Tag Archives: pre code era

I Cover the Waterfront (1933)

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Pre Code Hollywood Season: FD Cinematheque

I Cover the Waterfront (1933)

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Director: James Cruze

Cast: Ben Lyon, Claudette Colbert, Ernest Torrence, Hobart Cavanaugh, Maurice Black, Purnell Platt, Harry Beresford, Wilfred Lucas,  Rosita Marstini

75 min

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I Cover the Waterfront is a 1933 American Pre-Code romantic drama film directed by James Cruze and starring Ben LyonClaudette ColbertErnest Torrence, and Hobart Cavanaugh.

Based on the book of the same name by Max Miller, the film is about a reporter who investigates a waterfront smuggling operation, and becomes romantically involved with the daughter of the man he is investigating.

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San Diego Standard reporter H. Joseph Miller (Ben Lyon) has been covering the city’s waterfront for the past five years and is fed up with the work. He longs to escape the waterfront life and land a newspaper job back East so he can marry his Vermont sweetheart. Miller is frustrated by the lack of progress of his current assignment investigating the smuggling of Chinese people into the country by a fisherman named Eli Kirk (Ernest Torrence). One morning after wasting a night tracking down bad leads, his editor at the Standard orders him to investigate a report of a girl swimming naked at the beach. There he meets Julie Kirk (Claudette Colbert), the daughter of the man he’s been investigating.

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Meanwhile, Eli Kirk and his crew are returning to San Diego with a Chinese passenger when the Coast Guard approaches. Not wanting to be caught with evidence of his smuggling operation, Kirk orders his men to weigh down the Chinaman and lower him overboard to his death. The Coast Guard, accompanied by Miller, board the boat but find nothing. The next day, Miller discovers the Chinaman’s body which was carried in with the tide, and takes it as evidence to his editor, who still remains skeptical of Kirk’s guilt. To get conclusive evidence, Miller tells him he plans to romance Kirk’s daughter Julie in order to break the smuggling operation.

When Kirk returns, he informs Julie that they will need to move on soon—maybe to Singapore—as soon as he can put together enough money for the voyage. One night, Julie discovers her father drunk at a boarding house. Miller, who was there investigating Kirk, helps Julie take her father home. Julie does not discourage Miller’s flirtations, and during the next few weeks they fall in love. She is able to help Miller see the beauty of the waterfront, and inspires him to improve the novel he’s been working for the past five years. While visiting an old Spanish galleon on a date, he playfully restrains her in a torture rack and kisses her passionately—and she returns his passion.

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Julie and Miller spend a romantic evening together on the beach, where she reveals that she and her father will be sailing away in the next few days. After spending the night in Miller’s apartment, Julie announces the next morning that she’s decided to stay, hoping that he will stay with her. When Miller learns from her that her father is due to dock at the Chinese settlement that night, he notifies the Coast Guard. At the dock, while the Coast Guard searches the vessel, Miller discovers a Chinaman hidden inside a large shark. When the Coast Guard attempt to arrest Kirk, he flees the scene but is wounded during his escape.

The next morning, Miller’s breaking story is published on the Standard’s front page. When a wounded Kirk makes his way back home, Julie learns that it was Miller who helped the Coast Guard uncover her father’s smuggling operation (of which she was unaware), and that she unknowingly revealed to him his landing location. Soon after, Miller, feeling guilty over the story’s impact to Julie’s life, arrives at her home and apologizes for the hurt he’s caused her, and announces that he loves her. Feeling used by his actions, an angry Julie sends him away.

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Later that night, Miller locates Kirk, who shoots him in the arm. Julie arrives to help her father escape, and seeing Miller wounded, she tells her father she cannot leave Miller to die. Seeing that she loves him, Kirk helps her take Miller to safety, after which Kirk dies. Later from his hospital bed, Miller acknowledges in his newspaper column that Kirk saved his life before he died. Sometime later, Miller returns to his apartment, where Julie is waiting to greet him. Noticing that she cleaned and transformed his place into a cozy home, he tells her he finally wrote the ending to his novel, “He marries the girl”. Julie acknowledges, “That’s a swell finish”, and the two embrace.

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Rights to the novel were bought by Edward Small and his partner Harry Goets in 1932. They made it through the Reliance Picture Corporation as the first of a six-film deal with United Artists.[2] Reliance co-produced the film with Joseph Schenck’s Art Cinema Corporation.[1]


I Cover the Waterfront was filmed from mid-February to early March 1933.[1]


The film’s title song, “I Cover the Waterfront“, appears in the film only as an instrumental.[3] Written by Johnny Green and Edward Heyman, the song went on to become a jazz standard recorded by many artists, including Billie HolidayLouis ArmstrongFrank SinatraThe Ink Spots, and Ella Fitzgerald, among others.[4]

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Critical response

In his review for The New York Times, film critic Mordaunt Hall called the film “a stolid and often grim picture”.[5] While Hall felt the drama was not as good as some of director James Cruze’s previous work, the “clever acting of the principals”—especially that of Ernest Torrence—offset some of the film’s shortcomings.[5]

Hall found some of the scenes “more shocking than suspenseful” and felt a broader adaptation of Max Miller’s book may have been more interesting than the focus on the melodramatic series of incidents related to a sinister fisherman.[5]

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While acknowledging that “Colbert does well as Julie”, Hall did not find her convincing as a fisherman’s daughter because she does not look the type.[5] Hall reserved his highest praise for Ernest Torrence in his final screen performance.[5] Torrence died on May 15, 1933, shortly after the film was completed.

John Mosher of The New Yorker described the adaptation as a “commonplace screen romance,” but also praised the performance of the late Torrence, writing that he “was at the height of his power … One can foresee that many pictures will be empty things for lack of him.”[6] Variety called it “a moderately entertaining picture … The late Ernest Torrence has the meat part and his performance is in keeping with the standard he had set for himself. A pretty tough assignment they gave him, one in which it was necessary to capture sympathy in face of the worst sort of opposition from the script. He’ll be sorely missed on the screen.”[7]

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I Cover the Waterfront was remade in 1961 by Edward Small as Secret of Deep Harbor.[3]

See also


  1. Jump up to:a b c “I Cover the Waterfront”American Film Institute. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  2. Jump up^ Babcock, Muriel (September 24, 1932). “Notable Novel to be Filmed”. The New York Times. p. A7.
  3. Jump up to:a b “I Cover the Waterfront: Notes”. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  4. Jump up^ “I Cover the Waterfront”. Discogs. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d e Hall, Mordaunt (May 18, 1933). “The Late Ernest Torrence in His Last Picture…”The New York Times. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  6. Jump up^ Mosher, John (May 27, 1933). “The Current Cinema”. The New Yorker. New York: F-R Publishing Corp. p. 49.
  7. Jump up^ “I Cover the Waterfront”. Variety. New York: Variety, Inc. May 23, 1933. p. 15.

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White Woman (1933)

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White Woman (1933)

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Director: Stuart Walker

Cast: Carole Lombard, Charles Laughton, Charles Bickford, Kent Taylor,  Percy Kilbride, James Bell, Charles Middleton, Claude King, Ethel Griffies

68 min

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White Woman is a 1933 American pre-Code drama film directed by Stuart Walker and starring Carole LombardCharles Laughton, and Charles Bickford.[1] A young widow remarries and accompanies her husband to his remote jungle rubber plantation. The film was based on the Broadway play Hangman’s Whip by Norman Reilly Raine and Frank Butler.[2]

One of hundreds of Paramount films held in limbo by Universal Studios. Universal gained ownership of Paramount features produced between 1929 and 1949. Paramount remade the film in 1939 as Island of Lost Men, with Anna May WongJ. Carrol Naish and Broderick Crawford in the roles originated by Lombard, Laughton and Bickford. It was directed by Kurt Neumann.[3]

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Judith Denning, a beautiful cafe singer in Malay, has been forced to leave town after town because of gossip that says her husband’s suicide was on account of her infidelity. Upright British lawyer C. M. Chisholm accuses Judith of being a “loose white woman” who is tempting the natives and forces her to leave town by getting her fired.

