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Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

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uncensored mata hari - what is wrong with it


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#1 hepclassic

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 11:15 PM

Thus the mystery of Convention City remains....


"Sometimes you have to look at a person and see that he's doing the best he can." Katharine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer in 1981's "On Golden Pond."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#2 hepclassic

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 09:17 PM

From a business POV, yes,  movies that studio heads believe have little to no estimated future profits should be destroyed.    Racy pre-codes had the additional burden that they have to be edited to pass the code.   

 

Studios were in the business of making money not 'art'.   Frankly I'm surprised more movies weren't destroyed. 

This goes back to my speculation about the "moral" crusaders of the Production Code office and Joseph Breen. 


"Sometimes you have to look at a person and see that he's doing the best he can." Katharine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer in 1981's "On Golden Pond."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#3 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 08:20 PM

Different economies though- and these were ruthless businessmen, Obrien. You might as well say that a Production Code film like Bringing Up Baby which didn't do well at the box office deserves to be destroyed because it didn't make a lot for RKO. But, pickers can't be choosers. 

 

From a business POV, yes,  movies that studio heads believe have little to no estimated future profits should be destroyed.    Racy pre-codes had the additional burden that they have to be edited to pass the code.   

 

Studios were in the business of making money not 'art'.   Frankly I'm surprised more movies weren't destroyed. 



#4 hepclassic

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 07:58 PM

I was not trying to say unsuccessful films should be destroyed. 

Please clarify what exactly you meant to say then, because maybe I misinterpreted what you were trying to say. 


"Sometimes you have to look at a person and see that he's doing the best he can." Katharine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer in 1981's "On Golden Pond."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#5 hepclassic

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 07:49 PM

Different economies though- and these were ruthless businessmen, Obrien. You might as well say that a Production Code film like Bringing Up Baby which didn't do well at the box office deserves to be destroyed because it didn't make a lot for RKO. But, pickers can't be choosers. 


"Sometimes you have to look at a person and see that he's doing the best he can." Katharine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer in 1981's "On Golden Pond."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#6 hepclassic

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 07:18 PM

Well there was a guy that had a great collection of 'old' guitars.   Say, he had 6 guitars of a certain very rare guitar year and model.   How rare (hard to obtain), a guitar is, is a key driver of a guitar's value.    The guy determined that the total value of 3 guitars was worth more then the total value of 6 guitars.   So he started to destroy guitars.    

 

I know that this true guitar story doesn't relate to destroying movies.   I assume studios destroyed movies because they felt it was cost effective.    e.g.  free up room to store movies they felt had more potential for future profit.    Note that with remakes a studio will try to gain the rights to the prior versions and than refuse to lease them.   They feel this somehow increases the value of the current release. 

 

I don't think Jack Warner and Louis B. Mayer were conscientious businessmen to think about that in that sense. Even so, I do believe that there is a Convention City film reel somewhere in the world. 


"Sometimes you have to look at a person and see that he's doing the best he can." Katharine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer in 1981's "On Golden Pond."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#7 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 07:10 PM

But, herein lies the question, James, why would anyone want to destroy something that made them money to make more money? I mean, MGM almost destroyed the 1940 film Gaslight with Anton Walbrook because of reputation and competition. 

 

Well there was a guy that had a great collection of 'old' guitars.   Say, he had 6 guitars of a certain very rare guitar year and model.   How rare (hard to obtain), a guitar is, is a key driver of a guitar's value.    The guy determined that the total value of 3 guitars was worth more then the total value of 6 guitars.   So he started to destroy guitars.    

 

I know that this true guitar story doesn't relate to destroying movies.   I assume studios destroyed movies because they felt it was cost effective.    e.g.  free up room to store movies they felt had more potential for future profit.    Note that with remakes a studio will try to gain the rights to the prior versions and than refuse to lease them.   They feel this somehow increases the value of the current release. 



#8 hepclassic

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 06:49 PM

The production code could have been a reason why the studio decided to destroy the film since they couldn't re-release the flim without some major editing and determine that the film just didn't have enough of a potential market to justify a re-release.  So there was more value in getting the silver nitrate.      

 

 

 

But, herein lies the question, James, why would anyone want to destroy something that made them money to make more money? I mean, MGM almost destroyed the 1940 film Gaslight with Anton Walbrook because of reputation and competition. 


"Sometimes you have to look at a person and see that he's doing the best he can." Katharine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer in 1981's "On Golden Pond."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#9 hepclassic

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 06:47 PM

Converting Convention City's take into today's dollars, it took about today's  equivalent of $18,000,000 at the box office...which made it a modest success for the time. The question is why was this one destroyed while others were not that were just as risqué? A possible reason is that Jack Warner did not particularly like the film.

Jack Warner liked anything that could make money, and $18 mill in 1933 is not bad considering Depression economy. 


