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Her Sister's Secret & Turnabout


sewhite2000
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I watched the first two presentations in last night's lineup of films restored by the UCLA Archives. I thought the discussions preceding and following the films were interesting and informative, particularly regarding the subjects of which studios the Archive is mainly working and how will the business of archiving be different as more and more films get made digitally? This is just a matter of personal taste, I guess, but I was a little put off by the professor's massive ponytail. I felt like if he undid his braid, his hair would come down to his feet! Also, I was annoyed that the guy revealed the ending to both films into the intro segments. I feel like Mr. Osborne might have called for a second take where maybe the endings wouldn't be discussed in any detail until the outro segments. But oh well, knowing the endings in advance didn't ruin my enjoyment of either movie, and I thought both were pretty good.

 

HER SISTER'S SECRET got me intrigued about micro-studio PRC. I feel sure I've seen a number of PRC films on TCM over the years - they're all in the public domain, I think - but looking over a list of titles on Wikipedia, I couldn't remember any of them specifically, except for DETOUR, of course. I thought it was a perfectly enjoyable melodrama in which, as was pointed out in the intro, there are no real villains. Everybody just wants to be happy, and sometimes in the pursuit of that happiness, they get a little selfish and inconsiderate of the happiness of others, but no one is out-and-out evil, so definitely more subtle and nuanced than you might expect from this tiny studio that mostly did Westerns and other genre films. It is funny to look back on a film like this from the perspective of our modern world of social media where no one is ever really out of touch with anyone anymore and see how much heartache is caused to multiple lives because of a single misplaced letter. If the soldier had, I don't know, maybe written a SECOND letter just to be sure before he gave up completely, then all this pathos could have been avoided, but we wouldn't have had much of a movie, I guess. The story has more than a little similarity to THE GREAT LIE. I guess the Production Code wasn't entirely intractable, as it's sometimes portrayed. They did occasionally allow for the presentation of usually taboo topics like pregnancy out of wedlock as long as they were satisfied with the way the movie ended. I was unfamiliar with any of the principals, but even at this tiny little studio, they got Felix Bressart and Henry Stephenson - both of whom were in many A-list major studio films - to play supporting roles.

 

I wonder if TURNABOUT was the first of its kind. I'm not familiar with an earlier gender-switch movie. This film took its sweet time to get to the actual gender-switch. It almost felt like a different film in the first half about this crazy advertising company, where each of the three executives barely seem to have time to pay attention to actual work - one constantly sneaking drinks, one spending his whole work day in the sauna or on the judo mat and one who doesn't seem to do much of anything. It's a wonder the company could stay afloat. Again, I wasn't terribly familiar with the principals. I see Carole Landis has been in some other films that I've seen like I WAKE UP SCREAMING, but I didn't really specifically remember her from those films. I wondered what the heck Mary Astor was doing in this total throwaway secondary part. She was presumably a pretty big deal in Hollywood, having already done RED DUST and DODSWORTH, although THE MALTESE FALCON and THE GREAT LIE were still a year away. There was some good fun in the actors paying opposite to gender type. You could certainly read into it a gay subtext, if you want. There were many anatomical questions raised by the final revelation - best to just end the movie at that point. I'm not surprised the Production Code wasn't too thrilled with it, but again, they allowed it.

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I watched the first two presentations in last night's lineup of films restored by the UCLA Archives. I thought the discussions preceding and following the films were interesting and informative, particularly regarding the subjects of which studios the Archive is mainly working and how will the business of archiving be different as more and more films get made digitally? This is just a matter of personal taste, I guess, but I was a little put off by the professor's massive ponytail. I felt like if he undid his braid, his hair would come down to his feet! Also, I was annoyed that the guy revealed the ending to both films into the intro segments. I feel like Mr. Osborne might have called for a second take where maybe the endings wouldn't be discussed in any detail until the outro segments. But oh well, knowing the endings in advance didn't ruin my enjoyment of either movie, and I thought both were pretty good.

 

HER SISTER'S SECRET got me intrigued about micro-studio PRC. I feel sure I've seen a number of PRC films on TCM over the years - they're all in the public domain, I think - but looking over a list of titles on Wikipedia, I couldn't remember any of them specifically, except for DETOUR, of course. I thought it was a perfectly enjoyable melodrama in which, as was pointed out in the intro, there are no real villains. Everybody just wants to be happy, and sometimes in the pursuit of that happiness, they get a little selfish and inconsiderate of the happiness of others, but no one is out-and-out evil, so definitely more subtle and nuanced than you might expect from this tiny studio that mostly did Westerns and other genre films. It is funny to look back on a film like this from the perspective of our modern world of social media where no one is ever really out of touch with anyone anymore and see how much heartache is caused to multiple lives because of a single misplaced letter. If the soldier had, I don't know, maybe written a SECOND letter just to be sure before he gave up completely, then all this pathos could have been avoided, but we wouldn't have had much of a movie, I guess. The story has more than a little similarity to THE GREAT LIE. I guess the Production Code wasn't entirely intractable, as it's sometimes portrayed. They did occasionally allow for the presentation of usually taboo topics like pregnancy out of wedlock as long as they were satisfied with the way the movie ended. I was unfamiliar with any of the principals, but even at this tiny little studio, they got Felix Bressart and Henry Stephenson - both of whom were in many A-list major studio films - to play supporting roles.

 

I wonder if TURNABOUT was the first of its kind. I'm not familiar with an earlier gender-switch movie. This film took its sweet time to get to the actual gender-switch. It almost felt like a different film in the first half about this crazy advertising company, where each of the three executives barely seem to have time to pay attention to actual work - one constantly sneaking drinks, one spending his whole work day in the sauna or on the judo mat and one who doesn't seem to do much of anything. It's a wonder the company could stay afloat. Again, I wasn't terribly familiar with the principals. I see Carole Landis has been in some other films that I've seen like I WAKE UP SCREAMING, but I didn't really specifically remember her from those films. I wondered what the heck Mary Astor was doing in this total throwaway secondary part. She was presumably a pretty big deal in Hollywood, having already done RED DUST and DODSWORTH, although THE MALTESE FALCON and THE GREAT LIE were still a year away. There was some good fun in the actors paying opposite to gender type. You could certainly read into it a gay subtext, if you want. There were many anatomical questions raised by the final revelation - best to just end the movie at that point. I'm not surprised the Production Code wasn't too thrilled with it, but again, they allowed it.

I also noticed a great similarity to THE GREAT LIE, except that there was no George Brent's rear end.

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