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Wow! Look at all these early Thirties movies!


slaytonf
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Of course, we've seen a lot of them already, but It's still nice to meet up with old friends, and make new ones.  There are dozens of 'em.  Is a theme this month pre-code enforcement movies?

 

The Friday Spotlight for September is pre-codes.

TCM is also airing many of these movies in the daytime hours this month.

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Of course, we've seen a lot of them already, but It's still nice to meet up with old friends, and make new ones.  There are dozens of 'em.  Is a theme this month pre-code enforcement movies?

Imagine if there were a separate TCM Classic channel? Then it could be Friday every day of the month. :D

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Amazingly enough, in the entire month the only premiere is an Ida Lupino movie in only her second featured role, Search For Beauty from 1934.  But there are tons of others that haven't been shown all that often, as well as many appropriately combined pairs, like Jean Harlow's  Red Dust and Red-Headed Woman, which may be the single most "codebreaking" film of that entire era in every imaginable way.  Harlow not only gets away with her serial homebreaking in America, and at the end of the film gets rewarded with a French sugar daddy, but in the last scene we can even see that she's still carrying on her affair with her chauffeur, with not even a hint of disapproval!  In an genre where 99% of even the raunchiest films felt obligated to have a "moral" ending of sorts to keep the censors at bay, Red-Headed Woman stands nearly alone in spitting in the eye of conventional morality right up to the final scene.  It makes even Baby Face look like a Joe Breen special by comparison.

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  In an genre where 99% of even the raunchiest films felt obligated to have a "moral" ending of sorts to keep the censors at bay, Red-Headed Woman stands nearly alone in spitting in the eye of conventional morality right up to the final scene.  It makes even Baby Face look like a Joe Breen special by comparison.

 

There's also the scene in Redheaded Woman where Chester Morris belts Harlow and she says something to the effect of "do it again! I like it!"

 

Kinky kinky kinky.

 

ps- anyone know if they're showing Midnight Mary with Loretta Young? I love that one.

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Of course, we've seen a lot of them already, but It's still nice to meet up with old friends, and make new ones.  There are dozens of 'em.  Is a theme this month pre-code enforcement movies?

 

Imagine if there were a separate TCM Classic channel? Then it could be Friday every day of the month.

 

And after about four months of it they'd be repeating the titles as if they were all North By Northwest. I love pre-codes as much as anyone, and I'm glad to see so many great ones coming up through the end of the month, but very few films in any genre can hold up to more than one or two viewings a year, unless you've got Alzheimer's and you forget the plot as soon as the movie is over.

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There's also the scene in Redheaded Woman where Chester Morris belts Harlow and she says something to the effect of "do it again! I like it!"

 

Kinky kinky kinky.

 

ps- anyone know if they're showing Midnight Mary with Loretta Young? I love that one.

That reminds me of the line from White Cargo, not a Pre-Code, when Hedy Lamarr (as Tondelayo) says to Richard Carlson, something like this: "You beat me, then we make love, then you give me bangles." Or the Mae West song: "Give me my bracelets and hold me down, I found a new way to go to town."

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Amazingly enough, in the entire month the only premiere is an Ida Lupino movie in only her second featured role, Search For Beauty from 1934.  But there are tons of others that haven't been shown all that often, as well as many appropriately combined pairs, like Jean Harlow's  Red Dust and Red-Headed Woman, which may be the single most "codebreaking" film of that entire era in every imaginable way.  Harlow not only gets away with her serial homebreaking in America, and at the end of the film gets rewarded with a French sugar daddy, but in the last scene we can even see that she's still carrying on her affair with her chauffeur, with not even a hint of disapproval!  In an genre where 99% of even the raunchiest films felt obligated to have a "moral" ending of sorts to keep the censors at bay, Red-Headed Woman stands nearly alone in spitting in the eye of conventional morality right up to the final scene.  It makes even Baby Face look like a Joe Breen special by comparison.

Night Nurse (Sep. 5) is also one that evades the return to convention.  Barbara Stanwyck's squeeze, a rum-runner, has the scheming chauffeur (Clark Gable) killed by his cronies as a favor to her.

