Tag Archives: Pre-Code

TCM Film Fest 2015: Don’t Bet on Women

Jeanette MacDonald is mostly remembered for her series of light operettas with Nelson Eddy, and for slightly more adventurous classic film fans, for her series of Pre-Code musical comedies with Maurice Chevalier and Ernst Lubitsch. That doesn’t always stand her in good stead, since her particular brand of coloratura soprano singing phased out of mainstream popularity by the 1960s. I’m still a fan of her musicals, but I’m the first to admit they aren’t for everyone. It was a particular joy, then, to hear of Don’t Bet on Women, which is one of MacDonald’s very few non-musical roles, and quite a rousing Pre-Code as well.

Pre-Codes fascinate me not only because they tend to be more risque and innuendo-filled than films either earlier or later, but because the combination of nearly unrestrained sexuality and a society still bound to a great degree by traditional mores often yields films with a very conflicted view of masculinity, femininity, and gender roles. Don’t Bet on Women, aka All Women Are Bad (you can see where we’re headed here), starts off with Roger Fallon (Edmund Lowe) swearing off women following a tender scene where his ex-wife convinces him to pay her a generous allowance since she doesn’t want to make her new husband go to the trouble of, like, working. He and his buddy Chip decide to take a boys-only cruise.

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The Roundup: January 21

Definitely been a while since I managed to put one of these together! But I’m settling back into my blog-reading routine now and finding things I want to share, so I’m going to try to get this series back on track a bit. Can’t guarantee how steady, comprehensive or long-lasting it’ll be, but I shall try to be optimistic.

Featured Links

A Hobbit is Chubby, But is He Off-Balance? by Kristin Thompson at Observations on Film Art

Kristin Thompson, who has written a whole book already about the Lord of the Rings films from a marketing and merchandising standpoint (The Frodo Franchise) and is currently in the middle of writing a book about Tolkein in general, gives an astute look at the additions made to Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit. She stands pretty much where I do in terms of appreciating the additions and the way Jackson has molded The Hobbit to fit with his LotR trilogy, but she does bring up some good points regarding the balance of the film in terms of action scenes vs. quiet scenes and how the Azog subplot potentially affects that.

Danny Kaye at 100 by Terry Towles Canote at A Shroud of Thoughts

Danny Kaye’s 100th birthday would’ve been just a few days ago, and Terry Towles Canote takes the opportunity to celebrate this consummate entertainer – as accomplished at singing and dancing as he was at comedy, and even able to turn in solid dramatic performances as needed. There are several Kaye films I love (especially The Court Jester, White Christmas, and Hans Christian Andersen), but there are more I need to see, for sure, and Canote takes us briskly through his life and career.

Marilyn, The Master, and Melancholia by Kim Morgan at Sunset Gun

Kim Morgan writes about Marilyn Monroe better than almost anyone else I’ve ever read, and here she ties Marilyn in with The Master a little bit, but largely with Melancholia, identifying a deep affinity between Marilyn’s struggle with depression and self-worth with that of Justine in Lars von Trier’s film. I’ve heard many people, especially women, denounce von Trier for his treatment of women in his film, but I find myself much more attuned to Morgan’s viewpoint, which is that von Trier is hardly a sadistic misogynist, but is rather one of the greatest directors of women the world of cinema has ever seen. But she expresses it much better than I do.

Top 15 Ten Male and Female Performances of 2012 by Alex Withrow of And So It Begins

Alex runs down his Top 15 performances from both men and women this year, and they’re both really solid lists. Several of the films I still need to catch up with (Rust and Bone most obviously – especially since I’m a huge Marion Cotillard fan), but of the films I have seen, I can hardly disagree with any of his picks.

Scandal on Film: Illicit, Forbidden, and Baby Face by Lara of Backlots

Lara takes on three Barbara Stanwyck Pre-Code films, one from 1931, one from 1932, and one from 1933, and charts the attempts to censor them in the days before the Hollywood Production Code was enforced – who raised outcries and against what specific content. She also looks at each film in and of itself and Stanwyck’s roles. I’ve see Baby Face, but still need to catch up with the other two. Maybe this will spur me to get on with that.

The Most Anticipated Films of 2013 Lists

A ton of these lists have been showing up recently, and so far every one has pointed out films that I didn’t even know were in the works! So my own list of most-anticipated will have to wait until I process some of these other, better-informed ones. It looks like it could be a very good year. Of course, I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I will not be able to see most 2013 films in the theatre, my preferred way of viewing, but I hope to have a solid DVD year eventually at home with baby by my side. Here’s a few lists I’ve enjoyed so far:
Love & Squalor’s 35 Most Anticipated Films of 2103 (Part 1 and Part 2)
Kevyn Knox’s 25 or So Most Anticipated Films of 2013
The Playlist’s Most Anticipated of 2013
Indiewire’s 50 Indie Films We Want to See in 2013
Film School Reject’s 52 Most Anticipated Movies of 2013
David Hudson’s Most Promising Films of 2013, which also includes links to many other such lists

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