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Pre-Code Films


Guest TCMhost-Joy

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Guest Librarygranni

I adore Kay. She is one of my fav. pre code actresses. I love Constance Bennett too. I saw and taped all the Kay movies that were on last month!

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I caught most of them too. I was so disappointed that my satellite company lost the visual portion (but I did have the audio) of MANDALAY right at the part where she "poisons" the guy! I thought he was dead--imagine my shock when the picture comes back, and there he is knocking at the door!! I was as shocked as Kay.I don't know any other actress who can wear a silver sheath (again, from MANDALAY) or a white dress like Kay. No, don't say Norma Shearer, because she couldn't pull off dresses like Kay!

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Guest precodekd

Complicated Women is a good book however the book A Woman's View written about six years ago by Jeannine Basinger is much better. Less gushing and fawning which were the main faults I had with La Salles work. I have to credit Jeannine with writing a book wghich identifies and helps to examine in a cogent, intelligent and amusing manner, the roles open to women in the years 1930 through 1960. She discusses the structure and strengths of different types of film although her great concentration lies of the films we all love the pre-code gems.It is largely because of her assesment of Kay Francis that I came to know who she was and sart trying to see her films. I have to confess that I like Norma Shearer but don't find her movies all that engaging. I would rather see anything with Ruth Chatterton, Kay Francis, Joan Blondell, Jean Harlow, Mae West, the fabulous Marie Dressler, Ruth Donneley and of course, the great Joan Crawford.I want more good films and it would be nice if TCM didn't schedule the classic films that we all love more than twice or at least three times a year. I love great films but think that it would be better to see the lost stuff, the vault material. Instead of the fourth time this year of something like Singin in the Rain or even Meet Me In St.Louis- how about the Match King? Or another film like the 1935 Personal Maids Secret? The first Backstreet? The original Imitation of Life? More Clara Bow? More Billy Haines? Focusing oin stars who were great but not top stars? It happened again- i've launched on a tangent but do forgive me.

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Guest precodekd

This policy is annoying in the extreme and should be done away with. A nice thirty minute short, showcasing the stars accomplishments or a few of their films in the week of the death would be better. And why are there so many mysterious lapses of films I've been anxiously waiting for? I was eagerly anticipating the film Susan Lenox- Her Fall and Rise and sat up till three in the morning when it began to start taping. Here comes the movie- shown in it's entirety with no sound! The 1941 version of Backstreet was shown but cut off so that only the last forty-five minutes were seen and the film was never reshow in it's entirety. I love TCM but would they mind explaining who is asleep at the switch on these things? I know that April was a good thirties month but August and July weren't so hot....

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Guest precodekd

Brilliant! Oh how I agree with you. There are far more movies i've never seen and would like to than the ones i've been watching for my entire life. I think that there are recommended films form this site that would be nice to see- I would love to see Blondie Johnson again- or a bunch of early Stanwyck films for example. The Kay Francis marathon was nice but there just weren't enough of her pre-code films when she was the big star at Warner Brothers. And i'm certain that I am not in the minority when I say id love a whole evening of Warren William films. Another thing that would be of interest is certain films that were remade more than once. Would love to see the first three versions of Madame X, both versions of Imitation of Life, etc.And, how about a few old films with Sylvia Sydney? DeadEnd is rarely shown and a great example of powerful late thirties film. Thanks for the mention of Alice White who I would love to see more of. Dorothy McKail as well.

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TCM is getting very limited in it's showings of movies from the 1920's and 1930's! It seems they are showing more and more movies from the 1960's on up! Hey if I want to see movies from the 1960's on up! I know at least a half dozen channels or more on t.v. that already show them!

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Guest TCMhost-Claire

If you wish to get clarification on technical issues, or make programming requests, please use the "feedback" link at the top of this page to make your ideas known to TCM. The discussion boards are intended as a place for fans to discuss films. If you wish to discuss TCM policies with fellow fans that is certainly welcome. But if you wish to get answers from TCM on specific questions, or lobby for programming changes, the feedback link is the way to make yourself heard by TCM management.

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Yes, April was a banner month. It seemed like it had lots of 1920's and pre-Code movies available. But you're absolutely right...the pickins are slim in August.Hey..how about an "Obscure Movie Festival" and have the programmers dig REALLY DEEP into the vault and pull out and dust off something that hasn't been played in years. It could even be a poverty row picture! Ah, variety is the spice of life!

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The only Sylvia Sydney movie I've seen in STREET SCENE, which is an absolutely mesmerizing movie. It all takes place out on a tenement street, in front of an apartment building. Great movie!An evening of Warren William (heck, let's go star of the month!) would also be heavenly. I think I like him in everything I've ever seen him in...and I've seen him in lots of movies. I loved him as "Dave the Dude" in LADY FOR A DAY. He's great too in all the "seducer" roles he seemed to get.Dorothy MacKaill is a wonderful actress who should have really been **big**. She was very intelligent in her portrayals and beautiful. Kay Francis...one of my favorites. Such a breathtakingly beautiful actress who could really wear the clothes.

