Pre-Code Hollywood












"The "pre-Code era" refers to a roughly five-year period in film history, beginning with the widespread adoption of sound in 1929 and ending on July 1, 1934, with the inauguration of the Production Code Administration and a policy of rigid censorship. Before July 1, 1934, restrictions on movie content varied widely, depending on local laws, mores and public taste. As a result, "pre-Code films" tend to be racier, sexier, more adult, more cynical, more socially critical, more honest and more politically strident than the films produced by Hollywood on up through the early 1960s." [Mick LaSalle. From: GreenCine]

The Production Code (Excerpt)

Bibliography of books and articles on the Hollywood Production Code
Hollywood Censored: Movies, Morality & the Production Code Video/C 6908
Sex, Censorship and the Silver Screen. DVD 8851-8854
Hollywood. 3, Single Beds and Double Standards Video/C 6156

After Tomorrow(1932)
Directed by Frank Borzage. Cast: Charles Farrell, Marian Nixon, Minna Gombell, William Collier, Sr., Josephine Hull. No matter how responsible they are, a young couple's pending marriage plans are destroyed by their self-serving families. Excellent early talking picture with loads of "pre-code" racy language and situations, scandalous behavior, and a genuinely touching romance. Based on the stage play by John Golden and Hugh S. Stange. 81 min. DVD X715
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Africa Speaks!(1930
Narrator, Lowell Thomas. Documentary account of Paul Hoefler's photography expedition through central Africa in 1928-1929. Containing many varied and interesting shots of African tribes and wildlife, the film footage from it was later interpolated into many jungle-themed adventure movies. ""...Africa Speaks publicized its interracial prurience by distributing small packets with a printed inscription on the outside reading , "Secrets". In side were nude pictures of African women. "It's a pity some of these dames are saucer lipped and off-color," complained a male customer, aroused despite himself." [Pre-code Hollywood : sex, immorality, and insurrection in American cinema, 1930-1934 New York : Columbia University Press, c1999. p. 297 (MAIN: PN1995.62 .D65 1999)] 60 min. Video/C MM536

American Madness (1932)
Directed by Frank Capra. Cast: Walter Huston, Pat O'Brien, Kay Johnson, Gavin Gordon, Constance Cummings. During the height of the Great Depression a populist bank president, ruined by an unscrupulous bank officer who orchestrates a robbery of the bank to clear his huge gambling debts, is saved from financial ruin by his small depositors. A notable example of the type of "social problem film" that would later either be disallowed or sugar-coated under the Production Code. 76 min. DVD 7188; vhs 999:2708
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Anna Christie (1930)
Directed by Clarence Brown. Cast: Greta Garbo, Charles Bickford, George F. Marion, Marie Dressler. Gretta Garbo made her landmark transition to the new era, playing a former prostitute whose past may ruin her chance for happiness. A different director and cast join Garbo in a German-language version included on Side B which was filmed on the same soundstage immediately after the English version. Special features (Side B): German language version with subtitles in English (85 min.) Based on Eugene O'Neill's play "Anna Christie"; adapted by Frances Marion. 89 min. DVD 4279
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Campbell, Russell. Marked women : prostitutes and prostitution in the cinema. Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, c2006. (Main Stack PN1995.9.P76.C36 2006; PFA PN1995.9.P76.C36 2006)

Baby Face (1933)
Directed by Alfred E. Green. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Donald Cook, Alphonse Ethier, Henry Kolker, Theresa Harris, Margaret Lindsay, Arthur Hohl, John Wayne. It's the age-old story of the girl so mistreated by men that she's determined to get revenge. Lilly (Baby Face) sleeps her way from basement speakeasy bartender, literally floor by floor, to the top floor of a New York office building. Bank submanager Jimmy McCoy finds her a job in the bank only to be cast aside as she hooks up with the bank's president. "The Hays office recommended that the picture be pulled from the theaters for its violations of the production code. ...There was extensive correspondence between officials of the AMPP and Warner Bros. executives Darryl Zanuck and Jack L. Warner regarding various changes which were intended to make the film more acceptable to censor boards across the country. The main thrust of the changes was to attach an ending which showed Lily losing everything she had gained and returning to her hometown in order that viewers would not be tempted to believe that vice was rewarded. Originally the character of the cobbler professed a Nietzchian philosophy which was unacceptable under the production code. The character was changed to become instead the moral voice of the film, and was used to indicate that the character of Lily had been wrong to advance in the by using her body. Also cut were the most blantant references to the fact that Lily was being kept by men." [AFI Catalog] 72 min. DVD 6674; vhs 999:3684
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Maltby, Richard. "Baby Face or How Joe Breen Made Barbara Stanwyck Atone for Causing the Wall Street Crash." Screen 27; 2, March-April 1986, pp. 22-45 UC users only

Bad Girl(1931)
Directed by Frank Borzage. Cast: James Dunn, Sally Eilers, Minna Gombell, Frank Darien. Dorothy Haley, a dress model, meets Eddie, a radio repairman, and is intrigued when he doesn't immediately fall in love with her like all other men. Eventually, after a rocky courtship, they marry and when they discover a baby is on the way Eddie takes on all sorts of extra jobs to pay for a pricey obstetrician, even moonlighting as a prizefighter. Based on the novel by Viña Delmar. "The file for Bad Girl in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library contains an evaluation of the novel on which the film is based, dated 16 Nov 1928, by Hays Office official Lamar Trotti, who said: "'Bad Girl' might be produced as a sex hygiene picture called 'Motherhood.' It is simply the story of girl who is 'bad' for one night, marries the boy the next day, and then has a baby." Trotti called the novel a "nauseating story of doctors, illnesses, etc." and said that the book "disgusted" him and was "cheap and shoddy writing about cheap and shoddy people."" [AFI Index] 90 min. DVD X724
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Behind Office Doors(1931)
Directed by Melville W. Brown. Cast: Mary Astor, Robert Ames, Ricardo Cortez, Kitty Kelly, Edna Murphy. Mary Linden, the able secretary of a paper company executive silently and secretly guides his career out of devotion to him, but when another executive makes advances she tires of being taken for granted. Produced just before the Hays Office began to censor films. 80 min. DVD 703
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Betty Boop, The Definitive Collection. Vol. 2: Pre-code [and] Jazzy Guest Stars
Created by Max Fleischer. "Betty Boop is known as the first and one of the most famous sex symbols on the animated screen;[1][2] she was a symbol of the Depression era, a reminder of the more carefree days of Jazz Age flappers. Her popularity was drawn largely from adult audiences, and the cartoons, while seemingly surrealistic, contained many sexual/psychological elements, particularly in the "Talkartoon", Minnie the Moocher, featuring Cab Calloway and his orchestra. Minnie the Moocher is perhaps the one cartoon that defined Betty's character as a teenager of a modern era at odds with the old world ways of her parents." [Wikipedia] The first seven cartoons in this collection were released before the Hays Code was enacted and the final group features performances by Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Rudy Vallee and Ethel Merman. Contents: Pre-code: Boop-oop-a-doop -- S.O.S. -- Chess-nuts -- A-hunting we will go -- Betty Boop's busy bee -- Betty Boop's bamboo isle -- Betty Boop for President. -- Jazzy guest stars: Minnie the Moocher -- I'll be glad when you're dead, you rascal you -- Snow-White -- The old man of the mountain -- Kitty from Kansas City -- Rudy Vallee melodies -- You try somebody else. 108 min. vhs 999:2150

Animation videography for other Betty Boop cartoons

Bill of Divorcement(1932)
Directed by George Cukor. Cast: John Barrymore, Katharine Hepburn, Billie Burke, David Manners. SHillary Fairfield (Barrymore), who was shell-shocked during World War I, escapes from a mental asylum on the very day that his ex-wife is to remarry. When he returns home, he is jolted by a meeting with his daughter Sydney (Hepburn), who comes to realize she may have inherited the streak of insanity from her father. Based on the play by Clemence Dane. 66 min. DVD X2072
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Bird of Paradise(1932)
Directed by King Vidor. Cast: Dolores Del Rio, Joel McCrea, Richard "Skeets" Gallagher, Bert Roach, John Halliday, Lon Chaney Jr. (Creighton Chaney). South Seas romantic adventure. Western playboy Joel McCrea falls for native beauty (Delores Del Rio). The kind of inter-racial relationship that would never have passed the censor's axe a few years later. " According to files in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Jason S. Joy, Director of the Studio Relations Office of the AMPPA, suggested in a 16 Jan 1932 letter to Selznick that certain lines and shots be eliminated or altered, including a shot showing a baby feeding at her mother's breast and shots depicting the sacrifice of a chicken. Although various state censorship boards objected to some of the dancing scenes, only British Columbia objected to the closeups of Dolores Del Rio swimming half-naked underwater. Pennsylvania censors objected to a scene in which a "small boy, with Johnny's shirt on standing with back to camera, when you see a shadow of his sex on the shirt." [AFI Cataog UCB users only] 80 min. DVD 7636; vhs 999:249
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Hershfield, Joanne. "Race and Romance in "Bird of Paradise." Cinema Journal 373 [Spring 1998] 3-15 UC users only

King Vidor bibliography

Bitter Tea of General Yen(1932)
Directed by Frank Capra; featuring Barbara Stanwyck, Nils Asther, Toshia Mori, Walter Connolly, Lucien Littlefield, Richard Loo, Helen Jerome Eddy. An American missionary, Megan Davis, in attempting to rescue children from the brutality of China's Civil War, gets rescued/kidnapped by General Yen, a power hungry Chinese warlord. Eastern and Western philosophies collide, as do the characters. Megan wants to return to her fiance in Shanghai, but could it be that in spite of General Yen's heartless brutality, she's falling in love with him? A moody, beautifully atomospheric, sensitively performed film of a tragic tale of unrequited love. "The Hays Office...received complaints from unnamed sources about the portrayal of missionaries in the film. In a 1950 memo to PCA Director Joseph I. Breen, PCA staff members advised that "it would be well if the company [Columbia] would drop its plans to reissue this picture." The memo stated: "Probably the most objectionable characterization is that of the American financial advisor to the General, played by Walter Connolly. He is a completely unscrupulous character without morals or ethics. This does not seem to be a good portrayal of an American in the Orient to be circulated at this time." The staff members also objected to the portrayal of the missionaries, stating that they were "shown to be somewhat silly and ineffectual," and asserted that there was "a very questionable element of the heroine offering herself sexually to the General."" [AFI Catalog UCB users only] 78 min. 999:2185
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The Black Cat (1934)
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Cast: Boris Karloff; Bela Lugosi; David Manners; Jacqueline Wells; Lucille Lund. A bus crash on a lonely Austrian road compels American honeymooners to spend the night at the house of Herr Poelzig, a sinister looking man who is engaged in an intense death-feud with Dr. Werdegast, whom the couple met on the Orient Express. They attempt to leave only to discover that they are being held captive. Suggested by the Edgar Allan Poe story. 66 min. DVD 5468; vhs 999:874
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Belton, John. Howard Hawks, Frank Borzage, Edgar G. Ulmer London : Tantivy Press; New York : A.S. Barnes, 1974. (MAIN: PN1998.A3 H337 1974)
Bogdanovich, Peter. "Edgar G. Ulmer." In: Who the Devil Made It. New York : Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1997. (Main Stack PN1995.9.P7.B58 1997; Moffitt PN1995.9.P7.B58 1997)
Edgar G. Ulmer the man off-screen [Videorecording] Media Resources Center DVD 6455
Gallagher, Tag. "All lost in wonder: Edgar G.Ulmer." Screening the Past, 1 March 2001 UC users only
Perry, Dennis R. Hitchcock and Poe : the legacy of delight and terror Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 2003. (Main Stack PN1998.3.H58.P46 2003)
Tucker, Ken. "Ulmer and Ruric's Adaptation of Poe's 'The Black Cat': A Subtle Masterpiece of Horror." Journal of Evolutionary Psychology. 21 (1-2): 58-66. 2000 Mar.

