pre code era

Pre-Code Hollywood recs courtesy of my blog

Originally posted by patriciadeville

The pre-code era was a period lasting roughly between 1929 to 1934 in which Hollywood censors was a thousand times more lax. Of course, the naughtiness is not the only thing which makes pre-code Hollywood interesting, as these films coincided with the advent of talkies and the cynicism brought on by the Great Depression. Many of them featured social commentary on the economy, the changing role of women in society, the sexual double standard, the lingering traumas inflicted by World War I, abuse of power within politics, and religious hypocrisy. If you’ve never delved into this period, here are some films I would recommend to get you started:

Baby Face (1933)

Barbara Stanwyck plays a destitute young woman who sleeps her way through the business world hierarchy in order to grasp power and money, the bare essentials of the American Dream—but does this guarantee happiness or even a stable future? A great introduction to just how much pre-code Hollywood could get away with as well as being a satirical look at the American values.

Island of Lost Souls (1932)

Once banned for being “against nature,” this cult horror film deals with science sans morality. The hot, sticky atmosphere and gross subject matter allow the film to remain scary even to a 21st century viewer.

The Divorcee (1930)

A thorough take down of the sexual double standard. When her husband casually cheats on her, a woman sleeps with his best friend to “balance the books.” At that, her allegedly liberal husband shows just how backward he is by claiming women are supposed to be better behaved than men, which leads to a nasty separation and numerous sexual escapades on the part of the wife. Even eighty-seven years onward, this film remains a mature look at marriage and sexuality, daring for its time and still touching today.

The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933)

Amidst civil war and treachery, an American missionary and a Chinese warlord fall in love despite their differing philosophies (not to mention the whole race thing). While the theme of miscegenation might not be too controversial today, I imagine its heavy criticism of religion still would be. (Alas, the film’s argument for racial tolerance is undercut by the casting of the very white Nils Asther as the titular Chinese general, but it’s still a good film to check out, one of director Frank Capra’s best movies.)

The Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

A musical about out-of-work chorus girls trying to nab wealthy husbands. Aside from being very funny and naughty, the musical numbers are all superbly choreographed by Busby Berkley, culminating in “Remember My Forgotten Man,” a piece highlighting the plight of WWI veterans. (It also features the best way you could ever call someone a ho: “As long as they’ve got sidewalks, you’ve got a job!”)

Employees’ Entrance (1933)

Malcolm McDowell once said he felt movies before the 1970s did not have truly evil characters in the lead. He never watched Employees’ Entrance, a movie where the central figure is a corrupt, raping, heartless, tyrannical department store manager who not only never answers for his crimes, but is even presented as something of a heroic figure in the context of the Depression due to his opposing the insistence from the higher-ups that he lay off his lower level employees. Complete with suicide (both attempted and successful) and despair, this movie is kept from being unbearable with doses of comedy and lively direction.


Inside Hollywood’s first gay bar: Call Her Savage (1932)

This scene from Clara Bow’s 1932 comeback movie was the first of its kind (that is, the first Hollywood film to depict what is clearly a gay bar complete with same sex couples) and would be the last for the next 30 years until Otto Preminger’s 1962 Advise and Consent. In this scene heiress Nasa Springer (Bow) has asked Jay Randall (Anthony Jowitt) to show her around New York. Their detour to the above bar is fascinating both as a contemporary recreation and for the lack of snide remark or comment of any kind it elicits from Bow, her beau, director John Francis Dillon, or writers Edwin J Burke and Tiffany Thayer. Neither the bar nor its patrons require either ridicule or explanation, they simply exist. There are several rather seedy scenes in this movie but this is certainly not one. In that respect Call Her Savage stands in stark opposition to 1962′s Advise and Consent where the infamous gay bar scene is essentially a way of illustrating the corruption and general seaminess of certain characters, gay bar scenes thus functioning as a kind ‘eye into the underworld’ for several decades following. I should point out for the sake of fairness that Savage is quite an un-PC film by today’s standards. But it is revealing of Pre-Code era filmmaking that miscegenation is more taboo and elicits a greater need for censure and explanation than either homosexuality or female promiscuity.

Bow and Jowitt aside, all actors in these scenes are uncredited extras, including the very good dancing waiters.

tbh honestly? i dont agree with a lot of the minor suggested edits on my article, they result in some weird sounding sentences. like okay heres my original writing:

“I adore this film. It’s easily one of the best examples of the opportunities actresses were afforded during the Pre-Code Era.”

and the suggested edit is to merge these two sentences, so

“I adore this film, and it’s easily one of the best examples of the opportunities actresses were afforded during the Pre-Code Era.”

i dont really like the second thing? it makes it sound like the thing about opportunities for actresses is just something that exists parallel to my love for the film, when in reality its the reason i love the film, which imo the break in the original indicates. am i the only one who feels this way or


Maria Alba (19 March 1910 – 26 October 1996), was a Spanish-American film actress. Originally named Maria Casajuana, she appeared in 25 feature films, including The Return of Chandu (1934), Kiss of Araby(1933) and La fuerza del querer(1930). Her most notable appearance was probably as “Saturday” in the 1932 Douglas Fairbanks film Mr. Robinson Crusoe. 

