemistry together but honestly I think these two could have had chemistry with a pole they were such amazing actors.
Internes Can’t Take Money was an alright film. The story is melodramatic but Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea’s performances more than make up for it. If you can find Internes Can’t Take Money definitely give it a watch.