Blonde Venus (1932)
Directed by Josef von Sternberg. Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall, Cary Grant, Hattie McDaniel. The story of a woman who is torn between two men, her successful stage career and her child. Helen Faraday is a nightclub singer turned housewife, but when her husband needs money to have a life-saving operation, she decides to resume her career as a singer to raise money. She undergoes a chain of events that separate her from her husband and force her to make a choice between her lucrative singing career, and her role as a wife and mother. "Herbert Marshall?s glimpse of Marlene Dietrich's skinny-dip leads to marriage and toddler Dickie Moore, their happiness derailed when she must hit the streets to pay for hubbie?s radium poisoning treatments. The most outlandish of the Dietrich/von Sternberg pictures, highlighted by her gorilla-suited "Hot Voodoo" number, plus a lucrative affair with young Cary Grant." For a discussion of the censorship problems encountered by this film, see the American Film Institute Catalog [UCB users only] 94 min. DVD 6912; also DVD X2066; vhs 999:349
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Bombshell(1933)
Directed by Victor Fleming. Cast: Jean Harlow, Lee Tracy, Frank Morgan, Franchot Tone, Pat O'Brien, Una Merkel, Ted Healy. Screen siren Lola Burns is fed up with the scandalous stories her publicist, Space Hanlon puts out, the endless arguments on the sets of her films and her family's constant drain on her money and peace of mind. Her attempts to get married, adopt a baby and quit the business altogether are constantly thwarted, unbeknownst to her, by Space, who is secretly in love with her. 96 min. vhs 999:3816
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Born to Be Bad(1934)
Directed by Lowell Sherman. Cast: Cary Grant, Loretta Young, Marion Burns, Henry Travers. "Letty, a young woman who ended up pregnant, unmarried and on the streets at fifteen is bitter and determined that her child will not grow up to be taken advantage of. Letty teaches her child to lie, steal, cheat and anything else he'll need to be street smart. We meet Letty when Mickey is 7-1/2. Mal enters the picture when his truck and Mickey, who is hanging on to the back of a delivery truck and being pulled along the streets on his roller skates, collide. Mickey is not injured badly, but when Letty discovers that Mal is rich, she concocts a scheme to take Mal to the cleaners. When her plot is uncovered, Letty is also discovered for the unfit parent that she is, and Mickey is taken away from her. Mal and his wife Alice, unable to have children of their own, take Mickey in and give him a father's love, a true mother's love, and a home he can call his own. Letty is jealous of Mickey's growing attachment to these two good people and she still sees Mal as a ticket to riches. Letty seduces Mal, records the seduction and then plans to blackmail Mal. Her plans are upset when Mal immediately tells his wife, and Alice accepts the relationship. Letty learns a painful lesson in selfless love and finally sees that what is best for Mickey is more important than her own plans." [IMBD] For a discussion of the censorship problems encountered by this film, see the American Film Institute Catalog [UCB users only] 61 min. DVD 7621
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Call Her Savage (1932)
Directed by James Francis Dillon. Cast: Clara Bow, Gilbert Roland, Thelma Todd, Monroe Owsley, Estelle Taylor. A sexy Texas gal storms her way through life, brawling and boozing until her luck runs out, forcing her to learn the errors of her ways. Includes a scene in a a gay bar in Greenwich Village--a Hollywood first. 82 min. DVD X2183
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The Cheat (1915)
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Cast: Fannie Ward, Jack Dean, Sessue Hayakawa. "Richard Hardy, a hardworking stockbroker, labors overtime to keep up with the ruinous bills incurred by his beautiful but irresponsible wife Edith, a venal, spoiled socialite who is impervious to his pleas for fiscal restraint. Acting on what she believes to be an insider information, she impulsively embezzles $10,000 from the Red Cross charity she chairs for a stock tip. When she finds the money has been lost, she desperately turns to a Japanese ivory trader with whom she has been thoughtlessly flirting and persuades him to replace the money in exchange for an assignation. When her husband's long-awaited business deal finally materializes, she desperately tries to withdraw from their agreement by replacing the money. Angered and disappointed with her resistance to his advances, he uses a branding device to mark her shoulder as his property. Feeling violated, Edith shoots him in the shoulder and leaves. In order to protect his wife's reputation, Richard confesses to the crime and faces trial for attempted murder." [IMDB] The cheat violated the Production Code's strictures against miscengenation, sadism, white slavery and rape. 55 min. DVD 3574; also DVD 628; vhs 999:1074
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The Cheat (1931)
Directed by George Abbott. Cast: Tallulah Bankhead, Harvey Stephens, Irving Pichel, Jay Fassett, Ann Andrews. A spoiled socialite is a gambling addict. She borrows money from an exotic art collector in order to replace what she has stolen from a charity. Now she will do anything to pay off her debt -- including turning to a wealthy businessman behind her husband's back. The cheat violated the Production Code's strictures against miscengenation, sadism, white slavery and rape. 68 min. DVD X1621
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Christopher Strong (1933)
Directed by Dorothy Arzner. Cast: Katharine Hepburn, Colin Clive, Billie Burke, Helen Chandler, Ralph Forbes. In her very first starring role Katharine Hepburn portrays a record-breaking flyer who falls hopelessly in love with a married man. Though madly in love, he can't bring himself to divorce his good natured and caring wife. 77 min. 999:3792
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Damaged Lives (1933)
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Cast: Diane Sinclair, Lyman Williams, George Irving, Almeda Fowler, Jason Robards. A rich young man catches syphilis as the result of a wanton night on the town with a rich floozy and passes it on to his wife. Special features: Short subject on venereal disease "The Innocent Party" (1959 - 17 min.) from the Kansas State Board of Health. 53 min. DVD 7595
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Dames (1934)
Directed by Ray Enright. Cast: Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, ZaSu Pitts, Guy Kibbee, Hugh Herbert. "Multi millinaire Ezra Ounce wants to start a campain against 'filthy' forms of entertainment, like Broadway-Shows. He comes to his relatives families and makes them members od his morale-boosting campain. But Jimmy, another relative is producing a show, starring Ezra's nice Barbara. But he had bad luck with his backer, this person has give him an invalid check. Another of his victims, the show-girl Mabel has the idea of blackmailing Horace, Barbaras father, whom she has met before in a slightly compromising situation to get the money." [IMDB] Special features: Busby Berkeley's kaleidoscopic eyes ; And she learned about Dames ; Good morning, Eve ; Melody master: Don Redman and his orchestra ; vintage cartoons: I only have eyes for you, Those beautiful dames ; Direct from Hollywood radio promo ; Theatrical trailer. 90 min. DVD 5320; vhs 999:1664
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Fischer, Lucy. "The Image of Woman as Image: The Optical Politics of "Dames" Film Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Autumn, 1976), pp. 2-11 UC users only
Rubin, Martin Showstoppers : Busby Berkeley and the tradition of spectacle Published: New York : Columbia University Press, c1993. (MAIN: PN1998.3.B475 R8 1993; PFA : PN1998.3.B48 R8 1993)

Dancing Mothers (1926)
Directed by Herbert Brenon. Cast: Conway Tearle, Alice Joyce, Clara Bow, Donald Keith, Dorothy Cumming, Elsie Lawson, Norman Trevor. Set during the 1920's flapper era a wealthy family is torn apart when the wife discovers that her husband is cheating on her. The shock opens her eyes for the first time to the selfishness and shallowness of her daughter and husband. Based on the play by Edgar Selwyn and Edmund Goulding. 64 min. vhs 999:2669
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Fishbein, Leslie. "Dancing Mothers (1926): flappers, mothers, Freud, and freedom." Women's Studies, 1986, Vol. 12 Issue 3, p241, 10p UC users only

Design for Living (1933)
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Cast: Gary Cooper, Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Edward Everett Horton, Franklin Pangborn. Two Americans sharing a flat in Paris, playwright Tom Chambers and painter George Curtis, fall for free-spirited Gilda Farrell. She can't make up her mind which one she prefers, and proposes a "gentleman's agreement": She will move in with them but they will never have sex. But Tom goes to London to work on his play, leaving Gilda alone with George. Based on the play by Noel Coward. For a discussion of the censorship problems encountered by this film, see the American Film Institute Catalog [UCB users only] 91 min. DVD 4754
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Ernst Lubitsch bibliography

Dishonored (1931)
Directed by Josef von Sternberg. Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Victor McLaglen, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Warner Oland, Lew Cody, Barry Norton, Davison Clark, Wilfred Lucas, Bill Powell. Marlene Dietrich plays the role of a spy, Agent X-27 who is recruited by the Austrian Secret Service to feret out secrets from the enemy and alters the course of the war until she meets up with the Russian agent Colonel Kranau. 87 min. DVD X2063
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The Divorcee (1930)
Directed by Robert Z. Leonard. Cast: Norma Shearer, Chester Morris, Conrad Nagel, Robert Montgomery Based on Ursula Parrott’s spicy 1929 novel "Ex-wife," the highly controversial The Divorcee was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture. Norma Shearer won for Best Actress as a woman who confronts the hypocrisy of the double standard after catching her husband in a compromising position and forcing him to confess his infidelities. Her solution to the problem: try to match him tryst for tryst. 82 min. DVD 9397
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Asimow, Michael. "Divorce In The Movies: From The Hays Code to Kramer vs. Kramer." Legal Studies Forum Volume 24, Number 2 (2000)

