Warners / TCM Archives: Forbidden Hollywood Collection Vol.1 in December

Discussion in 'DVD' started by John Hodson, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    From DVD Times:

    Warner Home Video and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) partner to spotlight three rare ground-breaking films from Hollywood’s Pre-Production Code era with the Region 1 DVD release of TCM Archives: Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume 1 on 5th December 2006.. This first in a series of releases of provocative, shocking feature films from the Warner Bros. library is a restored and remastered Two-Disc Collection of three legendary and notorious films. The films -- which earned their place in history thanks to three daring young actresses who undertook these racy, and riveting roles -- pay tribute to an extraordinary time before the censors cut the party short.

    Baby Face, starring Barbara Stanwyck, is the most famous title, required viewing for anyone interested in how far Hollywood would go before censorship kicked in. This collection boasts a rarely seen pre-release version, thought lost for 70 years and shot before censors eliminated several scenes. Recently discovered and restored by the Library of Congress, this authentic version of Baby Face has been digitally remastered, and is a revelation to legions of fans familiar with the previously seen “theatrical release” version. The New York Times’ Dave Kehr wrote “[Baby Face] remains one of the most stunningly sordid films ever made, a standout even among the wave of risqué entertainments that filled American screens in the early years of the Depression. Even the cut version is a jaw-dropper; [now] with its five full minutes of sleaze restored, it [the original version] has to be seen to be not quite believed.” This Collection will treat viewers to both versions, allowing them to compare how certain scenes were carefully pruned, heavily edited, or replaced entirely.

    Also featured is Red Headed Woman, starring Jean Harlow in one of her best early films, written by the famed Anita Loos (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), where Harlow shines and beguiles as an avaricious secretary out to climb the social ladder even if it’s on her back. Waterloo Bridge, the first adaptation of famed playwright Robert E. Sherwood’s stirring play, starring Mae Clarke (Frankenstein, The Public Enemy) as a prostitute in World War I-torn London, and directed by the legendary James Whale (Show Boat [1936], Frankenstein), rounds out the Collection. This deluxe two-disc set is available at the collectible price of $49.92 SRP.

    About the Production Code

    It was not the roaring ‘20s, as is generally believed, but the four years between 1929 and 1934 that was the real era of wide-open sexuality in films. Before Hollywood began enforcing a self-imposed Production Code, many films allowed for extraordinary frankness, including nudity, adultery, premarital sex and prostitution.

    Film industry censorship began in 1922, following a trio of scandals that rocked Hollywood: the Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle rape/murder trial, the never-solved murder of director William Desmond Taylor and the drug-related death of matinee idol Wallace Reid. In 1930, a new version of the Production Code was drafted to standardize the censorship requirements of various states, since the inception of talking films made it difficult to arbitrarily cut offending scenes.

    However, the studios merely paid lip-service to the Code since they were more interested in finding ways to lure dwindling Depression era audiences into theatres.

    The Pre-Code era “officially” kicked off with the 1929 release of The Divorcee, starring Norma Shearer, with a startling story of a woman who discovers her husband has had an affair and sets out to “balance the account.” The phenomenal critical and financial success of this picture led other studios to attempt to top it and soon almost every actress in Hollywood was required to sin and repent. The sensational series of films that emerged helped Hollywood survive its economic crisis and moviegoers enjoy the vicarious thrills the films provided.

    The era came to an abrupt close beginning July 1,1934, when Catholic watchdog groups threatened boycotts of all films and the Church established the Legion of Decency to monitor movies. Studio heads bowed to the pressure and the era of censorship began, lasting until the establishment of the industry’s rating system in 1968.



    About the Movies

    Baby Face (1933)
    Baby Face was one of the first films to be pulled from theatres when the Production Code’s restrictions finally went into full effect. The fast-paced, gritty story of a woman whose every move is coldly calculated to better her position through the liberal use of seduction still has the ability to shock. Now with the newly discovered, longer authentic print from the Library of Congress, today’s audiences can experience the seamy portrayal that caused such a stir. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Mick LaSalle said: “The differences between the original and the release versions of Baby Face are small; and yet combined, they spell the difference between a good three-star movie and a delightful four-star movie."

