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Pre-Code Films


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Ann Harding as a "Nasty Girl?" I think of many of her roles as good girls who just kind of got their shoes a little dusty. She seems too "good" to me to be a nasty, but differences in opinion make this message board more fun!!

 

Maybe it's Ann's hair...that bun. Did Nasty girls wear buns?

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I posted this over in the Hot Topics folder, but I thought something here would be even more appropriate . . .

 

I just got my copy of Mick LaSalle's latest book DANGEROUS MEN, and his biological blurb on the dust jacket mentioned that he is the associate producer of a documentary based on his previous book, COMPLICATED WOMEN, co-produced by Timeline Films and Turner Classic Movies.

 

And just last night, I heard Robert Osborne say between the features that TCM will be airing this documentary later on this year. Knowing TCM's programming tendencies, that will probably mean a future Theme of the Month will center on the films covered in that documentary! Now, if they could only give us 72 hours of pre-code films each week of that month (as they did with the westerns back in November), my joy would be complete . . .

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CoffeeDan, I'm thrilled TCM may be showing us a docu on "Complicated Men." But I read the book and was horrified when the author completely ignored some of my favorite complicated men--especially Billy Haines! The author's selection of men was puzzling, too. Granted, the early talkies didn't have that many male super stars because the silent ones were gone with the wind. But Charles Laughton isn't my idea of a complicated man--which means to me a sensual hunk who can be bad to the bone.

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  • 5 weeks later...

If TCM showed more pre-Codes, this folder would be stuffed with chat! I know they are doing a deco month, but it'd be nice to see some new, not-seen-lately movies that we all could sink our teeth into and chat. As it is now, we're all waiting for THE SMILING LIEUTENANT later this month. I also saw something called CITY PARK or something like that coming up this Sunday that looks promising.

 

Puh-leeeeeease show more movies from 1929-1934?

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TCM seems to be pulling back from 20s and 30s films except for the A-list one. The last few months have been pretty slim. The March schedule is a total waste with the SAME OSCAR SLATE they've run for years. No silents on Sunday nights. This March may be a little worse: the Oscar emphasis is on war films. When's the last time TCM ran even repeats of anything with Marion Davies, Ruth Chatterton, Dorothy Mackaill, William Haines, John Gilbert, Alice White, Bessie Love, or Clara Bow?

 

TCM is starting to show films multiple times and keeps pushing toward newer films, which is a HUGE mistake. Their vault is full of treasure and they keep altering their format and purpose and not for the good.

 

TCM--wake up and start showing the films your fans want to see and stop showing us AMC, HBO, and STARZ movies!

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Thanks, Ed, well said, as always. I do realize that TCM often prempts regular features (i.e., Silent Sunday Night) in March to focus on Oscar nominated/winning movies, but can't we easily RENT or SEE many of the movies they are showing on other networks or at Blockbuster?

 

I agree...if TCM must show repeats, then let it be Warren William, Joan Blondell, and William Haines!

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Was anybody else knocked out of their chairs when Joan Blondell did her "Remember My Forgotten Man" in that incredible "Golddiggers of l934" that TCM showed last week? I'd forgotten how powerful that number was. Joan was incredible. She "talked" the lyrics while in the background that wonderful blusy, throbbing orchestra beat emphasized her words. And then she pantomined giving one of those forgotten vets a cigarette, instead of a cigarette butt, and when the cop tried to push the man away, Joan turned the vet's collar inside out to show the Purple Heart. Her face was so incredibly expressive. I was so thrilled with this number that my new quest is to find me a video, DVD copy of "Golddiggers of l933." They did such fantastic, now forgotten magic backt hen.

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I love GOLDDIGGERS OF 1933. My favorite part, though, is when Carol tells J. Lawrence Bradford that her name isn't Polly Parker, but "cheap & vulgar Carol," and Bradford says, "Everytime you say cheap & vulgar, I'm going to kiss you..." and boy, does he! Nobody was sexier than Warren William (except possibly Joan Blondell).

