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Guest TCMhost-Joy

Pre-Code Films

458 posts in this topic

Guest TCMhost-Joy

Controversial, challenging, risque pre-code films demonstrated liberties which seem startling when compared with the golden age of Hollywood.

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Guest mrogers

One of my favorite pre-production code movies is Baby Face, starring Barbara Stanwyck and John Wayne. The first time I saw it, I had the image of Stanwyck as the matriarch of the Barkley family (The Big Valley). It was quite a shock to see her sleeping her way up the corporate ladder, tossing men aside after they served their purpose. Quite a risque flick, in my humble opinion.

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Guest Alix

I agree with your humble opinion. Baby Face is positively outrageous, and considering the conventions of the time, I don't know how it was ever allowed to be shown. Barbara Stanwyck is excellent in the role of Lily. The only part that doesn't quite fit in with the others is the ending, but I suppose in order to get all the other risque stuff by the censor board, they had to make Lily "pay" for her sins in the end. By the way...isn't young John Wayne cute???

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Guest Alix

Thanks sooo much, TCM, for a place just to discuss my favorite movies, the pre-code movies. I'm looking forward to some great discussions here in the future.

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Guest skatikus

I don't know if it's per-code, but it sure was something. Old Busby Berkley (sp?) had that camera aimed right up the stairs so we get a glimpse up the ladies skirts. Also when the dancers come out on stage the camera is aimed right between one girl's legs as she kicks her way on stage. There's also a scene where a woman's breast just about fall out of her dress. I had heard on TCM that BB was out of control, but jeeze. How did he get away with it back in the day?

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Guest Alix

You're right...it's a great movie. And it was produced during the pre-Code era which is probably why Busby B. was allowed to get away with what he did. Most of his early musicals contained risque segements and are still enjoyable today. I especially like the "Shuffle off to Buffalo" number where the train opens up wide to reveal the inside of a sleeper car. This one features Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler as young newlyweds.

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Guest Cindy

And don't forget the line actor George E. Stone say's about Ginger Roger's "Anytime Annie"

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Guest Alix

Another great Busby Berkley pre-code is FOOTLIGHT PARADE. Joan Blondell gets off some really good one liners in this one. My favorite is where she's introducing her "friend" Vivian Rich to Chester Kent and she slips and calls her "Miss Vivian B, er..Rich." How'd that line ever get past the censors???

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Guest gene

I positively LOVE the pre-code era films. It is instructive to view a pre-code along side a "post" code film to see just how marked the changes were. In I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER for example. Pat O'Brien and Jan Blondell, get off some risque`, obvious , yet totally hilarious double entendres about telephone lines, there are a handfull of gay jokes, and Joanie and Pat at movie's end are about to bed down in the same bed (heavens!) and then Jan has a delightful look of joyous carnal anticipation on her face. Only several years later (two, if I've got my years right) in MISS PACIFIC FLEET, things are still fun and fast (and the great Hug Herbert was on hand), but it could be safely shown to a neonate. The Berkeley musicals fared about the same. There's nothing as lubricious as the "Petting in the Park" in the post-code Berkeley. By the way, does anyone else think that the darner per-codes stand the test of time better that, say, the M-G-M pre-codes? I'd like to hear some viewpoints. By the way,has anyone seen CONVENTION CITY? It is one of the Blondell-Farrell pre-codes that I can't catch up with. I'm with Alit - there's nothing more refreshing than pre-code films. I hope TCM will run a festival of them shortly.

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Guest gene

Boy, did I goof...Yes, I know it's "PRE- CODE"!! Sorry to sound so dumb!! (And of course it is "Hugh" Herbert. By the way, my favorite pre-code a MGM is KONGO. Has anyone seen it? Talk about wild!

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Guest Cindy

I sure wish someone would get the movie "Convention City" out of one's "attic" as I read somewhere's that probably where it's located! Love the movie, I've got Your Number. The way Pat O'Brien and Eugene Pallette go at it back and forth verbally is funny!Another pre-code movie that I have seen that fits this category is Blondie Johnson. Has anyone ever seen that one?

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Guest Alix

I believe CONVENTION CITY is currently a lost film. However, I read on the internet (a webpage called "The Vitaphone Project" which is looking to find/restore Vitaphone's early disk/film recordings) that a copy of one reel without sound had surfaced in Europe somewhere, and that there was a frantic search out for more possible footage. But the last report I'd seen said this report was being checked out. From the still photos I've seen of it, and the synopsis of the story line, it has to be the ultimate, most outrageous pre-Code picture.I just saw BLONDE JOHNSON, and thought it was a good movie. As usual, Joan Blondell is excellent. She is one of my favorite pre-Code actresses. In this movie she changes from life's victim to being in complete control of her gang. Pretty heady stuff for 1932, I think.