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Guest Lcacicia

I agree that STREET SCENE is a mesmerizing movie. The setting and characters draw you in. King Vidor worked with many talented screenwriters and between the script and his direction he leads you on an emotional journey. He is one of my favorite directors. Lets start the ball rolling for nominating Warren William as a star of the month. My two favorites of his are GOODBYE AGAIN (good boy) and SKYSCRAPER SOUL(bad boy).I also want to nominate Dorothy Mackaill. Her tour de force is SAFE IN HELL. That film had me spellbound. I could go on and on about that one film alone. She was always a professional. She was an independent player at a time when to get anywhere or be anybody you had to be under contract. She probably would have stayed with Warner Brothers longer if she wouldn't have had a fight with them over the film THE FLIRTING WIDOW.She always said that the only reason she became a movie star was because her mother wanted her to become one. She was devoted to her mother and basically left after BULLDOG DRUMMOND to take care of her. She said later in life that she probably left her career too early. But she was proud of the fact that she could live in Hawaii till the end of her life on Warner Brothers money.

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Great info on her. I also though she was excellent in SAFE IN HELL. Talk about one of the ultimate pre-Codes! I'd love to hear what the beef was about THE FLIRTING WIDOW. If you have time, please post more. It's a good film too.

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Guest Lcacicia

Glad to hear from another Mackaill fan. I will be sending more info on her have no fear. What's your opinion of her 'accent'. I ask that because I hear no trace of her 'English accent' in any of her roles. In fact I think she sounds completely 'American' in the films of hers I have been able to see. But every UK source I have keeps saying she made it in Hollywood despite her 'accent' problem.

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I detect no problem, or accent! I was surprised to learn she wasn't American! In fact, I don't know why having an accent should even be considered to be a problem. I love Miriam Hopkins' slight southern accent, and I've read she worked terribly hard to subdue it. I didn't think Clara Bow's voice and Brooklyn accent were awful--now there's a girl who should have had a long screen career. She sounded exactly like what she was, a girl from New York. And what about Kay Francis...not exactly an accent, but definitely a speech problem! In other words, even if I'd heard an accent from Mackaill, I still wouldn't mind or care...talent is more important!

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Has anyone seen this 1934 version of CLEOPATRA? I notice TCM has scheduled this movie for December 30th, and it stars Claudette Colbert and William Warren. Most of the people on the imdb who reviewed it enjoyed it, however some commented that it was campy. I've not seen this...can you comment on it or share any information about this movie? I enjoyed Claudette as Poppea in SIGN OF THE CROSS, so I assume she'd be wonderful as Cleopatra.

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Guest Lcacicia

Being a self-confessed Anglophile I thought it might have been just me that detected NO accent. She worked hard on losing her Yorkshire accent and was proud to sound like an American.She was born in Hull (Yorkshire) UK in probably 1903 or '04. She said she lied about her age when she came over here because she was underage. Her parents were divorced when she was eleven and she hated her step-mother so much that after talking it over with her sister she decided to try her luck in London. Her father was a M.C. at the local dancehall and it was there that she first fell in love with the stage. At the age of fourteen she persuaded her father to finance her on a two year course at the Thorne Dramatic Academy in London to study dancing and acting. She proved herself a totally devoted and apt student. She was the youngest member of the London Hippodrome and was soon performing as one of the top attractions in their revues. While appearing there she applied to the British Film Studios to try screen work, she succeeded and appeared in her first picture "The Face at the Window".Afraid her father wanted her to come home she and some other cast members went to Paris and were in Maurice Chevalier's first revue. She appeared in some French films while she was there. So still in her teens she then set her sights on America where she heard there were wonderful opportunities for actresses. With only $50 in her pocket she came and talked her way into seeing Flo Zeigfeld. "I went to his office. All around the place were beautiful women with long hair. I took a look at these dolls, and said, 'Dorothy Mackaill of London to see Mr. Ziegfeld'...I'm standing in the middle of the room, waiting. Nothing happens....So I decided he was damn rude. I went up to him, put my face right under his and said,"I hear you have a show called 'Midnight Frolic'. I'd like to be in it....I didn't realize he had been watching me. You have to have a good pair of legs to work with Ziegfeld, you see. I went on that night." It was there that she first met Marion Davies(my favorite)and they became live-long friends. DM was Mr. Hearst's favorite of all Marion's friends. It was part of her character to be direct and he found this refreshing. Marshall Neilan saw her in the Follies and offered her her first part in America. She longed for Lillian Gish parts, but tended to be cast as drug addicts or prostitutes. She was offhand about her technique. "If you're half-way intelligent and you know the character you're portraying, it's like peas off a knife. I was a natural, and never used a lot of makeup. There was no acting as far as I was concerned.""The Barker" her first talkie was a great success and she regarded it as her favorite film. She experienced many adventures while making films and had been involved in more accidents on and off the set than any other artist. She got through them unscathed until the making of "Bright Lights" in '31 when she was supposed to 'shake a hula', she did so vigorously that she tripped against the piano and broke three ribs. She thought her role in "The Flirting Widow" was pathetic and and walked off the picture. They took legal action, but dropped it when "The Office Wife" was a box-office smash. She got a new contract instead. It was one of the highest salaries ever paid to a film star at the time. Left pictures to care for her mother who died in the 1950's. She was married three times.SHe fell in love with Hawaii while making the film "His Captive Women" in '29. Stayed there from the 1950's on. She spent the rest of her life as a permanent resident of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel which overlooked the beach at Waikiki. She made occasional appearances on "Hawaii Five O" produced by her friend Jack Lord.Died August 12,1990 of kidney failure because she didn't want to continue diaylsis.I have other info on her. She deserves to be better remembered.