Docks of New York (1928)
Directed by Josef von Sternberg. Cast: George Bancroft, Betty Compson, Baclanova. "The ship on which Bill Roberts is a stoker has just put into port, giving the crew one night ashore. The ship's bad-tempered third engineer orders the stokers to clean up, while the engineer heads for a dockside bar, where he has a confrontation with the wife he had abandoned. Then, as Bill himself goes ashore, he sees a young woman attempt to drown herself. Bill dives in, saves her, and then, assisted by the engineer's wife, sees that she is cared for. Bill and the rescued woman begin to enjoy one another's company, but they must contend with the malice of the engineer, as well as a number of other complications. [IMDB] 82 min. vhs 999:332
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Josef von Sternberg bibliography

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Cast: Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins. Famous version of the Stevenson masterpiece about a scientist who concocts a potion that releases the animal side of man. Restored version contains 17 minutes of previously censored material. "Jason Joy (Production Code enforcer) wrote to Will Hays: 'Frankenstein is staying for four weeks and taking in big money at theatres which were about on the rocks . . . resentment is surely being built up. How could it be otherwise if children go to these pictures and have the jitters, followed by nightmares? I, for one, would hate to have my children see FRANKENSTEIN, JEKYLL, or the others and you probably feel the same way about Bill [Will Hays, Jr.]. Not only is there a future economic consideration, but maybe there is a real moral responsibility involved to which I wonder if we as individuals ought to lend our support.'" [as quoted in Vieira, Mark. Sin in soft focus : pre-code Hollywood New York : Harry N. Abrams, 1999 [MAIN: PN1995.62 .V54 1999; PFA : PN1995.62 .V49 1999]. Still, as Thomas Doherty has contended, "Horror films also offer insights into what filmmakers would do if given nearly total freedom. Censors were so concerned with limiting sex, crime and violence, that they completely neglected the horror genre. "As long as monsters refrained from illicit sexual activity, respected the clergy, and maintained silence on controversial political matters." ..."they might walk with impunity where bad girls, gangsters, and radicals feared to tread" [Pre-code Hollywood : sex, immorality, and insurrection in American cinema, 1930-1934 New York : Columbia University Press, c1999. p. 297 (MAIN: PN1995.62 .D65 1999)] 97 min. DVD 2231; vhs 999:464
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Doctor X (1932)
Directed by Michael Curtiz. Cast: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Lee Tracy, Preston Foster, John Wray, Harry Beresford. When the moon is full, murder stalks the streets in this classic chiller. An investigative reporter traces the trail of corpses to the suspicious Dr. Xavier and his medical college, where grisly experiments are being performed. Features themes, including murder, rape, cannibalism, and prostitution, that would have landed large chunks of the film on the cutting room floor a few years later. 76 min. DVD 6522
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Dracula (1931)
Directed by Tod Browning. Cast: Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan. Based on a novel by Bram Stoker and the play adapted by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston. Classic horror film of a Transylvanian vampire stalking the foggy streets of London for more victims. "Jason Joy (Production Code enforcer) wrote to Will Hays: 'Frankenstein is staying for four weeks and taking in big money at theatres which were about on the rocks . . . resentment is surely being built up. How could it be otherwise if children go to these pictures and have the jitters, followed by nightmares? I, for one, would hate to have my children see FRANKENSTEIN, JEKYLL, or the others and you probably feel the same way about Bill [Will Hays, Jr.]. Not only is there a future economic consideration, but maybe there is a real moral responsibility involved to which I wonder if we as individuals ought to lend our support.'" [as quoted in Vieira, Mark. Sin in soft focus : pre-code Hollywood New York : Harry N. Abrams, 1999 [MAIN: PN1995.62 .V54 1999; PFA : PN1995.62 .V49 1999] Still, as Thomas Doherty has contended, "Horror films also offer insights into what filmmakers would do if given nearly total freedom. Censors were so concerned with limiting sex, crime and violence, that they completely neglected the horror genre. "As long as monsters refrained from illicit sexual activity, respected the clergy, and maintained silence on controversial political matters." ..."they might walk with impunity where bad girls, gangsters, and radicals feared to tread" [Pre-code Hollywood : sex, immorality, and insurrection in American cinema, 1930-1934 New York : Columbia University Press, c1999. p. 297 (MAIN: PN1995.62 .D65 1999)] DVD 6524; other copies: VHS 999:205 (73 min.); Restored Version, with music by Philip Glass, played by the Kronos Quartet (75 min.) DVD 344; VHS 999:2191
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Ecstasy (Ekstase)(Czechoslovakia / Austria, 1933)
Directed by Gustav Machatý. Cast: Hedy Lamarr, Aribert Moog, Leopold Kramer, Jaromir Rogoz. Eva has just gotten married to an older gentleman, but discovers that he is obsessed with order in his life and doesn't have much room for passion. She becomes despondent and leaves him, returning to her father's house. One day while bathing in the lake she meets a young man and they fall in love. The husband has become grief stricken at the loss of his young bride, and fate brings him together with the young lover that has taken Eva from him. The film was highly controversial in its time largely because of a nude swimming scene. It is also perhaps the first non-pornographic movie to portray sexual intercourse,[2] although never showing more than the actors' faces. It has also been called the first on-screen depiction of a female orgasm. Based on a story by Samuel Cummins 79 min. DVD X781; vhs 999:287
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Fischer, Lucy. "Ecstasy: female sexual, social, and cinematic performance." Women & Performance; 1993, Vol. 6 Issue 2 (ISSUE #12), p27-40, 14pUC users only
Horak, Jan Christopher. "High Class Whore." CineAction - Spring 2001 p31 UC users only

Female (1933)
Directed by Michael Curtiz. Cast: Ruth Chatterton, George Brent, Lois Wilson, Johnny Mack Brown, Ruth Donnelly. In director Michael Curtiz's romantic comedy Female, Ruth Chatterton plays Alison Drake, the iron-fisted president of a motorcar company. Alison oversees the daily operations of her male employees with a predatory gaze and frequently exercises her right to engage with them in any way she deems fit. She meets her match in an equally strong-minded new employee, Jim Thorne (George Brent), and the two engage in a smoldering, contentious, sexually charged duel. The action of the film--one of the first to depict a female character turning a man's world to her advantage--feeds on the novelty of presenting a woman as a corporate shark and bedroom hound. Though it's obvious the filmmakers thought they were creating a scenario that would never actually happen, Alison's world-smashing exploits make the bulk of the film (before she begins to question her nontraditional lifestyle) a protofeminist romp. Brent and Chatterton were married at the time they made the film, and the natural chemistry between them is abundantly evident. Curtiz packs the screen with extravagant set design and period detail. 60 min. DVD 9397
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Flying Down to Rio (1933)
Directed by Thornton Freeland. Cast: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Delores Del Rio, Gene Raymond, Raul Roulien. This film, containing the first of many Fred Astaire - Ginger Rogers partnerships, concerns a troupe of entertainers stranded in Rio. "Racy songs & racier dance numbers, gratuitous dressing scenes, and double-entendre dialogue. Franklin Pangbourne gets plenty of screen-time for a lengthy "sissy" portrayal impossible in the code era. Stereotyped portrayals of blacks and Latinos are tossed - the code era saw all racial stereotypes strictly adhered to." Songs include "The Carioca," "Orchids in the Moonlight," and the title song. Notable for a brilliantly photographed finale with chorus girls on the wings of flying airplanes, the movie was the musical that broke with the rather contrived Busby Berkeley productions and moved toward a closer integration of musical and narrative elements. Astaire's dance numbers come not as interruptions but as extensions of the plot. Special features: Vintage comedy short: Beer and pretzels with Ted Healy and his Stooges; Classic cartoon: I like mountain music 89 min. DVD 6713
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Holland, Norman S. "Feigning Marriage/Befriending Nations: The Case of Flying Down to Rio." In: Moving pictures, migrating identities / Eva Rueschmann. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, c2003. (Main Stack PN1995.9.E44.R84 2003; Compar Ethn PN1995.9.E44.R84 2003)
Vanneman, Alan. "Fred and Ginger Take Off in Flying Down to Rio." Bright Lights Film Journal, vol. 26, pp. (no pagination), November 1999

Footlight Parade (1933)
Directed by Lloyd Bacon. Cast: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Frank McHugh, Ruth Donnelly, Guy Kibbee, Hugh Herbert. A determined producer of cine-variety numbers gets the show going despite great difficulty. Complete with showstopping Busby Berkeley production numbers, choreographed with the colossal imagination and scope that have become Berkeley's legendary trademark, including the classic "human waterfall" number that displays chorus girls costumed in ropes of pearls and showered in a colored mist from 300 tiny water sprays. Features an opium den scene ("Shaghai Lil") and other risque, pre-code bits. "One character in the film, played by actor Hugh Herbert, is the brother of the one of Kent's partner's wife, who forces her husband to hire her relatives. Herbert acts as the censor for Kent's productions, constantly telling Kent certain parts of his production numbers have to be changed. His character is portrayed as buffoonish and comical, saying disagreeable lines to Kent such as "You must put brassieres on those dolls..." (referring to actual dolls) "...uh huh, you know Connecticut." This character foreshadows the coming Production Code, which was in full force less than a year later." [Wikipedia] Special DVD features: New featurette: Footlight parade: Music for the decades ; 2 vintage featurettes: Ramblin' round radio row #8, Vaudeville reel #1 ; 2 vintage cartoons: Honeymoon Hotel, Young and healthy ; Theatrical trailer. 108 min. DVD 5318; vhs 999:713
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Birchard, Robert S. "A Song-and-Dance Spectacular." American Cinematographer v. 86 no. 11 (November 2005) p. 66-73 UC users only
Rubin, Martin. "Movies and the New Deal Entertainment: Gold Diggers of 1933 and Sexual Depression." In: American cinema of the 1930s : themes and variations / edited by Ina Rae Hark. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, c2007. (Main Stack PN1993.5.U6.A85735 2007)
Pike, Bob. The genius of Busby Berkeley [Reseda, Calif.] CFS Books [1973] (MAIN: PN1998.A3 .B487)
Rubin, Martin Showstoppers : Busby Berkeley and the tradition of spectacle Published: New York : Columbia University Press, c1993. (MAIN: PN1998.3.B475 R8 1993; PFA : PN1998.3.B48 R8 1993)
Rubin, Martin. "Busby Berkeley and the Backstage Musical." In: Hollywood musicals, the film reader / edited by Steven Cohan. London ; New York : Routledge, 2002. (Music ML2075.H65 2002; PFA PN1995.9.M86.H64 2002)