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Alix, how Joan and Aline and company couldn't resist jumping beneath the covers with Warren Williams in that hot bedroom scene in "Golddiggers of l933" is beyond me. He looked soooo adorable. Joan Blondell published her memoirs many years ago but they were so sanitized and clean I kept wishing she could tell some juicy stories about those hectic days when she worked non-stop with the likes of the glorious Warren Williams, Jimmy Cagney, George Brent, etc. Woooo, I would've been one exhuasted--but very happy--gal!

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks a million times in advance, TCM, for scheduling the 1930 debut of Joan Blondell & James Cagney in SINNERS HOLIDAY! Look on the June schedule for this film! Has anyone seen this? I'd love to know more about it. I know Al Jolson saw the two of them on stage in the stage version, called "Penny Arcade" and bought the film rights and insisted they reprise their roles. Other than that...I know little else. Well, really the rest is history, because both became huge stars!

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Saw The Hearts of New York (1932) and it was certainly interesting to see famed vaudeville team Smith and Dale in a rare film appearance. It was one of only 3 films for them. Ethnic story of poor family that becomes rich was a bit creaky but the Jewish humor was fun as was the Smith and Dale routines. Nice also to see George Sidney, Aline McMahon, Anna Appel (who stole the film as Zelda), and the underused Donald Cook. Smith and Dale were, of course, the team Neil Simon based his Sunshine Boys on. They starred in one earlier talkie and were guest stars in 1915 in Two Tickets for Broadway.

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I taped these on Tuesday, and just got around to seeing them.

 

I thought STREETS OF NY was really a creakie. It did feature Eugene Pallette, and I always enjoy him. Who was Helene Costello? She was the ingenue, but I don't recognize her. Any relation of Delores Costello?

 

SIDEWALKS OF NY was cute, and starred Anita Page. She and Buster Keeton were enjoyable, and I thought the scenes of the streets were pretty realistic.

 

Still on the tape, waiting to be seen is HEARTS OF NY.

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Thanks for the info!

 

I noticed where FMC (Fox Movie Channel) showed the 1932 Clara Bow movie CALL HER SAVAGE on April 8 and 9. Did anyone catch that? If Fox plans to start showing Clara Bow's talkies--then I'm there!!

 

I've always dreamed that TCM would cut a deal with Fox to rent (or whatever they do) some of Clara's movies to show, but with Fox starting their own channel, maybe some of these films will finally see the light of day. Either way, I'm glad this movie finally received some air time! More, more, more!

 

(Now, if we could get Paramount to cut loose with some of Cary Grant's pre-Codes!!)

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I wish the TCM folks would stop putzing around with this message board......

 

No comments on the Harold Lloyd films being shown this month? Or are they buried somewhere on here?

 

I loved the silents, The Freshman, For Heaven's Sake, and The Kid Brother and was pleasantly surprised by the 1936 Milky Way (very funny with Adolphe Menjou and Verree Teasdale), but did anyone catch the god-awful Welcome Danger (1929), which rates as Lloyd's talkie debut? Totally dreadful from start to finish and nearly 2 hours long to boot. He re-shot the already-filmed silent, dubbed in some sections, etc. What a whopper of a loser and where was Jobyna Ralston? Barbara Kent (the leading lady) was terrible. Osborne said it was a big hit. Whatever success Lloyd had during the 30s, he was damned lucky his career survived this stinker of a talkie debut.

 

I taped Feet First and Movie Crazy but haven't watched them yet. Both are supposed to be good. I remember The Cat's Paw as being a stinker as well.

 

Comments?

 

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Hello Ed! I yawned through WELCOME DANGER, and have not seen the others, although I have them on tape.

 

Jobyna Ralston--such an enjoyable actress. As you said, too bad she wasn't in this one. Did she have much of a "talkie" career?

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Ed, I've had a lot of fun watching Harold Lloyd the last two Sundays, even though the schedule is severely skewed. By the time the last films came on, they were airing 15-20 minutes late! I had to babysit my VCR all night to make sure I didn't miss anything.

 

But it was worth it to get films like THE FRESHMAN, which has to be one of the silent era's most perfect comedies -- right up there with Chaplin's THE GOLD RUSH, Keaton's THE GENERAL, and Harry Langdon's THE STRONG MAN. I'd have to rank THE KID BROTHER right behind, it's such a beautifully photographed work, and Carl Davis's Coplandesque music score was an added treat. Lloyd put a lot of TLC into his films, and it shows in every frame.

