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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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Pre-Code that Pushed the Envelope


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47 replies to this topic

#1 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 29 August 2017 - 04:51 PM

I think Trouble is Paradise is pretty sexy.  I mean, just what were Kay Francis and Herbert Marshall doing in her room for so long, hmmmmm?

 

Trouble in Paradise is a very sexy film.    The three stars, Hopkins,  Francis and Marshall give fine performances in this fun,  very sexually open,  pre-code romp.    I was happy to see that the film was listed #48 in a recent top 100 comedies critic poll.

 

Clearly one of my favorite pre-code film and a good film to use as an introduction to the unique pre-code era of American filmmaking. 


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#2 FrankieAnne

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Posted 29 August 2017 - 04:31 PM

I think Trouble is Paradise is pretty sexy.  I mean, just what were Kay Francis and Herbert Marshall doing in her room for so long, hmmmmm?



#3 pete23

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 04:38 PM

Waterloo Bridge is it for me!

#4 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 01:49 PM

I don't know if Design For Living (1933) has been mentioned. Miriam Hopkins (who was born for Pre-Code films) can't decide between Gary Cooper and Frederic March, so she decides to live with both of them.  And of course The Story of Temple Drake from 1933 (also with Hopkins) dealt with rape.  That film may have been responsible for creating the Code.

 

Hopkins was one of a kind and she was really in her element in Pre-Code films (but also did some fine work once the code was enforced).     

 

As for responsible for creating the code (I believe you really mean the code being enforced in July of 1934);   Well I would like to credit Hopkins more so than Mae West!


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#5 cinemaspeak59

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 12:50 PM

I don't know if Design For Living (1933) has been mentioned. Miriam Hopkins (who was born for Pre-Code films) can't decide between Gary Cooper and Frederic March, so she decides to live with both of them.  And of course The Story of Temple Drake from 1933 (also with Hopkins) dealt with rape.  That film may have been responsible for creating the Code.


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#6 jasta

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 08:40 AM

I think you can see it on you tube.



#7 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 01:56 PM

Whispering Whoopee(?) with Thelma Todd.  3 call girls play "post office" with a group of older men, but something more seems to be going on.

 

Not much on Wiki about this film but the casting credits looks 'odd' in that all the actors play themselves expect for the butler;

 

Charley Chase as Charley
Thelma Todd as Miss Todd
Anita Garvin as Miss Garvin
Dolores Brinkman as Miss Brinkman
Kay Deslys as Miss Deslys
Eddie Dunn as Ricketts, the Butler      
Dell Henderson as Mr. Henderson
Carl Stockdale as Mr. Stockdale
Tenen Holtz as Mr. Holtz



#8 jasta

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 05:55 AM

Whispering Whoopee(?) with Thelma Todd.  3 call girls play "post office" with a group of older men, but something more seems to be going on.

 



#9 speedracer5

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 11:49 PM

Clark Gable was the chauffeur.   In this early role he played a really mean disgusting person.    Night Nurse is a fine example of a pre-code;  the type of film Hollywood wouldn't make again until the mid-60s when the Production code started being ignored.

 

Love the ending where the murder of a rat is presented as justice but also a laugh.

The mother in this film was a real piece of work too.  Yes.  I remember Gable.  His early roles are very interesting.  I also liked him in Hold Your Man with Jean Harlow.  In this film, he played a con artist who is trying to hide out.


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#10 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 12:29 PM

Night Nurse.  

 

Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell spend much of the film undressing.  When I first saw this film, I was fascinated that Stanwyck stripped down to her bra in this film.  I know Stanwyck isn't known as a great beauty of the screen, but I think she was very pretty.  In a game of "Who Would You Rather?" between Stanwyck and Blondell, my husband chose Stanwyck.  He said she was cute and had a nice figure.  

 

Another theme in Night Nurse that pushed the envelope was the whole theme of the chauffeur who is slowly starving the children in order to obtain a trust fund.

 

Clark Gable was the chauffeur.   In this early role he played a really mean disgusting person.    Night Nurse is a fine example of a pre-code;  the type of film Hollywood wouldn't make again until the mid-60s when the Production code started being ignored.

 

Love the ending where the murder of a rat is presented as justice but also a laugh.


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#11 speedracer5

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 12:09 AM

Night Nurse.  

 

Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell spend much of the film undressing.  When I first saw this film, I was fascinated that Stanwyck stripped down to her bra in this film.  I know Stanwyck isn't known as a great beauty of the screen, but I think she was very pretty.  In a game of "Who Would You Rather?" between Stanwyck and Blondell, my husband chose Stanwyck.  He said she was cute and had a nice figure.  

 

Another theme in Night Nurse that pushed the envelope was the whole theme of the chauffeur who is slowly starving the children in order to obtain a trust fund.


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"It's not an old movie if you haven't seen it." -Lauren Bacall

 

"A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants." -Ted Baxter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"

 

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#12 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 07:10 PM

Hey, James, you're not quite accurate there. Check out Raquel Torres in The Sea Bat (1930) for an eye-popping wet t-shirt scene (it also features Karloff in a small role).

 

Thanks for the tip.   So those clever guys in the pre-code era did find a way to work in an eye-popping wet t-shirt scene after all!  Oh where oh where is this type of creativity today.



#13 GoblinHairedGuy

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 06:46 PM

Don't forget Carole Lombard in No Man of Her Own.     But yea the director always found a way to ensure a women or two was shown undressing regardless of if it advanced the plot.       