Frankenstein (1931)
Directed by James Whale. Cast: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clark, John Boles, Edward Van Sloan. An adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel about the scientist who creates a terrifying monster. Dr. Frankenstein dares to tamper with life and death by creating a human monster in his laboratory, but his dreams of perfection are thwarted when the monster becomes an uncontrollable beast. "Jason Joy (Production Code enforcer) wrote to Will Hays: 'Frankenstein is staying for four weeks and taking in big money at theatres which were about on the rocks . . . resentment is surely being built up. How could it be otherwise if children go to these pictures and have the jitters, followed by nightmares? I, for one, would hate to have my children see FRANKENSTEIN, JEKYLL, or the others and you probably feel the same way about Bill [Will Hays, Jr.]. Not only is there a future economic consideration, but maybe there is a real moral responsibility involved to which I wonder if we as individuals ought to lend our support.'" [as quoted in Vieira, Mark. Sin in soft focus : pre-code Hollywood New York : Harry N. Abrams, 1999 [MAIN: PN1995.62 .V54 1999; PFA : PN1995.62 .V49 1999] Still, as Thomas Doherty has contended, "Horror films also offer insights into what filmmakers would do if given nearly total freedom. Censors were so concerned with limiting sex, crime and violence, that they completely neglected the horror genre. "As long as monsters refrained from illicit sexual activity, respected the clergy, and maintained silence on controversial political matters." ..."they might walk with impunity where bad girls, gangsters, and radicals feared to tread" [Pre-code Hollywood : sex, immorality, and insurrection in American cinema, 1930-1934 New York : Columbia University Press, c1999. p. 297 (MAIN: PN1995.62 .D65 1999)] 71 min. (feature only) DVD 6523; Also copies: DVD 77 (single disc version); VHS 999:134
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Freaks (1932)
Directed by Tod Browning. The side-show freaks have created their own unified community within the carnival. When the beautiful trapeze artist marries one of the freaks for his money, and then plots to kill him, the enraged freaks defend their friend and take gruesome revenge on their betrayers, transforming the aerialist into the most hideous side-show attraction of all. "According to Monthly Film Bulletin, Freaks was banned in Great Britain until Aug 1963, when it was finally released with an "X" certificate. Modern sources note that the picture was banned in other countries as well." [AFI Catalog] 66 min. DVD 2830; vhs 999:80
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A Free Soul (1931)
Directed by Clarence Brown. Cast: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, Lionel Barrymore, James Gleason, Clark Gable, Lucy Beaumont. In A Free Soul, Lionel Barrymore captured an Oscar for his portrayal of a brilliant alcoholic lawyer Stephen Ashe, who successfully defends dashing gangster Ace Wilfong (Clark Gable) on a murder charge only to find that his headstrong daughter, Jan (Norma Shearer), has fallen in love with his client. Jan, a fun-loving socialite seeking freedom from her blue-blood upbringing, is only too eager to dump her aristocratic boyfriend (Leslie Howard) for the no-good gangster. She runs away from her childhood home to become Ace's mistress, embarking on a series of seedy adventures in New York's underbelly. Desperate to save his daughter's tainted reputation, Stephen finds her and makes her a deal: He'll stop drinking if she'll stop seeing Ace. The thrilling conclusion might just tear them apart forever. Shearer and director Clarence Brown also received nominations for their work in this powerful and moving film. 93 min. DVD 9397
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Frisco Jenny (1932)
Directed by William A. Wellman. Cast: Ruth Chatterton, Louis Calhern. Jenny was orphaned by the 1906 earthquake and fire and has gone on to become the madame of a prosperous bawdy house. After putting her son up for adoption, he becomes a district attorney dedicated to closing down such houses. She kills an underling who wants her son dead and is now facing execution. Special features: Commentary on "Midnight Mary" by historians Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta; S.S. Dine detective short "The studio murder mystery;" vintage Pete Smith short "Goofy movies #1;" classic cartoon "Bosko's parlor pranks;" theatrical trailers. 70 min. DVD X1427
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Gabriel Over the White House (1933)
Directed by Gregory LaCava. Cast: Walter Huston, Karen Morley, Franchot Tone, Arthur Byron, Dickie Moore. United States President Judson Hammond, a corrupt politician, is visited by the Angel Gabriel during recuperation from a near-fatal automobile accident. President Hammond miraculously becomes virtuous, although his zeal for reform is as misguided as his previous indifference was destructive.

"Unsatisfied with status quo politics, filmmakers looked to authoritarian leadership on the left and the right for possible solutions. Dubbed by the trade press as the "dictator craze," these films presented "strong tyrannical personalities who, whatever their flaws as human beings and citizens, at least knew how to take strong action" ... Movies allowed Americans to fantasize about embracing revolutionary leadership, whether left or right, that could take the nation out of hard times. Inspired by events such as the government's brutal attack of peaceful Bonus Army marchers in July 1932, films like The Power and the Glory (1933) and Gabriel Over the White House (1933) dealt with strikes, massive gatherings of the unemployed, massacres by private police or government forces, and dictators who presided over these events, allegedly for the benefit of the nation." [Ross, Steven. "The Seen, the Unseen, and the Obscene: Pre-Code Hollywood." Reviews in American History 28.2 (2000) 270-277) 78 min. vhs 999:3420

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Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Cast: Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Guy Kibbee, Ned Sparks, Ginger Rogers. Songs, Harry Warren & Al Dubin. Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler play two young hopefuls struggling to make it on Broadway. Even falling in love has its hardships, as Powell's high-brow Eastern family is determined to break them (and the show) up. More complications set in when his brother falls for Keeler's wise-cracking roommate. "For "Petting in the Park [musical number]," Dick Powell led the male chorus in a risque come-on to the female chorus on an elaborate Central Park set. The number takes a risque turn when the women get caught in a rainstorm and retreat behind a flimsy screen to remove their wet clothes (these were the days before Hollywood censored itself). They re-emerge in metal costumes designed to hold the men at bay -- until a lecherous baby (played by midget actor Billy Barty) hands Powell a can-opener. The number was cut from the film when it was re-issued after the arrival of strict Production Code enforcement in 1935 and was also deleted from the first prints available for television." [Turner Classics] 99 min. DVD 5317; vhs 999:434
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Birchard, Robert S. "A Song-and-Dance Spectacular." American Cinematographer v. 86 no. 11 (November 2005) p. 66-73 UC users only
Rubin, Martin. Showstoppers : Busby Berkeley and the tradition of spectacle New York : Columbia University Press, c1993. (MAIN: PN1998.3.B475 R8 1993; PFA : PN1998.3.B48 R8 1993)
Pike, Bob. The genius of Busby Berkeley [Reseda, Calif.] CFS Books [1973] (MAIN: PN1998.A3 .B487)
Telotte, J. P. "A Gold Digger Aesthetic: The Depression Musical and Its Audience." Post Script, Fall81, Vol. 1 Issue 1, p18-24, 7p

Grand Hotel (1932)
Directed by Edmund Goulding. Cast: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone, Jean Hersholt. The glitz and glitter of the most expensive hotel in Berlin furnishes the background for gaiety and sorrow in a multi-layered story portrayed by an all-star cast. 112 min. DVD 4282; vhs 999:1630
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King, Lynda J. "Grand Hotel: The Sexual Politics of a Popular Culture Classic." Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature and Culture, vol. 15, pp. 185-200, 2000

Heroes for Sale (1933)
Directed by William A. Wellman. Cast: Cast: Richard Barthelmess, Aline MacMahon, Loretta Young, Gordon Westcott, Robert Barrat. Host, Leonard Maltin. One of the "social conscience" films of the 1930s, this tells the story of Tom Holmes whose return home as a wounded morphine-addicted World War I doughboy is just the beginning of a chain of woes involving joblessness, the building and loss of a successful business and unjust imprisonment. But no matter how many times he's knocked down, he always gets back up ... a tough hero for a tough time. DVD special features: Commentary on "Heroes for sale" by historian John Gallagher; commentary on "Wild boys of the road" by William Wellman, Jr. and historian Frank Thompson; S.S. Van Dine detective short "The trans-Atlantic mystery;" 2 classic cartoons "One step ahead of my shadow" and "Sittin' on a backyard fence;" theatrical trailers.71 min. DVD X1427; vhs 999:3311
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William Wellman bibliography

Hot Saturday (1932)
Directed by William A. Seiter. Cast: Nancy Carroll, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott, Edward Woods, Lilian Bond. Bank employee Ruth Brock has a reputation around town for being fast-and-easy. Yet none of the panting suitors has made her yet. She disillusions each one, but the last guy is a bad sport and starts a gossip scandal about her and a millionaire playboy. This causes Ruth to lose her job. Figuring that as long as she has the name, she might as well play the game. Based on the novel by Harvey Fergusson. Hot Saturday violated the Production Code's strictures against scenes of seduction, this includes the scenes in which a group of young people drive to a drinking party that leads to worse behavior. 73 min. DVD X1621
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I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Cast: Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Helen Vinson, Noel Francis, Preston Foster, Allen Jenkins. An itinerant ex-soldier is sentenced to a chain gang after he is wrongly implicated in a hold-up. An early social protest film based on a true story, the film helped initiate reform of the prison system. DVD 3924; vhs 999:61
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Lawrence, Jerome. Actor, the life and times of Paul Muni New York : Putnam, [1974] (MAIN: PN2287.M79 L31)
Perreault, Jeanne. "Chain Gang Narratives and the Politics of 'Speaking For'." Biography-An Interdisciplinary Quarterly. 24(1):152-71. 2001 Winter UC users only

I'm No Angel (1933)
Directed by Wesley Ruggles. Cast: Mae West, Cary Grant, Edward Arnold, Gregory Ratoff. The bold Tira works as a dancing beauty and lion tamer at a fair. Out of an urgent need of money, she agrees to a risky new number: she'll put her head into the lion's mouth! With this attraction the circus makes it to New York and Tira can persue her dearest occupation: flirting with rich men. Among the guys she searches for the love of her life, from whom she only knows from a fortune-teller that he'll be rich and have black hair. When she finally meets him, she becomes a victim of intrigue. "West, more imposing than coquettish as Tira the Lion Tamer, wields physical presence like a boxer and sexuality like a gunslinger throughout the film. From her opening scene, where she's introduced to a carnival crowd as "the girl who discovered you don't need feet to be a dancer," until the end, when she gets her man (Cary Grant, 29 years old and looking about 14, as upstanding society fellow Jack Clayton), Tira owns the screen. It's not hard to imagine either why I'm No Angel, often considered the last film of pre-code Hollywood, was the breaking straw for the Hays Office, or why Depression-era audiences loved it so much. Tira violates conventions of race, class, and (of course) sex, and she goes entirely unpunished by the plot of the film. Instead, West, who took sole credit for the story, screenplay and dialogue, is careful to give herself the last laugh--the real currency of a film like this one--in every scene. In the climactic trial, she cross-examines much of her romantic history to prove, to a judge and jury with whom she flirts hilariously, that she's "no angel" but that she is, indisputably, a heroine. Here at SFist, we are hard pressed to think of a recent studio film in which a hypersexual female lead gets away with so much." [SFist site] 88 min. DVD 9686
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Mae West bibliography