    Added to the National Film Registry in 2005 and voted by Time Magazine’s top critics as one of the 100 Best All-time Films, the restored Baby Face stars Barbara Stanwyck (The Lady Eve, Stella Dallas) in a spectacular performance as Lily Powers, the beautiful daughter of a steel-town speakeasy owner, a sleazy man who expects her to serve sexual favors along with the beer. After he dies in a still explosion, she boards a train to New York in search of a better life. There she picks a high-rise office building and sleeps her way to the top, seducing anyone who can help her advance, from office boy to company president. When Lily finally discovers true love, it just may be too late for her to change her ways. This newly-discovered version made its premiere at the 2005 London Film Festival, and is now available to DVD audiences for the first time ever.

    Red Headed Woman (1932)
    Jean Harlow, the legendary “Platinum Blonde” sex symbol of the ‘30s, is transformed into a titan-tressed temptress for the shockingly funny Red Headed Woman. This 1932 release signaled a major career detour for Harlow, who up until then had played mostly sexually-voracious gangster molls (The Public Enemy) and vamps (Iron Man). The addition of comedy to her standard repertoire endeared her even more to audiences and led to a long string of box-office hits, including Red Dust, Bombshell, China Seas and Libeled Lady.

    In Red Headed Woman, Lil Andrews (Harlow) is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who's determined to get ahead socially, and sets her sights on her happily married boss Bill Legendre (Chester Morris), refusing to take “no” for an answer. The shameless home wrecker uses every trick in the book to land him. She finally does but still must gain acceptance in local society, so tries to conquer New York through an “alliance” with an older admirer while simultaneously conducting an affair with his chauffeur. In direct opposition to the Production Code, she ends up in Paris rich and unrepentant.

    While Red Headed Woman wavers wildly between comedy and melodrama, Harlow displays an engaging comic flair in her delightful portrayal. The film is loaded with marital infidelity, lots of implicit sex, violence, sadism (when Bill finally slaps Lil out of frustration, she says, “Hit me again! I like it!”) and plenty of glimpses of Harlow barely clad. Even today, the film would be considered adult fare.

    Waterloo Bridge (1931)
    While the 1940 remake might be better known, this gritty 1931 original version of the acclaimed wartime romance stars Mae Clarke, who transcends the tawdry material with a luminous performance that should have assured her of a bigger career. Unfortunately, Waterloo Bridge remained out of the public eye for more than 50 years, leaving Clarke to be best remembered as the woman into whose face James Cagney smashes a grapefruit in The Public Enemy. The second film directed by James Whale (Show Boat [1936], Bride of Frankenstein), Waterloo Bridge was based on a play by Robert E. Sherwood.

    Prostitution was a favorite topic of many pre-code films since the subject matter was titillating to audiences yet safely removed enough not to be threatening. In Waterloo Bridge, Mae Clarke is an American chorus girl who marries an officer in London during World War I. After he's reported missing his family cruelly rejects her and, desperate to survive, she drifts into prostitution.

    Special Features:

    Disc One includes the New to DVD features Waterloo Bridge and Red-Headed Woman with an Introduction by Robert Osborne.

    Disc Two includes the New to DVD feature Baby Face in both its standard theatrical release and original, uncensored pre-release version. The theatrical trailer is also included.
     
  2. JohnPM

    JohnPM Second Unit

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    Three good selections, and I'll look forward to perhaps larger groupings of six to eight titles for the next volume. Warners has so many great pre-codes --- they could continue with these "Forbidden Hollywood" collections forever...

    http://greenbriarpictureshows.blogspot.com/
     
  3. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    I can't wait for this, and I hope that this is a regular series.
     
  4. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    Not a proper box set, I was hoping for Red headed Woman, Baby Face and Red Dust to be the anchors of a 5 or six discer, but this is an okay start even if the extras are skimpy compared teo the love lavished upon the Gangsters sets. that's okay because it makes it easier on my wallet, which is very important right now.
     
  5. GlennWD

    GlennWD Stunt Coordinator

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    Great news about these finally getting released, but I wished Warner had included more than just three films, its such a small collection and I am used to 5 and 6 movies in a box set from Warner. But its still good news and I can't wait to watch them.
     
  6. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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    No commentaries, etc? [​IMG]
     
  7. Garysb

    Garysb Screenwriter

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    While I was hoping for a larger box set, these are 3 films I am anxious to add to my collection. I am familiar with Baby Face and Red Headed Woman . Both are great. I am not familiar with the 1931 version of Waterloo Bridge. I know the 1940 remake with Vivian Leigh and Robert Taylor. I have heard they were much more explicit about what Myra does in 1931 then in 1940.

