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Leonard Maltin preCode ratings good?


MovieMadness

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I was wondering what others thought of the ranking and rating of these movies Leonard Maltin has, all PreCode.

 

Cimarron 2 1/2 out of 4

A Free Soul 2 1/2 out of 4

baby face 2 1/2 out of 4

red headed woman 3 out of 4

Shanghai express 3 out of 4

The Sin of Madelon Claudet 3 out of 4

Morocco 3 out of 4

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 3 out of 4

 

I have to say to start not 1 of these is 4 out of 4?

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Maltin's been rating so many films for so many years...I sense most of these mentioned were reviewed at the time with a thought to the audience, who for a long time frankly didn't "get" the sensibilities of most early thirties films. The pre-Code revival of the 1990s -- engineered in large part by TCM's predecessor, the original TNT, as well as writers like Mick LaSalle ("Complicated Women," "Dangerous Men") -- caused many of these movies to be (positively) re-evaluated by casual film buffs. From what I know about Maltin, he likely would now boost most of the films you cited by a half-star, maybe more.

 

Also, as recently as the 1980s many pre-Code movies were only available in "censored" footage so as to pass muster with the Breen office in case of re-releases. Fortunately, the original versions of many of them have been uncovered and made available, although a few are deemed lost in their complete versions (e.g., "Love Me Tonight").

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Ratings are always subjective, no matter who is doing them.

 

I'd rate BABY FACE and RED HEADED WOMAN on a scale of 4, 4 of 4!! :)

SHANGHAI EXPRESS also, 4 of 4. A FREE SOUL 3.5 of 4. And I'd bump up MOROCCO and DR. JEKYLL a half a notch at least! :)

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VP19, I think you're right on target about the reasons for the low ratings for the pre-codes. Starred rating systems are a very blunt instrument anyway. Recommendations from the posters on these boards continue to be much more valuable to me than anybody's rating.

 

TCM continues to revise film history and criticism just by making so many obscure films accessible to us.

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For what it is worth (which may be putting it rather cheaply), I would give them the following ratings:

Cimarron 3 out of 4

A Free Soul 3 out of 4

baby face 4 out of 4

red headed woman 3 1/2 out of 4

Shanghai express 4 out of 4

The Sin of Madelon Claudet 3 out of 4

Morocco 3 out of 4

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 4 out of 4

 

Some four star pre-codes (IMHO) would include (some may already be classified with 4 stars by Maltin):

 

FIVE STAR FINAL (1931)

PALMY DAYS (1931)

SVENGALI (1931)

TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932)

TWO SECONDS (1932)

DOWNSTAIRS (1932)

JEWEL ROBBERY (1932)

ONE WAY PASSAGE (1932)

BOMBSHELL (1933)

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> {quote:title=VP19 wrote:}{quote}

> Maltin's been rating so many films for so many years...I sense most of these mentioned were reviewed at the time with a thought to the audience, who for a long time frankly didn't "get" the sensibilities of most early thirties films. The pre-Code revival of the 1990s -- engineered in large part by TCM's predecessor, the original TNT, as well as writers like Mick LaSalle ("Complicated Women," "Dangerous Men") -- caused many of these movies to be (positively) re-evaluated by casual film buffs. From what I know about Maltin, he likely would now boost most of the films you cited by a half-star, maybe more.

>

> Also, as recently as the 1980s many pre-Code movies were only available in "censored" footage so as to pass muster with the Breen office in case of re-releases. Fortunately, the original versions of many of them have been uncovered and made available, although a few are deemed lost in their complete versions (e.g., "Love Me Tonight").

 

Oh my! Does that mean we have been provided with outdated reviews?! If so, I hope TCM is getting a discount.

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For years, Maltin's review of *The Fugitive Kind* said "this film goes nowhere." I wanted to shake the jerk, and say this is a film about people who are going nowhere! But, at least he gave it 2.5 stars. 1.5 for *Blade Runner* is an abomination. As I recall 1.5 was as low as he went.

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Eh. Morocco is far and away the masterpiece on the list, fully deserving of "4 stars", followed by Shanghai and Hyde. The rest just aren't THAT great.

 

I mean, Baby Face...no one watches that because it says anything or is aesthetically refined in the way Morocco is. It's only good trashy fun, which is fine, but Morocco is on an entirely different level. It's like comparing Un homme et une femme to Le Mepris - one is a middlebrow love story, the other is a landmark in modern film.

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> {quote:title=kingrat wrote:}{quote}

> VP19, I think you're right on target about the reasons for the low ratings for the pre-codes. Starred rating systems are a very blunt instrument anyway. Recommendations from the posters on these boards continue to be much more valuable to me than anybody's rating.

 

I agree about the 4 possible "star" ratings....very difficult to work within.

I would only rate a film 4 stars if it was nearly perfect; perfect casting, acting, writing, photography, music, etc. You need to set the really great films apart from the rest. Films that everyone, even a non film buff would like, like THE WIZARD OF OZ, SOME LIKE IT HOT & IT"S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

 

BABY FACE a 4 star film? C'mon, I lurve it, but it's not a 4 star film.

 

When you're reviewing for the general public, you're rating films for a wide range of people and have to keep that in mind. I know for a fact Maltin loves early film, but just because HE loves it, he realizes a huge chunk of his readers won't receive it the same way he does.

 

That's what separates the professionals from our online forum "reviews". We are speaking to the converted.

 

Personally, I love THE SHINING, but I wholly agree with a Maltin 2 star rating-it's not for everyone. I didn't even like TAXI DRIVER, so 2 stars was an accurate rating for me. When you read a reviewers 3 line synopsis (instead of a fleshed out review) it helps if you know their stance so you can read between the lines.

 

Maltin has consistently been my favorite source.

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I believe that the unedited version of BABY FACE is certainly a 4 star film.

The more commonly shown edited version is only 3 stars.

After seeing the unedited version on the "Forbidden Hollywood" set, I was amazed at how it changes the Stanwyck character's motivations. The advice from the shoemaker is completely different in this version.

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