Indiscreet (1931)
Directed by Leo McCarey. Cast: Gloria Swanson, Ben Lyon, Monroe Owsley, Barbara Kent, Arthur Lake. On New Year's Eve, Geraldine Trent decides to break up with her boyfriend Jim Woodward, having finally grown tired of his dishonesty and his infidelities. Soon afterward, Geraldine meets and falls in love with novelist Anthony Blake. Blake knows that she has had a man in her past, but he is content as long as he never finds out who it was. All seems well until her sister Joan returns from a trip, and happily introduces Woodward as the new man in her life. 92 min. DVD X353
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International House (1933)
Directed by A. Edward Sutherland; featuring W.C. Fields, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Rudy Vallee, Stuart Erwin, Sari Maritza, Col. Stoopnagle, Budd, Cab Calloway and his orchestra, Baby Rose Marie, Bela Lugosi. A zany scientist in China invents a radio you can see: television. Every country wants to buy the rights, so characters from around the world converge on China and collide into a free-wheeling double-dealing variety show. "Perhaps one of the most surreal and special experiences in Hollywood filmmaking. The musical numbers are a hoot -- especially the chorus made up of dancers dressed in art deco celophane outfits and Cab Calloway's manic rendition of "Reefer Man" (not to mention a pre-adolescent and disturbingly sexy Baby Rose Marie performing a hot torch number). The jokes are a treat -- you'll find yourself saying, "I can't believe they got away with this!" when you hear some of the lines from WC Fields as well as Burns and Allen (it was pre-code, by the way)." [amazon.com] For a discussion of the censorship problems encountered by this film, see the American Film Institute Catalog [UCB users only] 108 min. DVD 4556; vhs 999:2209
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Island of Lost Souls (1932)
Directed by Erle C. Kenton. Cast: Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, the Panther woman. Charles Laughton plays Dr. Moreau, the benign-looking doctor who lives and works on his own private South Seas island. When a shipwreck leaves Edward Parker stranded on the island, he learns of the hideous experiments that the doctor has been conducting in an area of the island known as "the House of Pain". When Parker encounters the beautiful creature Lota, the panther woman, Dr. Moreau gets the idea to create the first human-animal child through the two of them. "Island of Lost Souls and Freaks present images of revolution in which "downtrodden masses, tribes of the misshapen and mutated" overthrow "a hierarchy not merely of power but of beauty." Many Depression-era Americans may well have identified with the tragic animalmen of Island as they revolted against their evil sovereign. [Pre-code Hollywood : sex, immorality, and insurrection in American cinema, 1930-1934 New York : Columbia University Press, c1999. p. 308 (MAIN: PN1995.62 .D65 1999)]. All this is not to mention the unsavory sexual tension between Parker and the panther woman, and the spectacle of a scientist dangerously overstepping his bounds (Moreau: "Mr. Parker, do you know what it means to feel like God?") Based on the novel "The island of Dr. Moreau" by H.G. Wells. 71 min. vhs 999:939
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Kirby, David A. "Are We Not Men? The Horror of Eugenics in The Island of Dr. Moreau." Paradoxa: Studies in World Literary Genres, vol. 17, pp. 93-108, 2002.

Kept Husband (1931)
Directed by Lloyd Bacon. Cast: Dorothy Mackaill, Joel McCrea. When a rich man invites an ordinary laborer to his home for dinner his daughter falls in love and marries him. Her father offers the young man an important role in his business but his daughter now feeling neglected, starts flirting around. 76 min. DVD 1294
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Callahan, Dan. "Golden Boy: The Sexy Ways of Joel McCrea." Bright Lights Film Journal; Nov2005 Issue 50, p146-151, 6p

King Kong (1933)
Directed by Merian C. Cooper. Cast: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher, Jan Hardy, Noble Johnson, Steve Clemente, James Flavin. Film classic which tells the story of a giant ape captured on an island who proceeds to terrorize New York until his final stand atop the Empire State Building. Fay Wray's scanty attire would have never passed later code requirements, not to mention her questionable relationship with the Big Ape--a kind of inter-species (or interracial) form of forbidden love. "King Kong was released four times between 1933 and 1952. Scenes of Kong eating people or stepping on them were cut, as was his peeling off of Ann's dress. Many of these cuts were restored for the 1976 theatrical release after it was found that a film editor had saved the trims." [Wikipedia] Thomas Doherty has cited King Kong as "the only pre-Code Hollywood picture that lives universally in the American imagination." [Pre-code Hollywood: sex, immorality, and insurrection in American cinema, 1930-1934 New York : Columbia University Press, c1999. MAIN: PN1995.62 .D65 1999] 105 min. DVD 4706; also 999:152
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The Lady Is Willing (1942)
Directed by Mitchell Leisen. Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Fred MacMurray, Aline MacMahon, Stanley Ridges. Comedy about a glamorous Broadway star who wants to be able to adopt a child, so she arranges a marriage of convenience with a pediatrician. 91 min. DVD X2068
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The Lady Refuses (1931)
Directed by Wallace Smith. Cast: Betty Compson, John Darrow, Gilbert Emery, Margaret Livingston, Ivan Lebedeff, Edgar Northon, Daphne Pollard. A British aristocrat hires a poor young woman to woo his son away from a gold-digger. 72 min. DVD 7636
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Little Ceasar (1930)
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Glenda Farrell. A little tough guy pushes his way to the top of the mob. Yet, at the peak of his success he is taken down as violently as he had ascended to power. 81 min. DVD 3511; also VHS 999:823
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Lonely Wives (1931)
Directed by Russell Mack. Cast: Edward Everett Horton, Esther Ralston, Laura La Plante, Patsy Ruth Miller. Produced in 1931, just before the "Hays Office" came into power, this sex farce is filled with as many sexual innuendoes and double entendres as the screenwriter could devise. Edward Everett Horton shines in dual roles in this bedroom farce as a somber lawyer, who becomes a wild womanizer at night and the vaudeville impersonator who wants to add him to his list of imitations. 87 min. DVD 1293
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The Marx Brothers
Full of anarchy, irreverence, and general lunacy, the Marx Brothers pre-code comedies undoubtedly caused more than a bit of nervousness on the part of movie censors. ""Beyond the Alps lies more Alps, and the Lord helps those that Alp themselves"; a line from...Horse Feathers. The Hays Office probably would have queried this had Horse Feathers been made after the 1934 Production Code and it's a wonder that, despite its pre-Code vintage, Animal Crackers was allowed to retain Groucho's possibly blasphemous "Africa is God's Country and He can have it" (the same might be said of a Duck Soup song, All God's Chillon Got Guns)." [The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia]

For descriptions of the following, see Comedy videography

The Cocoanuts (1929) DVD 5581; vhs 999:1137
Animal Crackers (1930)DVD 5581; vhs 999:105
Monkey Business (1931)DVD 3946; vhs 999:1105
Horse Feathers (1932)DVD 81; vhs 999:404
Duck Soup (1933)DVD 80; vhs 999:128

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
Directed by Charles Brabin. Cast: Boris Karloff, Lewis Stone, Myrna Loy, Jean Hersholt. The evil Chinese doctor patiently awaits to discover Gengis Khan's tomb. When British scientists discover the tomb, Fu captures and tortures them one by one. But an unsuspected traitor has other plans for the doctor. Karloff's character is presented as a megalomanic on a crusade to "Kill the white man and mate with his women." His daughter (Loy) is a whacked out sadist and nymphomaniac, who, at one point, in a sexual fury, orders a hunky white male captive to be whipped, "Faster! Faster!" DVD 6521; vhs 999:1242
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Fu Manchu (Wikipedia)

Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)
Directed by Dorothy Arzner. Cast: Sylvia Sidney, Fredric March, Adrianne Allen, Richard Gallagher, George Irving, Cary Grant. Jerry Corbett finally meets and marries Joan Prentiss, the right girl. Unfortunately their wedded bliss is interrupted when Jerry's play becomes a hit and he hooks up with the wrong woman from his past. Joan decides that turn-about is fair play and she picks Charlie to escort her to various parties around New York. Eventually Jerry quits drinking and sends his girlfriend packing, just in time for Joan to take him back. Merrily we go to Hell violated the Production Codes strictures against scenes of drunken parties, clinging Travis Banton gowns and Art Deco settings. 84 min. DVD X1621
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Midnight Mary (1933)
Directed by William A. Wellman. Cast: Loretta Young, Ricardo Cortez, Franchot Tone, Andy Devine, Una Merkel. A mistaken arrest, a prison term, and lack of employment leads to a young woman's involvement with gangsters. In a brothel she meets a wealthy lawyer who falls in love with her. He helps her turn her life around, but her past catches up with her and now she is on trial for murder. 74 min. DVD X1427
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Millie (1931)
Directed by John Francis Dillon. Cast: Helen Twelvetrees, Joan Blondell. Millie Blake has a love affair that goes wrong, so Millie plays the field recklessly from that point on. When she finds out that one of the reckless players from her past has now cast his spell on her daughter, she takes matters into her own hands and finds herself in a courtroom trying to find a better defense plea than mother-love and honor-protection. 85 min. DVD 1294
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The Mummy (1932)
Directed by Karl Freund. Cast: Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Bramwell Fletcher, Arthur Byron, Edward Van Sloan. A mummy is accidentally revived after 3,700 years by a British archeology team. Dressed in the garb of a modern-day Egyptian, he sets out to find his lost love, terrorizing the members of the expedition who must find a way to stop him. The Mummy's fascination with pagan rites and eternal life, and it's slightly unsavory whiff of orientalism and cross-millennial lust would most likely have resulted in substantial plot changes and cuts had the film been made after 1934. 74 min. DVD 520; VHS 999:2860
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Murder at the Vanities (1933)
Directed by Mitchell Leisen. Cast: Claudette Colbert, Ricardo Cortez, David Manners, Lyda Roberti. Shortly before the curtain goes up on a performance of Earl Carroll's Vanities, someone is attempting to injure the leading lady Ann Ware who wants to marry leading man Eric Lander. Stage manager Jack Ellery calls in his friend, policeman Bill Murdock, to help him investigate. They find the body of a murdered women and Bill suspects Eric of the crime. Rita Ross, a second female lead, tells Bill that she saw the women leaving from Eric's room. Then Rita is shot onstage with Eric's gun. Jack and Bill decide not to stop the show, but Bill prepares to arrest Eric. Based on a play by Earl Carroll and Rufus King. Murder at the Vanities violated the Production Code's strictures against semi-nude women, cocktails for two and smoking marajuana and violated almost every section of the Code (six months later and it would not have been made). 90 min. DVD X1621
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Night After Night (1931)
Directed by Archie Mayo. Cast: Mae West, George Raft, Constance Cummings, Wynne Gibson, Alison Skipworth. A successful ex-boxer buys a high-class speakeasy and falls for a rich society girl, who doesn't know about his past. Complications ensue when some ex-girlfriends from his boxing days show up. From the story, 'Single Night,' by Louis Bromfield. 88 min. DVD 9686
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Mae West bibliography

