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favorite pre-code film

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> daneldorado wrote:

>

> I will indeed look forward to seeing "Baby Face"

> (1933) when it is released. Hopefully, it will have

> been restored to near-perfection, like some of those

> precodes we get to see on TCM!

>

 

The one I am curious about is "Warterloo Bridge". "Baby Face" should be alright as they had decent elements to work with. My LaserDisc copy is pretty good, as it is. So, I have fairly high expectations for this one. Howver unlike some, I do not get my hopes up about many 70+ year old films. Oftentimes, I am just tickled to have a watchable copy.

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Cinefest programmed 16mm collector prints without the permission of the copyright holders. That really doesn't count.

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> Cinefest programmed 16mm collector prints without the

> permission of the copyright holders. That really

> doesn't count.

 

 

Nonetheless, they *have* been seen. :-)

 

But, your point is well taken. Seeing a restored version can be like the first time. I hope that TCM presents them at a fairly high bitrate.

 

MM

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Has to be "Red Headed Woman". This one is indeed a classic. This woman really works what she has! I love the power women had before the code. I would have love to see the movies Bettie Davis or Joan Crawford could have done if the code never happened.

 

Anyways, "Red Headed Woman" is so entertaining. It makes me laugh at the gall of Jean Harlow's character."... With marital infidelity; lots of implicit sex, violence, sadism (when Bill finally slaps Lil out of frustration, she says "Hit me again! I like it!"); and plenty of bare female flesh, this is thoroughly adult fare..."

 

Oh and brw, I am a woman and I truly enjoy this one!

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I'm still studying the TCM schedules avidly, hoping to find and record more pre-code films. Turner seems to be showing more of them now.

 

But the BEST pre-code I've seen, to date -- and one of my TOP TEN favorite films of all time -- is still the magical 42ND STREET (1933).

 

This film has never been considered "lost," and it's been revived dozens of times, both on TV and in retrospective theaters. But after viewing some of these pre-codes that are just now seeing the light of day, e.g., BABY FACE (1933), RED-HEADED WOMAN (1932), and KIKI (1931), I still give my vote to 42ND STREET.

 

As everybody knows, it's a "backstage" musical. But it has a strong story -- imitated many times since then, for sure, but new in its day -- and there's an underlying element of impending doom, since the Warner Baxter character is driving himself into an early grave by mounting this musical show against his doctor's advice.

 

Set against this dire background are the wisecracking "dames," all chorus hopefuls, Ginger Rogers, Toby Wing, Una Merkel, and Ruby Keeler among them. And the star of the show-to-be, played by Bebe Daniels, is not evil but doesn't want much to do with the lesser players. Throw in a couple of romantic triangles, Dick Powell's singing, and the show-within-the-show's eventual success, and you've got the formula for an all-time classic film.

 

Nobody mentions it much, but in 42ND STREET Ruby Keeler gets kissed by three different men -- Dick Powell, Warner Baxter, and Clarence Nordstrom. The miracle is that she didn't also get bussed by George Brent, who in the story certainly wanted to kiss her, but decided at the last minute to be a gentleman and pass.

 

And of course, there are the wonderful, magical Busby Berkeley dance routines. My son Mike is a computer graphics artist, one of those guys who creates eye-popping visual effects in movies, TV shows, and commercials; and I love to show him my DVD of 42ND STREET, especially the "I'm Young and Healthy" number, and point out that every one of the special effects in that number was created right in the camera, with no computer in sight.

 

In all, a quite excellent film. I'll keep checking retro screenings and the TCM schedule, looking for more pre-codes; but I doubt I'll find one better, or more durable, than 42ND STREET.

 

Dan N.

 

http://www.silentfilmguide.com

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As much as I like 42nd STREET, I think that GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 is a breezier film and I like the musical numbers better. Pettin' In The Park is fantastic, as is Remember My Forgotten Man, which is still one of the best musical numbers committed to film. The dialogue has some wonderful puns and wisecracks in it. It is cast perfectly Warren William is excellent, Joan Blondell is very sexy in this film, Guy Kibbee is such an excellent bumbler here. The best lines go to Aline MacMahon, she is on spot on as wise-cracking Trixie. Even stiff as a board Ruby Keeler thaws out a bit in this one, and you get to see Ginger Rogers wearing Morgan Dollars. What's not to like !?!

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I think both of these are my favorite pre-code musicals. I love The Forgotten Man number - and Joan Blondell is probably my favorite - but I like the story better in 42nd Street, the price that characters were willing to pay for the play. And success. However it's defined.