Horace H. Prin, “King of the Jungle,” then offers to marry her. Prin takes Judith to his jungle home on the river, where he has been running a trading outfit for twenty years. Prin’s white management crew consists largely of criminal exiles whose secret pasts he uses as leverage to get them to remain under his ruthless tyranny.

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When Hambly, who runs a station up the river, insists that the poor diet Prin has been feeding the native workers is breeding insurrection among them, Prin has him killed. Overseer David von Elst, who has not seen a white woman in ten years, quickly falls in love with Judith. A month after Judith’s arrival, she and David decide to run away, but when they confront Prin, he refuses to give them a boat and sends David up the river to take Hambly’s place at Gubar.

David, meanwhile, has told Judith he deserted his regiment after natives decapitated his partner and threw his head through David’s window. Since then he has lacked the courage to fight Prin and return to society. Ballister, the new tough overseer, then arrives and immediately asks Judith for a “tumble,” undaunted by Prin’s eccentric tyranny. When two tribal chiefs request the right to deal with other traders, Prin foolishly refuses them, and they prepare for war against him.

The natives kill Connors, one of Prin’s men, and throw his head through David’s window, after which David finally regains his nerve and travels through the dangerous jungle to warn Judith. David and Judith prepare to leave, but Prin drains their boat of gas. Ballister, sympathetic to the lovers, warns them to take another boat. When Prin shoots his pet baby ape, “Duke,” Jakey, Prin’s most faithful white servant, throws his machine guns in the river and leaves with David and Judith. Ballister and Prin play poker and drink as the natives approach, armed with spears. After Ballister is killed, Prin declares he is forever king of the jungle and walks out into the onslaught of spears.

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  1. Jump up^ The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1931-40 published by The American Film Institute c.1993
  2. Jump up^ Hangman’s Whip, St. James Theatre, February 24, 1933, IBDb.com; accessed August 5, 2015.
  3. Jump up^ The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1931-40 published by The American Film Institute, c. 1993

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Before Morning (1933)

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Pre Code Hollywood Season: FD Cinematheque

Before Morning (1933)

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Director: Arthur Hoerl

Cast: Leo Carillo, Lora Baxter, Taylor Holmes, Blaine Cordner, Louise Prussing, Russell Hicks, Louis Jean Heydt, Jules Epailly

56 min

Before Morning is a 1933 American Pre-Code crime drama directed by Arthur Hoerl, and starring Leo Carrillo, Lora Baxter, and Taylor Holmes. The film was adapted for the screen by Arthur Hoerl, from the 1933 Broadway play of the same name by Edward and Edna Riley.[1]


Actress Elsie Manning (Lora Baxter) is engaged to Horace Baker (Blaine Cordner), but has also been in a romantic relationship with James Nichols (Russell Hicks) who has named her as the beneficiary in his will. Not knowing about her engagement, Nichols asks his wife for a divorce and is refused. Nichols dies in Manning’s apartment after she tells him she’s engaged to Baker. When Baker arrives on the scene, he agrees to help her dispose of the body by having Nichols moved to a sanitarium. The owner, Dr. Gruelle (Leo Carrillo), tells them Nichols was murdered by poison and attempts to extort money from Manning for his statement that the death was of natural causes. Gruell tries the same scam on the widow of Nichols (Louise Prussing), who eventually agrees when the poison is found in her purse. It is revealed that Gruell is really a corrupt police inspector named Mr. Maitland.[2]

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  1. Before Morning at the Internet Broadway Database
  2. Jump up^ “Before Morning”AFI Catalog of Feature Films. AFI. Retrieved July 20, 2015.

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Lena Rivers (1932)

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Pre Code Hollywood Season: FD Cinematheque

Lena Rivers AKA The Sin Of Lena Rivers (1932)

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Director: Phil Rosen

Cast: Charlotte Henry, Morgan Galloway, Beryl Mercer, James Kirkwood, John St Polis, Betty Blythe, Joyce Compton, Russell Simpson, Clarence Muse, The Kentucky Singers

67 min

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Lena Rivers, aka The Sin of Lena Rivers, is a 1932 American pre-Code drama film directed by Phil Rosen based on the 1856 novel by Mary Jane Holmes. Filmed on several occasions throughout the silent era.[1]


Lena Rivers’ mother dies in childbirth, and the child is left to be reared by her grandparents. Years later, her grandfather is reported lost at sea, and Lena and her grandmother go to live in Canterville, Kentucky with John Nichols, Lena’s uncle, despite the objections of John’s wife Mathilda and his daughter Caroline, who think that Lena is illegitimate.

Henry R. Graham, the owner of the plantation next to the Nichols’, seems bothered when he meets Lena. One day, Lena plays with a bunny on the Graham property, and she is horrified when Graham’s ward, Durrie Belmont, shoots it. Although she calls him a murderer, Durrie, who is courting Caroline, becomes attracted to Lena.

Graham takes a personal interest in Lena because she reminds him of a woman with whom he was in love, but who died while he was away, believing he had deserted her. When Lena shows a gift for calming the excitable horse Brimstone, Graham gives her the horse. After Graham introduces her to Durrie, the boy promises never to shoot another bunny and walks her home. Graham throws a party at his manor, but Lena does not come because she does not have a fancy dress, so Durrie goes to her house.

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They take a walk, and he kisses her before she goes in. Caroline sees them together and calls Lena an “ungrateful sneak,” then says she takes after her mother, who never married. Lana slaps her and runs crying to her grandmother, who assures her that her mother was married, but that her father left her to die. Graham enters Brimstone in the races for Lena because she has made astonishing progress with the previously unmanageable horse.

When Lena’s grandmother has an attack, Graham, worried about the effect her possible death might have on Lena, mentions to Durrie that he would like to adopt her. Durrie’s jealousy is aroused, as Caroline had earlier implied that Graham and Lena were having an illicit affair. In reality, Graham is Lena’s father. He had married her mother in secret because of his tyrant father, using his middle name “Rivers” as their surname.

His father “shanghaied” Graham to Europe, and when he returned, he learned that his wife had died. Until Lena recently appeared, he had been unaware that he had a daughter. Brimstone wins the race, and Lena is awarded $5,000, but Durrie discovers that Graham told the jockey of his competing horse to let Brimstone win.

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Still unaware of Graham’s real relationship to Lena, Durrie, jealous, angry and drunk, proposes to Caroline, who agrees to marry him. Lena’s grandmother dies after realizing that Lena now has enough money to support herself. Shaken by the death, Lena learns about Durrie and Caroline’s elopement and leaves town to make a new life for herself elsewhere after forgiving Graham, who has revealed his secret to her.

Meanwhile, Durrie drives recklessly and his car goes over an embankment. When Graham finds out that Durrie and Caroline are in the hospital, he sends for Lena. While Caroline flirts with a doctor, Durrie learns that Graham is Lena’s father and leaves the hospital to find her and marry her. He gets into a car to find Lena inside, and they hug and kiss.

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  1. Jump up^ The AFI Catalog of Feature Films:..Lena Rivers

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Millie (1931)

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Millie (1931)

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Director: John Francis Dillon

Cast: Helen Twelvetrees, Lilyan Tashman, Robert Ames, James Hall, John Halliday, Joan Blondell, Anita Louise, Edmund Breese, Frank McHugh, Charlote Walker, Franklin Parker, Marie Astaire, Carmelita Geraghty

85 min

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Millie (1931) is a pre-Code drama film directed by John Francis Dillon from a screenplay by Charles Kenyon and Ralph Morgan, based on a novel of the same name by Donald Henderson Clarke. The film was an independent production by Charles R. Rogers, distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, after their acquisition of Pathé Exchange. It starred Helen Twelvetrees in one of her best roles, with a supporting cast which included Lilyan TashmanJames HallJoan BlondellJohn Halliday and Anita Louise.