"Sometimes you have to look at a person and see that he's doing the best he can." Katharine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer in 1981's "On Golden Pond."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#10 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 05:24 PM

I don't expect you to know why they did what they did. On the matter, one could speculate based on how much Joseph Breen was morally opposed to this films that he might be behind these incidents. One could also speculate him behind why there was box office poison list made in the late 1930s featuring box-office attractive actors and actresses who saved their studios from bankruptcy because they got their start in precode films. 

 

The production code could have been a reason why the studio decided to destroy the film since they couldn't re-release the flim without some major editing and determine that the film just didn't have enough of a potential market to justify a re-release.  So there was more value in getting the silver nitrate.      

 

The production code and the re-release of Mata Hari explains why the most common version of Mata Hari is the re-released version re-editted to pass the code.    Sadly this is the case for many pre-code movies.  



#11 hepclassic

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 04:10 PM

They destroyed the film but not the trailer. Don't ask me why. They also destroyed most of their silent films at the same time.

I don't expect you to know why they did what they did. On the matter, one could speculate based on how much Joseph Breen was morally opposed to this films that he might be behind these incidents. One could also speculate him behind why there was box office poison list made in the late 1930s featuring box-office attractive actors and actresses who saved their studios from bankruptcy because they got their start in precode films. 


"Sometimes you have to look at a person and see that he's doing the best he can." Katharine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer in 1981's "On Golden Pond."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#12 hepclassic

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 02:38 PM

Then, how could film footage still exist of Warner Brothers purposefully destroyed its own stock? 

 


"Sometimes you have to look at a person and see that he's doing the best he can." Katharine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer in 1981's "On Golden Pond."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#13 hepclassic

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 11:21 AM

I hope that someone will one day find Convention City (1933). It too was "lost." 


"Sometimes you have to look at a person and see that he's doing the best he can." Katharine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer in 1981's "On Golden Pond."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#14 goldensilents

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 07:24 AM

You may be right, it's impossible to say for sure. A lot of precodes were still tame by today's standards, and most of them had very conservative endings, even if what came before depicted anti-social behaviors. So if the script was mediocre for the Code picture chances are it still would have been mediocre for a precode.

#15 PrinceSaliano

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 11:37 AM

I've not yet had the opportunity to see the very rare NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS (Universal, 1935). I've read Thorne Smith's novel and there is no doubt in my mind it would have been a better pic (based on contemporary reviews) had it been made before the code.

#16 goldensilents

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 01:24 AM

> But then...the other half of me wonders how much better some of those movies could've been if the Code hadn't been enforced...

It's my personal belief that they might not have been made at all. With loose standards you would have seen films get worse year by year, decade by decade, similar to how bad they've become since 1968. It's far easier and cheaper to make a superficial little sex comedy with scantily clad girls rather than make a cinematic classic that inspires you, makes you think, or teaches you something worthwhile.

#17 perfectpawn

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 12:37 PM

>>We've had this discussion before but I just don't accept the notion that the Code came into being to destroy films. It's totally bogus. Many of the best films of all time were made during the Code years and when the Code ended in 1968 almost overnight many films became crass and ugly and a waste of time, at least to my mind. <<

I've often thought that myself. Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Sunset Boulevard, etc -- all of these classic movies were released *after* the Code was enforced, and they are enduring cinematic greats. So perhaps this "I hate the Code" stuff is a bit unjustified.

But then...the other half of me wonders how much better some of those movies could've been if the Code *hadn't* been enforced...

#18 FredCDobbs

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 07:29 PM

I agree with you. I grew up watching Code films. As the ?60s came on, more films began to violate the Code, and by the late ?60s I no longer liked modern movies, and I began to stop going to them. Luckily, I lived in San Francisco at that time, and we had a lot of classic-movie theaters back then, so I began going only to them. Ted Turner made his first millions by showing Code movies on his WTBS on cable back in the ?70s, and he became quite famous by putting that channel on satellite and cable and showing old movies on it.

Say buddy, will you stake a fellow American to a meal?


#19 goldensilents

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 06:35 PM

Obviously you aren't too up to date with the concept of SYMBOLISM, Prince.

Toilet bowls are SYMBOLIC of dirt and filth. I'm simply not into that kind of thing no matter what era of film we are talking about, silent, precode, Code, or modern day films.

When you get older and realize you are nearer the end of your life, rather than nearer the beginning, your priorities change. I'm like Rhett Butler at the end of Gone With The Wind: I want to see if somewhere in life there isn't some beauty and charm left in the world.

#20 scottman1932

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 09:37 PM

I can't think of any pre-code that even had a toilet in a scene. The only film that I can think of that even uses a toilet in it is THE WIND (1928) which is not a pre-code, and that was used to show that it was malfunctioning and became part of argument that John & Mary were already having in the scene.




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