Irene Dunne, early 60s
Irene Dunne at home.
Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy and Clark Gable, Test Pilot (1938)
Top 5 Favorite Barbara Stanwyck Characters
In no particular order
3. Naomi Murdoch
Barbara Stanwyck played Naomi Murdoch in the 1953 film All I Desire. Set in 1910, Naomi Murdoch is an aging actress whose career has hit a low when she receives a letter from her daughter Lily, inviting her to attend her senior play and graduation. Knowing her acting career is headed nowhere, Naomi decides to take what little money she has, give herself a grand makeover and travel home to Riverdale, Wisconsin to grant her daughter’s wish. The only problem is she hasn’t been there in ten years—when she deserted her husband and three children, in attempt to break of an affair with the controlling Dutch Heinemann.
When she arrives, she is greeted with mixed emotions. Lily and the housekeeper are delighted to see her, her older daughter Joyce is not pleased at all, her son doesn’t even know her, and her husband is too stunned to know what to think. Word travels fast around town that Naomi has returned, proving to provide Lily’s senior play with a packed house—full of people wanting to catch a glimpse of the “famous actress Naomi Murdoch,” thought to have been in Europe doing Shakespeare for many years.
The plot thickens when Naomi discovers that her son Ted has developed a friendship with Dutch Heinemann, and it isn’t long before Dutch re-enters the picture. Naomi is slowly accepted again by her family and community, and her husband realizes how much he has loved and missed her. She decides she might want to stay in Riverdale and try to pick up where they left off. Dutch, however, is unwilling to accept this idea and attempts to force Naomi to choose him over her husband. In a desperate attempt to free herself from Dutch, Naomi accidentally shoots him—her son looking on. They rush Dutch to the doctor, who determines his wound is not fatal. Unfortunately, word of the shooting has already gotten out and the town has made up its own version of the story.
Knowing the town thinks she shot Dutch on purpose, Naomi is forced to make the decision to leave, fearing she will cause her family more embarrassment and heartache—as she had done ten years earlier. She attempts to mend her relationship with her son, and lets her daughters know her decision. She attempts to sneak away before her husband gets home, but he catches her on the way out. He tells her he believes her story—he had visited Dutch at the doctor—and tells her that whatever trouble they faced, they would face together.
Why I love this character so much: This may seem like a strange choice for a top 5 favorite character, but I love any character in which Stanwyck plays a mother. In this movie she portrays a loving mother who is faced with seemingly insurmountable odds and tries her best to do what is best for her family—not caring about her own consequences. I love the scenes with her and the children—especially the touching scene with Naomi and Ted toward the end of the film. It will make you cry every time. It’s a very enjoyable movie and Missy’s costumes are beautiful. Missy always looked stunning in early 1900s attire—another fantastic example of this is the film Titanic, made the same year.