Alison: To me a woman in love is a pathetic spectacle; she’s either so miserable that she wants to die or she’s so happy you want to die.
Harriet: Aren’t you ever going to marry?
Alison: No, thanks. Not me. You know, a long time ago I decided to travel the same open road men travel. So I treat men exactly the way they’ve always treated women.
Harriet: You evidently haven’t much respect for men.
Alison: I know for some women a man is a household necessity, myself I’d rather have a canary.
At this point y’all should be pretty well-versed in Pre-Code Hollywood and all its glory. The Warner Archive is at it again, releasing Vol. 7 of the ever-popular Forbidden Hollywood series. This set features film that, while not the “best” films of the era, feature some of the most salacious scenarios that Hollywood had to offer at the time. These are the kind of morally “loose” films that caused the Catholic church to call the industry indecent. They’re also more sexually charged than most current Hollywood films. The films included in this set are: William A. Wellman’s The Hatchet Man, Edgar Selwyn’s Skyscraper Souls, Roy Del Ruth’s Employees’ Entrance and Robert Florey’s Ex-Lady.
Marie: Anything else you guys want?
Railroad worker at Lunch Counter: Yeah, gimme a big slice a’ you on toast, and some French-fried potatoes on the side.
Marie: Listen, baby, I’m A.P.O.
Railroad worker at Lunch Counter: [to the other railroad worker] What does she mean, A.P.O.?
Marie: Ain’t Puttin’ Out!
Esther Blodgett: You know as much about me now as I do myself. But you see how long it’s taken me to get this far. Now, all I need is just a little luck.
Norman Maine: What kind of luck?
Esther Blodgett: Oh, the kind of luck that every girl singer with a band dreams of. . .one night a talent scout from a big record company will come in and he’ll let me make a record.
Norman Maine: Yes, and then?
Esther Blodgett: Well, the record will become number one on the Hit Parade, it’ll be played on the jukeboxes all over the country. . .and I’ll be made. End of dream.
Norman Maine: There’s only one thing wrong with that.
Esther Blodgett: I know. . .it won’t happen!
Norman Maine: No, it might happen very easily. . .but the dream isn’t big enough.
Now available from the Warner Archive, William A. Wellman’s western drama Westward The Women is not only an impressive feat in cinematic storytelling, but also features one of the best ensembles of women in the classical Hollywood era. I’m really quite surprised this film isn’t more highly regarded than it is. It definitely packs the kind of shocking punch you come to expect from a Bill Wellman picture. In fact, it almost feels like some of his pre-code films and contains some elements that I found rather shocking in a film from 1951.
It’s about freaking time, too. This is the first Best Picture winner – and the last to be released on DVD. I adore this film. It’s not only one of my favorite Best Picture winners, it’s one of my favorite films period. The DVD/Blu-Ray will be released on January 24th. You can read more about the specs here.
Tom Powers: Ain’t you got a drink in the house?
Kitty: Well, not before breakfast, dear.
Tom Powers: I didn’t ask you for any lip. I asked you if you had a drink.
Kitty: I know Tom, but I, I wish that. . .
Tom Powers: . . .there you go with that wishin’ stuff again. I wish you was a wishing well, so that I could tie a bucket to ya and sink ya.
Kitty: Well, maybe you’ve found someone you like better.
Tom Powers: [smashes a grapefruit in her face]
The original version of the twice re-made A Star is Born (though, the plot quite resembles 1932’s What Price Hollywood?), is quite wonderful. Perhaps not as memorable as the George Cukor/Judy Garland 1954 musical adaptation, the 1937 version is miles and miles better than the mediocre 1976 Barbra Streisand version. It’s also in the public domain, so it’s available to watch for free in various quality all over the internet. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning one: Best Writing Original Story (won), Best Writing Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Assistant Director, Best Director, Best Picture. W. Howard Greene was rewarded an honorary plaque for the color photography of the film, an award that was “recommended by a committee of leading cinematographers after viewing all the color pictures made during the year”. The other films up for Best Picture that year were: The Awful Truth, Captains Courageous, Dead End, The Good Earth, In Old Chicago, Lost Horizon, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Stage Door and winner The Life of Emile Zola.