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Pre-Codes, If You Please


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Just a quick heads up to all fans of those bad girls and boys who people the pre-code films. There's a clutch of these films that I've never seen being shown on TCM tomorrow, September 19th. Here's the lineup, with all times reflecting eastern time:

 

3:15 PM Woman Wanted (1935)

An innocent woman is chased by both gangsters and the police. Cast: Maureen O'Sullivan, Joel McCrea, Lewis Stone. Dir: George B. Seitz. BW-67 mins, TV-G, CC. Okay, so maybe it's not exactly a pre-code, but one can hope that a few naughty moments were laced into the movie and were way over the production code boys' thick skulls.

 

4:30 PM Transgression (1931)

When her lover is killed, a straying wife tries to intercept the confession she mailed her husband. Cast: Kay Francis, Ricardo Cortez, Paul Cavanagh. Dir: Herbert Brenon. BW-70 mins, TV-PG .

I can tell you right now, before seeing this one---Kay's gonna suffer, and look chic while she does so, naturally. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for a little gold or silver lam?, beads and sequins, and, perhaps a turban or headdress of some sort.

 

5:45 PM Prestige (1932)

A woman joins her fiance at a Malaysian prison camp only to discover he's become an alcoholic. Cast: Ann Harding, Melvyn Douglas, Adolphe Menjou. Dir: Tay Garnett. BW-71 mins, TV-G . With stoic, intelligent Ann at the top of her career, this should be well worth viewing. And of course, there's a chance that this film could contain some interesting, if antique, notions about colonialism, racism and war.

 

7:00 PM The Crash (1932)

The stock market crash costs a faithless wife her fortune. Cast: Ruth Chatterton, George Brent, Paul Cavanagh. Dir: William Dieterle. BW-58 mins, TV-G.

This really intrigues me since, according to the hilariously overwrought trailer that TCM is showing with George Brent explaining how divine this film is, Ruth Chatterton is the flame around which various and sundry male moths singe their wings and...according to Warners' modest claim, is the ONLY film to address the financial calamity that was the Wall Street disaster that evolved into the Great Depression. In actuality, it's always interesting to see the interpretations of those all too recent events reflected vividly in WB movies of that period----at least they recognized the real world outside Hollywood---unlike, say MGM & Paramount, which in general tried to distract the world-weary audience from too sad realities. Oh, and Ruth's always worth a look, especially since she seems to have roused Mr. Brent from his usual semi-comatose state in their mutual movies.

 

Has anyone seen any of these? Any info, comments or cautions to share about this lineup?

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What a coincidence! I watched "Transgression" yesterday (thanks Sandy!) and although it's not a "Top" Pre-Code, it's absolutely worthwhile. Kay plays a more clich?d character than in "Man Wanted" (which I also saw yesterday) but there's something with these early talkies that have an enormous appeal to me. Ricardo Cortez as the suavest villains of all is great to see. Paul Cavanagh in a similar role than in Connie Bennett's "Born to Love", as "his Lordship"-but a "finer" man though. And you get to see Kay's transformation into a sophisticated lady while living in Paris. There are some interesting supporting players featured here, like Nance O'Neil, Doris Lloyd, Adrienne D'Ambricourt, John Sainpolis/St.Polis

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I checked imdb.com and realized that "Transgression" is based in a novel which was filmed as a Silent in 1924, "The Next Corner", in which Ricardo Cortez played the same role!! It stars Dorothy Mackaill, Conway Tearle and Lon Chaney, playing the role impersonated by John St.Polis. Apparently there is an alternate French Version of "Transgression", filmed at the same time, titled "Nuit D'Espagne" (Spanish Night). How interesting!

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Yes, I remember reading about the silent version a while back, but I saw nothing about the alternate French version. That's funny how you just watched two pre-code Kay Francis movies. When I watched "Transgression", I also watched "Street of Women", "Mary Stevens, M.D." and "Storm at Daybreak"--all three are loaded with pre-code themes.

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Just thought I would throw in a definition from Wikipedia for those who aren't quite sure about the pre-code film dates.

 

The Production Code (also known as the Hays Code) was a set of industry guidelines governing the production of American motion pictures. The Motion Pictures Producers and Distributors Association (MPPDA), which later became the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), adopted the code in 1930, began effectively enforcing it in 1934, and abandoned it in 1967 in favor of the subsequent MPAA film rating system. The Production Code spelled out what was and was not considered morally acceptable in the production of motion pictures for a public audience.