 

Julie

 

Message was edited by: me

JulieAH

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A fav' I'll never see - Convention City. Read the screen play, apparently Joan Blondell is a floozy assigned, along with a flock of scantily clad gals, to pleasure politicians out on a lark while mixing business with pleasure. Jack Warner received tons of fan mail for the flick after the Production Code came into play from conventioners who wanted to rent it for their occasion. Problem - doing so would go against the code and he, Warner would be set up for some heavy fines. However, if he didn't have any copies of it to show he couldn't very well loan any out for conventions. So Warner, in his infinite "wisdom" ordered every print and the original camera negative destroyed. And that's how we lost one of the most popular pre-code movies in all of pre-code Hollywood. Silly code - stupid Jack!

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Last night I watched the 1934 Busby Berkeley musical "Dames" on TCM. As everyone here knows, "Dames" is considered another pre-code musical, in the same vein as its predecessor Warner Bros. flicks "42nd Street," "Footlight Parade," and "Gold Diggers of 1933." After having enjoyed a virtual cornucopia of female pulchritude in those previous films -- all released in 1933 -- I expected "Dames" to follow in the same light. But no such luck.

 

The songs, by Harry Warren and Al Dubin (and others), are just fine, especially Warren and Dubin's "I Only Have Eyes for You" and "Dames"... and the Berkeley magic is still mesmerizing, especially in the dance routines he devised for those two numbers. Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler are pleasant as the young lovers, and Joan Blondell continues to charm as the wise-cracking gold digger with a heart of, er, gold.

 

But, about halfway through the movie, I began to detect a softening of the old pre-code sass. I checked the IMDb, and sure enough,"Dames" is NOT a pre-code movie. It was released in August 1934, at which time the Production Code had taken effect and was being strenuously enforced. (Enforcement commenced July 1, 1934.) So Warner Bros. had to trim back the pulchritude and go for more "wholesome" fare.

 

An example: In the three 1933 films I mentioned above (all pre-codes), there were plenty of girlish gams on display. I figured this would be a given, in any Busby Berkeley film. But in "Dames," the girls -- all of them beautiful, but wholesomely so -- wear opaque black tights in the big production numbers, not the stockings and garters on such winsome display in 1933.

 

Also: The driving force behind the film's admittedly thin plot is a crusade by multi-millionaire Ezra Ounce (Hugh Herbert) to ban "filth and degradation" from the American stage -- meaning, of course, musical theater. One is tempted to believe the scenarist (Delmer Daves) devised this plot as a rebuke to the Production Code's demands for "clean" movies.

 

Ironically, the "naughtiest" line in the whole script is spoken by Ruby Keeler, and nobody knew it was naughty at the time. Reacting to her parents' insistence that she give up the stage, feisty Barbara (Miss Keeler) barks:

 

"I'm free, white, and 21. I love to dance and I'm GOING to dance!"

 

Strange, isn't it? Nobody in 1934 thought there was anything wrong with that line. Today, it would cause riots, Congressional investigations, and civil rights lawsuits.

 

But remember: "Dames," a pleasant enough trifle, is NOT a pre-code.

 

Dan N.

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I don't have one fave but I do really like Red Dust, Babyface, RedheadedWoman and many others. There are many I haven't seen and would like to. I have the Sin in Soft Focus book, which has a lot of interesting info and pics from the Pre-Code era.

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I love Babyface and Red Dust (any Jean Harlow movie floats my boat) but so far the best one I've seen is Blessed Event with Lee Tracy and Ruth Donnelly (and Dick Powell). Tracy is epitome of pre-code sarcasm and energy and there are really fast and funny scenes between him and Donnelly. Plus Dick Powell is the bad guy and I for one get a strange sense of satisfaction from seeing him ridiculed by Tracy's character - with a face like that you'd think Powell would have been a natural for such arch-rival type roles.

 

Lee Tracy has become one of my very top favourite actors because of this movie. He's also pretty good in Half Naked Truth - a totally off the wall pre-coder. There are times when Tracy and Lupe Velez start to venture into really abstract, absurdist humour for 1933.

 

http://silentfilmlegend.blogspot.com

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> Jewel Robbery with Kay Francis and William Powell is

> a very subversive little film. My wife told me that

> Kay's clothes must have been pinned to her; that they

> wouldn't have stayed on otherwise! Not available

> anywhere I know of except TCM from time to time.

 

It also contains some very blatant drug references. A wonderfully enjoyable little movie.

