Ah, to the power of pre-Code films. For the merely prurient, it provides an opportunity to see Carole Lombard and other beauties cavort in lingerie (as she and Josephine Dunn are doing in Lombard's first film for Paramount, "Safety In Numbers"). Beyond that, viewers can watch films that examine topics, and gender roles, that only a few years later would be deemed verboten by an industry fearful of government censorship or religious boycotts.
Suppressed for many decades, these films have been revived in the past 20 or so years, and audiences are continually uncovering new treasures from the early 1930s. Ten of these films are being made available through Warner Archive in five pairs of two-fers.
No Lombard films are among them; from the spring of 1930 to the end of the pre-Code era in mid-1934, her movies were made at Paramount (most of those films are now owned by Universal) and Columbia (Sony). But there are plenty of goodies here, including five starring an actress whose pre-Code work is a revelation to many...
The pre-Code Young exhibited luminosity, sensuality and, above all, talent. Two of these collections feature a pair of her movies:
"The Truth About Youth" (1930, in which Myrna Loy plays a nightclub singer and rival of the virtuous Young) and "The Right Of Way" (1931, co-starring Conrad Nagel) were made before Loretta's 18th birthday.
Young plays twin roles -- a girl who falls in with gangsters and a wealthy socialite -- in 1930's "Road To Paradise," which also features 1910s star Kathlyn Williams (one of Jane Alice Peters' childhood favorites) in a supporting role. The comedy "Week-End Marriage" (1932) co-stars Norman Foster and the always-reliable Aline MacMahon.
Young made "Loose Ankles" in late 1929, just before turning 17; the film, a romantic comedy co-starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr., was released in February 1930. The other side of this twin bill features Loy playing support to blonde kewpie doll Alice White in the comedy-drama "The Naughty Flirt" (1931),
Dorothy Mackaill, who would later have a supporting part in the Lombard film "No Man Of Her Own," is featured in this set. "Party Husband" (1931) examines open marriage, directed by Clarence Badger, who earlier was at the helm of several Clara Bow vehicles, including "It." The other Mackaill film, from 1930, is "The Office Wife," a romance which also marked the film debut of Joan Blondell, seen as often as not in lingerie, as Mackaill's flirty sister. And speaking of Joan...
...the hard-working Blondell is in the final pre-Code doubleheader, "Havana Widows" (1933), co-starring buddy Glenda Farrell as chorus girls and featuring Warners favorites Guy Kibbee, Frank McHugh, Allen Jenkins and Ruth Donnelly, and "I've Got Your Number" (1934), with Farrell, Jenkins and Pat O'Brien; the latter two are telephone repairmen. And Eugene Pallette's in the cast, too! (These films were made just before and just after the notorious, and sadly lost, "Convention City.")
Please note, as Warners advises, these films are made-to-order DVDs and have "been manufactured from the best-quality video master currently available and has not been remastered or restored specifically for this DVD and Digital Download release." The two-packs' regular price is $19.95, but you can get them now for $17.95. Go to http://www.wbshop.com/New-Releases/ARCHIVENEW,default,sc.html for more.
Looks like plenty of pre-Code fun, as Loretta, Myrna, Dorothy and Joan would surely agree.