 

But you're right about WELCOME DANGER -- it put me to sleep after about 20 minutes. Lloyd tried to save his silent picture by dubbing in dialogue and sound effects, which was badly done and all too obvious. He should have reshot the whole thing, but the expense was probably prohibitive. I think half an hour of WELCOME DANGER could have been trimmed with little, if any, deleterious effect.

 

FEET FIRST was better, but only marginally so. Lloyd had better control of the sound medium here. Some of the gags were better -- I liked the silly little hula he did on the ship deck. But the overall story line was weak, and I didn't like the final thrill sequence on the side of the building where Harold is trapped and can't get down. I didn't root for him as in SAFETY LAST, where the climb up was unplanned but deliberate; instead I felt sorry for him, which in this case was not a pleasant feeling at all.

 

I like the quality of Harold's voice -- it's perfect for the characters he plays, just the right combination of innocence and determination. If he does sound tense or strident sometimes, it's usually in character, and doesn't call a lot of attention to itself.

 

Out of all of Lloyd's talkie output, MOVIE CRAZY best approximates the pace and flow of his silent movies, and Constance Cummings was probably his best leading lady, although Una Merkel also supports him well in THE CAT'S PAW, which is definitely NOT a stinker. In fact, THE CAT'S PAW deserves some space all its own, so I'll comment on it later.

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Welcome Danger, according the the new biography of Harold Lloyd, cost something like 650,000 as a silent film. The dubbing and re-shooting added another 400,000, but the film grossed over $3M !!! And it's by far the worst thing Lloyd ever made. Yet it was hi highest grossing film ever. Unreal. While the dubbed parts were crudely done, I could have lived with that, but the pacing was terrible, the story NOT funny, and the acting was downright bad. Barbara Kent and Noah Young were hideous.

 

Still haven't watched Feet First or Movie Crazy, both of which were box-office disappointments. A bunch of new ones on this coming Sunday, including several short silents.

 

All of the silent features have been wonderful. Looking forward to some of the earlier ones. Along with The Freshman, Safety Last, and The Kid Brother, I also liked a lot Hot Water and Girl Shy and really like Jobyna Ralston too.....

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The other thing I really disliked about Welcome Danger was that the established Lloyd character is gone. In this film, Harold is a pushy, arrogant jerk. His relationship with the Barbara Kent character is hateful.

 

The plot also makes no sense. In the beginning he is a plant expert (which is basically irrelevant to the storyline) who becomes fascinated with fingerprints. He becomes an expert, but then when the Dragon's fingerprints appear, no one believes him on in the concept of fingerprints. It's another plot device that drags out the film unnecessarily.

 

The plant expert thing seems to be thrown in only because of the Chinese plant he tries to buy. I can't remember that it is important anywhere else in the film.

 

The chase scene (with Noah Young) is far too long and unfunny; the final confrontation scene is too. Ugh.

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And while I'm here.... WHY do the TCM people keeping putzing around here? I started this section years ago to discuss silent films and transition films... Now we can choose between silent films and pre-code films... NOT the same thing. Now there's no category (I can find) where films like Welcome Danger specifically fit in.... my point since the beginning... they created a ton of categories that mean nothing to those of us who use this.... Between their interference and constant re-design, they've killed many a lively discussion.

 

 

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Why do you think MGM won't show this movie? I've always wanted to see it, and judge John Gilbert's performance for myself, but I don't think I've ever known anyone who's seen it. Any ideas on why this movie is not aired?

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Ed, Ed, Ed . . . the Silent Films/Transition Films discussion is in the Silent Films folder, the same place where it's always been. While the TCM web staff has created a lot of new categories, they haven't moved any discussions without informing us.

 

You really ought to do what I did when they changed forum providers last December -- spend a little time clicking around, finding out what's still here, what's new, and how everything works. While I still find the present system frustrating -- I still have to log in frequently, and get kicked out of the system at least once a day while I'm here -- I'm learning how to work with it, and having fun reconnecting with old friends and meeting new TCM fans. So just work with it, be patient, and you'll be surprised at what you can do here!

 

PS: Come visit Mongo and me over in the new Trivia folder sometime.

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