Millie (Helen Twelvetrees) is a naive young woman who marries a wealthy man from New York, Jack Maitland (James Hall). Three years later, unhappy in her marriage due to her husband’s continued infidelity, she asks for and receives a divorce. Because of her pride, she does not want his money, but she also does not want to deprive her daughter of a comfortable lifestyle. She allows Jack and his mother (Charlotte Walker) to retain custody of Millie’s daughter Connie (Anita Louise).

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Focusing on her career, she rises through the hierarchy of the hotel where she is employed, shunning the attention of the rich banker Jimmy Damier (John Halliday), preferring the attentions of the reporter Tommy Rock (Robert Ames), although, due to her prior sour relationship, she refuses to marry him. Eventually, Millie is promoted to the head of operations for the hotel.

At the same time, Tommy is offered a lucrative position at the bank by Damier as a favor to Millie. However, at the celebration party, Millie discovers that Tommy, just like Maitland, is cheating on her.

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Betrayed a second time, Millie becomes very bitter. With her female cohorts, Helen and Angie (Lilyan Tashman and Joan Blondell, respectively), she becomes a woman who loves a good time, floating from man to man. This goes on for several years, until she hears that Damier has taken an interest in her teen-age daughter, Connie, who bears a striking resemblance to her.

Millie warns Damier to leave her daughter alone, but, although he promises to stay away from Connie, he ignores Millie’s warning and takes Connie to a remote lodge to seduce her. Millie is tipped off, goes to the lodge with a gun, confronts Jimmy and kills him.

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In the ensuing murder trial, Millie tries to keep her daughter’s name out of the press and claims not to remember why she shot Jimmy. She says that another woman ran out of the lodge after the shot, but claims that she did not see who the woman was and has no idea as to her identity.

The prosecution thus claims that Millie’s motive was jealousy of Jimmy’s romantic relationship with this unknown other woman. Millie’s friends, however, help to bring out the truth, and when the jury finds out that Millie’s true motive was to protect her daughter from Jimmy’s lascivious intentions, they acquit her. In the end, Millie is reunited with her daughter and her estranged husband’s family.

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(Cast as per AFI‘s database)[2]

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Donald Henderson Clarke finished his novel, Millie, during summer 1930.[4] The novel was first offered to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who passed on it due to its racy content.[5] In August of that year, it was reported that Charles R. Rogers had purchased the film rights to the novel, and had signed Charles Kenyon to adapt it into a screenplay, as well as selecting John Francis Dillon to direct.[6]

Although Rogers had signed an agreement to distribute his independent films through RKO, it was reported that he would be overseeing the production on the Universal lot.[7] Even though he was incorrectly identified as “Ralph Murphy”, Ralph Morgan was signed to collaborate with Kenyon on the screenplay adaptation in September.[8]

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Less than a week later, Helen Twelvetrees signed on for the titular role;[9] and it was reported that the screenplay adaptation had been completed.[5] Rogers would choose Ernest Haller to shoot the film and sign him for the project in the beginning of October.[10]

In January RKO announced the film would be released in February,[11] and it was released on February 8, 1931.[2]

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The film was an independent production by Charles Rogers, but became the property of RKO when he agreed to become their production chief.[12]

The theme song, “Millie”, had words and music by Nacio Herb Brown.[2]

In 1959, the film entered the public domain in the USA due to the copyright claimants failure to renew the copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.[13]

The film’s tagline was “Torn From Her Arms … Child Of Love A Woman Can Give But Once.”[1]

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  1. Jump up to:a b “Millie: Technical Details”. theiapolis.com. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  2. Jump up to:a b c d e f g “Millie: Detail View”. American Film Institute. Archived from the original on September 20, 2015. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  3. Jump up to:a b “Millie, Credits”. Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  4. Jump up^ Daly, Phil M. (April 17, 1930). “Along the Rialto”The Film Daily. p. 5.
  5. Jump up to:a b “Rogers Chances “Millie””Variety. September 24, 1930. p. 5.
  6. Jump up^ “Hollywood Flashes”The Film Daily. August 30, 1930. p. 3.
  7. Jump up^ “Don Clarke’s Story To Be First Rogers Film”Motion Picture News. August 23, 1930. p. 26.
  8. Jump up^ “Hollywood Activities”The Film Daily. September 21, 1930. p. 29.
  9. Jump up^ “Hollywood Happenings”The Film Daily. September 24, 1930. p. 6.
  10. Jump up^ Wilk, Ralph (October 12, 1930). “A Little from “Lots””The Film Daily. p. 4.
  11. Jump up^ “”Cimarron” and “Millie” Releases”The Film Daily. January 22, 1931. p. 3.
  12. Jump up^ Jewell, Richard B.; Harbin, Vernon (1982). The RKO Story. New York: Arlington House. p. 32. ISBN 0-517-546566.
  13. Jump up^ Pierce, David (June 2007). “Forgotten Faces: Why Some of Our Cinema Heritage Is Part of the Public Domain”. Film History: An International Journal19 (2): 125–43. ISSN 0892-2160JSTOR 25165419OCLC 15122313doi:10.2979/FIL.2007.19.2.125. See Note #60, pg. 143.

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Applause (1929)

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Applause (1929)

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Director: Rouben Mamoulian

Cast: Helen Morgan, Joan Peers, Fuller Mellish Jr., Jack Cameron, Henry Wadsworth, Billie Bernard, Phyllis Bolce, Lotta Burnell, Alice Clayton, Florence Dickinson

80 min

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Applause is a 1929 black-and-white backstage musical talkie, shot at Paramount’s Astoria Studios in Astoria, New York, during the early years of sound films. The film is notable as one of the few films of its time to break free from the restrictions of bulky sound technology equipment in order to shoot on location around Manhattan.

Production background

Based on a novel by Beth Brown, the film was staged and directed by Rouben Mamoulian,[1] and stars Helen Morgan, Joan Peers, Henry Wadsworth, and Fuller Mellish, Jr. Mae West was originally considered for the part of Kitty Darling, but Paramount decided West’s glamorous stage presence would undercut the tackier aspects of the storyline.

The National Board of Review named Applause one of the 10 best films of 1929.

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This was Morgan’s first all-talking film. She had previously appeared in the sound prologue to the part-talkie version of Show Boat, released by Universal Studios. In the same year, Morgan appeared in Applause, and Glorifying the American Girl.

In 2006, Applause was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.[2]

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The first scene has a marching band playing Theodore Mentz‘s “A Hot Time in the Old Town“.

The film tells of Kitty Darling (Helen Morgan), a burlesque star, who sends her young daughter to a convent to get her away from the sleazy burlesque environment she is involved in.

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Many years later, Kitty is not doing so well and her best days are behind her. She’s now an alcoholic who lives in the past. She lives with a burlesque comic named Hitch (Fuller Mellish Jr.). Hitch cheats on her and only cares about spending what little money she has. When he finds out she has been paying for her daughter’s convent education for over a decade, he pushes her into bringing April back home.

Her grown, but naive daughter April (Joan Peers) returns. Kitty is embarrassed by her condition and marries Hitch so that April will not be ashamed of her.

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When April arrives, she is disgusted with her mother and her sad life. Hitch tries to force her into show business and repeatedly gropes her, at one point forcing a kiss on her.

April roams the city and meets a lonely young sailor named Tony (Henry Wadsworth). They fall in love and agree to marry and April will move to his home in Wisconsin. When April goes to tell her mother about their plans she overhears Hitch belittling Kitty, calling her a “has-been.”

April is upset and calls off her wedding. She decides to join the chorus line of a burlesque show. She says a reluctant goodbye to Tony at the subway. Meanwhile, Kitty takes an overdose of sleeping pills. The bottle clearly says “For insomnia one tablet only”. She goes downstairs to the show and collapses on a couch.

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Knowing that Kitty cannot perform in the show, the producer berates her, mistaking her reaction to the overdose for delirium tremens. April, also not realizing what is happening, and over Kitty’s objections, says she will take Kitty’s place. She tells Kitty she will take care of her now, like Kitty always did for April. As April goes onstage, Kitty passes away, her head hanging over the edge of the couch.