 

It's surprising that with so many unfamiliar titles, only one has never aired.  Well, a lot are new to me, so I'll look forward to finding some new ones to add to my list.

 

One observation I'd like to make about pre-code enforcement movies is that, while they are full of the risqué, and the daring, all but a slim few retreat to a reaffirmation of conventional mores at the end.  Female being one of the best, I mean worst examples.  Here you have a woman executive, competent, successful, turning control of the entire company over to an engineer, whose only demonstration of competence is that he was rude and abusive to her.  Insanity.

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One observation I'd like to make about pre-code enforcement movies is that, while they are full of the risqué, and the daring, all but a slim few retreat to a reaffirmation of conventional mores at the end. 

 

One example (albeit a minor one) of the slim few pre-codes whose endings do not ultimately conform to the mores of the time would be The Son-Daughter (1932) with Helen Hayes and Ramon Novarro as doomed Asian (!) lovers separated by a cruel, powerful man who wants the girl for himself. It's a very little-known film that TCM showed a little while back- it's weird- Novarro looks (understandably) uncomfortable in his yellow-face and Hayes is awful in it; but it has a very unconventional ending that I don't want to give away just in case it's being included in this upcoming Spotlight.

 

While it has a lot of weaknesses, it's worth a look just for the shocking end.

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One example (albeit a minor one) of the slim few pre-codes whose endings do not ultimately conform to the mores of the time would be The Son-Daughter (1932) with Helen Hayes and Ramon Novarro as doomed Asian (!) lovers separated by a cruel, powerful man who wants the girl for himself. It's a very little-known film that TCM showed a little while back- it's weird- Novarro looks (understandably) uncomfortable in his yellow-face and Hayes is awful in it; but it has a very unconventional ending that I don't want to give away just in case it's being included in this upcoming Spotlight.

 

While it has a lot of weaknesses, it's worth a look just for the shocking end.

I saw this film when TCM last showed it. I was surprised at how much I liked it; and yes, I remember that remarkable ending!

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One observation I'd like to make about pre-code enforcement movies is that, while they are full of the risqué, and the daring, all but a slim few retreat to a reaffirmation of conventional mores at the end.

 

That's because every town and many states already had their own "morality" laws, long before movies were invented. The laws related to live theatrical acts, bordellos, book and other printed material.

 

If a film went too far, the theater could have been shut down, and in some cities they could even put the theater out of business and take over the property.

 

In some places around the country now you won't find any X rated book stores in small towns, but you might be able to find them in the county areas (different laws in the counties).

 

So, general morality laws already controlled the films to some great extent. That's why the pre-codes don't show outright nudity.

 

Some old no-code part-nude films do exist and were shown in some theaters in some big cities that allowed them to get away with it. See Child Bride for example.

 

Many films have lost some of their best scenes, since they were made in the early 30s and were still being distributed in 1934, and they had to have scenes cut to allow them to continue to be distributed.

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That's because every town and many states already had their own "morality" laws, long before movies were invented. The laws related to live theatrical acts, bordellos, book and other printed material.

 

If a film went too far, the theater could have been shut down, and in some cities they could even put the theater out of business and take over the property.

 

In some places around the country now you won't find any X rated book stores in small towns, but you might be able to find them in the county areas (different laws in the counties).

 

So, general morality laws already controlled the films to some great extent. That's why the pre-codes don't show outright nudity.

 

Some old no-code part-nude films do exist and were shown in some theaters in some big cities that allowed them to get away with it. See Child Bride for example.

 

Many films have lost some of their best scenes, since they were made in the early 30s and were still being distributed in 1934, and they had to have scenes cut to allow them to continue to be distributed.

This still sort of happens today too.  The theater owner in my town never shows R rated films.  It's a family-owned business, and they tend to show only family-friendly pictures.  I have to drive to the next town over if I want to see one that might pique my interest.  Yeah, I know, it sounds like I live in Hooterville and have to go to Pixley for the finer things in life!

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Many films have lost some of their best scenes, since they were made in the early 30s and were still being distributed in 1934, and they had to have scenes cut to allow them to continue to be distributed.

I do notice in many films of this time discontinuities in scenes where it seems sections of dialog have been cut.  Of course, there is no way of recognizing whole scenes that have been cut.

