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Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-code Hollywood Hardcover – 1 Oct 1999

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (1 Oct. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810944758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810944756
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 2.5 x 31.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,271,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Sin in Soft Focus lingers lovingly on the pre-code films themselves....This is an oversize book with hundreds of beautifully chosen images laid out for maximum impact....[It provides] many detailed stories that convey exactly what was going on." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mark A. Vieira is an acclaimed portrait photographer and film historian specializing in the photographic legacy of Hollywood. In addition to Abrams' Hurrell's Hollywood Portraits, he has written production histories of pre-Code films for Bright Lights Film Journal and two pictorial histories, Hollywood Portraits, 1929-1941 and Hollywood Portraits, 1939-1951. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Nov. 1999
Format: Hardcover
I saw this book and I knew it was the right one! It may be personnal but I've always found more charm to those balck and white movies than most of the recent ones! The "soft focus" give them a highly airy and ironical appeal, and this book is no exception!
The pictures are of a rare quality -highly researched and always commented with a witty and informative line. And waht a collection of them! From Gable to HArlow to Garbo to Flynn ....
Please don't let these film get forgotten! Neither this book!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 21 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, educational text and fine photos 27 April 2000
By Keith Nichols - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This coffee-table volume may look like another of the many good Hollywood photo books, and the title may promise some photo-titillation, but in fact this is a serious book dealing with movies in the era of the infamous morality "code." The many photos support the text and make for satisfying perusing all by themselves. Although not the scandalous, x-rated outtakes you may have expected (hoped for?), the photos are all interesting, partly because many of them seldom appear in Hollywood picture books. The well-written text details the code, difficulties enforcing it, and the personalities who devised and promulgated it. Code enforcement apparently found it had to deal more with moral implications, suggested relationships, and what might be going on just outside the frame than with what showed up onscreen (which may explain the absence of racy pix). This doubly satisfying book certainly belongs in the library of any movie scholar or serious fan and adds to the stature of its author as a movie historian..
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By "scotsladdie" - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In this exhaustively researched, beautifully illustrated book, author Vieira does an exceptional job. Recently, I have been drawn to the fascinating world of Pre-Code Cinema. There were some really realistically seedy, controversial and revealing films made in the Hollywood of the late twenties and early thirties. Many films which have been previously believed lost or destroyed have been rescued for the public to enjoy once more on either video or TCM. Hot stuff for the depression era! Fascinating films of the era include: THE STORY OF TEMPLE DRAKE which starred the unique Miriam Hopkins. In this one, she plays the title character who is lured into the underworld, gets raped - and finds she likes it (!). Even sweetly saccharine Loretta Young had a dark-side: check out MIDNIGHT MARY. What I find ironic is that to many people, many vintage films are considered too pretty or unrealistic. This book proves otherwise!! A thoroughly fascinating venture into a little-known side of Hollywood which existed a scant half-dozen years: the era of Pre-Code talkies. A very informative and revealing laboured work of art - and a fine resource - for fans of vintage film.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
So Many Movies, So Little Time 31 Aug. 2002
By G.I Gurdjieff - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Like Mick LaSalle's wonderful book COMPLICATED WOMEN which chronicles the impact the Hayes Office had on decimating the interesting roles portrayed by women, this book serves as an interesting companion piece. It chronicles the somewhat racy plots and the female characters portrayed in pre-code movies.
Bordering on an almost scholarly take on this topic, this tome takes you through a lot of the grittier plots tackled by early Hollywood films and the wonderful actresses who portrayed the lead characters.
By the end of this book, you will find yourself craving a pre-code Harlow, Shearer, Crawford, Garbo or Bow film and will want to devour a lot of them like a 21 oz. bag of Hershey kisses or Raisinets. Such were the days when little titans like Hayes weren't dictating the mantra called the CODE and films were a little risque and fun and not always that predictable.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful photos, slightly disappointing text 21 July 2000
By M. Ritchie - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Buy this for the stunning black and white photos generously presented throughout. Many are full-page sized and all are beautifully printed. The text, however, is somewhat disappointing, serving as a rather shallow survey of movies of the early 30's. Historical context is covered well but, for all the pre-code movies that are available on cable these days, this book discusses in depth only the most well known (such as King Kong, It Happened One Night, and Sign of the Cross). Reading this book got me interested in watching pre-code movies, but most of the more interesting films I've seen from that era (Wild Boys of the Road, Safe in Hell, Other Men's Women, Five Star Final) aren't covered here, despite their provocative themes. I'm finding more depth in Thomas Doherty's book Pre-Code Hollywood. But as a coffee-table book of early Hollywood, and perhaps as a mouth-watering introduction to this fascinating era of popular culture, this can't be beat.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By anonymous - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Don't believe any knuckleheads telling you this book seems in any way slapdash. It's gorgeous, well-written and meticulously researched. Take all the pictures out, and it would still work as a history. As a photography book, it's beautifully and thoughtfully arranged, as is every book by Mark Vieira. Just pick a random page -- there's logic, there's organization, there's artistry, there's THINKING at work. This is a fine and enthusiastic creation, and I'd recommend it to everyone who has already bought MY book, COMPLICATED WOMEN. Actually I don't see the books in competition. They complement each other. I wouldn't think of doing without this book -- and any suggestion that it's not a work of the heart is utterly absurd.
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