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Cast: Tallulah Bankhead, Robert Montgomery, Hugh Herbert, Maurice Murphy
Director: Harry Beaumont

Tallulah Bankhead made very few films, but she had a pretty good run in the early 1930s. Which really was perfect, because with her fearless sexual behavior, she was practically made for these films. The best is Faithless, a film that masterfully deals with the topic of aristocrats losing it all in the Depression. There are more than a few films about middle-class people suffering through the Depression, but not many about the upper class, and this film handles that topic gracefully and bravely.

Bankhead really was perfect to play the wealthy Carol. Everything about Bankhead screamed upper class, from her voice to her mannerisms. She and Robert Montgomery had a lot of chemistry. Bankhead's screen presense is almost overwhelming, but Montgomery holds his own against her. Bankhead makes her transformation from socialite to fallen woman believable and heartbreaking, and at the heart of the film is the love story.
Current Mood:
creative creative
Current Music:
Generation X - Kiss Me Deadly
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Cast: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connelly
Director: Frank Capra

It Happened One Night is one of the most iconic pre-code films, and it's one of the last great films of the era. Frank Capra was excellent when it came to innuendo, and he had two of the best comedic actors to deliver the hilarious lines. Claudette Colbert was very outspoken in her opposition to the code, so it's fitting that she's the star in one of the very last pre-code films.

It's subtle, rather than in your face sexy, conveying it's sexual chemistry through words rather than actions. Yet Capra masterfully throws us off by using some rather explicit actions at times, and leaving words completely behind, like when Gable undresses in front of Colbert, and is wearing no undershirt, or when Colbert flashes a bit of leg to hitch a ride.
Current Mood:
chipper chipper
Current Music:
Pink Floyd - Brain Damage
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Cast: Constance Bennett, Joel McCrea, John Halliday, Pert Kelton
Director: Gregory La Cava

Joel McCrea and Constance Bennett were one of the very best pairings of the pre-code era. Bed of Roses is the best of the films they made together (which include The Common Law and Rockabye). It's the most romantic, and the most emotional, and has one of the most romantic and subtley sexy scenes I've ever seen.

It's a kept woman film, but it's quite different than most. In the beginning, Bennett's character is quite unlikeable, and you feel kind of bad for the guy that she conned in to keeping her. Generally in movies like this, you're rooting for the kept woman and her sugar daddy to realize that they're actually in love. In Bed of Roses, you're hoping Bennett dumps the rich guy she's with to find love with the poor but wonderful Joel McCrea.
Current Mood:
artistic artistic
Current Music:
Michael Buble - Try a Little Tenderness
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My photoshop went crazy AGAIN. I uninstalled it, then reinstalled it, and it seems to be working okay now. So tomorrow I will update with Pre-Code #'s 18-15, and I'll post A Look At Ingrid Bergman.
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Cast: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Karen Morley, Osgood Perkins, George Raft
Director: Howard Hawks

Scarface was so violent, so against the code, that even in 1932, at the height of the era, it couldn't fully escape the censors, and had to add the subtitle "The Shame of the Nation" to make it clear that Muni's character was not to be seen as a hero.

Still, the film is able to paint Muni as quite the tragic anti-hero. He goes down in a blaze of glory, and you honestly, truly, feel for him. Of course, that's not the only reason it fits the era so well. There is a healthy (or, I suppose unhealthy) amount of violence, considering it is a gangster movie. And then there's his obviously sexual relationship with Karen Morley. But the best part is the thinly veiled incestuous subtext between Muni and his sister, Ann Dvorak.
Current Mood:
amused amused
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Cast: Joan Crawford, Anita Page, Dorothy Sebastian, Robert Montgomery
Director: Harry Beaumont

Joan Crawford was one of the queens of pre-code, and Robert Montgomery was her best costar. Their styles fit each other perfectly. While Montgomery and Shearer were great, they didn't have quite as much sex appeal as Crawfrod and Montgomery. They practically sizzled when they were together, which made them absolutely amazing for pre-code film.

