The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
Message
Author
User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#101 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:09 am

OK, thanks!

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#102 Post by knives » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:17 am

Rayon Vert wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:05 pm
knives wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 2:26 pm
I hope I am the last one to discover the genius of William Dieterle's Jewel Robbery..
So glad to hear a voice appreciate this one, perhaps even more than me. It is amazingly gorgeous, and it's on my list.
Honestly after seeing I can't get it out of my head. In terms of sheer awe I haven't been hit this hard by a film is a long while. It's exterior elements make it seem so quaint that the beauty and melodrama it delivers are like a treasured secret.

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#103 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Dec 14, 2018 9:29 pm

I've just watched the (very good) short Cary Grant doc in the Criterion The Awful Truth, and there's a scene of shocking violence of Cary Grant whipping a man without mercy from a film called The Woman Accused (1933). I'm wondering if anyone here has seen it and what they thought of it.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#104 Post by domino harvey » Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:41 pm

It's in that huge Cary Grant Vault Collection Universal put out, so while I haven't seen it yet, I could

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#105 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Dec 14, 2018 11:09 pm

Someone put up the whole scene on youtube, with the description "This is the most shocking pre-Code moment I've ever seen... especially as it involves Cary Grant".

It does fit the theme of that doc that Grant didn't find his acting mojo until McCarey, though.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#106 Post by knives » Sat Dec 15, 2018 8:18 pm

Did he meet McCarey before '37, haven't seen the doc in question, because if not that's a bizarre position to take. Grant the star was already at work in Blonde Venus and the seeds of his star character pops up in the Mae West films. Sure he also made a ton of crap, but that was the studio system in general especially in the '30s. Look at how much utter crap Gable was in for instance all through the '30s and he was at a major studio.

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#107 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Dec 15, 2018 11:54 pm

I may not be giving the most precise or accurate impression of the short doc's argument. I found this description/review on a website, by Professor Tony Williams, that probably gives a better one:
David Cairns provides a significant 16-minute video essay “Tell Me Lies about Cary Grant” in which he credits the creation of the future Grant star persona to director Leo McCarey whose emphasis on spontaneity and the lack of a consistent daily screenplay upset both Grant and Bellamy so much so that the former offered money to release him from this film and even suggested swapping roles with Bellamy himself! Cairns supplies revealing clips from some of Grant’s previous Paramount films to show how stiff and ungainly Grant was in his pre-1937 performances before McCarey (a veteran of silent comedy) worked his magic on his own 1954 version of A Star is Born, one who never looked back. Clips from Ladies Should Listen (1934), Kiss and Make Up (1934), I’m No Angel (1933), Wings in the Dark (1935), appear among others – but not Blonde Venus (1932) or She Done Him Wrong (1933), where Grant probably had every reason to be nervous of his co-star Mae West as in I’m No Angel, his 1936 British movie The Amazing Adventure (1936) nor his role as (Dis)Honorable Pinkerton in a 1932 version of Madame Butterfly with Sylvia Sidney in the title role co-starring an equally uncomfortable Charlie Ruggles as a fellow Naval Officer whom Hawks would later use to good comic effect in Bringing Up Baby. One should not kick a developing star when he is clearly down in his early career with clips from too many compromising performances but Cairns recognizes the importance of Cukor’s Sylvia Scarlet (1935) and Topper (1937) as more successful attempts to begin polishing the rough diamond before McCarey begins his definitive work. With this director, Grant became less self-conscious and “taking the script away puts him in the present tense” making the actor “a star born from screwball” as Cairns succinctly notes.
Cairns argues Grant's apprenticeship with McCarey on this on this film gave him the confidence to turn in the stunning performances in the films that followed (notably the Hawks films).

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#108 Post by knives » Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:37 am

That's a bit silly. Now, McCarey himself claimed that the fully polished Grant persona was a McCarey imitation which is something worth looking into, but to say that all of these early performances were stiff or compromised in some way is blatantly wrong.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#109 Post by domino harvey » Sun Dec 16, 2018 2:46 pm

FYI Lists will be due tomorrow morning by 10 AM EST. My crappy plug-in USB keyboard works, so no more extensions! If you want to resubmit, go ahead, just indicate when submitting that it's an updated list

Still only have seven lists, so this may be moot anyways... Image

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#110 Post by domino harvey » Sun Dec 16, 2018 6:51 pm

...actually, I think it'll be easier for me to tabulate Tuesday midday rather than tomorrow. So, Jesus, have another day why don't you. Lists due by 1030 AM Tuesday EST -- feel free to cram new viewings in between now and then, I'm not tabulating til Tues

User avatar
Godot
Cri me a Tearion
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 12:13 am
Location: Phoenix

