Sign in to follow this  
Guest TCMhost-Joy

Pre-Code Films

458 posts in this topic

Guest spiderbaby

I saw Blonde Venus on TCM not too long ago. It was a hoot! Marlene Dietrich has a dance number in a gorilla suit. There are also quick glimpses of nudity in a skinnydipping scene at the beginning of the flick.And no way the Pacino Scarface even comes close to the original!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Alix

I saw that one too...the number where she dances in the gorilla suit is called "Hot Voodoo." What a riot!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Eve

the first big laugh I got was from the bedtime story scene. (of course I'm one of those weirdoes that makes distasteful jokes throughout the entire movie that no one likes to watch anything with, so i'd been laughing at my incest jokes, etc.) anyway,"then what happened mommy?""then he kissed me!" she pecks ned on the cheek."then what happened?!""then he kissed me again!" another peck. "then what happened?!""then we got married." like that's all that happened before they were married!the second big laugh came from a conversation with taxi."do you charge for the first mile?"but I almost fell out of my chair when marlene dietrich strip teased out of that gorilla suit!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest clore

I taped Skyscraper Souls off TCM the other day, a pre-code masterpiece, with Warren in a kind of role that we came to associate with George Sanders a few years later, the two men appeared together in Warren's last film, The Private Affairs of Bel Ami. The Mouthpiece is another excellent film.He had a unique career, having played Philo Vance, Perry Mason and The Lone Wolf in series films. Warren was almost Sherlock Holmes, but Gene Markey suggested Rathbone to Zanuck, and Warren lost the role. One of his last films, Strange Illusion, is a good low-budgeter directed by the great Edgar Ulmer, I'd love to see this again on TCM.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Cindy

I would love to see the Lone Wolf series! I don't think TCM or anyone else for that matter, has ever shown them?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest duffyx

One of my favorites. Recorded it because it's not shown frequently enough and I love the background score.Blondell a hot-looking chick in those days. Ditto on Convention City. Book "Sin in Soft Focus" reveals that prints were destroyed at J Warner's request after he received lots of criticism about it's low moral tone. Sounds like something I'd enjoy seeing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Alix

I think all us classic film buffs would love to see this one, simply because of the legend that surrounds it. I also read "Sin in Soft Focus" and the section on Convention City describes the plot as so outrageous, it is incredible they ever filmed it. How terrible that the prints might have been destroyed. I say "might have" because I read on the net that one or two reels w/o sound may have surfaced in Europe. Hmmm...sure would be wonderful if a print existed somewhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Alix

I know this film is never seen because of a lawsuit. Can anyone fill me in on what the deal is? I am a big Joan Crawford fan, and I've seen photos of her taken during this film, and she looks absolutely gorgeous. Is there no chance of seeing this one??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest TCMhost-Claire

The Letty Lynton case is a copyright infringement lawsuit that is still studied, especially in light of today's intellectual property controversies.The gist of the case was this: There was a real-life episode of a young girl allegedly poisoning her lover. Both a play and a book were written about this prior to the film. The owners of the play alleged that the filmmakers plagiarized, especially considering that negotiations over rights had taken place. The filmmakers countered that they had not plagiarized, but had lifted from the earlier sources, i.e. the book and the actual incident, as well as "general themes, motives and ideas" which are not subject to copyrightThe playwrights' suit was lost originally, but won on appeal. The appeal court judge gave a very eloquent explanation for his decision:"We have often decided that a play may be pirated without using the dialogue. [Other case law] do not suggest otherwise. Were it not so, there could be no piracy of a pantomime, where there cannot be any dialogue; yet nobody would deny to pantomime the name of drama. Speech is only a small part of a dramatist's means of expression; he draws on all the arts and compounds his play from words and gestures and scenery and costume and from the very looks of the actors themselves. Again and again a play may lapse into pantomime at its most poignant and significant moments; a nod, a movement of the hand, a pause, may tell the audience more than words could tell. To be sure, not all this is always copyrighted, though there is no reason why it may not be, for those decisions do not forbid which hold that mere scenic tricks will not be protected. [Case law cited] The play is the sequence of the confluents of all these means, bound together in an inseparable unity; it may often be most effectively pirated by leaving out the speech, for which a substitute can be found, which keeps the whole dramatic meaning. That as it appears to us is exactly what the defendants have done here; the dramatic significance of the scenes we have recited is the same, almost to the letter. True, much of the picture owes nothing to the play; some of it is plainly drawn from the novel; but that is entirely immaterial; it is enough that substantial parts were lifted; no plagiarist can excuse the wrong by showing how much of his work he did not pirate. We cannot avoid the conviction that, if the picture was not an infringement of the play, there can be none short of taking the dialogue."The complete decision, including the scenes in question, can be found at http://www.edlaw.fplc.edu/Text/Library/case-sheldon.mgm.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest GrapeJug

Was that one of the liberties granted in this loose period? I'm not trying to start any controversy; I just want to know if all the eye-bugging, head scratching, blackface, running, shuffling, and watermelon eating, things of that sort were part of the pre-Code era. Believe me, this is an innocent question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest clore