April is disgusted at herself and cannot complete the show. As she runs off the stage, none other than Tony is there to greet her. He says he had a feeling she did not mean what she was saying. She hugs him close and says she wants to go far away. Not realizing Kitty is dead, she says they will need to take care of her mother too, and Tony agrees.

The final shot is a close-up of the Kitty Darling poster on the wall, behind Tony and April.

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The censor boards approved of the message and production values of the film, but were concerned about a scene in which Kitty told April that two of the chorus girls in the show were Catholic, “as good Catholics as anybody even if they do shake for a living.” The line was changed to “Christians”.

Censors in OhioBritish Columbia, and Worcester, Massachusetts banned the film outright. Many cuts were made for showings in cities such as Chicago, IllinoisProvidence, Rhode Island, and St. Louis, Missouri.

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Critical reception

The film opened to mixed reviews from film critics.

Critic Mordaunt Hall, writing for the New York Times, liked the acting but was troubled by some of Rouben Mamoulian’s direction. He said, “The opening chapters are none too interesting and subsequently one anticipates pretty much what’s going to happen…however, Mr. Mamoulian commits the unpardonable sin of being far too extravagant. He becomes tedious in his scenes of the convent and there is nothing but viciousness in his stage passages.”[3]

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Photoplay described the film as “a curious one,” however recommendable for the performances by Morgan and Joan Peers. The anonymous reviewer, however, thought the two leads, “and some nice camera work, help save a confusing job.”[4]

The Library of Congress says the following about the film:

Many have compared Mamoulian’s debut to that of Orson Welles‘ Citizen Kane because of his flamboyant use of cinematic innovation to test technical boundaries. The tear-jerking plot boasts top performances from Morgan as the fading burlesque queen, Fuller Mellish Jr. as her slimy paramour and Joan Peers as her cultured daughter. However, the film is remembered today chiefly for Mamoulian’s audacious style. While most films of the era were static and stage-bound, Mamoulian’s camera reinvigorated the melodramatic plot by prowling relentlessly through sordid backstage life.[2]

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A recent[when?] review by Manuel Cintra Ferreira highlights the innovative direction and influence on the productions to come:

It is well-known that the arrival of sound brought a revolution in film-making. But (…) the early times were marked by disorientation on how to master the new technique. The cinematographic idiom, having reached a splendorous high by those years, was made to regress almost to its early stages by the demands of the complicated sound machinery, still cameras restricted to the recording of long dialogue declamations in tedious closeups, such that some commentators did not anticipate a sustained future for the “talkies”. Mamoulian’s role in inverting the slippage was profound, eventually making sound and talk an essential element of the narrative in cinema. Applause, his first work in Hollywood, is from the outset an inescapable witness of this process of change, exploring voice off and sound overlay, which, at the time, technicians considered impossible. (…) Applause became (…) the true “first great sound picture in the world”.[citation needed]

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Premiere and box office reception

The film opened strongly on October 7, 1929 at New York City’s Criterion Theatre, which was celebrating its 35th anniversary. Also on hand was a short film in which Charles K. Harris sang his classic song “After the Ball“.

A combination of mixed reviews, misleading advertising (the publicity focused on glamour shots of Helen Morgan, not what she looked like in the film), downbeat subject matter, and the Stock Market Crash caused the movie to taper off significantly as soon as it left the Criterion.

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Revival, restoration, and home video release

  • In 1939, Henry Hathaway nearly remade the film with Marlene DietrichApplause was rediscovered in the early 1960s, and there was talk of a stage musical with Judy Garland as Kitty and Liza Minnelli as April. (The musical Applause, based on the 1950 movie All About Eve, and having absolutely no relation to the 1929 film, opened on March 30, 1970 starring Lauren Bacall.)[5]
  • The film was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive with the original Technicolor sequences.[6]
  • The film was released on DVD in 2003 through Kino Video (under license from current rightsholders Universal Studios). Special features included comments Rouben Mamoulian made for the 1986 50th anniversary of the Directors Guild of America, censorship notes, a 1929 interview with Mamoulian, rare photos and promotional materials, 1933 newsreel footage of Helen Morgan and her second husband, a clip of Morgan singing What Wouldn’t I Do For That Man? in the 1929 musical Glorifying the American Girl, excerpts from the Beth Brown novel, and essays on Morgan and the film, written by Christopher S. Connelly.

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See also


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Topaze (1933)

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Topaze (1933)

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Director: Harry D’Abbadie D’Arrast

Cast: John Barrymore, Myrna Loy, Reginald Mason, Jobyna Howland, Jackie Searl, Albert Conti, Frank Reicher, Luis Alberini, Lowden Adams

78 min

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Topaze is a 1933 American Pre-Code film based on the French play of the same name by Marcel Pagnol. Another film version of Topaze, this one made in the original French was also released that year, starring Louis Jouvet in the title role. Subsequently Pagnol himself directed a 1936 adaptation.


Prof. Auguste A. Topaze (John Barrymore), an honest, naive chemist and schoolteacher at the –  Stegg Academy in Paris, loses his job when he refuses to accede to a demand by the Baroness de La Tour-La Tour to alter the grades of her bratty son, Charlemagne.

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On the same day, Friday the 13th, Topaze calls on the Baron de La Tour-La Tour’s mistress, Coco (Myrna Loy), who is looking for a tutor for her sister’s son, Alphonse, and had gotten Topaze’s name from La Tour. Upon meeting and listening to the sincere remarks of Topaze, the baron, head of the La Tour Chemical Works, decides to employ him as a scientific front for his phony curative water.

After an encounter at a cafe, where the Baron narrowly avoids a scene with his wife by calling Coco “Madame Topaze”, Coco reveals the true nature of her relation to the Baron to the naive Professor. When they arrive late back to Coco’s apartment, the Baron is jealous, but soon realizes Topaze is entirely innocent.

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Unaware that the water, “Sparkling Topaze,” which is being sold all over Paris, does not contain the medicinal formula he invented for it, Topaze is shocked when Dr. Bomb (who had turned down the “honor” of having the fradulent water named for him) shows up, demanding 100,000 francs from the Baron or he will expose the fradulent product. But the Baron blackmails him in return with information about his previous identity, and Bomb is dragged out.

After confirming for himself, in the lab and in a local restaurant, that “Sparkling Topaze” is in fact phony, a dazed Topaze returns to Coco’s apartment the next morning, where Coco fusses over him. At first, he is ready to be arrested, but the men who are shown in are instead a delegation from the Bureau of Awards and Merits, who award him the Academic Palms. All are friends and business associates of the Baron, and the scales begin to fall from Professor Topaze’s eyes.

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His naivete thoroughly destroyed, declaring “Topaze lies dead in an alley”, Topaze decides to fight back by becoming more corrupt than his mentors. He remakes his image and, with Bomb as his assistant, he opens his own office, where he makes dignitaries wait to see him. One is Dr. Stegg, who now wants Topaze to preside at the graduation at the school. Topaze succeeds in blackmailing the Baron into a partnership in his company with a complete account of his relationship with Coco, which he threatens to show to the Baroness, whose name the shares in the company are in.

At the Stegg Academy graduation, Topaze, who has also garnered the romantic attention of Coco, is to distribute the prize, which he is told is to go to his former nemesis, Charlemagne de La Tour-La Tour. He gives a little speech about his experiences in the great world, that honesty isn’t always rewarded and that villainy often receives more applause than virtue. Declaring that he will not reward wrongdoers, he shows up Charlemagne’s ignorance relative to all his classmates, then awards the prize to them instead.

He is last seen escorting Coco into the cinema.

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Topaze won the 1933 National Board of Review Award for Best Film.

