"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
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-- Federico Fellini
Oct 302015

Pre-Code Hollywood

warner-archive-10-30-15FORBIDDEN HOLLYWOOD, VOLUME 9 (1932-34) Return to those naughty days of yesteryear in this ninth volume of Forbidden Hollywood, containing a quartet of pre-Code wonders plus a special post-Code bonus film! Joan Blondell stars as a free-wheeling chorus girl who hooks up with the ultimate hick (Eric Linden) in Mervyn LeRoy’s Big City Blues (with a young Humphrey Bogart!). Richard Dix stars as one cool convict working the road crew for a corrupt warden in Rowland Brown’s Hell’s Highway. Bette Davis utters the immortal “I’d love to kiss you, but I just washed my hair” to Richard Barthelmess in Michael Curtiz’s Cabin in the Cotton. Myrna Loy stars as a writer with extra-marital designs in Harry Beaumont’s When Ladies Meet. Finally, pre-Code favorites Pat O’Brien and Ann Dvorak spice up the proceedings in the tale of a Second Avenue auctioneer (O’Brien) who gets played by a society grifter (Claire Dodd) in Robert Florey’s I Sell Anything.


Classic Comedy

THE CHIEF (1934) Radio and stage comedy king, “The Perfect Fool” Ed Wynn makes a rare foray into film with this local mook makes good tale set in the mighty Bowery. When the decidedly un-manly son of a heroic fire chief mistakenly follows in his pater’s footsteps, he goes from humiliated clerk to bear wrestling political candidate virtually overnight. With Dorothy Mackaill and William Boyd.

IT’S IN THE AIR (1935) Jack Benny and Ted Healy star as Calvin Churchill and Clip McGurk, a pair of fast living, faster talking con artists who can fix everything from the ponies to the palookas, but can’t fix their own lives. Calvin wishes to go straight – and straight back to his ex (Una Merkel). Unfortunately a rather large roadblock is twisting the road – a dogged IRS agent (Nat Pendleton) and the pair must use all their hot air in a big balloon swindle.

MAN-PROOF (1938) Myrna Loy is center square in a love quadrangle surrounded by some truly superlative support by no less than Rosalind Russell, Walter Pidgeon, and Franchot Tone. And with a foursome like that, we would probably be entertained by a 75 minute contract bridge game but luckily we have as frothy an example of light MGM romantic comedy as one could hope for. Myrna plays blindsided bridesmaid when the man she thought she landed (Pidgeon) trades rings with another (Russell). When said groom announces his intention to still be friends, jilted lady is determined to make them something more – morality be damned. Franchot Tone is stuck as the avuncular friend, forced to play Jiminy Cricket. Directed by Richard Thorpe.

HOTEL PARADISO (1966) Belle Époque sex farce meets swinging sixties comedy in this film adaptation of director Peter Glenville’s stage smash. Alec Guinness recreates his stage role in this adaptation of a play by Georges Feydeau and Maurice Desvallieres. Guinness plays henpecked bourgeois gentleman, Benedict Boniface, who dreams of a tryst with his lovely, Italian neighbor, Marcelle Cot (Gina Lollobrigida). When Marcelle takes umbrage with her husband (Robert Morley) overnight “work” trip, Benedict plies his troth and meets with success. An assignation is set for the original no-tell hotel, Hotel Paradiso, but it appears to be an appointment most of Paris has – and Marcelle’s husband – has also made. And meanwhile, Feydeau (Peter Glenville) watches all.

NOTE: These DVDs are Manufactured on Demand (MOD); to order, fans must visit The Warner Archive Collection, WB Shop.com, Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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