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Guest jeryson

This is a must-see--at least once-camp classic from Cecil B. DeMille. But it's also one that screamed for technicolor. The costumes are fantastic, the marvelous William Warren is shown off to wonderful effect in his toga. Claudette Colbert, though, plays Cleo like a l930s Manhattan party girl. Very droll, flirty and you sense she's doing a take-off on Mae West.If you change Claudette's costumes, and put her in 30s gowns, it would be even more effective. You could easily see her sipping cocktails and dancing to "swing." Then again, we have Liz Taylor doing her take on Cleo as a Hollywood movie queen. the Claudette version should definitely have been colorized. It wouldn't have hurt it a bit.

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if for no other reason than seeing Warren William in a toga! Usually, Jeryson, we agree completely. However I have to respectfully disagree with your observation that CLEOPATRA should be colorized. Although the story of Cleopatra is a story that does scream "COLOR," I really feel that we should simply respect black and white films as the art form they are and leave them alone. I am not in favor of colorizing any black and white movie--let's leave them alone.

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Guest jeryson

I agree with you completely on leaving movies the way they were originally filmed. But Cecil B. did have a chance to film "Cleopatra" in the early Technicolor process but passed on it. Why? I thought the all-Technicolor version of the l932 "Whoopee!" with Eddie Cantor was beautiful looking. Even more was "Doctor X" and "Mystery of the Wax Museum." Just imagine seeing Warren William and Claudette in color! And their costumes looked fabulous. Where ever Cecil B. is right now, I hope he now realizes his big mistake when he vetoed Technicolor.

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Guest TCMhost-Joy

Do you think there is any merit to making colorized versions of B&W classics if it draws in young folks who would otherwise choose not to watch? Curious to see what you die-hard classic fans think about that, and the importance of drawing in the younger audience. What do you think?

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Yep, hindsight is always better than foresight! I wonder what his thinking was at the time he turned down color? I'm sure there must have been a reason. Do you suppose the early (1934) technicolor process just didn't produce the kind of results he was looking for or if it was the cost? I know I saw HELL'S ANGELS (1930) and it has one short technicolor sequence showing the only color footage of Jean Harlow, and while it's not perfect, it does provide us with a look at Jean that we don't have anywhere else. Was CLEOPATRA an MGM production? They didn't usually skimp on cost, if they thought it'd make them money down the road. Hmm...maybe someone will know what the deal was. And it would be wonderful to see Claudette and Warren in living color. They were two colorful actors who definitely deserved to be seen in color.

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I personally think colorizing the oldies is not the answer in drawing the young folks into the classics. Simply, because the oldies do not contain any nudity and cursing like movies today have! It's really sad though as the younger generation really don't know what they are missing!

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I'm 25 and I cannot stand colorized movies. To me the technique looks cheap and generally badly done. B&W movies were shot in a special way. For example the graveyard scene in It's a Wonderful Life is so much spookier in b&w, the lighting director has the shadows and set so well illuminated.My general feeling is the lack of color is not what keeps younger people away from classic movies. It's the idea that such movies aren't cutting edge or aren't relevant. A lot of younger people have never seen stuff like A Free Soul, or Buster Keaton or D.W. Griffin or Greed. So they feel the format is dated. The way to get younger people in is not to colorize but to get them to actually see a lot of classic movies have enormous appeal for all ages.

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Is it my imagination or does TCM sure seem to be scheduling a lot of movies repeatedly? I noticed as I browsed the schedule looking for pre-Codes that certain movies are repeatedly shown. IT'S A GIFT received considerable airtime in July when WC Fields was star of the month, and it plays in September, October and December! SCARFACE and IF I HAD A MILLION also air those same three months. BLONDE VENUS is scheduled twice.Wouldn't it be nicer to schedule some movies that perhaps haven't been played but have been requested? One movie that immediately comes to mind is the 1931 version of WATERLOO BRIDGE, which I'd love to see and have requested many, many times. It seems that I am finding more pre-Codes in the listings than I used to--it appears that the reason why is that they are being shown 2-3 times! And yes...I will make this suggestion known through the "feedback" button.

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Guest jeryson

Alix, I'm strongly with you on this one, too! I've heard about this l931 "Waterloo Bridge" but have never seen it. I'd love to see how Bette Davis competes with Mae Clarke, who has the star role. I understand the two women simply hated each other because Davis let it be known around the set that she could do a hell of a lot better job than Clarke. Also, James Whale directed this one, too, I believe. His work is always fascinating.I wonder if the l931 version was more raw than the glossy, cleaned-up version made by Vivien Leigh in l940. Since the first version is a pre-coder, it should be a lot more juicy.

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