perfectpawn

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  1. perfectpawn

    Scarlet Empress (1934)

    Watched this again over the weekend -- really great film, highly recommended. I'm sure most on here have already seen it. The cinematography, the pace, the direction, all of it was great. Acting was good, too, but it's moreso camp than serious -- witness of course the scene where Marlene Dietrich keeps putting a straw in her mouth, only for it to be yanked out, to be replaced by another, which is yanked out, to be replaced by another...again and again and again. I've already got the Dietrich/Sternberg movies Morocco and Dishonored on the way -- PAL DVDs again.
  2. perfectpawn

    uncensored mata hari - what is wrong with it

    >>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...
  3. perfectpawn

    Scarlet Empress (1934)

    Finally got to see this and it's already become one of my favorite Pre-Code Movies. I say "Pre-Code," but technically it was released just as the Code was enforced; as readers of "Sin in Soft Focus" know, the movie cleared the Code by a fluke. If I remember it right Breen was out of the country and Sternberg was pushing for clearance so he could debut the film at some festival; a Breen lackey, under pressure from Sternberg, passed the film -- and when Breen returned and saw the picture he freaked out. But it was too late, the movie had been passed. But wow. This movie has everything you could want in a Pre-Code: nudity, adult situations, torture, violence, beheadings, whippings, a guy trussed up and used as a bell clapper, risque dialog, the works. And on top of it all it's sumptiously filmed, one of the most visually arresting black and white movies out there. The whole thing takes place in this Gothic fantasy world -- ostensibly it's the story of Catherine the Great, but it occurs in a Moscow out of some dark fairy tale. Monstrous-like statues loom behind the characters as they plot against one another and shadows reign. It's a beautiful film, heavily influenced by the old German Expressionism. The US DVD from Criterion is grainy and often complained about; I ordered the recent Universal DVD released in the UK -- ordered it from Amazon UK. It's inexpensive and shipping to the US isn't much, either; you just need a multi-region DVD player to play it. It was sourced from a different print but it has a little cropping, when compared to the Criterion -- however I think the Universal print just looks a lot better. Here's a website comparing the Criterion and Universal discs: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/FILM/DVDReviews10/the_scarlet_empress_.htm
  4. perfectpawn

    Help identify this Pre-Code

    Thanks for the responses. I'd tried the "customers also recommend" on Amazon but it was a bust. However the "Let's Go Native" thread below makes me suspect that this movie indeed was the movie I read about (and so thanks to musicalnovelty for suggesting it), as the recap in the other thread sounds a bit like the summary I read of this mysterious film. The only thing is...the film I read about, I'm certain there was a vhs of it, because I remember reading reader reviews on Amazon. Yet there doesn't appear to be a vhs release of "Let's Go Native;" there certainly isn't one listed on Amazon. So for now I'll just let it go. Thanks!
  5. perfectpawn

    Help identify this Pre-Code

    Thanks for the reply, but none of these appear to be the film I seek. It's infuriating; it was only a month ago I discovered this movie. If I recall, it was only available on VHS. And I think I stumbled across it after reading up on either Madam Satan or Kongo. But again, no amount of Googling has lead me to the site where I first read about it. Something about a boat wreck or plane crash? With bizarre stuff along the lines of "Just Imagine?" It's lurking there in the back of my brain but I can't recall it! Thanks again, any further suggestions welcomed.
  6. perfectpawn

    Help identify this Pre-Code

    Once I read about this Pre-Code movie that was something like an airplane crash or a boat wreck and these people were stranded somewhere...it featured some musical bits but on the whole it was supposedly shocking, with racist nonsense and adult situations. And it covered a variety of genres, from musical to drama to fantasy. I can't remember the title of the film for the life of me, and a variety of Google searches yields nothing. Please let me know if this rings a bell.
  7. perfectpawn

    Tonight Is Ours (1933)

    A fairy tale in cinematic form, "Tonight Is Ours" is a wonderful film that's been forgotten. Never officially released on video or DVD (yet), your best chance of finding it is scouring the cable channels or finding a pirated DVD copy. (Mine looks like it's been pasted together from a variety of sources, none of them good, with a blurry image that flickers like an old silent film. Which, actually, imparts the movie with even more of a fairy tale quality!) A year after pairing in DeMille's "Sign of the Cross," Claudette Colbert and Fredric March are together again -- here she's Nadya, self-exiled princess of a mythical European kingdom, and March is Sabien, a French national (I assume) who does...well, something. The movie's never very clear on who Sabien is and what he does for a living. But on the whole this is a great movie. March is good in this -- sometimes he comes off as too stiff (ie "Sign of the Cross"), other times he's incredibly dynamic ("Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"). Here he bridges the gap -- the guy could spin out lovey-dovey dialog better than any other actor in Hollywood, and he pours it on thick for Colbert. And as for Colbert herself -- my god, she is gorgeous in this film. Colbert was beautiful throughout her life, but I've always had a preference for "Early '30s Colbert," with her big eyes, apple cheeks, and bobbed chin-length hair. She is more beautiful in this film than in any other I've seen her in, save for "Sign of the Cross." In fact I might just prefer her here -- though her costumes aren't as revealing as those in "Cross" (and there are no milk baths in sight), she isn't relegated to wearing the stylized wigs she wore in that film. Pre-Code naughtiness: Lots of dialog about sex -- when stating why she shouldn't be queen, Nadya basically admits to having slept around with several men. When Nadya relates to Sabien why she left her husband the king, we see it happen via flashback -- basically, the king insisted Nadya pretend to be a slave, so he could chase her around, whip her, and then take her. Early in the film Nadya wears a satin gown -- much like the one Clara Bow wore toward the end of "Call Her Savage," during her destruction of the hotel room -- and it's cut so low that Colbert's cleavage basically hangs out. And the Sabien/Nadya consummation scene is lensed as if Ernst Lubitsch was behind the camera -- Sabien turns off the light, and we see the door to the bedroom close behind them.
  8. perfectpawn

