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Recently Watched Pre-Codes


LawrenceA
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The Phantom Broadcast (1933) is a Poverty Row production and looks it. But it is one of director Phil Rosen's better efforts, mashing up the fad for crooners with gangsters at loose ends, thinking they've found a new racket. The closest thing to pre-code content is the question of whether the person who committed murder will get away with the crime (never mind that the victim has been shown to be a thoroughly despicable person). Available in mediocre prints on YouTube and from other public domain film sources.

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Bed of Roses (1933). Pre-code staple Constance Bennett, playing a recently released ex-convict, jailed for practicing the world’s oldest profession, seduces her way into being the mistress of a possessive businessman, but her heart belongs to the operator of a cotton barge, a nonconformist played by Joel McCrea.  This is Bennett in her trademark role of a morally compromised woman, torn between material comforts and love, who comes to redemption after seeing the error in her ways. Bennett is joined by her wisecracking sidekick, (Pert Kelton), who talks like Mae West. Constance Bennett, with her graceful languid movements, and air of nonchalance, in many ways came to represent the Pre-code years.  Bed of Roses is more comedic, and not as dark as 1932’s What Price Hollywood?, but I nonetheless found it a pleasant diversion.

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Ex-Lady (1933) - Bette Davis is a free-spirited, cool-as-a-cucumber commercial artists who keeps rebuffing marriage proposals from her boyfriend, the owner of an advertising agency. Why? Because she thinks marriage will lose its spark. Complacency and boredom will settle in, and then what. Bette’s character eventually relents, but her reservations prove accurate. Gene Raymond plays the love interest, and he’s quite good, a character who is serious and has gravitas. The cast includes Frank McHugh as a stuffed shirt seemingly oblivious to the attentions of his gorgeous wife, played by Claire Dodd. Monroe Owsley and Kay Strozzi also give good turns as glamorous society types who come between Davis and Raymond.  Ex-Lady is not so much sexually suggestive as sexually obvious. Even by pre-code standards, not much is left to the imagination. Bette Davis looks beautiful; cinematographer Tony Gaudio captures her ethereal beauty, something WB boss Jack Warner failed to appreciate. Clocking in at 67 minutes, Ex-Lady doesn’t overstay its welcome.

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1 hour ago, cinemaspeak59 said:

Ex-Lady (1933) - Bette Davis is a free-spirited, cool-as-a-cucumber commercial artists who keeps rebuffing marriage proposals from her boyfriend, the owner of an advertising agency. Why? Because she thinks marriage will lose its spark. Complacency and boredom will settle in, and then what. Bette’s character eventually relents, but her reservations prove accurate. Gene Raymond plays the love interest, and he’s quite good, a character who is serious and has gravitas. The cast includes Frank McHugh as a stuffed shirt seemingly oblivious to the attentions of his gorgeous wife, played by Claire Dodd. Monroe Owsley and Kay Strozzi also give good turns as glamorous society types who come between Davis and Raymond.  Ex-Lady is not so much sexually suggestive as sexually obvious. Even by pre-code standards, not much is left to the imagination. Bette Davis looks beautiful; cinematographer Tony Gaudio captures her ethereal beauty, something WB boss Jack Warner failed to appreciate. Clocking in at 67 minutes, Ex-Lady doesn’t overstay its welcome.

A good Davis pre-code.     Davis does look fine and being a pre-code the script allows for sexual openness that,  after July 1934,  could only be hinted at.

EX-LADY (1933). | Bette davis, Classic hollywood, Bette davis eyesEx-Lady - Rotten Tomatoes

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The Greeks Had a Word for Them (1932) Also known as Three Broadway Girls.

Polaire (Madge Evans), and Schatzi (Joan Blondell), are two Broadway actresses with manageable problems, but when their conniving friend Jean (Ina Claire) returns from Paris, broke and in search of a rich husband, their tranquility is upended. Polaire is trusting, and  engaged to the honorable and wealthy Dey (David Manners). Schatzi has Pops, a sugar daddy, who remains off screen. Jean then goes to work trying to break them up, so she can have the men to herself. Lowell Sherman ably directs and appears as Boris, a famous concert pianist who bets Jean money he can make her fall in love with him, but Boris falls for Polaire instead, allowing Jean an opportunity to wreck another couple. Jean’s problem isn’t that she’s too clever for own good, it’s that she needs excitement dull but respectable men can’t provide. Once she has the money to send her away, and quiet down any scandal, Jean can do what she loves most: being in the company of Polaire and Schatzi. Adapted from Zoe Akins’s play, the film is sprinkled with bon mots, and is a funny and sophisticated look at the complexity of female friendship. Think of this as a forerunner to The Women, from 1939.

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