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#111 Post by Godot » Sun Dec 16, 2018 7:50 pm

knives wrote:
Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:17 am
Rayon Vert wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:05 pm
knives wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 2:26 pm
I hope I am the last one to discover the genius of William Dieterle's Jewel Robbery..
So glad to hear a voice appreciate this one, perhaps even more than me. It is amazingly gorgeous, and it's on my list.
Honestly after seeing I can't get it out of my head. In terms of sheer awe I haven't been hit this hard by a film is a long while. It's exterior elements make it seem so quaint that the beauty and melodrama it delivers are like a treasured secret.
I just bought Forbidden Hollywood volume 4 as a Christmas present for myself (and justified for family movie nights), based on the Jewel Robbery comments above between knives and Rayon Vert (and domino's earlier short description). You guys (gals?) should get a commission for recommendations. I also found DVDSavant's review quite compelling.

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#112 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:59 pm

I got 2, 4, 6 and 7 for this list project, having previously seen 1 and 3. 4 was definitely the winner because of Jewel Robbery, and the fact that the three others on the set are all OK-to-good.

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#113 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:09 pm

Here's a Christmas gift offer to the first one who asks for it (in this thread so there's no confusion, if that's OK.) I returned Forbidden Hollywood 7 because one of the discs was scratched, ordered a new one which I haven't opened because I got to watch Skyscraper Souls online in the interim, which I didn't like enough to make it a keeper (I didn't watch The Hatchet Man, but it doesn't sound too good, even though it's a Wellman). So I'm offering to give it free to the first one who asks, but you have to pay for the shipping (and I'm in Canada). The other two films on it are Employees' Entrance and Ex-Lady, both reviewed in this thread by me and others. (The earliest I can mail this out is next Saturday, though.)

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#114 Post by swo17 » Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:04 am

The Hatchet Man is definitely a Wellman worth watching, assuming you can stomach the yellowface

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#115 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:18 am

Well if nobody accepts my offer, I guess I'll end up opening the set and watching it at some point then!

User avatar
Cold Bishop
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#116 Post by Cold Bishop » Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:46 am

Hatchet Man is one of my favorite Wellmans, and even the yellowface is complicated (although far from exonerated) by how much the film is about leaving behind and shattering stereotypes: it's pretty much the central conflict of the film.

User avatar
senseabove
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:07 am

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#117 Post by senseabove » Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:34 am

I'll third that The Hatchet Man is worth watching, if you can stomach the yellowface. I don't think it's top-tier Wellman, even limited to his pre-codes, but it's got a great opening sequence and a memorable ending.

I have no idea what shipping from Canada to California would be, but I'm tempted to take you up on the offer as I was thinking about ordering that set anyway. But you should open it and watch Hatchet Man first, and feel free to renege if you change your mind.

User avatar
senseabove
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:07 am

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#118 Post by senseabove » Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:53 am

I decided to pull out the Universal Pre-Code Hollywood set, in hopes of adding something non-Warners to my list (that I really do plan on submitting tomorrow!), and was left oh-so-wishing WB had made the movie. I thought I'd struck gold for the first thirty minutes or so of Torch Song, but then it tanks, with only Claudette Colbert struggling mightily to keep it afloat (it has two directors listed, and I'd be curious to know who did what...). She's more than reason enough to watch, giving a truly fantastic performance as an unwed, out-of-work mother forced by destitution to give her baby up for adoption, after which she works her way up to infamy and riches as a fast-living—surprise—torch singer. A radio producer picks her up one night—in one of the most amusingly coy/not coy pick-ups I've seen in a pre-code, one of the moments that had me absolutely delighted with my choice—which leads to her accidentally stumble-barging her way into a regular children's radio segment. After that, the air starts to slowly leak out of the balloon, until we get a bow-wrapped happy ending. One imagines WB would at least have let Colbert play it defiantly bitter. It's worth watching just to see Colbert wring some sense of the conflated mother-and-whore role and single-handedly carry the entire movie, honestly.

If anyone else is eyeing the Universal set on their shelf, I'll recommend Merrily We Go to Hell for your last-minute consideration (and I notice it appears to be on YouTube, if anyone doesn't have it on the shelf).

I'm gonna try to squeeze in Search for Beauty and the 1934 Imitation of Life tomorrow night. (I'm assuming the latter counts? There seemed to be some—no pun intended—raciness qualifications other folks were using in earlier discussion, and from what I gather IoL isn't really that type of pre-code...)

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#119 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Dec 17, 2018 10:05 am

senseabove wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:34 am
I'll third that The Hatchet Man is worth watching, if you can stomach the yellowface. I don't think it's top-tier Wellman, even limited to his pre-codes, but it's got a great opening sequence and a memorable ending.

I have no idea what shipping from Canada to California would be, but I'm tempted to take you up on the offer as I was thinking about ordering that set anyway. But you should open it and watch Hatchet Man first, and feel free to renege if you change your mind.
I can check with the post office next Saturday and give you an estimate. I'll PM you for that.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#120 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 17, 2018 10:23 am

senseabove, Search For Beauty is the only film from that set to make my list, and it's a rare Hollywood film, Pre-Code or not, that sexually objectifies men rather than women. It's a lot of good not-clean fun!