María de los Ángeles Félix Güereña (8 April 1914 – 8 April 2002) was a Mexican film actress. She is considered one of the most important female figures of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. She was also considered one of the most beautiful film actresses of her time, and one of the greatest erotic myths of Spanish-language cinema. She is known by the nickname La Doña a name derived from her character in the film Doña Bárbara (1943). She is also known as María Bonita. She completed a film career that included 47 films made in Mexico, Spain, France, Italy and Argentina.

Lupe Velez aka María Guadalupe Villalobos Vélez (July 18, 1908 – December 13, 1944) was a Mexican film actress.With the arrival of talkies, Vélez’s career took a turn towards comedy. Her characterization of the temperamental, explosive, rebellious and irreverent Latina woman gave her enormous popularity. She enjoyed popularity among Hispanic audiences and also made some films in Mexico. Some of her most memorable films are Lady of the Pavements (1928),The Wolf Song (1929), Palooka (1933), Laughing Boy (1934), Hollywood Party(1934) and the series of films created especially for her: Mexican Spitfire, in the early 1940s. She is associated with the nicknames “The Mexican Spitfire” and “The Hot Pepper”

Dolores del Río born María de los Dolores Asúnsolo López-Negrete; August 3, 1905 – April 11, 1983), was a Mexican film actress. She was a Hollywood star in the 1920s and 1930s, and was one of the most important female figures of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. She was the first Latin American female star to be recognized internationally.Her career flourished until the end of the silent era, with success in films such as Resurrection (1927) and Ramona (1928). In the 1930s, she was noted for her participation in musical films of the Pre-Code era like Bird of Paradise (1932), Flying Down to Rio (1933) and Madame Du Barry. When her Hollywood career began to decline, del Río decided to return to her native country and join the Mexican film industry, which at that time was at its peak.When del Río returned to Mexico she became the most important star of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. A series of films like Flor silvestre, María Candelaria (1943), Las Abandonadas and Bugambilia (1944) are considered classic masterpieces of the Mexican Cinema.

Carmen Miranda (9 February 1909 – 5 August 1955) was a Portuguese Brazilian samba singer, dancer, Broadway actress, and film star who was popular from the 1930s to the 1950s.In 1940, she made her first Hollywood film, Down Argentine Way, with Don Ameche and Betty Grable, her exotic clothing and Latin accent became her trademark. In the same year, she was voted the third most popular personality in the United States, and was invited to sing and dance for President Franklin Roosevelt, along with her group, Bando da Lua". Nicknamed “The Brazilian Bombshell”, Carmen Miranda is noted for her signature fruit hat outfit she wore in her American films, particularly in 1943's The Gang’s All Here. By 1945, she was the highest paid woman in the United States. Miranda made a total of fourteen Hollywood films between 1940 and 1953. Carmen Miranda was the first Latin American star to be invited to imprint her hands and feet in the courtyard of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, in 1941. She became the first South American to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.She is considered the precursor of Brazil’s Tropicalismo cultural movement of the 1960s.

Sara Montiel (also Sarita Montiel or Saritísima; 10 March 1928 – 8 April 2013) was a Spanish singer and actress. She was a much-loved and internationally known name in the Spanish-speaking movie and music industries. Montiel was born in Campo de Criptana in the region of Castile–La Mancha in 1928 as María Antonia Abad (complete name María Antonia Alejandra Vicenta Elpidia Isidora Abad Fernández). After her unprecedented international hit in Juan de Orduña’s El Último Cuplé in 1957, Montiel achieved the status of mega-star in Europe and Latin America. She was the most commercially successful Spanish actress during the mid-20th century in much of the world. Miss Montiel’s film Varietes was banned in Beijing in 1973. Her films El Último Cuple and La Violetera netted the highest gross revenues ever recorded for films made in the Spanish speaking movie industry during the 1950s/60s. She played the role of Antonia, the niece of Don Quixote, in the 1947 Spanish film version of Cervantes’s great novel.

Maria Montez aka María Africa García Vidal de Santo Silas (6 June 1912 – 7 September 1951) was a Spaniard Dominican born motion picture actress who gained fame and popularity in the 1940s as an exotic beauty starring in a series of filmed-in-Technicolor costume adventure films. Her screen image was that of a hot-blooded Latin seductress, dressed in fanciful costumes and sparkling jewels. She became so identified with these adventure epics that she became known as “The Queen of Technicolor”. Over her career, Montez appeared in 26 films, 21 of which were made in North America and five in Europe.