    It is much more important to me that these are good transfers then that they have extras .
    These films are over 70 years old. It sounds like Warners is doing its usual great job on these.

    $50 list for a 2 disc 3 film set is getting into Fox pricing. I guess these films were expensive to restore.
    .
     
  8. docdoowop

    docdoowop Second Unit

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    Perhaps this is Warner's way of testing the pre-code waters, with more to come if successful. I welcome any legitimate release from the era.
     
  9. Charles Ellis

    Charles Ellis Screenwriter

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    I'm still praying that a print of the notorious Convention City can be found! And how about at least one of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedies for a future volume, along with the Oscar nominated Five Star Final, in my opinion the best movie about the destructive power of tabloid journalism ever!
     
  10. Corey

    Corey Screenwriter

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    i was still hoping their would be more than 3 films, but hopefully it takes off like how the film noir series did and we can have more future collections. only 2 more sets to go for the year: tracy and harlow.
     
  11. Corey

    Corey Screenwriter

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    they'll be on amazon for $25
     
  12. Jacqui

    Jacqui Stunt Coordinator

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    Another fine selection from Warners. I imagine that if this volume is successful, more Pre code titles will be released.
     
  13. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
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    Good set, but a high price-point for Warners. A definite holiday wish-list item for me however.
     
  14. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    This sounds like an excellent set and a great value, Ive been waiting for this for years!

    Its too bad WB didnt incude another 'Night At The Movies' feature for this as it wouldve been the perfect oppurtunity to introduce some rare pre-code shorts... and even an excuse to possibly unload some of those "forbidden" cartoons!

    Im looking forward to this none-the-less!
     
  15. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    All the Archives sets have been unusually high priced. I agree that it seems high in relation to their other box sets. The wonderful (and more substantial) Noir 3 collection had the same MSRP. Corey, I believe your Amazon price is $10 too low. 30% off $50 is $35, not $25.

    I'm also surprised that the pre-code documentary that ran on TCM isn't on here (Complicated Women was the title I think). Maybe on Volume 2?

    These quibbles aside, thanks to Warners for launching this line (the press release does say there will be more releases).

     
  16. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    Agree with the first statement, but not the second - they're charging almost twice what they normally do for a 2-disc set, and there's almost nothing else apart from the films. Were there not even any risque pre-code shorts that could be added? No commentaries? An unusual move from Warner, to put it mildly.
     
  17. Karl R

    Karl R Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, but I'm afraid the higher price point (if it isn't simply a typo) could have a major negative effect on the success of this release. The Lon Chaney, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, and Garbo TCM Archives releases could all be found for $20-25 range (even Costco carried them) and I think that price is more in line with what most buyers...including myself...would be willing to play for this set (though, clearly, some people would pay the $50 list price...or more...to get these films on DVD.)
     
  18. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    Without question this is a must-buy set for me, and I am thrilled both versions of Baby Face are being included. Though it was not mentioned, Waterloo Bridge featured an early role for Bette Davis and it has never been released on laser disc, dvd, or vhs.

    Interestingly, if ever a set of films cried out for an audio commentary, it would be these three titles, but as I said I am really excited about this and I look forward to more Forbidden Hollywood releases.
     
  19. Corey

    Corey Screenwriter

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    It has me guessing what titles will be in Vol 2. Norma Shearer, Kay Francis, Ann Dvorak, Barbara Stanwyck, more Mae Clarke??
    Did WB ever say there was going to be a TCM Archives Garbo V2??
     
  20. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    I am at a lost here....

    The Previous TCM archives selections were $10 less and boasted audio commentaries and documentaries. the Lon Chaney archive collection is my favorite. As someone stated earlier, if a set cries for these features, it's THIS ONE. How can Warner strip them of features and raise the price $10? I am glad to have the films, but I'm sorry, this looks like a BIG step back for Warner.

    Perhaps Fox is offering Feltenstein & Co. some pointers.

    I was hoping to see at least one Jean Harlow film with an audio commentary. It now appears that this isn't likely to happen since this would've been the best chance. Harlow's forthcoming collection is likely to have next to nothing on them. Sad. It would be nice to learn about the blonde who inspired Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Anne Francis, and countless other 50's bombshells who considered Jean their idol. All of the books, documentaries and other stuff out there on pre-code Hollywood and Warner couldn't come up with any special edition content? Did they even try?

    REALLY DISAPPOINTING.
     

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