Night Nurse (1931)
Directed by William Wellman. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Ben Lyon, Joan Blondell, Clark Gable. William Wellman's Night Nurse is a sassy, unsentimental comedy about a private pediatric nurse named Lora Hart (Barbara Stanwyck) who, after applying as an apprentice in a family home, discovers there is a plot afoot to starve her two rich, fat, young charges to death. The culprit is the family’s chauffeur, Nick (Clark Gable), a villain who plans to marry the kids' dissolute mother and make off with their trust fund. It then is up to Hart, her wisecracking nurse friend Maloney (Joan Blondell), and her bootlegger beau Mortie (Ben Lyon) to save them. Director Wellman keeps the jokes humming along with the peril. 60 min. DVD 9397
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William Wellman bibliography

Of Human Bondage (1934)
Directed by John Cromwell. Cast: Leslie Howard, Betty Davis. A young medical student's infatuation with a slutish Cockney waitress in Edwardian London only brings him sorrow and despair. "Of Human Bondage was placed on the Catholic Church's "condemned" list in Aug 1934... According to files in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Dr. James Wingate, Director of Studio Relations of the AMPPA, informed RKO executive Merian C. Cooper in late May 1933 that an early draft of the script presented "so many difficulties that it appears...to be impossible to present...under the Code." Joseph I. Breen, Public Relations Director of the AMPPA, concurred with Wingate's assessment and suggested that "Mildred's" disease in the story be changed from syphilis to tuberculosis. Shortly before filming began, Breen approved changes that were made in the script and wrote in an inter-office memo that, while the story was "very dangerous...from a number of angles," it was also "something of a classic" and "so regarded by modern readers of fiction." A memo from Breen to RKO, which was included in RKO production files, indicates that Breen objected to the following aspects of the completed film: shots of Carey's nude sketches that "emphasized" the figure's breasts; Mildred's line in reference to the drawings, "All of it going on in your head"; and the scene in which Mildred picks up a man in front of a shop window." [AFI Catalog] From the novel by W. Somerset Maugham 83 min. DVD 1294
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Curran, Trisha. "Variations on a Theme." In: The English novel and the movies / edited by Michael Klein and Gillian Parker New York : Ungar, c1981 (Main Stack PN1997.85.E53; Moffitt PN1997.85.E53)

The Old Dark House (1932)
Directed by James Whale. Cast: Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Gloria Stuart, Charles Laughton, William Bond, Ernest Thesiger, Eva Moore, Raymond Massey, Brember Wills, Elspeth Dudgeon. A group of travelers on a mountain road, overtaken by a thunderstorm and torrential rains, seek shelter in a mysterious old mansion which turns out to be full of eerie characters and uncanny happenings. A ghoulishly delightful treat, a one-of-a-kind macabre comedy of gothic eeriness. Based on the J.B. Priestly novel Benighted. "Whale's version was subtle enough to avoid censorship, but the ambisexual ambience of the "Femm" family was still there. ...The weirdest sequence in the film has Rebecca [Femm] (Eva Moore) unnerving a visitor, Margaret Waverton (Gloria Stewart): "You think nothing but your long straight legs and your white body--and how to please your man. You revel in the joys of fleshy love, don't you? (Points to satin gown): That's fine stuff, but it'll rot. (Points to Margaret's décollegate): That's finer stuff still, but it'll rot too--in time." [as quoted in Vieira, Mark. Sin in soft focus : pre-code Hollywood New York : Harry N. Abrams, 1999 [MAIN: PN1995.62 .V54 1999; PFA : PN1995.62 .V49 1999] 72 min. DVD 1394
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One Hour with You (1932)
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Cast: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald Genevieve Tobin, Charlie Ruggles. "Andre and Colette Bertier are happily married. When Colette introduces her husband to her flirtatious best friend, Mitzi, he does his best to resist her advances. But she is persistent, and very cute, and he succumbs. Mitzi's husband wants to divorce her, and has been having her tailed. Andre gets caught, and must confess to his wife. But Colette has had problems resisting the attentions of another man herself, and they forgive each other." [IMDB] 80 min. DVD 9413
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Ernst Lubitsch bibliography

Other Men's Women (1931)
Directed by William A. Wellman. Cast: Grant Withers, Regis Toomey, Mary Astor, J. Farrell MacDonald, Fred Kohler, Joan Blondell, James Cagney. Bill and Jack are railroad men. When Bill comes to stay with Jack and his wife, Bill and Lily fall in love. Jack confronts Bill about his suspicions and the two fight, leaving Jack seriously injured. Special features: Disc 1: S.S. Dine detective short: "The Wall Street mystery;" 2 classic cartoons "Moonlight for two" and "You don't know what you're doin!;" theatrical trailer. 70 min. DVD X1427
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Our Dancing Daughters (1928)
Directed by Harry Beaumont. Cast: Joan Crawford, John Mack Brown, Nils Asther, Dorothy Sebastian, Anita Page. They were called jazz babies, "hot mamas" caught up in the '20s roar. They wore their hair bobbed and defied sexual convention and danced the Charleston and Black Bottom till dawn. This is their story told through the life of Diana Medford, an energetic flapper whose flirting and drinking masked her true feelings about love and sex. 97 min. vhs 999:2672
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Our Modern Midens (1929)
Directed by Jack Conway. Cast: Joan Crawford, Rod La Rocque, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Anita Page, Josephine Dunn. A roaring twenties film with flaming youth, gleaming roadsters, supple flappers, and tuxedo clad rakes. Billie is a careless heiress to a fortune and good friends with her naive summer guest, Kentucky. Billie's fiance doesn't notice Kentucky--at first. And when Billie meets a smoldering young diplomat, the callow joy boys that surround her suddenly seem stale. 75 min. vhs 999:3484
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Party Girl (1930)
Directed by Victor Halperin. Cast: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Jeannette Loff, Judith Barrie, John St. Polis, Sammy Blum. A daring dramatization of the secret, inner workings of an escort service. Miss Lindsey runs a party girl racket, sending poor girls to make quick money servicing the impulses of rich men. 61 min. DVD X971
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Schaefer, Eric. "Resisting Refinement: The Exploitation Film and Self-Censorship." Film History 1994 6(3): 293-313 21p UC users only

Platinum Blonde (1931)
Directed by Frank Capra. Cast: Jean Harlow, Loretta Young, Robert Williams. "Reporter 'Stew' Smith meets beautiful Ann Schuyler, a rich socialite, while covering the story of a scandal involving Ann's family. Ann takes a liking to the wisecracking Smith and the couple eventually elope. Stew's roots as a street smart reporter don't prepare him well for mixing with Ann's high society friends and he starts spending more time with his 'pal', female reporter Gallagher. Everything comes to a head when Ann and her family return home to their mansion one evening and find that Stew has invited all his 'pals' over for an impromptu drinking party." [IMDB] 90 min. vhs 999:2703
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Frank Capra bibliography

The Public Enemy (1931)
Directed by William A. Wellman. Cast: James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods, Joan Blondell. Tom Powers (Cagney) begins his life of crime at an early age with his companion Matt Doyle. Powers' eventual rise to a notorious prohibition gangster is only darkened when a rival gang brutally murders his childhood friend. Powers tries to avenge Doyle's death but his efforts lead to a chilling and savage conclusion. "The Public Enemy's violent realism, scenes blatant in their sexual suggestiveness, and (I have no doubt) the magnetism of Cagney's performance helped ring in Hollywood's self-censoring Production Code of 1934, which sanitized criminal and sexual subject matter for years." [DVD Journal] 84 min. DVD 3514; vhs 999:33

The Purchase Price (1932)
Directed by William A. Wellman. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Lyle Talbot. Joan Gordon is a singer tiring of her relationship with Eddie. She flees to North Dakota to become a mail-order bride where her happiness is threatened by her stubborn husband, a lecherous neighbor and the appearance of Eddie. Based on Arthur Stringer's novel, which was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post (28 Nov-26 Dec 1931). 68 min. DVD X1427
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Queen Christina (1934)
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Cast: Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Ian Keith, Lewis Stone, Elizabeth Young, C. Aubrey Smith, Reginald Owen. Garbo as the17th century Queen of Sweden, who relinquishes her throne for her lover, the ambassador from Spain. Features Garbo in male drag and interesting hints of ambisexuality. Christina's "melancholy longings to escape her destiny (marriage) and her deft rejections of a series of male suitors are interrupted in the first half of the film by her encounter with the Countess Ebba Sparre. Their brief scene together is charged with sexuality and real affection, the only such display in the film between Garbo and another woman." (Russo, The Celluloid Closet, p. 64) DVD 4285; vhs 999:2990;
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Rain (1932)
Directed by Lewis Milestone. Cast: Joan Crawford, Walter Huston, William Gargan, Guy Kibbee, Walter Catlett, Beulah Bondi, Matt Moore, Kendall Lee, Ben Hendricks, Frederick Howard. When a fanatical missionary and his wife are marooned in a hut with a former prostitute during a week-long tropical storm in Pago Pago, the conflict swells to explosive proportions in this early talkie version of a much filmed story. Other versions include: Sadie Thompson (1928) and Miss Sadie Thompson (1953). Original story by W. Somerset Maugham. 76 min DVD 1152
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Campbell, Russell. Marked women : prostitutes and prostitution in the cinema. Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, c2006. (Main Stack PN1995.9.P76.C36 2006; PFA PN1995.9.P76.C36 2006)