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Amazingly enough, in the entire month the only premiere is an Ida Lupino movie in only her second featured role, Search For Beauty from 1934.  But there are tons of others that haven't been shown all that often, as well as many appropriately combined pairs, like Jean Harlow's  Red Dust and Red-Headed Woman, which may be the single most "codebreaking" film of that entire era in every imaginable way.  Harlow not only gets away with her serial homebreaking in America, and at the end of the film gets rewarded with a French sugar daddy, but in the last scene we can even see that she's still carrying on her affair with her chauffeur, with not even a hint of disapproval!  In an genre where 99% of even the raunchiest films felt obligated to have a "moral" ending of sorts to keep the censors at bay, Red-Headed Woman stands nearly alone in spitting in the eye of conventional morality right up to the final scene.  It makes even Baby Face look like a Joe Breen special by comparison.

Night Nurse (Sep. 5) is also one that evades the return to convention.  Barbara Stanwyck's squeeze, a rum-runner, has the scheming chauffeur (Clark Gable) killed by his cronies as a favor to her....

 

One observation I'd like to make about pre-code enforcement movies is that, while they are full of the risqué, and the daring, all but a slim few retreat to a reaffirmation of conventional mores at the end.

 

You're right about Night Nurse, and your use of "all but a slim few" is probably a better way of putting it than my "nearly alone".  Another example of a non-pulled punches ending, of course, was in I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang, with Paul Muni's haunting "I steal" being the fadeout line, uttered in total darkness.  Interesting, too, that that film was based on a real life episode.

 

first_degree_burns_01.jpg

 

Female being one of the best, I mean worst examples.  Here you have a woman executive, competent, successful, turning control of the entire company over to an engineer, whose only demonstration of competence is that he was rude and abusive to her.  Insanity.

 

Yeah, Female is a pretty lame film from start to finish, and that ending made it even worse. But even some of the better pre-codes pull their punches in an almost embarrassing fashion, like the 1931 version of Possessed, or Norma Shearer's The Divorcee, or Wild Boys of the Road, or scores of other examples.

 

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Of course, we've seen a lot of them already, but It's still nice to meet up with old friends, and make new ones.  There are dozens of 'em.  Is a theme this month pre-code enforcement movies?

 

Imagine if there were a separate TCM Classic channel? Then it could be Friday every day of the month.

 

And after about four months of it they'd be repeating the titles as if they were all North By Northwest. I love pre-codes as much as anyone, and I'm glad to see so many great ones coming up through the end of the month, but very few films in any genre can hold up to more than one or two viewings a year, unless you've got Alzheimer's and you forget the plot as soon as the movie is over.

No matter. Those of us who are wishing that TCM returns to what they used to do best, i.e., play classically classic black and white movies all the time, as AMC used to do before it turned to c-a-c-a, would welcome the NBNW of the classically classic world.

 

I admire your admiration for the current TCM. Shame you have to insult those who love classically classic black and white films of the 1930s and 1940s.

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That's because every town and many states already had their own "morality" laws, long before movies were invented. The laws related to live theatrical acts, bordellos, book and other printed material.

 

If a film went too far, the theater could have been shut down, and in some cities they could even put the theater out of business and take over the property.

 

In some places around the country now you won't find any X rated book stores in small towns, but you might be able to find them in the county areas (different laws in the counties).

 

So, general morality laws already controlled the films to some great extent. That's why the pre-codes don't show outright nudity.

 

Some old no-code part-nude films do exist and were shown in some theaters in some big cities that allowed them to get away with it. See Child Bride for example.

 

Many films have lost some of their best scenes, since they were made in the early 30s and were still being distributed in 1934, and they had to have scenes cut to allow them to continue to be distributed.

What a shame. Amazing that Hot Saturday survived intact. Or was it even more jaw dropping than it already was?

 

Such tiny minds back then. And now. And, no doubt, in the years to come. Moviegoers want their morality in public and their degradation behind closed doors.