And it was made well after the code was initiated. Same goes for the Monogram Charlie Chan films, the ones with Mantan Moreland as Birmingham Brown, and Willie Best in High Sierra.Even cartoons weren't immune, and the Cartoon Network (another Turner station) has removed close to two dozen Bugs Bunny cartoons from the marathon they have scheduled. It's not limited to African-American stereotypes either, as seems to be your curiosity. Check out some of the films made during the WWII era, one, Air Force, has George Tobias saying "Fried ****, going down."The code was more concerned with deglamorizing sex and outlaws.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Alix

Thank you Claire. I followed the link and read the "legalese" and it sounds like that means it will never be shown. Since you say the case is still being studied, do you think there's any chance of a reversal?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest TCMhost-Claire

It didn't appear to me that the case was in court, just that it was being studied by law students. Unless some individual or corporation sued to re-open the case, I doubt that it would be reversed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest spiderbaby

Just saw this one. Stars William Warren, Ann Dvorak, Joan Blondell, and Bette Davis. Ann Dvorak leaves hubby to become a hophead.Also saw Gold diggers of 33 with Warren and Blondell, and Ginger Rogers, which was just on TCM. The production numbers didn't strike me to be as spectacular as 42nd street, but I thought the plot (such as it was) was pretty swell. Ruby Keeler danced better than she did in 42nd street--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest GrapeJug

clore, I realize that negatively portraying minority groups went on well into the forties and maybe later. But I wanted to know if it started during the pre-code period. Because I know the oulaws, etc. were restricted when the Code was enforced, but stereotypes seem to have been let go. Or did this start after the Code? If so, it answers a different question.And I understand it wasn't just Black people being stereotyped. I gritted my teeth at the portrayal of Indochina in Red Dust. I've seen several WWII movies that show Japanese and Germans and the "Axis" in a bad light. I don't like seeing any of that. But I do realize that a large part of it was propaganda. I don't think the same can be said of "Birmingham Brown."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Alix

What a goodie! It's amazing to me how much they packed into a 65 minute movie! And Warren William appears in a "sympathetic" role. Unusual for him, in the 1930's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest clore

Here is a film that initially President Woodrow Wilson said was "like living history" and later retracted his endorsement when the backlash towards the film started snowballing.It is probably as old as film, but I truly don't believe it was vicious intent, just insensitivity. Most of the moguls were Jewish, but that didn't lessen the Jewish stereotypes depicted on screen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest TCMhost-Claire

Racial stereotyping was not the taboo then that it is now. The Production Code forbid the portrayal of miscegenation: i.e., sexual relationships between people of different races. That was considered much more of a taboo in the 30s than the perpetuation of negative stereotypes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Cindy

Alix, that is definitely a goody! But, did you know that WB's did a remake of that movie around 1938 called Broadway Muskeeters? Starring Margaret Lindsay, Ann Sheridan and Marie Wilson? Of course, it has a slightly different twist to it. But the same theme. Poor Margaret Lindsay is doomed at the end like Ann Dvorak was in 3 on a Match.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest GrapeJug

But thanks to clore and Claire for trying to help answer my question. I might end up having to do some research, but you've given me a good place to start, and a lot to think about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest clore

It was there, and sometimes blatantly evident. I saw an awful 1932 film called THE MONSTER WALKS, and actor Willie Best was billed as "Sleep 'n' Eat" - absolutely disgusting.Besides Richard Dix' hammy performance, one reason I can't watch the 1931 CIMARRON is the racism, including a watermelon reference that makes me cringe.On the other hand, let your research take you to this man - Oscar Micheaux.http://us.imdb.com/Name?Micheaux,+OscarAn industry that did not silence his voice, that allowed him to exist and prosper, is not as racist as appears on the surface. This man was a pioneer, a visionary, long before Gordon Parks, Melvyn Van Peebles and Spike Lee. TCM has aired a documentary and some of his films, it would be to everyone's advantage that they do so again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest TCMhost-Claire

The Film Encyclopedia has a bit more detailed bio of Micheaux than imdb. To summarize: Micheaux was the son of freed slaves, and worked various jobs before homesteading in South Dakota. He published three novels, and did much of the publishing and promotions himself. His third novel, The Homesteader, was noticed by a film company owned by African-Americans. Negotiations fell through, but he persevered and made the film himself.Micheaux's films explored topics that are absent from the white cinema of the time, including lynching (Within Our Gates, 1920), and discrimination (Birthright, 1939). He also gave Paul Robeson his first movie role. You can learn more about Micheaux in a website dedicated to him, http://www.shorock.com/arts/micheaux/. There is also a wealth of scholarly information available from UC Berkeley at http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/Micheauxbib.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest clore

It's a one-stop shopping center.On the left of the IMDb page, in the yellow border, scroll down, there are links to more references and photographs, so I thought it was a good place to start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest claudettefan

I really applaud TCM for going out and bringing some oldies from Paramount into their library - these films are truly rare!!! So many early films of Colbert, Lombard, Cooper, etc. have been locked away for decades and the owners of the films (Universal) don't seem much interested in doing anything about getting them more exposure. Turner is now showing CLASSICS from 30's Paramount, let's hope they start showing some of the lesser gems too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Alix

I enjoyed the bio TCM did on Micheaux as well as the silents they showed. He was a talented film maker. His films deserve to be seen again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us