Reckless Rosie (1929)
Directed by Neal Burns. Cast: Billy Engle, Frances Lee. The story is about two rival lingerie manufacturers. One has invented a new negligee and entrusts it to pretty Francis Lee to take to the underwear show. However, on the way, the evil rivals pull out all the stops two get it." [IMDB] 11 min. DVD X427
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Red-headed Woman (1932)
Directed by Jack Conway. Cast: Jean Harlow, Chester Morris, Lewis Stone, Leila Hyams, Una Merkel. Precensorship story of gold-digging secretary Lil who works for the Legendre Company and causes Bill to divorce Irene and marry her. She has an affair with businessman Gaerste and uses him to force society to pay attention to her. She has another affair with the chauffeur Albert. Screen play by Anita Loos; produced by Albert Lewin, Irving Thalberg; additional writing by F. Scott Fitzgerald. 79 min DVD 6674
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The River (1929)
Directed by Frank Borzage. Cast: Charles Farrell, Mary Duncan, Ivan Linow, Margaret Mann, Alfredo Sabato, Bert Woodruff. A new reconstruction of Frank Borzage's masterpiece "The river" from the last year of American silent cinema. Charles Farrell is cast as virile outdoorsman Allen John Pender, while Mary Duncan co-stars as Pender's haughty society sweetheart Rosalee. At first, Rosalee is resistant to Pender's Spartan lifestyle, but he wins her over by singing a thrilling romantic ballad. For the first time Cinémathèque Suisse was able to include a recently discovered erotic sequence which was cut by the censors. 55 min. DVD X782
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Roman Scandals (1933)
Directed by Frank Tuttle; featuring Eddie Cantor, Ruth Etting, Gloria Stuart, Edward Arnold, David Manners. In this musical comedy a wistful young man from Oklahoma daydreams his way back to ancient Rome in its hey-day where he finds himself a spokesperson for the downtrodden Roman people, suffering under the tyrannical rule of the cruel and sneering Emperor Valerius. Features the screen debut of Lucille Ball and choreography by Busby Berkeley. 92 min. vhs 999:2237
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Sadie Thompson (1928)
Directed by Raoul Walsh. Cast: Gloria Swanson, Lionel Barrymore, Raoul Walsh, Charles Lane, Florence Midgley, James A. Marcus, Sophia Artega, Will Stanton. Arguably Swanson's finest performance of the silent era. A classic tale of Sadie, a loose woman who sails to Pago Pago to start a new life, only to fall under the influence of an unforgiving and overzealous preacher whose lust for her masquerades as a desire to save her soul. Unable to accept his sin, he cuts his throat and Sadie goes to Sydney with an admiring marine. Sadly, the final reel is currently lost. 97 min. DVD X353
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Campbell, Russell. Marked women : prostitutes and prostitution in the cinema. Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, c2006. (Main Stack PN1995.9.P76.C36 2006; PFA PN1995.9.P76.C36 2006)

Scarface (1932)
Directed by Howard Hawks. Cast: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, George Raft, Boris Karloff. "Produced by Howard Hughes. First film to present the gangster as a senseless, moronic, cold-blooded lunatic. Paul Muni plays Tony Camonte (obviously based on Al Capone). It also happens that he's in love with his sister, which just adds to his perversity. Muni is excellent, parading around like some Neanderthal Man, and blasting a machine gun is almost like sex to him - only better." 93 min. DVD 5674; vhs 999:68
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The Scarlet Empress (1934)
Directed by Josef von Sternberg. Cast: Marlene Dietrich, John Lodge, Sam Jaffe, Louise Dresser. A historical drama about a German princess, Catherine, who married the Grand Duke Peter, the heir to the Russian throne. Because of his madness, she was able to seize the throne and became renowned as Catherine the Great. 104 min. DVD 694
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Murphy, Kathleen. "Portrait of a lady (times) 2 -- The Earrings of Madame de ... directed by Max Ophuls and starring Danielle Darrieux / The Scarlet Empress directed by Josef Von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich." Film Comment, Jul 1993; Vol. 29, Iss. 4; pg. 23-9 UC users only
Wilson, George M. "Narrative and Visual Pleasure in The Scarlet Empress." In: Style and meaning : studies in the detailed analysis of film / edited by John Gibbs and Douglas Pye. Manchester ; New York : Manchester University Press ; New York : Distributed exclusively in the USA by Palgrave, 2005. (Main Stack PN1995.S778 2005)

Search for Beauty (1934)
Directed by Erle C. Kenton. Cast: Larry 'Buster' Crabbe, Ida Lupino, Robert Armstrong, James Gleason, Toby Wing, Gertrude Michael, Bradley Page. Inspired by the L.A. Olympics, a trio of con artists lure some prize-winning athletes into endorsing their newly-acquired fitness magazine. They stage an international publicity stunt to find the healthiest young bodies in the English-speaking world. While the athletes are out scouting for specimens, the three rogues turn the magazine into a lurid cheesecake rag. This spins off into a health farm, which they try to turn into a high-priced facility for Hollywood swells out to exploit eager young talent. Search for beauty violated the Production Codes strictures against scenes of naked bodies. The film was heavily censored and was never re-issued or re-made. 78 min. DVD X1621
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Sex (1920)
Directed by Fred Niblo. Cast: Louise Glaum, William Conklin, Viola Barry, Myrtle Stedman, Irving Cummings. A cabaret star who uses her sex appeal to lure men, ruin marriages and then move on to better prospects, finds the tables turned when she gets married and her husband is seduced by another woman. Special features: "Photo gallery of un-clad and under-clad stars from the silent era and into the early 1930s, including Louise Brooks, Clara Bow, Douglas Fairbanks, Mae Mest, and many more." 81 min. DVD X2017
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Shanghai Express (1932)
Directed by Josef von Sternberg. Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Anna May Wong, Warner Oland, Eugene Pallette. After being jilted by Clive Brook, Marlene Dietrich becomes known as Shanghai Lily, a notorious adventuress. During the Chinese civil war, the couple meet on a train which is attacked by Chinese rebels. Dietrich becomes involved with a rebel leader in order to save the man she still loves. "It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.' Aboard the title train, befeathered Marlene Dietrich meets mysterious Anna May Wong and stoic ex-amour Clive Brook, but Chinese rebel leader Warner Oland demands an unscheduled stop, barking, 'The white woman stays with me!" 82 min. DVD X2068; vhs 999:932
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She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Directed by Lowell Sherman. Cast: Mae West, Cary Grant, Owen Moore, Noah Beery, Gilbert Roland. Mae West as Lady Lou, a toughlady with a heart of gold, who dallys with assorted beaus, becomes entangled in murder, saves a Bowery mission and still has enough energy left to belt out a tune or two! "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?" One of the lines that got Mae West in hot water and a Depression-stricken Paramount into the black, in Mae's blockbuster adaptation of her stage hit "Diamond Lil," with Salvation Army captain Cary Grant as the hunk she asks to "come up and see me sometime."

"Mae West spent her career on the stage and screen skirting and sometimes transgressing the boundaries of sexual and moral propriety. In 1926 and 1927, she outraged some critics (and landed herself in jail) with two sensational Broadway productions, Sex (a play she wrote about a Montreal prostitute, in which she also starred) and The Drag (a 'homosexual comedy-drama' that she wrote and staged). In 1928, New York police arrested her again, this time for her play about a troupe of female impersonators, Pleasure Man. In 1932, she brought her brand of ribald humor to the movies. West's move from Broadway to Hollywood was surprising, given the substantially tighter moral scrutiny under which the film industry operated." [quoted from History Matters web site] 65 min. DVD 9581; vhs 999:623

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Mae West bibliography

Sign of the Cross (1932)
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Cast: Fredric March, Elissa Landi, Claudette Colbert, Charles Laughton, Ian Keith, Vivian Tobin, Nat Pendleton, Arthur Hohl. "Cecil B. DeMille pulls out all the stops in this tale of early Christians persecuted in ancient Rome. Charles Laughton stars as a leering, lascivious Nero, complete with spit curls. In the words of Paramount's publicity, "Rome burns again! The sets are marvelous and the costumes spell sex. There's Claudette Colbert in a milk bath. And Fredric March using the sensuous Joyzelle [as a dancing slave] to break down the resistance of Elissa Landi [as a virtuous young Christian]? mentally, and how!"" [Harvard Film Archive] 90 min. DVD 5666; vhs 999:2217
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DeMille bibliography

The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931)
Directed by Edgar Selwyn. Cast: Helen Hayes, Lewis Stone, Neil Hamilton, Cliff Edwards, Jean Hersholt, Marie Prevost. In her first feature film Helen Hayes plays Madelon, a simple country girl who runs away to Paris with a lover who cruelly abandons her and their baby son. Desperate to provide for her child, Madelon becomes the mistress of a jewel thief, a decision that leads her to prison and, finally, the streets. Her descent from radiant girl to brazen tart to bent and defeated old woman is astonishing for its technical brilliance and emotional power. 76 min. vhs 999:3666
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The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Cast: Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, Charlie Ruggles, Miriam Hopkins, George Barbier. A Viennese lieutenant is enamored of a freethinking all-girl-orchestra-leading cutie. But complications ensue when the sexually repressed princess of Flausenthurm sets her sights on him. Based upon "The Waltz Dream," by Leopold Jacobson and Felix Dormann and the novel "Nux der Prinzgemahl," by Hans Muller. 89 min. DVD 9412
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Ernst Lubitsch bibliography

Tarzan and His Mate (1934)
Directed by Cedric Gibbons. Cast: Johnny Weismuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Neil Hamilton, Paul Cavanagh, Cheetah. In the sensual pre-Code Tarzan and his mate, the tale includes the sacred elephant graveyard. Includes "an eye-opening underwater swim scene featuring Johnny Weissmuller, barely clad in a loin cloth, and a body double for Maureen O'Sullivan clad not at all." [Thomas Dougherty]. This scene was eventually edited out of the master negative of the film, making Tarzan and His Mate the first major instance of censorship under the Production Code. For a discussion of the censorship problems encountered by this film, see the American Film Institute Catalog [UCB users only] 104 min. DVD 2724
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Henderson, Clara. "When hearts beat like native drums:" Music and the sexual dimensions of the notions of "savage" and civilized" in Tarzan and His Mate, 1934." Africa Today. Winter 2001. Vol. 48, Iss. 4; p. 91 (34 pages) UC users only

