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Befade
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:27 am Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 3637 Location: AZ
I've started watching Forbidden Hollywood, 2. Wow! I love Norma Shearer in The Divorcee'. Especially when she said, "I balanced our accounts." (I have a bad memory and I'm not sure that's exactly it.....but it's her statement about how since her husband cheated on her and it didn't mean anything......she cheated on him to even things out.

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Syd
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:06 am Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12535 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
She's very good in that film, and even better in A Free Soul (and Let Us Be Gay, too).

Odd thing: Norma Shearer won her Oscar for The Divorcee, which was certainly not a bad choice, but she's better in A Free Soul, which she was nominated for and lost to Marie Dressler in Min and Bill. Dressler was considerably better in Emma the next year, and lost to Helen Hayes. Makes me wonder what Helen Hayes did the next year.

I think she says "I settled our accounts." That whole sequence (from when her husband arrives home and thinks everything's okay, and doesn't notice his wife is avoiding his touch) is one of the great scenes in film history, and the best in the film.

Shearer's someone who people need to see in her pre-Code films. She could be pretty good later on, but she's an entirely different actress in the pre-Code period, and really was one of the best. She's the only actress I've seen who could hold her own against Marie Dressler, who was the best of the pre-Code era (even if you don't think of Dressler as pre-Code, that was her heyday).


Last edited by Syd on Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:37 am; edited 5 times in total

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Nancy
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:25 am Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 4607 Location: Norman, OK
Yes, it's a great scene, and that collection is very good. It (and vol. 1, which I also have) got me watching more precodes, and more Norma Shearer movies. I had no idea she could be so good.

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Isaacism, 2009
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Syd
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:42 am Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12535 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
My favorite Shearer moment is in A Free Soul, when she turns her head and sees Clark Gable for the first time. It's like hitting someone between the eyes with a baseball bat.

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Befade
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:23 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 3637 Location: AZ
Syd and Nancy........I feel like I've arrived........having you validate my experience. If she's better in A Free Soul I've got some work to do. Thanks!

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Nancy
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:46 pm Reply with quote
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Seeing actresses like Norma Shearer and Barbara Stanwyck in these precodes has been quite a revelation, and has given me a new appreciation for them. The same applies to actors like Chester Morris and Robert Montgomery. Their performances seem so much better in these early films. They certainly play more interesting characters than in some of their later films.

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Isaacism, 2009
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Befade
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:49 pm Reply with quote
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I've always liked Barbara Stanwyck.......but Norma Shearer......I had no idea how astounding she was!

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Nancy
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:04 pm Reply with quote
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Shearer really is something. Before we started this forum, I had only seen her code period films. She's good in The Women (which Syd still needs to see), but she's fantastic in some of the precodes. I rather like her in Let Us Be Gay (hard to find, but worth it) where she starts out as a frumpy, dithery housewife. She changes completely after finding out her husband has a mistress. When her husband sees her some time after their divorce (and after she has spruced herself up) he is stunned, and shocked that she's interested in any man but him.

(Correction: I really should have said "every man but him.")


Last edited by Nancy on Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:29 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Nancy
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:10 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 4607 Location: Norman, OK
Another actress to watch for is Ruth Chatterton. Her movie Female is also in Forbidden Hollywood 2. She plays the head to an automotive company who uses the corporate equivalent of the casting couch on her male employees. She is also quite good in Frisco Jenny, which TCM is showing tomorrow.

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Isaacism, 2009
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Nancy
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:33 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 4607 Location: Norman, OK
Syd wrote:
Odd thing: Norma Shearer won her Oscar for The Divorcee, which was certainly not a bad choice, but she's better in A Free Soul, which she was nominated for and lost to Marie Dressler in Min and Bill. Dressler was considerably better in Emma the next year, and lost to Helen Hayes. Makes me wonder what Helen Hayes did the next year.


Hayes did A Farewell to Arms, and was pretty good, as I recall.

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Isaacism, 2009
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Joe Vitus
Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:41 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 14498 Location: Houston
I have the same recall.

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gromit
Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:06 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8595 Location: Shanghai
Nancy wrote:
Another actress to watch for is Ruth Chatterton. Her movie Female is also in Forbidden Hollywood 2. She plays the head to an automotive company who uses the corporate equivalent of the casting couch on her male employees. She is also quite good in Frisco Jenny, which TCM is showing tomorrow.


I wasn't that impressed with Chatterton in Frisco Jenny. Her acting seems a bit forced and calculated. It is a pretty good film, maintaining a brisk pace. I liked the female gangster story, but the family melodrama was a little silly.

On Vol. 3, I really liked Midnight Mary, with a 19 year old Loretta Young sizzling up the screen. Again a pretty fast-paced rip-roaring story. But Young pulls off the quick switches between cynical moll and innocent working girl with flair.

And that's one of the interesting aspects of the Code films. Many center on a young looker who starts off innocent and makes one mistake (baby out-of-wedlock after her sweetheart dies in the SF earthquake in Jenny; unwittingly being a lookout on a robbery in Mary) and then bad breaks and society won't allow them to make an honest living, so they fall in with 30's-era vice (gangsters, bootleggers and gamblers).

The tensions between being a good girl and hanging with gangsters is palpable in many -- with The Purchase Price featuring Stanwyck going from a jaded nightclub singer and kept mistress of a gangster to the opposite extreme, becoming a North Dakota farmer's wife (where her past still finds her).
Part of the fun and intrigue of Midnight Mary is contained in the number of times, and attendant reasons, that Loretta Young crosses back and forth between good and bad.

It's worth noting how the leading women try to control their lives, but remain fairly reliant on men no matter if they have flipped to the bad side or try to go straight.

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Nancy
Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:41 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 4607 Location: Norman, OK
The copy of Forbidden Hollywood 3 that I pre-ordered has been shipped, and may get here by Thursday. I can't wait!

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Isaacism, 2009
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gromit
Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:09 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8595 Location: Shanghai
Sorry to hear that you are so far off the pace.

Just watched Other Men's Women (1931) off Vol. 3.
Not really much pre-codery.
A love triangle develops when a railroad engineer falls for his colleague's wife. They just share one kiss, with nothing more suggested, and then break it off. But melodrama ensues when the hubby gets suspicious. There's also a racy line or two from Joan Blondell.

And while Grant Withers is quite likable as the free-spirited lead, Blondell and Cagney steal the show in their small supporting roles. The other main players, Mary Astor and Regis Toomey as the married couple, suffer from underwritten roles and a lack of charisma.

I thought the first 15 minutes of this film was great. From the lively opening scene with trains, to a comically stuttering landlady, and the lead's signature offer of chewing gum. Withers and Blondell have some nice chemistry. But things slow down when Mary Astor appears. There's some nice shooting within the railyard. But towards the end there are at least one or two extremely silly moments.

I'd advise after watching the film to go back and re-watch the first 15 minutes or so, up until they enter the married couple's house.


Last edited by gromit on Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:29 pm; edited 1 time in total

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mo_flixx
Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:20 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 30 May 2004 Posts: 12533
I recommended "Dodsworth" w/ Walter Huston, Mary Astor, and Ruth Chatterton a few months ago. It's a very pre-Code post-code. The only evidence of post-code were twin beds, IMO.
Ruth Chatterton (Mrs. Dodsworth) plays around on Dodsworth (W. Huston) on their grand trip to Europe and finally leaves him. He takes up with the cosmopolitan Mary Astor. All seems very adult with these menages until Mrs. Dodsworth decides to ask Huston to reconcile.
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