Mordaunt Hall said “[I]t is an agreeable and effective film, and Mr. Barrymore lends no little artistry to the rôle of the benign Professor Auguste Topaze, a part played with rare skill on the stage by Frank Morgan.”[1]

In 1935, a planned reissue was rejected by Joseph Breen as the Production Code was now being strictly enforced and the relationship between Coco and Philippe lacked compensating moral values.[2]


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  1. Jump up^ New York Times review by Mordaunt Hall
  2. Jump up^ The Dame in the Kimono by Leonard Leff and Jerold Simmons (Weidenfeld and Nicolson: 1990)

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Ten Cents a Dance (1931)

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Ten Cents a Dance (1931)

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Directors: Lionel Barrymore, Edward Buzzell

Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Ricardo Cortez, Monroe Owsley, Sally Blane, Blanche Friderici, Phyllis Crane, Olive Tell, Victor Potel, Al Hill, Jack Byron

75 min

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Ten Cents a Dance is a 1931 American pre-Code romance-drama film directed by Lionel Barrymore and starring Barbara Stanwyck as a married taxi dancer who falls in love with one of her customers. The film was inspired by the popular song of the same name, which is sung over the title sequence.[1]


A beautiful streetwise taxi dancer named Barbara O’Neill (Barbara Stanwyck) works at a New York City dance hall called Palais de Dance. One of the dance hall’s wealthy patrons, Bradley Carlton (Ricardo Cortez), comes to the hall and gives Barbara $100.

Concerned about her unemployed friend and neighbor Eddie Miller (Monroe Owsley), Barbara asks Bradley to give him a job, and he agrees. That night they have dinner together.

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When Barbara gets home, Eddie is in the process of packing his bags; he can no longer afford to pay his rent. Barbara gives him the $100 she received from Bradley and tells him about his new job. Later, Eddie and Barbara meet in the park and realize that they are in love.

The next night at the dance hall, Barbara receives a gift of a new dress, but is disappointed when she sees that it was sent by Bradley. Eddie arrives at the dance hall and asks Barbara to marry him. Barbara accepts his proposal and soon quits her job.

Five months later, Eddie meets an old friend Ralph Sheridan and his sister Nancy, and does not reveal that he is now married. They play cards together and Eddie loses $240, something he does not tell his wife.

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He claims to be at a convention, but in fact he meets a woman named Nancy. Later, Eddie returns to find the rent and utilities past due because he has spent his pay gambling. Meanwhile, Barbara returns to work at the dance hall, where she sees Bradley occasionally.

Later, Barbara returns home and discovers Eddie packing his bags. Admitting that he stole $5,000 from Bradley’s office safe, he tells her that he lost that money playing the stock market. Barbara is able to talk him into staying, and she visits Bradley and asks him for a $5,000 loan. Bradley agrees because he is in love with her.

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The next morning, Barbara presents the money to Eddie who accepts it immediately. When Eddie returns from work, he and Barbara engage in a jealous fight. Soon after, she packs her belongings and returns to the dance hall, where she is met by Bradley who has two tickets for the Ile de France, where Barbara can obtain a divorce and marry him.

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(Cast list as per AFI‘s database[2])

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  1. Jump up^ Hall, Mordaunt (March 7, 1931). “The $10,000 Kiss. Strange Temperaments. In a Dance Hall. Screen Notes.”The New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  2. Jump up^ “Ten Cents a Dance: Detail View”. American Film Institute. Retrieved December 15, 2014.

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Half Marriage (1929)

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Half Marriage (1929)

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Director: William J Cohen

Cast: Olive Borden, Morgan Farley, Ken Murray, Ann Greenway, Anderson Lawler, Sally Blane, Hedda Hopper, Richard Tucker, Randolph Scott

68 min

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Half Marriage is an American melodramatic Pre-Code film directed by William J. Cohen from a script by Jane Murfin, based on the short story of the same name by George Kibbe Turner.[4] The film starred Olive Borden and Morgan Farley, while the later-famed gossip columnist, Hedda Hopper played Borden’s mother.

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Judy Page is a young society girl who falls in love with an architect who works in her father’s architectural firm, Dick Carroll. She lives in Greenwich Village in New York City, and one night after a party at her apartment, she runs off with Dick to get married.

They are intercepted by Judy’s mother at the apartment, who, not realizing they have already been married, insists that Judy return with her to their estate in the country. Dick remains behind in Judy’s apartment.

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In the country, Judy is being courted by Tom Stribbling, who has insinuated himself to be close to Judy, at the expense of all other suitors. Dick learns that Judy’s parents are going to be away, and visits Judy at her parents’ estate.

He has words with Stribbling, after which he makes plans to meet with Judy in the coming days at her apartment. When Tom learns of the meeting, he sends a telegram to Dick, forging that it is from Judy, cancelling the rendezvous.

At the appointed time of the meeting, Stribbling shows up, instead of Dick. When Judy makes it clear she wants nothing to do with him, Stribbling attempts to force himself on her. In the ensuing struggle, Stribbling trips, falling out of Judy’s window to his death.

Just as Stribbling trips, Dick has arrived at the apartment, to witness his fall. Afraid that Judy will be blamed for Stribbling’s death, Dick takes the blame, but the truth comes out during the brief police investigation, and Judy is cleared of any wrongdoing. Also during the investigation it is revealed that Judy and Dick are already married, much to the astonishment of her parents. After their initial shock, they give their blessing to the couple.

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  • “After the Clouds Roll By” – Sidney Clare and Oscar Levant — performed by Ann Greenway[5]
  • “You’re Marvelous” – Written by Sidney Clare and Oscar Levant Performed by Gus Arnheim and His Ambassadors, with Ken Murray[5]


The film was also released in the USA in a silent version (at 5883 feet) by Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corporation [RKO] in 1929.[3]


  1. “Half Marriage: Full Credits”. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  2. Jump up to:a b “Half Marriage: Detail View”. American Film Institute. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d “Half Marriage”. Silent Era. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  4. Jump up^ “Half Marriage: Screenplay Info”. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  5. Jump up to:a b “Half Marriage: Technical Details”. theiapolis.com. Retrieved April 2, 2014.

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Borrowed Wives (1930)

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Borrowed Wives (1930)

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Director:  Frank R Strayer

Cast: Rex Lease, Vera Reynolds, Nita Martan, Paul Hurst, Robert Livingston, Charles Sellon, Dorothea Wolbert, Sam Hardy, Harry Todd, Tom London

62 min

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Borrowed Wives is a 1930 American Pre-Code film directed by Frank R. Strayer.

Plot summary

Peter Foley (Rex Lease) is a beneficiary of his grandfather, who leaves him $800,000 in his will. The condition for Peter getting the money is that he gets married. Peter is very interested in getting the money, especially since he has debts, and plans to marry Alice Blake (Vera Reynolds) as soon as she arrives from Kansas City.

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He plans to take her to his Uncle Henry’s (Charles Sellon) home before midnight to actually get the inheritance. The uncle needs to see the girl whom Peter is about to marry before he releases the money.

Alice’s airplane is delayed, though. The man to whom Peter is in debt, Parker (Sam Hardy), insists that his own girl friend, Julia (Nita Martan), pose as Peter’s wife in the meantime. Alice is informed by Joe Blair (Robert Livingston), a man who is secretly interested in marrying Alice himself, that Peter is actually married to Julia. Alice agrees to marry Joe if this is true.

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Peter and Julia are pursued by Bull (Paul Hurst), a motorcycle policeman who loves Julia. Further complications arise at Uncle Henry’s, when Lawyer Winstead (Harry Todd), who is found bound and gagged, agrees to marry them. The uncle, revealed to be posing as a paralytic, is exposed as a villain, but Peter and Alice are ultimately married before the last hour appointed in the will.[1]

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Sensation Hunters (1933)

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Sensation Hunters (1933)

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Director: Charles Vidor

Cast: Arline Judge, Preston Foster, Marion Burns, Kenneth MacKenna, Juanita Hansen, Creighton Hale, Cyril Chadwick, Nella Walker, Harold Minjir, Finis Barton, Zoila Conan

73 min

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Sensation Hunters is a 1933 American Pre-Code B-movie directed by Charles Vidor and released by Monogram Pictures.


Dale Jordon is on her way to Panama with Trixie Snell and Her Hotcha Girls to be a cabaret singer at the Bull Ring Cafe. Traveling by ship, Dale meets and falls in love with Tom Baylor, who owns copper interests near Panama. Baylor is concerned about Dale and they quarrel after he asks her to promise not to start drinking. Baylor sends Dale a bracelet with a note saying that they should part.

