If you like films of the 1930s, you'll want to be in Dallas on Saturday and lower Manhattan for four weeks later this summer. And while neither of the events features Carole Lombard, there are so many good movies you won't mind her absence. (There's a reason we chose the portrait of her above to begin this entry; you'll learn why later.)
First, the Texas Theatre in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, a place with a peripheral connection to a national tragedy (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/258152.html). But it had a noted moviegoing heritage long before that fateful day in November 1963, and that's what will be celebrated at 3 p.m. Saturday -- along with lots of laughter.
Local collector Jim Reid is bringing five comedy shorts to the Texas, and at least some of them may have played the theater from its opening in 1931. Stars include Buster Keaton, Charley Chase (above), W.C. Fields, an "Our Gang" comedy and Laurel & Hardy. It's 100 minutes of family comedy, with drink specials available for cooling off on a hot Saturday in the Metroplex. For more information, visit http://thetexastheatre.com/movies-events/comedy-reels-with-jim-reid.
But what if you're not going to be in Dallas tomorrow? What if you're planning a visit to New York between July 15 and Aug. 11? You're in luck. The fabulous Film Forum (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/148639.html) -- which has done so much over the years to aid the pre-Code revival -- is back with another festival on the subject, called "Essential Pre-Code." It totals 50 films...none of them featuring Lombard. But one of them could have.
Remember the portrait of Carole at the top? And the "hot Saturday" reference? Those are the hints. That picture had a snipe on the back noting that Lombard was to appear in a Paramount film called "Hot Saturday" (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/97758.html). As it turned out, she backed out in order to appear in a film directed by good friend Wesley Ruggles. That film was "No Man Of Her Own," with future second husband Clark Gable.
"Hot Saturday," with Nancy Carroll in the part Lombard rejected and co-starring Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, was cited by William K. Everson for "its relaxed sophistication...Full of assured playing and excellent dialogue.” Everson, who at times was cool to Carole (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/100352.html), might have thought differently about her had she made this film.
"Hot Saturday" will be shown July 17 and 18 with another Grant film, the Mae West vehicle "I'm No Angel."
There are so many movies listed that your best bet is to see the schedule and find your favorites (http://www.filmforum.org/films/essentialprecode.html). Programmer Bruce Goldstein's success showing these films, even from the time they were poor 16mm copies, has led to studios striking new prints of these vintage favorites -- and all the movies to be shown will be 35mm.
A few highlights:
* Warren William, a wonderful actor who might best be described as William Powell dipped in oil, was the ultimate cad of pre-Code. He became famous for playing conniving heels; as Film Forum notes, "nobody could be as suave, charming, and crooked." William will be featured each Thursday during the festival: July 21, "Employees Entrance" (shown above, with the luminous Loretta Young) and "The Mind Reader" (both 1933); July 28, "The Mouthpiece" and "Beauty And The Boss" (both 1932); Aug. 4, "Three On A Match" (where William is actually a good guy) and "The Match King" (both 1932); and Aug. 11, "Skyscraper Souls" (1932) and "Upperworld" (1934, co-starring Ginger Rogers). He's also in "Gold Diggers Of 1933," to be shown July 22 with Eddie Cantor's "Roman Scandals" (1933).
* On Tuesdays, see three films for the price of one, a tripleheader, each generally lasting about four hours: July 19 -- "Night Nurse" (1931), "Ladies They Talk About" (1933) and "Lawyer Man" (1932); July 26 -- "Me And My Gal" (1932), "Blood Money" (1933) and "Sailor's Luck" (1933, with Sally Eilers); Aug. 2 -- "Female" (1933), "Cabin In The Cotton" (1932) and "Ex-Lady" (1933); Aug. 9 -- "Girls About Town" (1931), "Union Depot" (1932) and "Heat Lightning" (1934).
* "The Story Of Temple Drake," a 1933 adaptation of William Faulkner's "Sanctuary" that was cleaned up for the screen yet remains one of the frankest of pre-Codes, will be shown July 24 as a separate admission. (One of its more notorious pre-Code counterparts, Barbara Stanwyck's "Baby Face" -- the uncensored version unearthed by the Library of Congress -- will kick off the festival July 15 and 16, along with "Two Seconds.")
* Fans of fast-talking Lee Tracy can see him in two films on Aug. 3 in "The Strange Love Of Molly Louvain" (above, Tracy and Ann Dvorak on the set with director Michael Curtiz) and "Blessed Event" (both 1932).
Looks like lots of fun for pre-Code buffs. Perhaps a Lombard film or two might have made the cut (I'm specifically thinking "Virtue," though compared to some of the movies on the schedule, it's relatively tame), but as was the case with Myrna Loy, Carole's cinematic glory rose as the pre-Code era was winding down (the spring of 1934, just before the more rigidly enforced Production Code went into effect 77 years ago today).