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Your Top Ten Pre-Codes


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What are your top ten?

These aren't just chosen for their "pre-codeness" but overall quality. I've used asterisks to denote the one that have more of the qualities that wouldn't play after the code enforcement.


1.Skyscraper Souls (1932) ****

2.Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933) ****

3.Jewel Robbery (1932) ****

4.Baby Face (1933) ****

5.Employee's Entrance (1933) ****

6.The Mind Reader (1933)

7.Fooltlight Parade (1931)

8.Little Cesar (1933)

9.I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang

10.Grand Hotel (1932) ****

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Wow I would have to really think about this one since my pre-code film knowledge is somewhat weak. I just love pre-code movies but I don't have books about them like I do with Film Noir.


I have seen everyone of the films you listed except Jewel Robbery. All films I enjoyed.


I know one film that would be in my top ten would be A Free Soul.

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First of all, Noir, thanks for starting a new thread, it's been a bit musty over here.

Here's mine:

Baby Face: In my mind, the Citizen Kane of Pre-Codes

Call Her Savage: Jaw-dropping scene after scene

Red-Headed Woman: Gotta have at least one Harlow on here

Safe in Hell: Lurid masterpiece; Mackaill is terrific in this

Three on a Match: Best 63 minute flick ever made; Ann Dvorak at her best

Smarty: Included only because it could never be made after the code and it could not be even made today; quite bizarre

Female: Although it peters out in the third act, whole film is commendable; gotta have one Chatterton film on here

Design for a Living: Coward's play about threesomes; always liked the ending to this one

Possessed: Crawford and Gable holding up a dinner party for an hour so that they can make whoopee

A Man's Castle: A favorite, someday hopefully will be shown unedited; Loretta Young looking luminous here.


I have lots of honorable mentions as this is my favorite genre...

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Great list of films, and you're right about Three On A Match. Great movie and one where Bette Davis is the third female lead and the other gals, Ann and Joan are great.


But I don't think we can call pre-codes a genre since there are pre-code westerns, crime dramas, period dramas etc... Regardless of what we call it Pre-code movies are special.

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Indeed, maybe I should have used 'category' instead. If I had to add a few more I would put a Norma Shearer film on there as well, either The Divorcee or A Free Soul, as you mentioned.

Looking forward to a few more lists, if we can get a few more users eyes' over to this forum...

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  • 3 weeks later...

The end of the pre-code era is often defined as July 1934. While to code existed before than it wasn't enforced until July 1934.


Therefore when one list a 1934 film they have to know if it was released before July of 1934. Films made in the early months of 1934 often had to be re-edited so they could be release once the code was enforced.

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Thank goodness I keep good records. And I have the edit button :) ...My Ten:


1. It Happened One Night

2. King Kong

3. Lady For a Day

4. Three on a Match

5. Smart Money

6. Frankenstein

7. The Invisible Man

8. All Quiet on the Western Front

9. Public Enemy

10. Dracula


Edited by: lanceroten on Oct 23, 2013 5:10 PM

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All good choices everyone! I haven't seen Midnight Mary--that one's on my list of movies to watch for. I'm also waiting for the original The Last of Mrs Cheney . I'd also add:


Private Lives (Norma Shearer and Robt Mongomery exchanging insults and blows as a divorced couple who meet on their next honeymoons and realize they are still in love with each other--very funny)


Shanghai Express (Dietrich and Anna May Wong as prostitutes trvelling on a train with a cast of crazies and revolutionaries in war-torn China--worth it for Dietrich's wardrobe and Anna May Wong.)


Hoopla (Clara Bow as a cootch dancer in a travelling carnival who falls in love with the boss' kid, after earning $25 stealing his virginity. She marries him and tries to go straight. Tawdry, sleazy and Bow in a python-skin costume)


And has anyone listed the Lubitsch musicals?

One Hour With You, The Love Parade and The Smiling Leiutenant and even though it's not really Lubitsch, Love Me Tonight?

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