Katy Juradoborn María Cristina Estela Marcela Jurado García (January 16, 1924 – July 5, 2002), was a Mexican actress who had a successful film career both in Mexico and in Hollywood.She worked with many Hollywood legends, including Gary Cooper in High Noon, Spencer Tracy in Broken Lance, and Marlon Brando in One-Eyed Jacks, and such respected directors as Fred Zinnemann (High Noon),Sam Peckinpah (Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) and John Huston (Under the Volcano).Jurado made seventy-one films during her career. She became the first Latin American actress nominated for an Academy Award, as Best Supporting Actress for her work in 1954’s Broken Lance, and was the first to win a Golden Globe Award in 1952.

Rita Dolores Moreno (born December 11, 1931) is a Puerto Rican actress and singer. She is the only Hispanic and one of the few performers to have won all four major annual American entertainment awards, which include an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony, and was the second Puerto Rican to win an Oscar. She appeared in small roles in The Toast of New Orleans and Singin’ in the Rain. In March 1954, Moreno was featured on the cover of Life Magazine with a caption, “Rita Moreno: An Actresses’ Catalog of Sex and Innocence”. in 1956, she had a supporting role in the film version of The King and I. In 1961, Moreno landed the role of Anita in West Side Story. She starred in Summer and Smoke (1961), Cry of Battle (1963), and afterwards, The Night of the Following Day (1968),Popi (1969), Marlowe (1969), Carnal Knowledge (1971) and The Ritz (1976). From 1971 to 1977, Moreno played many characters on the PBS children’s series.

A post wherein film writer Kimberly Luperi explores a Miriam Hopkins’ film you should run to see (after, that is, you watch our eight film birthday tribute to the actress, of course!)

“Boys, it’s the only thing we can do: let’s forget sex.” So proclaims Gilda (Miriam Hopkins) to roommates George (Gary Cooper) and Thomas (Fredric March) in DESIGN FOR LIVING (‘33).

Those unfamiliar with pre-Code Hollywood may be surprised to learn that such a living arrangement was depicted in a film from 1933. As an enthusiast of what we now term the pre-Code era, lasting from roughly 1929 through summer 1934, I’ve always ranked Ernst Lubitsch’s DESIGN FOR LIVING (’33) among my top picks from the period.

When I first watched DESIGN FOR LIVING (’33), I was simultaneously astounded and charmed by the frank plot and modern characterizations. I mean, this is a picture in which the leading lady proclaims: “A thing happened to me that usually happens to men,” then decries society for allowing men to sow their wild oats while ladies are left to “decide purely on instinct” and proposes she live with both the men who love her, because she can’t choose. Oh, and after trying convention (aka marriage) on for size, she decides it isn’t for her either. By pre-Code or even today’s standards, Gilda is a progressive woman indeed.

I came to my first DESIGN FOR LIVING (’33) viewing informed by Mick LaSalle’s books Complicated Women and Dangerous Men; in the former he wrote the picture resides on the “outer reaches of outrageousness or daring,” while in the latter he argued the movie is “sexier and more risqué” than Noel Coward’s play. I also perused Kim Morgan’s @criterioncollection essay in which she termed the film “far ahead of its time.“ Furthermore, I was aware the picture landed on the Catholic Legion of Decency’s 1934 condemned list and knew that post-Code enforcement, the Production Code Administration (PCA), considered this tale of "gross sexual irregularity” as “definitely, and specifically, in violation of the Production Code on a half dozen counts” and denied it re-release several times. 

However, in researching older reviews and critiques, I was surprised to find that the film didn’t make as many waves as I assumed it would considering its audacious plot and modern reception. Surely, select notices highlighted the movie’s “certainly risqué” storyline, and a slightly fanatical 1933 Los Angeles Times article warned ladies that the implied ménage à trois is “apt to give us ideas” while cautioning that matriarchy was on its way. For the most part, though, DESIGN FOR LIVING (’33) was just another picture. Every contemporary piece I came across stressed the difference between Coward’s 1933 Broadway play and Ben Hecht’s adaptation, often unfavorably for the latter, with some outlets claiming the movie lacked the double entendres and suggestiveness of Coward’s original. Overall assessments from the picture’s initial release were mixed but more so positive, highlighting the performances and the “Lubitsch touch” when judging the film on its own merit. Jumping ahead some years, I also found it peculiar that several scholars writing from the 1960s to early 1980s more harshly dismissed the movie, and some even inaccurately reported initial reviews were largely negative.

