Candlelight vigil for a Warners "Pre-Code" box

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Marc^H, Dec 24, 2004.

  1. Marc^H

    Marc^H Agent

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    I haven't seen any mention of a pre-Code (or "Forbidden Hollywood") box from Warners--but I'm holding out hope that George F. is aware of the exposure these films have gotten over the past few years.

    There have been some great books recently ("Sin in Soft Focus," "Complicated Women," "Dangerous Men", etc). Also, the pre-Code film festivals at revival houses literally get lines around the block, especially here in NYC (a restored BABY FACE coming to Film Forum in February!).

    There is also lots of message board activity when TCM shows these films. I think they have an even bigger cult following now than they did back when the films were released on LD and VHS.

    Even the most casual of movie fans is now aware of what the pre-Code films are.

    Just to recap, here were the LD "Forbidden Hollywood" releases:

    BABY FACE/NIGHT NURSE

    BLONDE CRAZY/LADY KILLER

    OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS/OUR MODERN MAIDENS

    FORBIDDEN HOLLYWOOD COLLECTION VOL 1 (skyscraper souls, blessed event, female, 3 on a match, employees entrance, ladies they talk about)

    FORBIDDEN HOLLYWOOD COLLECTION VOL 2 (i've got your number, illicit, havana widows, big business girl, strange love of molly louvain, beauty and the boss, they call it sin)....this set goes for about $600 now on ebay.

    JEAN HARLOW COLLECTION (contained: red headed woman)

    The VHS "FH" films that never made it to LD: MADAM SATAN, PURCHASE PRICE, HEROES FOR SALE.

    Even the VHS tapes can snag as much as $90 in auctions.

    These films have good-sized cult followings, and they're fairly short--so you could jam quite a few onto 2 double-sided discs. Would love to see Warners take a chance and put these films on DVD (though for now we're getting LITTLE CAESAR and PUBLIC ENEMY, and rumored to soon get the racier Berkeley films--GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933, WONDER BAR, FOOTLIGHT PARADE. Perhaps if sales are promising on all of the above, it will bode well for them working on some of the other pre-Codes).

    That's my wish for 2005.
     
  2. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    What kind of movies are these, Marc - softcore porno? Are they purely of historical value or are they actually 'good' films in the proverbial sens?!
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I've learned that with Warner, it'll just be a matter of time until _____ is released.
     
  4. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    Yup. As long as we keep buying George's collections, I'm sure he'll keep cranking them out. It may be a few years, but it'll be worth it.

    Steve
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Actually, several of the films are very good and they include movies of historical value like "Tarzan and his Mate" considered the best Tarzan film ever made and "A Free Soul" which won Lionel Barrymore the AA for Best Actor and helped promote a young Clark Gable into stardom. Furthermore, using today's standards these films are more frank than many people realized Hollywood would ever be during those days right after the introduction of sound into motion pictures.

    TCM produced and showed a 55 minute special in 2003, titled "Complicated Women" derived from the same titled Mick LaSalle book. So, I'm pretty sure that George Feltenstein is well aware of these films plus the fact that some of them have already been released on dvd like "Grand Hotel".






    Crawdaddy
     
  6. Marc^H

    Marc^H Agent

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    Hi Gordon--

    The pre-Code films (especially those from Warner Bros) are usually gritty little melodramas, sometimes running only about 70-80 minutes. They are often quite frank in their sexuality (not soft core--it's always just suggestive--think GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933). The subject matter is usually of a kind that would be absolutely forbidden by mid-1934. In BABY FACE Barbara Stanwyk literally sleeps her way up the corporate ladder. In 3 ON A MATCH Ann Dvorak becomes a drug addict and holds her own child for ransom. In EMPLOYEES ENTRANCE, a drunk (and married) Loretta Young hops in the sack with her boss. etc. etc.

    The movies pull no punches, and usually lack the whitewashed "glamour" you find after the Code started to be enfored in '34. (have you seen I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG? That's a good example of Warner's mood at the time). They are populated with mugs, dames, showgirls, crooks, con artists, fast-talkers, wiseguys, gold diggers, gangsters, the down-trodden, the down-and-out. But they have a very playful side as well--with dialogue often brimming with wisecracks (especially when delivered by Joan Blondell, the Queen of the pre-Codes).