So, add to the sexual tension some skimpy clothes, some gold digging, and some suicide, and you've got a great pre-code melodrama. It's a pretty sad movie, but there are quite a few sexy moments in the film, especially between the aforementioned Crawford and Montgomery. There are also some great performances, specifically from Anita Page. The rest of the cast is good, but she steals the show.
Current Mood:
sad sad
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This film always amazes me with it's understatedness and simplicity. Whenever it's on, I'm always enthralled by it, whether I had been planning on watching it or not. The simplicity reminds me of another Wyler film, the excellent These Three. Both films tackle rather important topics, but express them through their characters, and so the message comes across as very subtle.  It's a movie that's held together by its acting. It's not a show-y movie, it's purely an actors film.

It has what I believe is Bette Davis' best performance. She's able to be so manipulative, nasty and forceful. She's almost frightening, yet she's still able to show the (somewhat misguided) affection she had for her daughter. The performance is, at times, fun, and at times, frightening and intense.

She's surrounded by some excellent actors. Teresa Wright is so good as her sweet daughter. Her transformation from naive little girl to understanding woman is remarkable. Herbert Marshall, one of my favorite actors, is incredible in his role as Regina's rundown husband. He has health problems, but his performance more than suggests that a lot of his state is caused by Regina's behavior.

This one is a real gem. It's not flashy, but it's so far from boring it's impossible not to be sucked into it.
Current Mood:
gloomy gloomy
Current Music:
The Clash - London Calling
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Cast: Walter Huston, Conrad Nagel, Virginia Bruce, Lupe Velez
Director: William J. Cowen

There are some movies that are considered pre-code because of sexuality. And there are some films that are considered pre-code because of violence. And then there are some films that are considered pre-code becuase they're just seriously screwed up. That last one is the category that Kongo falls under.

Drug addiction, violent kidnapping, sadism, and general craziness makes up the dark, frantic, but brilliant atmosphere of this bizarre world, where Walter Huston is a sick and twisted tryant of an african village. There are some scenes that are kind of strangely sexy (in an "this is too weird to be this hot, but it is!" way) between Virginia Bruce and Conrad Nagel. In the end, as twisted as it is, it's also very, very sad.
Current Mood:
sleepy sleepy
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Best Performance: Ellie May Adams, Primrose Path

Ginger Rogers is my absolute favorite actress ever. Not only was she very beautiful, but she could pretty much do anything on the screen that you could imagine. She could sing, she could dance, she could do comedy, she could do drama. She was amazing.

She didn't have a trained voice, like Jeanette MacDonald, but her voice was still very strong. She always sounded like she was having such a good time singing the songs. She gave them a certain exuberance. She was also amazing at reacting to songs. One of the best things about Fred and Ginger movies is the way Ginger looks when Fred is singing to her.

She was a great dancer. She didn't get a lot of chances the dance on her own when she was making films with Fred, but whether it was in a rare solo performance, or dancing with Fred, she moved with so much grace. Fred may have been the more skilled dancer, but Ginger gave the pairing something irreplaceable, something you can see is missing with all of Fred's other partners, no matter how great they are.

And she had enormous acting talent and range. She's probably best known for comedies. She had some of the best comedic timing in movies. Her deadpan deliveryin films like Bachelor Mother and Star of Midnight are priceless and unforgettable.

But people often forget how good she was at drama, so good that she won an Oscar for her performance in Kitty Foyle. (Granted, the award probably should have been for Primrose Path). She amount of dramas she made was considerable smaller that her list of comedies, but Ginger always excelled in the more somber pictures, always managing to make me cry like a baby.
Current Mood:
tired tired
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Cast: Loretta Young, Ricardo Cortez, Franchot Tone, Andy Devine, Una Merkel
Director: William A. Wellman

Here's Loretta Young, in prehaps her best pre-code role, playing yet another sweet-but-not-quite character. Here, she's a loveable heroine, who happens to be on trial for muder. We're made to see, through flashbacks, that Mary isn't a bad girl, she's simply a lost sould of sorts, in some pretty bad circumstances. This strong woman character is the type the Production Code was quick to get rid of.

She's shot Ricardo Cortez, and really, who wouldn't? The guy was a bit sleazy and creepy, and it works excellent here, perfectly countering Young's adorable, almost pure sexiness. Luckily, she's got another great leading man in the wonderful Franchot Tone. The two are an excellent pair with fantastic chemistry (they paired up a few years late in the very good The Unguarded Hour.)

The film is rather frank, sexually, and there are quite a few seasons that I'm sure made the censors raise their eye brows.
Current Mood:
drained drained
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