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...began effectively enforcing it in 1934, and abandoned it in 1967 in favor of the subsequent MPAA film rating system. The Production Code spelled out what was and was not considered morally acceptable in the production of motion pictures for a public audience.

 

Note that enforcement began in July of 1934. Movies released in the first six months of 1934 are pre-code.

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I actually took the time to watch "Transgression" last night. Once into it I realized I had seen it before.

 

I didn't much like it. Kay's character is just stupid in this one. Watching her relationship with Ricardo Cortez develop is like watching a car wreck in slow motion -- it's perfectly obvious that he's a slimeball from the beginning. Songbird2 was absolutely right about her looking chic, but Kay always looked chic. I prefer her as strong, intelligent and chic rather than whimpering, dumb and chic though. The only character I really adored was Paul Cavanaugh at the end. What a great guy!

 

Also, I just really hate Ricardo Cortez in general.

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I was lucky enough to catch a Pre-Code Festival a few years ago at the Film Forum in NYC. The highlight for me was Virtue (1932). Pat O'Brien (as the cabbie with a heart of gold), Carole Lombard (as a "fallen woman" who's going straight), and Jack LaRue (as a two-bit gangster from her past). Just excellently done.

 

 

 

Written by Robert Riskin (Capra's sceenwriter) who wrote Meet John Doe, You Can't Take It with You, Lost Horizon, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, The Whole Town's Talking.

 

 

 

I'd love to see it on TCM.

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Jon,

 

Didn't you like Ricardo in "Midnight Mary" with Loretta Young and Franchot Tone? I think that Pre-Code is outstanding, although Cortez's role is absolutely villainous. I think he gave a good performance in "Symphony of 6 Million" although I did not like the film overall. I have yet to see him in a Silent (I taped "The Torrent").

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I have some Kay film's yet to see and I'm eager to do so: "Mary Stevens M.D.", "British Agent", "Feminine Touch" and "The Keyhole".

 

She was great in "In Name Only", "One Way Passage", "Jewel Robbery", "Trouble In Paradise". "Girls about Town" is a film I'd like to see.

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For Kay Francis fans there are two recently published Books about her - Kay Francis: I Can't What to be Forgotten by Scott O' Brien, and Kay Francis by Kerr& Rossman. Her real life was much more interesting than any of her films. That is not a knock on her movies.

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They have been both in my wish list for months :) I've read reviews of the two books and apprently the Kerr & Rossman Biography is superior in all counts. Another book which discusses Kay's life and career is George Eells' "Ginger, Loretta and Irene Who?". Good read.

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All you fellow pre-code fans will be pleased to know that in December TCM will be showing (for the first time to my knowledge) Waterloo Bridge (1930) with Mae Clarke. Woo Hoo! Also Ann Vickers (1933), which I've never seen and have wanted to for a long time (I love Irene Dunne), and Mandalay (1934) in October, which the last time TCM showed it my cable went out.

 

Message was edited by:

Melly

 

Message was edited by:

Melly

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<<Waterloo Bridge (1931) with Mae Clarke. Woo Hoo!>>

Dec 04, 8:00PM, Directed by James Whale, I might add.

 

Woo Hoo, indeed. Now, there your evidence TCM is not slipping away. One Mae Clarke makes up for 2 showings of "Honey, I Stunk The Kids". (I was going to say "a dozen showings", but nothing would make up for that.)

 

Hey, I just checked - it's part of a DVD Box Set:

Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 1 [DVD] Now Accepting Advance Orders!

Waterloo Bridge (1931). Mae Clarke, Douglass Montgomery and a young Bette Davis star. Red-Headed Woman (1932) Jean Harlow, Charles Boyer, Lewis Stone, Chester Morris.

Baby Face (1933) Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Donald Cook, and a young John Wayne

 

Available: 12/05/06

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Baby Face is scheduled for December 4, Mr. Parker...>>

 

It's a good restoration, too.

 

Watching the restored version of "Baby Face" after seeing the truncated version is like watching a completely different movie.

 

It's great, Stanwyck is great and I am looking forward to seeing it again!

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You sure know about my country Jack! Would you believe that I've never been to either Torres del Paine or Easter Island? Shame on me. But I've been to my library!!! :D...... Anyway if you plan to visit Chile I would be very pleased to meet you and show you my humble library. I live in Santiago, the capital city.

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