    They aren't masterpieces, but I find them to be irresistible--fast, smart, and vastly entertaining. For me, they seem less dated today in their attitudes than movies made from the late 1930s--1950s.

    I strongly recommend Mick LaSalle's book "Complicated Women," for a glimpse into this fascinating pre-censorship era.

    I'm sure George F. is a fan of the era--thus the wonderful collections he gave us on LD. I would suspect that today--since censorship apparently never goes out of style--they could get decent publicity and media coverage with a wider release of these films on DVD.
     
  7. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    Since George Feltenstein was behind the FORBIDDEN HOLLYWOOD releases on VHS and Laserdisc in the old MGM days...I'd say it's a sure bet that he's aware of these films:wink:

    Putting these films on DVD would require very expensive restoration. They could never get away with using the old masters we see on TCM or had on LD which look pretty bad.
    (Not as bad as the Universal Marx Bros. DVDs that just came out...but not much better).

    To get an idea of what they could look like, one needs only to look at WB's superb 42nd STREET DVD.

    I trust WB will find away to release some of these films on DVD (certainly BABY FACE), but I don't think the likelihood of every single pre-code title that came out on VHS and LD arriving on DVD is very strong. But I'd be the first one to order them if a DVD release ever happens.
     
  8. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    What is this Pre-Code you keep talking about ?

    How long did this last ?

    Cheers

    Oscar
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  10. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the link Crawdaddy
     
  11. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Oscar,
    There is an old Times Magazine article that I forgot about and here is the link. It goes into more detail about the pre code era and some of the actresses involved in those films.





    Crawdaddy
     
  12. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Hi Crawdaddy

    More reading, fantastic
     
  13. JohnN

    JohnN Agent

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    In a nutshell, the enforcement of the "Code" created the "Hollywood ending".... all of the films made subsequently that previously stood or fell on their own storyline and acting merits now had to end with fitting the morals as the code laid them out. ie any sinner had to repent or be punished before the film's ending, or it would not pass code and not be released as a commercial film.
     
  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Yup! Just take a look at how many films that could've been more powerful if they had different endings in which everything wasn't tied up in a nice little bow. A prime example being a couple of Hitchcock films or another of my favorites "The Bad Seed".





    Crawdaddy
     
  15. Randi

    Randi Stunt Coordinator

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    I read & loved the Complicated Women book and I enjoyed the TCM doc very much. I would definitely buy these titles should they be released.

    I'm glad others think highly of the pre-codes. Sometimes I think I'm the only one who wants some things on dvd.

    Miss Randi
     
  16. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    I hate forced happy endings. It's a Wonderful Life should have ended with Jimmy getting hit by car whilst he was running around town, making all that racket. [​IMG]

    American talking Cinema of the pre-Code era is not a period I am familiar with at all, to be honest, although this thread has ingnited a sense of curiosity in me.

    Films can never be realistic or gritty or depressing enough for me.
     
  17. rich_d

    rich_d Cinematographer

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    This from a man with a Monsieur Hulot footer on every message. [​IMG]

    I would love to see more pre-code films released. I'm a fan of Night Nurse which I would recommend to any classic film fan. Its most risque moment is when the two female leads share a bed (out of deemed necessity). Also of interest, Clark Gable plays the bad guy. Neat film.
     
  18. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    Any recommendations for pre-code films that have been released on DVD? Are there any?
     
  19. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    ... or the arrest of the "criminals", even if they were the protagonists and carried the sympathy of most of the audience.
    The least version was the camera zooming in, at the end, on a forgotten, but decisive piece of evidence.

    As an example, compare two excellent film versions of the same book: Purple Noon (1960), René Clément and The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Anthony Minghella. The first one is perhaps even better in certain respects - except for the tacked-on ending (also effectively excluding successor films based on the consecutive Ripley books by Patricia Highsmith).


    Cees
     

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