    has anyone seen the movie call her savage?

    Just watched this fantastic movie -- got a DVDR of the Fox Movie Channel broadcast. I thought it was great, as Pre-Code as you can get. As for "Dynamite's" sudden pregnancy, I too laughed at how thin she was in the scene before she was pregnant. "A seven month baby," as the doctor put it. My take is she got pregnant on her wedding night. The way the film's sequenced, she gives birth shortly after meeting with her "flu-ridden" yet psychotic husband. At the end of that scene where he attacks her and she knocks him out, the doctor tells her the husband's nuts, but not to "worry about him." Dynamite's response is, "I'm not worried about HIM." And then directly after that we have her seeing her freshly-delivered baby for the first time.
  9. perfectpawn

    Pre-Code in the Jungle

    Another one I just became aware of; currently tracking down a copy of: Black Moon -- 1934 (Fay Wray voodoo jungle adventure)
  10. perfectpawn

    What was the last Pre-Code you watched?

    Finance, if you're looking for a movie that's truly Pre-Code which is tame and yet entertaining, then I implore you to check out "The Torch Singer" on Universal's Pre-Code Hollywood DVD set. A Claudette Colbert feature, it's from 1933 and it's tame yet pre-Code; the story revolves around an unwed mother, something that would be verbotten in the post-Code years. And Colbert GLOWS in the movie.
  11. perfectpawn

    What was the last Pre-Code you watched?

    I'd have to say "It Happened One Night." I know it came out right as the Code was enforced, but technically it was made during the party of the Pre-Code years. It's very tame, but it is incredibly entertaining. An old movie anyone can enjoy, even those who for whatever reason don't like b&w films. And what's funny is how modern day romantic comedies still follow its template.
  12. perfectpawn

    What was the last Pre-Code you watched?

    By the by, re: The Lost Patrol... One thing Denny says is that Malaysian women "should be burned alive by age 21." I really doubt my Malaysian wife would agree with that...! Just goes to show that some of the elements of these Pre-Code movies really ARE a bit offensive these days... Then again, "miscegenation" was an offense in those days. What a word, really. It was like they made it as big as they could to mask their racism...
  13. perfectpawn

    What was the last Pre-Code you watched?

    I apologize for the viciousness of my reply. Joseph Breen was the SOB who encforced the Code and basically ended the glory days of the Pre-Code years; my comparison of him to you was unjustified and again, I apologize. I've been going through a rough patch lately. I've been known myself to be a sarcastic, vindictive SOB and I'm trying my hardest to turn a new leaf. (And to further the comparison, my birth name is Joseph!) However, your comment is justified. I do follow the Viera school -- I think everything produced between 1929 and 1934 constitutes as Pre-Code, even if said production lacks the "outrageous" merits we expect in "true" Pre-Code films. My argument is that these films were made BEFORE the Code was enforced; therefore, it's hard to say WHAT exactly would have been changed in a post-Code world. Of my reviews though I would say "Dr X" isn't really "Pre-Code" in the least. Fay Wray does look pretty great in it, though. Her and Colbert. I say, those Pre-Code movies just had the most incredible actresses....
  14. perfectpawn

    What was the last Pre-Code you watched?

    Just watched "The Most Dangerous Game." Got the DVD that features the B&W and the colorized version. Of course, I watched b&w. Picture was (apparently) restored, so it was sharp and clear. Enjoyed it. Hard to believe how many movies have lifted this simple tale. I don't think it was as good as King Kong (same production company and set) but really, Fay Wray looked fantastic in it (natural brunette and all!), and it was very much an edge-of-your-seat finale. I daresay the "mounted heads of former victims" wouldn't have made it in the post-Code world; indeed, only "Sin City" comes close to capturing the savagery, and that movie was made a few decades after this.
  15. perfectpawn

    Mata Hari is on tomorrow

    As an FYI Mata Hari will be shown on TCM this Friday -- 5AM CST, 6AM EST. I've never seen it so I'm looking forward to it. Got the tape ready to go. (I still live in the archaic VCR age, no TiVo!)

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