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If I had to pick one favourite pre-code film (an almost impossible choice) I think I'd have to go for RAIN. But then I do adore Joan Crawford. And you get Walter Huston in wonderful form in this movie as well.

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I'm sorry - I can't pick just one - I'll have to cheat.

42nd Street - I watch this a lot. Barely there costumes, lots of legs - typical

pre-code stuff and those wonderful catchy songs.

Blonde Crazy - cracking pace. Cagney and Blondell equally matched

exchanging wisecracks.

Three on a Match - surely THE pre-code film -party girls, bad guys, coke

fiends, neglected kids - just another day at the office in pre-code world.

Jewell Robbery - Kay Francis and William Powell have sizzling chemistry

in this sophisticated comedy.

Night Nurse - Cracking story as Stanwyck battles hospital run by dope

fiend (?) Ralf Harolde, children being starved and Nick the sadistic

chauffer (Clark Gable).

Red-Headed Woman - Jean Harlow sizzles as Red who will do anything to

"get her man"( can you see through this - good I'll wear it!!!)

"Hold Your Man" - I haven't seen this in so long but I remember liking it

- especially the prison fight scene.

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I guess my favorite would have to be "Five Star Final" (1931). It's well played and deals with a subject that is still important today in media VS privacy. The Mom and Pop double suicide is still horrific by todays standards, and gives me chills everytime see it.

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I'm still studying the TCM schedules avidly, hoping to find and record more pre-code films. Turner seems to be showing more of them now.

 

You've just described my monthly ritual. I usually wind up filling up my DVR after 1-3 months, burning the ones I like and erasing the others.

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I usually wind up filling up my DVR after 1-3 months

 

****, ROFL - etc! - The hard-drive (120GB) on my DVR is so full (between TCM and BBC/America - which I have to edit for commercials) that I have to burn 2-3 DVDs a day, just to keep it from "losing" older stuff I still keep around as filler for non-full DVDs!

 

And, yes, I print out the monthly schedules way ahead of time and mark them up, to be sure I have a good chance of getting ones I want - mostly musicals and pre-codes.

Bill

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****, ROFL - etc! - The hard-drive (120GB) on my DVR is so full (between TCM and BBC/America - which I have to edit for commercials) that I have to burn 2-3 DVDs a day, just to keep it from "losing" older stuff I still keep around as filler for non-full DVDs!

 

 

Say Bill... Bill McCrary? I'd like to email you with a film-related question, if you'd give me your email address.

 

You can find mine on my site, at: http://www.silentfilmguide.com

 

Thanks,

Dan N.

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RAIN! What an awesome precode film...So much aobut it makes you think that maybe our generation doesn't have the corner on the perversity market. Joan Crawford as a prostitute seducing a preacher...too good to miss!

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Crawford really does a great job in RAIN. You can't help liking Sadie Thompson and being on her side. Walter Huston does a fine piece of acting as the preacher - the sexual tension between them is very well done.

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I've only seen two, Freaks and Public Enemy, but if I were to choose between them I would have to go with Freaks. Even though the ending gave me chills, I loved the rest of it. It showed that "freaks" may very well be "normal" on the inside, while "normals" may be "freaks" on the inside. This was done very compassionately.

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On Wednesday, January 03, 2007 at 6:41 PM, NZ said:

A fav' I'll never see - Convention City. Read the screen play, apparently Joan Blondell is a floozy assigned, along with a flock of scantily clad gals, to pleasure politicians out on a lark while mixing business with pleasure. Jack Warner received tons of fan mail for the flick after the Production Code came into play from conventioners who wanted to rent it for their occasion. Problem - doing so would go against the code and he, Warner would be set up for some heavy fines. However, if he didn't have any copies of it to show he couldn't very well loan any out for conventions. So Warner, in his infinite "wisdom" ordered every print and the original camera negative destroyed. And that's how we lost one of the most popular pre-code movies in all of pre-code Hollywood. Silly code - stupid Jack!

Even though Joan Blondell played quite a daring role in "Gold diggers 33" while trying to play Warren Williams for a fool, Warren was no gentleman himself stating right from the beginning what he thought of Blondell as a kniving golddigger.  But Blondell's biggest troublemaker character was definitely in "Dames" while sneaking into Guy Kibbee's bed twice making threats to scream and to try and ruin him if he didn't fork over $25 K to put up for a show, $25 K is a lot of money even today to manipulate someone for, and today, $25K would be about $200K. What a bad girl.

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