 

If the wet t-shirt contest look had been 'invented' back then they would have found a way to work this into at least one scene!    We didn't get that until The Deep.   

Hey, James, you're not quite accurate there. Check out Raquel Torres in The Sea Bat (1930) for an eye-popping wet t-shirt scene (it also features Karloff in a small role).



#14 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 11:02 AM

What amazed me about the pre-code movies was not only the "sex" scenes (straight and lesbian), but the amount of actual nudity by some of the female "greats" of stage and screen...i.e. Clara Bow, Jean Harlow, Dolores Costello, Joan Blondell, Louise Brooks, Hedy Lamarr, Barbara Stanwyck, Claudette Colbert, and Joan Crawford just to name a few. The "Roaring Twenties" really lived up to their name. LOL

 

Don't forget Carole Lombard in No Man of Her Own.     But yea the director always found a way to ensure a women or two was shown undressing regardless of if it advanced the plot.       

 

If the wet t-shirt contest look had been 'invented' back than they would have found a way to work this into at least one scene!    We didn't get that until The Deep.   


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#15 Flashalex

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 05:43 AM

What amazed me about the pre-code movies was not only the "sex" scenes (straight and lesbian), but the amount of actual nudity by some of the female "greats" of stage and screen...i.e. Clara Bow, Jean Harlow, Dolores Costello, Joan Blondell, Louise Brooks, Hedy Lamarr, Barbara Stanwyck, Claudette Colbert, and Joan Crawford just to name a few. The "Roaring Twenties" really lived up to their name. LOL


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#16 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 07:41 PM

Either Madam Satan or Red Headed Woman... the latter, the first pre code film I ever watched (I had it on DVD cos I missed TCM's viewing of it that month) surprised me! I never knew films could be like that in the '30s! I was blushing and giggling. Bill Legendre (Chester Morris) and Lil "Red" Andrews (Jean Harlow) do the unthinkable, and "'Rene" Legendre catches them in the act! I was surprised when 'Rene (I can't for the life of me remember the actress's name) came out, and I paraphrase "You think you could get him with SEX," and how she, "Red" doesn't know how to love, but uses her sex appeal. The fact she flat out said "SEX" I was like... whoa.... I guess it also pushed the envelope cos "Red" sleeps with EVERY GUY in the movie, and I don't want to give away the ending, but let's say "Red" feels no remorse, and suffers no consequences.

 

Leila Hyams is the actress that plays Rene.    Yea,  Red Headed Woman is one 'let it all out' film.   Another I highly recommend is Three on a Match,  with Ann Dvorak,  Joan Blondell and a very young Bette Davis.   



#17 Tisher Price

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Posted 14 June 2016 - 07:04 PM

Either Madam Satan or Red Headed Woman... the latter, the first pre code film I ever watched (I had it on DVD cos I missed TCM's viewing of it that month) surprised me! I never knew films could be like that in the '30s! I was blushing and giggling. Bill Legendre (Chester Morris) and Lil "Red" Andrews (Jean Harlow) do the unthinkable, and "'Rene" Legendre catches them in the act! I was surprised when 'Rene (I can't for the life of me remember the actress's name) came out, and I paraphrase "You think you could get him with SEX," and how she, "Red" doesn't know how to love, but uses her sex appeal. The fact she flat out said "SEX" I was like... whoa.... I guess it also pushed the envelope cos "Red" sleeps with EVERY GUY in the movie, and I don't want to give away the ending, but let's say "Red" feels no remorse, and suffers no consequences.


​"Ya unn't gonna sell this house, an' ya unn't gonna leave it EITHER!"--​Bette Davis as Jane Hudson in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)


#18 rosebette

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Posted 29 June 2014 - 03:36 PM

Mandalay with Kay Francis, who is discarded by lover Ricardo Cortez (so what else is new?) and becomes a prostitute called "White Spot."  Michael Curtiz directs with great use of expressionism and atmosphere.  The thing is fascinating in an awful way and I can't tell you the end, but many evil deeds go unpunished.

 

Ann Vickers with Irene Dunne, apparently made before she was the virginal Magnolia Hawkes in Showboat..  She has an affair with soldier Bruce Cabot, an out of wedlock pregnancy that mysteriously ends after she takes a trip to Havana, and then she takes up with married judge Walter Huston, which leads to another out of wedlock pregnancy.  Ann is a prison reformer and journalist, and both Irene Dunne and Walter Huston give strong performances.  Somehow, the strength of their characters and the performances make you forget  that they are breaking every rule in the book.  

 

 

 



#19 hepclassic

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 08:07 PM

The Sign Of The Cross- Joyzelle Joyner trying to seduce Elissa Landi....Claudette Colbert's nude milk bath.....Christians in the Colosseum. 


"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."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#20 hepclassic

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 07:48 PM

The Divorcee- "If the husband can philander, why not the wife?" Challenges the seemed timeless double standard of men who cheat on their spouses versus women who cheat on their spouse, and sex life after marriage. 

 

Wonder Bar- the first time an openly gay man asks another man to dance in a film, and that there was no shaming at all during the main gay character's run. 

 

Midnight Mary- Loretta Young as a prostitute/gangster's moll. Conventional precode sex yes, but Attila The Nun as a prostitute?! You must see to believe! 


"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."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





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