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After three months, Dale, who is rooming with friend and fellow singer Jerry Royal, is tired and frustrated with her job. She attracts the attention of a wealthy flier, Jimmy Crosby, who wants a more permanent relationship, but Dale is still in love with Baylor and refuses. After a fight with Trixie, Dale asks Crosby to take her away and promises to marry him. Crosby agrees and Dale spends her savings on a hotel room and clothes.

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Baylor returns to Panama and, meeting Dale in the hotel lobby, assumes that she is Crosby’s mistress. Dale, angered by his assumption, pretends it is true and Baylor leaves for San Francisco. Before they can leave for New York, Crosby makes a last test run. His wife has refused to give him a divorce to marry Dale, and, distraught, he commits suicide in a plane crash.

Trixie refuses to give Dale her old job back and also fires Jerry when she tries to intercede. The girls go to work in a seedy saloon to earn enough money for passage home. They almost have enough when Jerry is stabbed in a barfight. Dale spends all their money for Jerry’s medical expenses but still desperately short, prepares to become a prostitute; instead, Baylor arrives, summoned by a telegram from Jerry, and he and Dale reconcile.

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  • Arline Judge and chorus – “If It Ain’t One Man” (Written by Bernie Grossman and Harold Lewis)
  • Marion Burns – “There’s Something In the Air” (Written by Bernie Grossman and Harold Lewis)

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Sensation Hunters 7

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931)

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931)

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Director: Rouben Mamoulian

Cast: Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart, Holmes Herbert, Halliwell Hobbes, Edgar Norton, Tempe Pigott

98 min

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde 41

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1931 American pre-Code horror film, directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March, who plays a possessed doctor who tests his new formula that can unleash people’s inner demons.

The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the 1886 Robert Louis Stevenson tale of a man who takes a potion which turns him from a mild-mannered man of science into a homicidal maniac. March’s performance has been much lauded, and earned him his first Academy Award.

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The film tells the story of Dr. Henry Jekyll (Fredric March), a kind English doctor in Victorian London, who is certain that within each man lurks impulses for both good and evil. One evening, Jekyll attends a party at the home of his fiancée Muriel Carew (Rose Hobart), the daughter of Brigadier General Sir Danvers Carew (Halliwell Hobbes). After the other guests have left, Jekyll informs Sir Danvers that, after speaking to Muriel, he wants Carew’s permission to push up their wedding date.

Sir Danvers sternly refuses Jekyll’s request. Later, while walking home with his colleague, Dr. John Lanyon (Holmes Herbert), Jekyll spots a bar singer, Ivy Pierson (Miriam Hopkins), being attacked by a man outside her boarding house. Jekyll drives the man away and carries Ivy up to her room to attend to her. Ivy begins flirting with Jekyll and feigning injury, but Jekyll fights temptation and leaves with Lanyon.

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Muriel and Sir Danvers leave London for a few months. In the meantime, Jekyll develops a drug that releases the evil side in himself, thus becoming the violent Edward Hyde. Along with his behavior, Dr. Jekyll’s appearance changes as well. He transforms into something more menacing and primitive looking. Unlike Dr. Jekyll, Hyde has no conscience, no restrictions, no boundaries; he is free to do what he pleases. Hyde returns to the music hall where Ivy works, and offers to tend to her financial needs in return for her company.

Hyde manipulates Ivy into accompanying him by terrorizing her, being violent, controlling and torturing her psychologically. He remains at her boarding house until he finds out that Muriel and her father are returning to London, and leaves Ivy but threatens her that he’ll be back.

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On advice from her landlady Mrs. Hawkins (Tempe Pigott), Ivy goes to see Dr. Jekyll, hoping that he can free her of the abusive Hyde. When she arrives, Ivy sees that the celebrated Dr. Jekyll was the same man who saved her from abuse just months before. She breaks down in tears over her situation with Hyde. Jekyll is extremely distraught over the pain that he (Hyde) has caused her and promises Ivy that she will never have to worry about Hyde again.

While on his way to a party at the Carews’ home to celebrate their return and the announcement of a new wedding date to Muriel, Jekyll, without the use of his drugs, suddenly changes into Hyde. Ivy, who thought she was free of Hyde forever, is terrified when Hyde appears before her. Hyde angrily confronts her about seeing Jekyll and, just before murdering her, reveals that he and Jekyll are one and the same.

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Hyde escapes and heads back to Jekyll’s house but his servant Poole refuses to open the door. Desperate, Hyde writes a letter to Lanyon from Jekyll instructing Lanyon to get certain chemicals and have them waiting for him at Lanyon’s home. When Hyde arrives, Lanyon pulls a gun on him and demands that Hyde take him to Jekyll. Hyde tells Lanyon that Jekyll is safe, but Lanyon doesn’t believe him and refuses to let him leave. Realizing there is not much time, Hyde drinks the formula in front of Lanyon.

Lanyon is shocked to witness the transformation and tells his friend that he has practically damned his soul for tampering with the laws of God. Lanyon also advises Jekyll that the transformation that happened that night will happen again eventually.

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With Ivy’s murder, Sir Danvers’ anger towards him for missing the party, and Hyde’s persona beginning to dominate his own, Henry Jekyll’s life continues to spiral out of control. He later goes to the Carews’ where Sir Danvers coldly rejects his visit but Muriel welcomes him. Jekyll, realizing the monster he really is, tells Muriel that he cannot be with her anymore. He feels that he is already damned and fears that he will harm her. He decides to leave. Standing out on the terrace and tearfully watching Muriel cry, Jekyll begins to change into Hyde once again.

He then reenters the Carew house through the terrace door and assaults Muriel. Her screams bring her father and their butler, Hobson. Hyde then viciously murders Sir Danvers out in the garden by striking him repeatedly with Jekyll’s cane until it breaks, then runs off into the night towards Jekyll’s home and the lab to mix a new formula to change himself back.

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The police and Lanyon are standing over Carew’s body in the garden. Recognizing the broken cane found next to the body, Lanyon tells them that he knows whose cane that is and agrees to take them to its owner. The police later arrive at Jekyll’s lab looking for Hyde and find only Jekyll, who lies that Hyde has escaped. They begin to leave when Lanyon arrives and tells them that Jekyll is the man they’re searching for (because the man they are looking for is hiding inside him).

Just then a nervous Jekyll begins changing into Hyde before their shocked eyes. Outraged at Lanyon for betraying him, Hyde leaps from behind the table and attacks him. Hyde then tries to escape from the police but is fatally shot before he can again hurt Lanyon. As Hyde lies dead on the table full of Dr. Jekyll’s experiments and potions, he transforms one last time back into Henry Jekyll.

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The film was made prior to the full enforcement of the Production Code and is remembered today for its strong sexual content, embodied mostly in the character of the bar singer, Ivy Pierson, played by Miriam Hopkins. When it was re-released in 1936, the Code required 8 minutes to be removed before the film could be distributed to theaters. This footage was restored for the VHS and DVD releases.[3]

The secret of the transformation scenes was not revealed for decades (Mamoulian himself revealed it in a volume of interviews with Hollywood directors published under the title The Celluloid Muse). Make-up was applied in contrasting colors. A series of colored filters that matched the make-up was then used which enabled the make-up to be gradually exposed or made invisible. The change in color was not visible on the black-and-white film.[4]

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Wally Westmore‘s make-up for Hyde — simian and hairy with large canine teeth — influenced greatly the popular image of Hyde in media and comic books. In part this reflected the novella’s implication of Hyde as embodying repressed evil, and hence being semi-evolved or simian in appearance. The characters of Muriel Carew and Ivy Pierson do not appear in Stevenson’s original story but do appear in the 1887 stage version by playwright Thomas Russell Sullivan.[citation needed]

John Barrymore was originally asked by Paramount to play the lead role, in an attempt to recreate his role from the 1920 version of Jekyll and Hyde, but he was already under a new contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Paramount then gave the part to March, who was under contract and who strongly resembled Barrymore. March had played a John Barrymore-like character in the Paramount film The Royal Family of Broadway (1930), a story about an acting family like the Barrymores. March would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance of the role.[4]

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When Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer remade the film 10 years later with Spencer Tracy in the lead, the studio bought the negative and the rights to both the Mamoulian version and the earlier 1920 version, paying $1,250,000. They then recalled every print of the film that they could locate and for decades most of the film was believed lost.[5]Ironically, the Tracy version was much less well received and March jokingly sent Tracy a telegram thanking him for the greatest boost to his reputation of his entire career.