Save for the PCA’s denunciation and select notices, there was really nothing to suggest that a film initially received as light entertainment would be touted as one of the most daring and revolutionary of the period years later. With the benefit of two decades worth of increased scholarship focused on this unique epoch and the passing of time, it seems the film’s legacy has grown independent of the celebrated stage version. But could the more eminent modern day reception also be a result of cultural revisionism and a tendency to romanticize the pre-Code era?

What’s your take?  

Anita Page in sombrero, 1920s

What is widely not known about Anita Page, born Anita Evelyn Pomares, is that she is of Spanish descent. Her paternal grandfather was Spanish and worked as a consul in El Salvador, and her grandmother was of Castillian Spanish descent. On her maternal side she was of French descent. She was often referred to as the “blonde, blue-eyed Latina” during her short acting career.

anonymous asked:

Okay I know you all will make fun of me for asking but I really don't understand, could you all help, since you're so good with films and stuff? What are the stages/eras of Hollywood so far and what are some notable actors/directors from each period? What's the period we're in now called - modern Hollywood?? Can all of the eras besides modern be grouped to one name like "old hollywood" or something?

  • 1900s-1929 - Silent Era (silent films) Some directors: king vidor, fw murnau, charles chaplin, buster keaton, josef von sternberg, fritz lang, erich von stroheim, dw griffith, victor sjostrom, etc.
  • 1929-1934 - Pre-Code Era (introduction to sound before the Hays Code was implemented) during this era many classic hollywood stars were born, and many directors too: ernst lubtisch, john cromwell, tod browning, raoul walsh, rouben mamoulian, william a. seiter, mervyn leroy, victor fleming, harry beaumont, roy del ruth, michael curtiz, busby berkeley, etc.
  • 1934-1966/7 - Classic/Classical Hollywood Era (transition to color, hays code implemented) Some directors, most of these directors influenced many american new wave and contemporary filmmakers: frank capra, nicholas ray, billy wilder, john huston, william wyler, joseph l mankiewicz, elia kazan, alfred hitchcock, michael curtiz, howard hawks, irving rapper, sydney kramer, george cukor, preston sturges, otto preminger, stanley donen, gegory la cava, douglas sirk, john ford, david lean, fred zinnemann, etc.
  • 1967-1980s - American New Wave/New Hollywood (hays code replaced by the mppa ratings, the american new wave died with blockbuster success.) Some directors: bob fosse, francis ford coppola, martin scorsese, dennis hopper, mike nichols, george lucas, terrence malick, roman polanski, sydney pollack, sidney lumet, brian de palma, clint eastwood, john cassavetes, peter bogdanovich, alan pakula, stanley kubrick, norman jewison, woody allen, etc.
  • 1980s- Present - Contemporary cinema Some directors who started working post-american new wave: paul thomas anderson, jim jarmusch, jane champion, christopher nolan, danny boyle david fincher, tim burton, quentin tarantino, wim wenders, etc.

No they can’t ALL be labeled as one because they are VERY different. You’ll see hollywood has changed a lot through history but now a days contemporary cinema is divided in categories, back in the 40s and 50s people were trying to make movies for all audiences, children, men, women, middle aged, elderly, married, unmarried, etc, they tried to get all the demographics in one movie, the death of that concept came with the end of the hays code, filmmakers made edgier films which weren’t all audience friendly, and that marked the appearance of the mppa rating system appeared. Now a days is called contemporary cinema from the 80s to 2010s, and films are categorized in genre and demographics, we have YA adaptations for teens, blockbusters, middle aged people films, etc. There’s a few family friendly films but it isn’t as popular to make family friendly films now a days. In the 90s the Independent Cinema industry started rising so the movies we see now a days don’t exactly FIT in a specific category because they don’t have a quality in common besides release date/year/decade. Movies from the silent era were all silent, pre-codes were edgy and sharp, classic films are movies made with the hays code implemented, the american new wave was fresh, fun, young, vibrant and people loved it. People just refer as movies made after the american new wave as contemporary hollywood or just refer to the decade.

This is hollywood only I am not including ANY foreign movement here.

Loretta Young, 1938, by Laszlo Willinger

Loretta Young is an interesting example of one of the ways in which the popular and lively stars of the Pre-Code Era adapted to the strict enforcement of the Hays Code. Like Norma Shearer, she shed her earlier image as a  free soul, an independent woman making her way in the world, to become instead a great lady of the cinema, playing historical figures or aristocrats. Shearer ruled MGM until 1940 and Loretta Young became a similar presence for Twentieth Century-Fox.

Other stars like Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Crawford continued with the same gritty portrayals of woman fighting off marauding men and striving for dignity and self-respect, but they adjusted their portrayals to fit the moral strictures of the Code. Comedy stars - Miriam Hopkins, Carole Lombard, Jean Harlow - seemed to have an easier time of it. The jokes and situations were cleaned up while the actors could maintain the same personas that had made them famous.