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#121 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 18, 2018 11:52 am

Voting closed, results soon

A teaser while we wait: for the first time since the Noir List, one film has appeared on every list!

EDIT: Actually, the last time was Persona on the Bergman List

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#122 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:25 pm

Image

THE PRE-CODE HOLLYWOOD LIST

01 Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch 1932) 12 (2)
02 I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang! (Mervyn LeRoy 1932) 7 (1)
03 Shanghai Express (Josef von Sternberg 1932) 7 (1)
04 Scarface (Howard Hawks 1932) 6
05 Baby Face (Alfred E Green 1933) 5

06 Gold Diggers of 1933 (Mervyn LeRoy 1933) 5
07 Love Me Tonight (Rouben Mamoulian 1932) 4 (2)
07 the Public Enemy (William A Wellman 1931) 5 (1)
09 Freaks (Tod Browning 1932) 4 (1)
10 Waterloo Bridge (James Whale 1931) 4 (1)

11 Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Rouben Mamoulian 1931) 4
12 Jewel Robbery (William Dieterle 1932) 4
13 Bad Girl (Frank Borzage 1931) 3
13 the Bitter Tea of General Yen (Frank Capra 1933) 3
15 the Thin Man (WS Van Dyke 1934) 3 (1)

16 Morocco (Josef von Sternberg 1930) 3
17 the Black Cat (Edgar G Ulmer 1934) 4
17 the Smiling Lieutenant (Ernst Lubitsch 1931) 3
19 All Quiet on the Western Front (Lewis Milestone 1930) 3
19 Dishonored (Josef von Sternberg 1931) 2

21 Design for Living (Ernst Lubitsch 1933) 5
21 It Happened One Night (Frank Capra 1934) 2
21 the Scarlet Empress (Josef von Sterberg 1934) 3
24 Gabriel Over the White House (Gregory La Cava 1933) 3
24 King Kong (Merian C Cooper 1933) 4
24 Wild Boys of the Road (William A Wellman 1933) 3

KEY: # of ballots film appeared on (# of ballots with film ranked first) Appeared on every list

ALSO RANS
Frankenstein, Night Nurse, Blonde Venus (1), Duck Soup, Twentieth Century, Red Dust, Friends of Mr Sweeney, the Love Parade, the Mind Reader, the Old Dark House, Applause, Heroes for Sale (1), Island of Lost Souls, Hallelujah, I’m a Bum!, Doctor X, Five Star Final, tthe Most Dangerous Game, Heat Lightning, Footlight Parade, One Hour With You

ORPHANS
A Farewell to Arms, A Free Soul, Afraid to Talk, Arsene Lupin, Blonde Crazy, Bombshell, the Broken Lullaby, Counsellor at Law, the Dawn Patrol, Dinner at Eight, Downstairs, Dracula, Employee Entrance, Good Dame, Grand Hotel, the Hatchet Man, Hell’s Angels, Hold Your Man, Horse Feathers, I’m No Angel, the Invisible Man, Journey’s End, Little Caesar, the Lost Patrol, Man’s Castle, Manhattan Melodrama, Maniac, the Mask of Fu Manchu, Me and My Gal, Merrily We Go to Hell, Midnight Mary, Min and Bill, Miracle Woman, Monkey Business, Monte Carlo, Murders in the Rue Morgue, the Music Box, Night After Night, Of Human Bondage, Other Men’s Women, Picture Snatcher, Rasputin and the Empress, Red Headed Woman, Safe in Hell, Search for Beauty, the Sins of Nora Moran, So Big!, Song of Songs, Street Scene, Tarzan and His Mate, Tarzan the Ape Man, Thunderbolt, Transatlantic, White Woman, You’re Telling Me!

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#123 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:28 pm

FYI, in addition to the rare confluence of everyone voting for Trouble in Paradise, the movie also won this in the single biggest blowout I've ever seen in all my years tabulating lists. Its numbers were nearly twice as high as the second place film-- not only did everyone like it, but everyone save one submitter liked it enough to place it in their top tier

User avatar
dustybooks
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:52 am
Location: Wilmington, NC

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#124 Post by dustybooks » Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:53 pm

Thank you for compiling! I really need to catch up on my 1930s gangster films.

User avatar
senseabove
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:07 am

Re: The Pre-Code Hollywood Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#125 Post by senseabove » Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:07 pm

Thanks, Domino!

I've been holding out for Scarface on film at a local rep, but I guess I need to cave.

I know it's not the pinnacle of scandal, but I'm the only person who voted for Grand Hotel? That's my only orphan I find a little surprising.

Post Reply