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Guest skatikus

"I'll go pack my panties, and you go pack your scanties, and away we'll go, ooo-ooo-ooo". LOLAlso love "Bringing up Baby" Especially when Cary Grant is wearing KH's robe and the aunt asks why he's dressed that way. And he leaps up and says he's suddenly turned gay. Never would have gotten away with that in the 50's.

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Guest skatikus

Love this movie. My favorite line is when Jean Harlow is discussing how machines are going to take over all professions, and that wonderful old actress (sorry, don't know the name, I'm new to this) looks her up and down and says, "My dear, that's one thing you'll never have to worry about." LOLAlso had the daughter having an affair with Barrymore (Lionel?). Who's a drunk and kills himself. Terrific movie.BTW, I'm Skat and new here. Love old movies, and though I've been watching TCM for a couple of years am no expert. Would appreciate any help with actors, movie titles, etc. Please forgive my ignorance. :)

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Guest TCMhost-Claire

Welcome to the TCM message boards, skatikus (and everybody!) and don't worry about how much you do or don't know. This is a place for movie fans to share their enthusiasm. Questions are always welcome, so don't be shy!

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Guest gene

Thanks for the info on CC. I had no idea it was a lost film. What a shame. There was a considerable amount of time spent on it in a book on the production code titled THE DAME IN THE KIMONO. Given the cast involved and the studio it came from, it must have been wild. Perhaps it will turn up. Has anyone seen TWO SECONDS with Edward G. Robinson? I think it may be my favorite non-comedy pre-code film.

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Guest Cindy

Love Two Seconds! One of my ave E.. Robin son movies. Boy, doesn't actress Viviene Osborne take E.. "for a ride" in that movie or what?

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Guest Cindy

Alix,Thanks for the info on CC. I sure hope it is truly found and restored so that we can see it one day!

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Guest couchpotato

I love the innuendos in "Design for Living" between the characters Gilda, Tom and George. Gilda falls in love with both Tom and George, and since she can't choose who she prefers, she suggests that they make a "gentleman's agreement." Her proposal is that she move in with the two of them so long as they don't have sex. My favorite quote of the movie is from Gilda: "It's true we had a gentleman's agreement,but unfortunately, I am no gentleman."

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Guest Alix

Oh yes! Love this one. It's one of those that only last about 65 minutes, but boy, do they make every minute count. I was holding my breath all through the last few minutes, with Ed. G. Robinson addressing the judge. By the time he's finally executed, I'm sweating like the cub reporter who views the execution. Robinson was one of the true "pros."

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Guest Alix

Hello Skat - That "wonderful old actress" in DINNER AT EIGHT is none other than the early 1930's most popular actress, Marie Dressler. She was a busy actress in the early teens, even appearing with Charles Chaplin in TILLIE'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE! She fell into obscurity in the 1920's and re-emerged into greatness in the late 1920's and early 1930's. DINNER AT EIGHT is one of my favorite Dressler movies. If your interested in seeing other good movies with her in them, I suggest you see EMMA, and PROSPERITY, both excellent films. God Bless her, she died in the early 1930's at the height of her "second career." It was said she was one of Louis B. Mayer's favorite actresses. You are absolutely right...she was a wonderful actress!!!

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Guest cassandraforsberg

Baby Face is one of my favorites!! A lot of people I know don't care for Barbara Stanwyck but for anyone who has seen her in this role and many others - she's fabulous!!!

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Guest Alix

Oh my yes, you are so right! Barbara Stanwyck is wonderful in everything I've ever seen her in. I think those who really haven't learned to like her should see movies like BABY FACE, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, and STELLA DALLAS. I bet they'd change their tune then! These three roles show the depth of her acting ability.

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Guest Labovitz, Gene

The matronly actress was Marie Dressler, who also starred as "Tugboat Anne" in the same year as she made "Dinner At Eight." She died the following year, 1934.The lines are great. But, remember, it starts off with Harlow and Dressler walking toward the dinner table and Harlow saying, "I was reading a book the other day." And Dressler, looks shocked, and says, "You were reading a book?" And then Harlow says, without reaction, "Yes, it's about how the machines are going to take over all the professions one day." And then comes the Dressler zinger. But the first zinger is great too: "You were reading a book?"

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Guest Alix

Marie Dressler had many great lines in DINNER AT EIGHT. She was also great with the facial gestures. She had the power to make a line funny just by using her face.It does make one incredulous to imagine Kitty Packard reading a book, doesn't it?

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