The opening credits use Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 by Johann Sebastian Bach.[6]

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Theatrical release

The film was the first film to be screened at the first edition of the Venice International Film Festival.[7]


Box office

Grossing $1.25 million,[2] the film was a box office hit on par with the Universal monster films of the era, even considering that its $535,000 budget was high for a horror film at the time.[1]

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Critical reception

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was received mostly positive reviews upon its release. Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times wrote an enthusiastic review, comparing it favorably to the John Barrymore version as a “far more tense and shuddering affair” than that film. Hall called March “the stellar performer” in the title role while praising the acting of the entire supporting cast as well, and called the old-fashioned atmosphere created by the costumes and set designs “quite pleasing”.[8]

Film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film 3 out of a possible 4 stars, calling it “exciting”, and “floridly cinematic”, also praising March’s and Hopkins performances.[9]

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Variety ran a somewhat less favorable but still positive review. Alfred Rushford Greason wrote that “the picture doesn’t build to an effective climax” because it was too slow and labored in getting there, and that while the initial transformation sequence “carries a terrific punch”, its effect became lessened with successive uses. However, Greason credited March with “an outstanding bit of theatrical acting”, declared the makeup “a triumph”, and said that the sets and lighting alone made the film worth seeing “as models of atmospheric surroundings.”[10]

John Mosher of The New Yorker reported that the film “has its full storage of horror” and was “well acted”. March, he wrote, “gives us a Mr. Hyde as athletic and exuberant as might have been that of Douglas Fairbanks, Senior.”[11] Film Daily declared: “Gripping performance by Fredric March is highlight of strong drama, ace supporting cast and direction”.[12]

Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 93%, based on 27 reviews, with a rating average of 8.3/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “A classic. The definitive version of the Robert Louis Stevenson novella from 1931, with innovative special effects, atmospheric cinematography and deranged overacting.”[13]

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Awards and honors


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  • Academy Awards: Oscar; Best Cinematography, Karl Struss; Best Adaptation Writing, Percy Heath and Samuel Hoffenstein; 1932.

Other honors

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

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See also

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde 33


  1. Jump up to:a b Hall, Sheldon; Neale, Steve (2010). Epics, Spectacles and Blockbusters. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-8143-3008-1.
  2. Jump up to:a b “FILM WORLD.”The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 19 October 1934. p. 2. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  3. Jump up^ Alternate versions for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
  4. Jump up to:a b Miller, Frank “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)” (article) TCM.com
  5. Jump up^ McElwee, John (February 200y7) “More on Jekyll and Hyde” Greenbriar Picture Shows
  6. Jump up^ Reiter, Gershon (2014). The Shadow Self in Film: Projecting the Unconscious Other. p. 11.
  7. Jump up^ “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”Film Affinity. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  8. Jump up^ Hall, Mordaunt (January 2, 1932). “Movie Review – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
  9. Jump up^ Maltin, Leonard; Sader, Luke; Carson, Darwyn. Leonard Maltin’s 2014 Movie Guide. Penguin Press. p. 390. ISBN 978-0-451-41810-4.
  10. Jump up^ Greason, Aldred Rushford (January 5, 1932). “Jekyll and Hyde”. Variety. New York. p. 19.
  11. Jump up^ Mosher, John (January 9, 1932). “The Current Cinema”. The New Yorker. p. 75.
  12. Jump up^ “Dr Jekyll and Hr. Hyde”. Film Daily. New York. January 3, 1932. p. 9.
  13. Jump up^ “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) – Rotten Tomatoes”Rotten Tomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  14. Jump up^ “Awards” All Movie Guide
  15. Jump up^ “AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills Nominees” (PDF). Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  16. Jump up^ “AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains Nominees” (PDF). Retrieved August 20, 2016.

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World Gone Mad, The (1933)

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The World Gone Mad AKA The Public Be Hanged (1933)

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Director: Christy Cabanne

Cast: Pat O’Brien, Evelyn Brent, Neil Hamilton, Mary Brian, Louis Calhern, J Carrol Naish, Buster Phelps, Richard Tucker, Edward Van Sloan

80 min

The World Gone Mad (also released as The Public Be Hanged) is a 1933 American Pre-Code crime film directed by Christy Cabanne and starring Pat O’BrienEvelyn Brent and Neil Hamilton.[1] It was made on a low-budget by the independent Majestic Pictures, a Poverty Row forerunner of Republic Pictures.[2]

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When a district attorney who has been investigating a utility company’s directors for fraud is suddenly killed, his wisecracking newspaperman friend (Pat O’Brien) gets curious. He and the upstanding new district attorney (Neil Hamilton) separately pursue the case. Cultivated but sinister businessmen, a shady nightclub owner specializing in “import and export”, several beautiful young women always seen in evening gowns, a “Latin lover” type who reads Casanova and an abundance of suave men in evening dress provide eye-candy for the duration.

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East of Borneo (1931)

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East of Borneo (1931)

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Director: George Melford

Cast: Rose Hobart, Charles Bickford, Georges Renavent, Lupita Tovar, Noble Johnson, Tom London

77 min

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East of Borneo (1931) is an American Pre-Code adventure film directed by George Melford, co-written by Edwin H. Knopf and Dale Van Every, starring Rose HobartCharles BickfordGeorges RenaventLupita Tovar, and Noble Johnson, and released by Universal Studios.

In 1936, artist Joseph Cornell edited this feature film into his short experimental film Rose Hobart which runs about 19 minutes.

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Linda Randolph (Hobart) looks for her husband on the island of Marado just east of Borneo. Although Linda is warned that Marado’s jungles are “entirely too dangerous” for a woman, she persists through dangerous raft rides and wild crocodiles. She discovers that her husband is now the personal physician to the island’s enigmatic prince. The prince lusts for Linda, and a love triangle ensues.

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The film was shot largely at Universal Studios. Despite being essentially a b-picture, East of Borneo featured elaborate sets. Props and set dressing used in the film were reportedly valued at $100,000; this figure includes a large $25,000 Buddha statue, a very rare small white Buddha and a long mother-of-pearl inlaid bench, silver dinner utensils and Oriental rugs and drapery.[1]


  1. Jump up^ “East of Borneo” Set Cost $100,000. The Florence Times Vol VIII. Number 252. 29 April 1932. p 6. Retrieved 29 February 2016

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Glorifying the American Girl (1929)

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Glorifying the American Girl (1929)

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Director: Millard Webb

Cast: Mary Eaton, Eddie Cantor, Helen Morgan, Rudy Vallee, Dan Healy, Kaye Renard, Edward Crandall, Gloria Shea, Sarah Edwards, Billie Burke, Noah Beery, Irving Berlin, Johnny Weissmuller, Adolph Zukor, Texas Guinan

95 min

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Glorifying the American Girl is a 1929 American Pre-Codemusical comedy film produced by Florenz Ziegfeld that highlights Ziegfeld Follies performers. The last third of the film (which was filmed in early Technicolor) is basically a Follies production, with cameo appearances by Rudy ValleeHelen Morgan, and Eddie Cantor.

Rex Beach was paid $35,000 for the original story.[1][2]

The script for the film was written by J.P. McEvoy and Millard Webb and directed by John W. Harkrider and Millard Webb. The songs were written by Irving BerlinWalter DonaldsonRudolf Friml, James E. Hanley, Larry Spier and Dave Stamper. The film is in the public domain, and many prints exhibited on television are in black-and-white only, and do not include pre-Code material, such as nudity.