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A few thoughts:

 

    I concur about FEMALE (1933).  The relationship aspect of the film concerning George Brent should've been handled much differently.  To me, the movie went too far in the other direction; Ruth Chatterton goes from being IN CHARGE one minute to being 'Miss Subservient' shortly thereafter and that's supposed to be a happy ending?  Ack!  I guess George Brent's character is supposed to "humanize"/ give Ruth Chatterton's man-using character some warmth and 'feeling' in the movie, but I don't think it works very well with her chasing after him at the movie's end.  Not very satisfying.  Ruth deserved a better ending than the one in the script!    

 

    MURDER AT THE VANITIES (1934) isn't the best musical ever made, but it sure has a lot of ladies in skimpy costumes and some leering camera angles!  Has TCM ever aired this movie?  I've got an old VHS tape of it from MCA, but I wondered if it's ever aired on Turner Classic Movies?

 

     As far as having a Turner Classic Movies "Classic Channel' that sounds bizarre and redundant.  I will say this:  The fewer movies TCM shows like THE CRYING GAME the better.    

   

 

   

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I admire your admiration for the current TCM. Shame you have to insult those who love classically classic black and white films of the 1930s and 1940s.

 

Given how that I now own and have enjoyed well over 2000 of those "classic black and white films of the 1930s and 1940s", I'm not sure why you'd think I'd want to be insulting myself.  I just don't think that this is the ONLY category of film that's worth watching, or for TCM to be playing.

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AndyM108 wrote:

 

and Red-Headed Woman, which may be the single most "codebreaking" film of that entire era in every imaginable way. Harlow not only gets away with her serial homebreaking in America, and at the end of the film gets rewarded with a French sugar daddy, but in the last scene we can even see that she's still carrying on her affair with her chauffeur, with not even a hint of disapproval!

You forgot the half-second of Jean Harlow sideboob about 15 minutes in. Jean, before she gets married, goes home to roommate Una Merkel, who's wearing Harlow's nightgown. So Harlow asks for it back and Una takes it off and gives it to Jean, with a strategic cut in the middle. It's right at that cut to Jean that we see her, briefly, topless and braless.
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Slaytonf wrote:

 

Night Nurse (Sep. 5) is also one that evades the return to convention. Barbara Stanwyck's squeeze, a rum-runner, has the scheming chauffeur (Clark Gable) killed by his cronies as a favor to her.

I find a bit more interesting the scene in which Stanwyck tells her boyfriend about the maid who keeps going on about how the kid could benefit from a milk bath -- so the boyfriend goes and knocks over a dairy to get the milk for her! It's completely ludicrous.

 

The whole movie is one of the more shocking from that era, too. I mean, Gable and his cronies are deliberately starving children to death, and keeping th emother boozed up. And the scene where Stanwyck gets the bottle (I think; it might be an ice bucket) thrown at her. The movie strains credulity, but damn if it isn't entertaining as all get out.

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Primosprimos wrote:

 

No matter. Those of us who are wishing that TCM returns to what they used to do best, i.e., play classically classic black and white movies all the time,

Right from the very beginning in 1994, when they ran the clasically classic black and white Gone With the Wind.

 

TCM needs to re-run the Private Screenings interview where Robert Osborne was interviewed by Alec Baldwin, which shows Osborne's first intro. It might be a revelation for some people here. (Somehow, though, I doubt it.)

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I remember seeing part of ( The Son-Daughter ) on the Raymond Novarro day in SUTS 2013. It was an unusal film, yet I thought it worked. And the ending was shocking to the extent that I was rubbing my eyes for minutes afterwards.

You shouldn't do that. It can get infected.

(ees yoke)

 

After reading your and Swithin's comments, I think maybe I was too dismissive of The Son-Daughter...Would like to check it out again, it's definitely a film that demands second viewing. I'm sorry that the film was not selected for the precode Friday Nite Spotlight this month because- even though it is flawed, that ending makes it a real head turner of a film.

 

It's one that could definitely be remade, it's got real potential...although I would recommend using actual Asians this time (call me a maverick.)

 

Rarely do I agree with Leonard Maltin, but I distinctly recall his write-up for the film that was used on the schedule said something along the lines of "Helen Hayes embarasses herself."

 

She's waaaaay too theatrical in the part, and I have to be honest, I know she only made a handful of films, but I haven't been impressed by her work in any of them.

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