The Temptress(1926)
Directed by Fred Niblo. Cast: Greta Garbo, Antonio Moreno and Lionel Barrymore (106 min.) Unhappy wife Elena falls in love with a Spanish engineer, Robledo. When it is revealed that Elena is not only married, but has also been the mistress of a banker, Robledo returns to South America. Subsequently, Elena and her husband also go to South America. Years later Robledo returns to Paris and runs into Elena who does not seem to recognize him. Elena has become a pathetic drunkard who is apparently beyond Robledo's help. Based on the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. 106 min. DVD 4286
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Theodora Goes Wild (1936)
Directed by Richard Boleslawski. Cast: Irene Dunne, Melvyn Douglas, Thomas Mitchell, Thurston Hall, Elisabeth Risdon, Margaret McWade, Spring Byington, Nana Bryant, Henry Kolker, Leona Maricle, Robert Greig, Frederick Burton. A staid Connecticut town is scandalized when it discovers that the author of a sexually-explicit bestselling novel is actually a local girl. Based on an original story by Mary McCarthy. "Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that Columbia first submitted the script to the PCA in Mar 1936. However, the PCA rejected the script because it violated several tenets of the Code. In a letter to Harry Cohn, PCA president Joseph I. Breen details the various elements in violation of the Code: The heroine, Theodora, exemplifies "evil made to appear attractive" after she breaks up two marriages; all the "decent" and "church-going" characters are "made to appear ridiculous, stupid and silly" when compared with their city counterparts, who "indulg[e] in extra-marital activities, drunkenness and debauchery, [and] are made to appear attractive." A second revised script was submitted to the PCA in Apr 1936 and was met with approval." [AFI Catalog] 94 min. DVD X1853
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The Thin Man (1934)
Directed by W.S. VanDyke. Cast: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan, Nat Pendleton, Minna Gombell. The jaunty whodunit that made William Powell and Myrna Loy the champagne elite of sleuthing. In this premier film they play a tipsy detective and his wife and dog who solve the murder of an eccentric inventor. High-living, booze-swilling, innuendo-flinging Nick and Nora barely squeaked in under Joseph Breen's Production Code radar. 90 min. DVD 4154; vhs 999:405
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Three on a Match (1932)
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Cast: Virginia Davis, Joan Blondell, Anne Shirley, Ann Dvorak, Betty Carse, Bette Davis, Warren William, Lyle Talbot, Humphrey Bogart. The gangster melodrama, Three on a Match, stars Bette Davis, Joan Blondell and Ann Dvorak as a trio of school chums - Mary, Ruth and Vivian - meeting for a reunion ten years after high school. Director Mervyn LeRoy crams much plot into the 64 minute run time following each of the women's lives. Mary is now a chorus girl after a stint in reform school; level-headed Ruth has a job as a secretary; and sexy Vivian is on the verge of deserting her wealthy husband Henry Kirkwood and their baby in favor of a glamorous gangster. The film is also noteworthy for the number of future stars making brief appearances, such as Lyle Talbot, Edward Arnold and, in his first gangster role, Humphrey Bogart as "The Mug." "The file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library contains correspondence relating to the film's kidnapping scenes. In the wake of the Lindbergh kidnapping, censor boards were reluctant to pass a film that contained child kidnapping sequences because they felt that the public would resent such a film. Later, East coast censor boards agreed to pass this picture because the kidnappers in it are captured, but they subsequently entered into a "gentlemen's agreement" that the industry would not make any more pictures with kidnapping themes." [AFI Index] 63 min. DVD 9397
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Tonight or Never (1931)
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Cast: Melvyn Douglas, Gloria Swanson, Warburton Gamble, Ferdinand Gottschalk, Boris Karloff, Alison Skipworth. An opera prima donna while on holiday in Venice with her elderly fiance, becomes intrigued with Fletcher, one of her admirers. One evening he manages to corner the heroine in her apartment, whereupon she becomes convinced that he's merely a gigolo interestd in her money. But Fletcher is in reality a representative of the Metropolitan Opera, determined to sign her to a contract. 80 min. vhs 999:2632
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Torch Singer (1933)
Directed by Alexander Hall and George Somnes. Cast: Claudette Colbert, Ricardo Cortez, David Manners, Lyda Roberti. Sally Trent has an illegitimate child, but cannot support her so she gives the baby up for adoption. Michael Gardner is the father who leaves for China not knowing about the baby. Sally assumes he has abandoned her for life. She gets a job as a torch singer and changes her name to Mimi Benton. She becomes notorious for her drinking and philadering. Then, Mimi fills in on a children's radio program singing and telling bedtime stories. She uses the airtime to find her daughter and leaves her partying days behind and reunites with Michael. Based on the story "Mike" by Grace Perkins. Torch singer violated the Production Codes strictures against raising a child born out of wedlock, illicit love scenes, drunkeness and a shimmering lamë gown. 71 min. DVD X1621
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Trouble in Paradise (1932)
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Cast: Cast: Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall, Charlie Ruggles, Edward Everett Horton, C. Aubrey Smith, Robert Greig. When thief Gaston Monescu meets his true love in pickpocket Lily, they embark on a scam to rob lovely perfume company executive Mariette Colet. But when Gaston becomes romantically entangled with Mme. Colet, their larcenous ruse is jeopardized and Gaston is forced to choose between two beautiful women. Special features: Audio commentary by Lubitsch biographer Scott Eyman; new video introduction by Peter Bogdanovich; Lubitsch's 1917 short film "Das fidele Gefanges"; 1940 Screen Guild Theater radio program featuring Ernst Lubitsch, Jack Benny, Claudette Colbert and Basil Rathbone; tributes to Lubitsch written by Billy Wilder, Leonard Maltin, Cameron Crowe, Roger Ebert and others. 82 min. DVD 1579
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Ernst Lubitsch bibliography

Waterloo Bridge (1931)
Directed by James Whale. Cast: Mae Clarke, Kent Douglass [Douglass Montgomery], Doris Lloyd, Bette Davis, Enid Bennett, Frederick Kerr. Roy Cronin, a Canadian soldier in London on furlough, falls in love with Myra Deauville, unaware that she is a prostitute. She accepts his proposal of marriage just prior to his being shipped to the front. They visit his uncle, mother and sister for a weekend in the country. Myra realizes she cannot escape her past and, after Roy leaves, tells his mother about herself. Back in London she is killed in an air raid. 81 min. DVD 6674
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Campbell, Russell. Marked women : prostitutes and prostitution in the cinema. Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, c2006. (Main Stack PN1995.9.P76.C36 2006; PFA PN1995.9.P76.C36 2006)

West of Zanzibar (1928)
Directed by Tod Browning. Cast: Lon Chaney, Lionel Barrymore, Warner Baxter, Mary Nolan, Jane Daly, Jacqueline Gadsdon, Roscoe Ward, Kalla Pasha, Curtis Nero. "West of Zanzibar opens on a picture of domestic bliss. Phroso (Chaney), an English music hall magician, is completely devoted to his wife, Anna (Jacqueline Hart). But appearances are deceiving and Anna soon abandons Phroso for her lover, Crane (Lionel Barrymore), an ivory trader. When Phroso goes to confront Crane, he is permanently crippled in a fight with his rival. A year later, Anna, with her baby daughter Maizie, attempts to return to Phroso but dies before she can reach him. Phroso adopts Maizie under the assumption that she was fathered by Crane and relocates to the jungles of Africa where he proceeds to raise her in a harsh and degrading environment among superstitious natives. When Maizie reaches the age of eighteen, Phroso plots his final act of revenge and summons Crane to their isolated outpost under false pretenses. Considering the sensationalistic aspects of the story, it's no surprise that some sequences didn't make the final cut of West of Zanzibar. For one thing, the scene where Phroso makes an appearance as a "duck man" at a side show was deleted. Tod Browning would later use this bizarre costume for the horrific climax to Freaks where Olga Baclanova is transformed into the "duck woman." Another sequence that didn't get pass the censors is one where Phroso crawls into a bar on his wheeled platform, begging for handouts, and is tossed through a plate glass window into the street." [Turner Classic Movies] 70 min. DVD 9565 [preservation copy]; vhs 999:1171

White Zombie (1932)
Directed by Victor Halperin. Cast: Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Joseph Cawthorn, Robert Frazer. In this classic horror film, a magician uses his powers to raise the dead to supply zombie laborers for the sinister plantation owner Beaumont. 73 min. DVD 5974
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Whoopee!(1930)
Directed by Thornton Freeland. Cast: Eddie Cantor, Ethel Shutta, Paul Gregory, Eleanor Hunt, John Rutherford, Spencer Charters. A musical sparked by Cantor's performance as a hyper-hypochondriac. Out West, Henry Williams (Cantor) helps Sally flee her wedding, unaware that she has left a note behind saying they've eloped. Features some of Busby Berkeley's most fanciful choreography. Features Cantor singing perhaps his most famous song, "Making Whoopee". 93 min. vhs 999:3734
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Wild Boys of the Road (1933)
Directed by William A. Wellman. Cast: Frankie Darro, Rochelle Hudson, Dorothy Coonan, Sterling Holloway, Arthur Hohl, Grant Mitchell, Claire McDowell. At the bottom of the depression, Tom's mother has been out of work for months when Ed's father loses his job. Not to burden their parents, the two high school sophomore's decide to hop the freights and look for work. Wherever they go, there are many other kids just like them, so Tom, Ed and now Sally stick together. They camp in places like 'Sewer City' as long as they can until the local authorities run them off. Lots of events happen to them including a rape by a train brakeman (pre-code stuff.) They travel all over the Midwest and when they finally reach New York they've become hardened and weary, and are no longer kids. 69 min. DVD 9378; also DVD X1427
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Klein, G. "Wellman's 'Wild boys of the road': the rhetoric of a depression movie." Velvet Light Trap nr 15 (Autumn 1975); p 2-6

Wild Orchids (1929)
Directed by Sidney Franklin. Cast: Greta Garbo, Lewis Stone, Nils Asther. Summary On a ocean voyage with her husband to Java, Lillie falls for the handsome Prince de Gace. When her husband learns of his wife's liaison, the film moves to its suspenseful climax: a tiger hunt charged with conflicting emotions of love, betrayal and revenge. 100 min. DVD X1844
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Young America (1932)
Directed by Frank Borzage. Cast: Spencer Tracy, Raymond Borzage, Doris Kenyon, Tommy Conlon, Ralph Bellamy, Beryl Mercer. Already in trouble with the law, Arthur and his friend Nutty break into a drugstore to get medicine for Nutty's grandmother. The druggist's wife, Mrs. Doray, asks for custody. When he hears them arguing over him, Arthur runs away. When he returns Mr. Doray is being held up by bandits at the drugstore. Based on the play by John Frederick Ballard. 71 min. DVD X715
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