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The plot involves a young woman (Mary Eaton) who wants to be in the Follies, but in the meantime is making ends meet by working at a department store‘s sheet music department, where she sings the latest hits.

She is accompanied on piano by her childhood boyfriend (Edward Crandall), who is in love with her, despite her single-minded interest in her career. When a vaudeville performer (Dan Healy) asks her to join him as his new partner, she sees it as an opportunity to make her dream come true.

Upon arriving in New York City, our heroine finds out that her new partner is only interested in sleeping with her and makes this a condition of making her a star. Soon, however, she is discovered by a representative of Ziegfeld.

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Cameo Appearances

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  • This Pre-Code movie is notable for being the first talkie to use the word “damn” (that credit usually goes to either Pygmalion or Gone with the Wind). The word is used on at least one occasion by Sarah Edwards as well as multiple times in the skit involving Eddie Cantor, Louis Sorin and Lew Hearn. (The word was also used twice in the movie Coquette, released in April of the same year.)
  • The revue sequence contains virtual nudity and revealing costumes.
  • Both Paramount and EMKA failed to renew the copyright and the film is now in the public domain.[citation needed] EMKA’s successor, Universal Studios, continues to hold the original film elements; though technically the EMKA library is part of NBC Universal Television, successor to Universal Television and MCA Television (EMKA was a subsidiary of MCA).

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The black-and-white prints currently shown on television, with a cut-down running time of 87 minutes, were made in the 1950s and have a number of sequences cut due to their Pre-Code content, i.e. nudity, etc. The film was restored, to the length of 96 minutes, with the original Technicolor sequences, by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.[3]

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The film begins with a medley of hits from Ziegfeld productions, including “Tulip Time”, “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody“, “Sally, Won’t You Come Back?”, and “No Foolin’.” The band at the picnic plays “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Side by Side.”

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  • “No Foolin'”
Music by Rudolf Friml and James F. Hanley
Lyrics by Gene Buck and Irving Caesar
Sung by Mary Eaton
  • “Baby Face”
Music by Harry Akst
Lyrics by Benny Davis
Sung by Mary Eaton
  • “I’ll Be There”
Music by Larry Spier, J. Fred Coots, and Lou Davis
Sung by Mary Eaton and played on the piano several times by Edward Crandall
  • “Spooning with the One You Love”
Performed by Dan Healy and Kaye Renard

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Music by Irving Berlin
Played by a band while the acrobats are performing
  • “Sam, the Old Accordion Man”
Music by Walter Donaldson
Danced to by Dan Healy and Mary Eaton at the picnic and later onstage
  • “Hot Feet”
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Danced to by Dan Healy and Mary Eaton
  • “I’m Just a Vagabond Lover”
Music by Rudy Vallée and Leon Zimmerman
Performed by Rudy Vallée and His Connecticut Yankees

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  • “What Wouldn’t I Do for That Man?”
Music by Jay Gorney
Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg
Performed by Helen Morgan
  • “There Must Be Somebody Waiting For Me”
Music by Walter Donaldson
Performed by Mary Eaton and chorus in the finale. Played by pianist while Eaton dances en pointe. Played during opening credits.

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See also


  1. Jump up^ Beach, Rex (1940). Personal Exposures. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 205.
  2. Jump up^ H.J. (January 7, 1950). “Miner and Novelist”The Age. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
  3. Jump up^ Feature films preserved by UCLA (1977-2012)

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Kept Husbands (1931)

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Kept Husbands (1931)

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Director: Lloyd Bacon

Cast: Dorothy Mackaill, Joel McCrea, Ned Sparks, Mary Carr, Clara Kimball Young, Robert McWade, Bryant Washburn, Florence Roberts, Freeman Wood, Lita Chevret

76 min

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Kept Husbands is a 1931 American pre-Code drama film directed by Lloyd Bacon, starring Dorothy Mackaill and Joel McCrea, with major supporting roles filled by Robert McWadeFlorence Roberts and Mary Carr.

The original story was written by the film’s associate producer, Louis Sarecky, and adapted for the screen by Forrest Halsey and Alfred Jackson. Although primarily a drama, the film has many comedic touches to it.

The film centers around the class struggles and stereotypes between the working class and the wealthy, which was particularly striking during the Depression era when this film was made. The film also points out the stereotypical gender roles which were prevalent at that time.

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Plot summary

Arthur Parker (Robert McWade) is a wealthy steel magnate who is relating the story to his snobbish wife and spoiled daughter of one of his plant supervisors who fearlessly rushed in and saved the lives of two of his fellow co-workers.

When his wife, Henrietta (Florence Roberts), asks if he rewarded the young man, Parker shows his astonishment by saying that the hero had refused the thousand dollars he had offered.

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When the daughter, Dot (Dorothy Mackaill), remarks that she would like to meet a man like that, the father tells her not to worry, she will, for he is coming to dinner that very evening. Henrietta is aghast at having to socialize with someone not of their class, but Parker, who is a better judge of character, assures her that all will be well.

During dinner, Dot is smitten with the young man, Dick Brunton (Joel McCrea). So smitten she makes a bet with her father that she can get him to marry her within four weeks, by December 20. The father takes that bet, and lo and behold she wins Dick’s heart and gets him to accept her proposal of marriage by the deadline, despite his fears of their different social circumstances.

After the wedding, Parker sends the newlyweds on an expensive honeymoon to Europe, after which they return to their lavish home, also supplied by Parker. Parker also promotes Dick, but within six months, his new lifestyle threatens to emasculate Dick, who loses interest in his career and finds himself dominated by Dot’s vapid, social whirl of bridge games, cocktail parties and passive acceptance of life as a “kept husband”.

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This does not sit well with the proud husband, and when Parker offers him a chance to prove himself with a new position in St. Louis, he jumps at the chance. When told of the opportunity however, Dot is less than enthusiastic, not wanting to leave her friends and social circle. She refuses to agree to accompany Dick.

Dick decides to go to St. Louis, with or without Dot, making her incredibly upset. Not knowing what to do, he goes to ask advice from his mother (Mary Carr), who tells him that he needs to reconcile with Dot before he leaves for St. Louis. Meanwhile, Dot has agreed to meet with a former beau, Charles Bates (Bryant Washburn), who attempts to seduce her.

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When she returns to their house the following morning, Dick questions her regarding her whereabouts. She lies to him, and he knows it, since he had seen her with Washburn the prior evening. Furious, he storms out, saying their marriage is over, and intending to resign from Parker’s company.

Realizing her love for him, Dot eventually finds Dick at the rail station, about to leave for St. Louis. He has decided to take Parker’s position after all. The husband and wife reconcile, with Dot agreeing to live within the means that Dick’s salary can provide.

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(Cast list as per AFI database)[2]


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In 1959, the film entered the public domain in the USA due to the copyright claimants failure to renew the copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.[5]

The tag line for the film was “Every Inch a Man – Bought Body and Soul by His Wife”.[6]

This film marked the debut in sound films of Clara Kimball Young, who had been a major star during the silent film era. She came back after a six-year hiatus from making films.[7]

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  1. Jump up to:a b “Kept Husband: Details”New York Times. Archived from the original on August 16, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  2. Jump up to:a b c d Kept Husbands: Detail View”. American Film Institute. Archived from the original on March 6, 2013. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  3. Jump up^ “Max Steiner: Film Scores”. Songwriter Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  4. Jump up to:a b c “Kept Husbands, Technical Details”. theiapolis.com. Retrieved August 16, 2014.[permanent dead link]
  5. Jump up^ Pierce, David (June 2007). “Forgotten Faces: Why Some of Our Cinema Heritage Is Part of the Public Domain”. Film History: An International Journal19 (2): 125–43. ISSN 0892-2160JSTOR 25165419OCLC 15122313doi:10.2979/FIL.2007.19.2.125. See Note #60, p. 143.
  6. Jump up^ Jewell, Richard B.; Harbin, Vernon (1982). The RKO Story. New York: Arlington House. p. 34. ISBN 0-517-546566.
  7. Jump up^ “Kept Husbands, Notes”. Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on August 16, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2014.

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