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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic pre-code movies gathered in a good box set
This collection of three pre-code Hollywood dramas provides an interesting glimpse into what Hollywood could get away with before the Hays Code began censoring films. The "Code" turned films from more adult interesting fare into something that inhabited a fantasy world of separate beds for married couples forcing film writers, producers and directors from shying away from...
Published on 1 May 2007 by Wayne Klein

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
arrived on time great dvd
Published 1 month ago by MR I H SMITH


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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic pre-code movies gathered in a good box set, 1 May 2007
By 
Wayne Klein "If at first the idea is not absu... (My Little Blue Window, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forbidden Hollywood Collection 1 [DVD] [1933] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
This collection of three pre-code Hollywood dramas provides an interesting glimpse into what Hollywood could get away with before the Hays Code began censoring films. The "Code" turned films from more adult interesting fare into something that inhabited a fantasy world of separate beds for married couples forcing film writers, producers and directors from shying away from more adult themes. It impacted films for both good ( by preventing more exploitative films) and bad giving birth to the absurd ratings system that we have today (how does a film get a PG to a PG-13 it has to do with the use of the "f" word and it's relationship with sex splitting films into different categories based on semantics a lot of times). While I recognize that ratings are essential to helping parents maintain control of what their children see, it also has become a nearly meaningless marketing advantage (if want to turn a film into a marketing wonder make sure it doesn't have a "G" rating) or stigma that haunts the industry even today (for more info on this see the forthcoming "This Film Has Not Been Rated").

Warner and TMC have combined forces for this look into pre-code Hollywood with a trio of films that would have (or did in one case) suffer at the hands of censors that used a hatchet to remove subtly from many Hollywood films. The first film in this collection "Waterloo Bridge" was the second film (although this was the third film he worked on. Whale also worked uncredited on Howard Hawks' "Hell's Angels") to be directed by James Whale ("Frankenstein", "The Old Dark House", "The Bride of Frankenstein"). Based on the play by Robert E. Sherwood this film is deftly directed which is a surprise given how early this was in both Whale's career and in the history of talkies. Mae Clarke plays Myra a streetwalker who falls for Roy (Douglass Montgomery) a Canadian solider stationed in London who doesn't realize that she's a hooker when he falls in love with her. After Roy proposes Myra runs out on him believing that her sordid past will destroy any chance of happiness for them.

Well acted and directed it's clear why Whale's early films caught on with the public-he has a natural flair as a film director even though his background was in stage directing. The film was later remade in a sanitized version by MGM in 1940. The studio purchased the rights to the original (to take it out of circulation as well as to own all versions of the story) which is why this neglected minor classic has been out of circulation for so long. As a long time fan of Whale's work I have been trying to catch this film for years and always just managed to miss it when it would occasionally be allowed out of the vault. Keep in mind the time when the film was made; the camera isn't as nimble as it would be within a year or two as the camera often had to be encased in a booth to prevent its sounds from being picked up by the sound equipment!

Also included is "Red Headed Woman" a 1932 film starring Gene Harlow, Lewis Stone and Charles Boyer. Directed by Jack Conway and adapted by Anita Loos from a novel by Kate Brush, Harlow is cast as Lillian a lady who will do anything to land a wealthy husband. She picks out Bill (Chester Morris) a man already happily married and damages his married to Irene (Leila Hyams). After Bill gets divorced he marries Lillian but she never gains acceptance by his wealthy friends. She schemes to seduce a wealthy friend of Bill's and later blackmail him.

Yikes! Harlow looks terrific in this film a film that's too revealing by standards that would be instituted in less than two years. "Red-Headed Woman" pulls every cliché out of the drawer regarding "fast" women. There's a brief glimpse of nudity in the film.

Slightly better is "Baby Face" a film that put the bubbles into soap opera. Barbara Stanwyck plays Lily (what's with all the women named Lily or Lillian? What did MGM have against that name?) a girl who runs away from home and finds a job at a bank in the big city by sleeping with the first employer she runs across. She uses the "stepping stones" to success working her way up the corporate ladder. When a thwarted lover takes matters into his own hands and murders the latest in Lily's line of succession, things become a bit complicated for the "Baby Face".

Unlike "Red-Headed Woman" which features a brief section of nudity(!), "Baby Face" plays the story pretty straight even if sex seems to drive everything in the film. Unlike a lot of code films Lily isn't punished for her deeds. It's a fascinating film of the period with breezy pacing (for the time) and an early appearance by a young John Wayne. ***

The film is presented in its original uncut glory and then in a version that the studio recut to make it more acceptable to code standards. With a bit of dialogue here, the right cut there the film appeared to be a bit more "moral" when compared to the original version. I'm surprised that the uncut version survives in any form as most films of the era that were altered are available only in their butchered re-edited versions. ---

"Forbidden Hollywood" looks quite good in this transfer. The version I received had the titles on the discs mixed up but other than that (a pretty minor issue), the transfer looks quite good with nice, clean presentations and solid mono sound. The uncut version of "Baby Face" looks slightly better than the final version of the film. I suspect its because the uncut version of the film was probably never released or only had a limited release.

While I'm happy to see these films released with nice transfers I would have loved to see more extensive extras included. We get a brief introduction by Robert Osborne and the trailer for "Baby Face" but no commentary tracks which would have been useful particularly given the issues that came to exist after these films were released and a discussion of the Hays Code, it's impact on Hollywood, etc.

According to a recent discussion at The Digital Bits HTF, the set was originally supposed to have a documentary on the pre-code films but Warner ran into clearence issues. However, volume 2 will have six films and a documentary on this era to make up for it.

Three pre-code films one of them presented in "before" and "after" edits make this an essential purchase for fans of vintage Hollywood cinema. James Whale's "Waterloo Bridge" is my personal favorite but I'm biased towards even Whale's lesser efforts. All three films are quite good with "Red-Headed Woman" the weakest of the bunch even with the brief nudity evident in the film.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 15 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Forbidden Hollywood Collection 1 [DVD] [1933] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
1st class all round
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 6 April 2015
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This review is from: Forbidden Hollywood Collection 1 [DVD] [1933] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Unusual look back to forgotten films
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 4 May 2015
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This review is from: Forbidden Hollywood Collection 1 [DVD] [1933] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Excellent
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, 23 April 2015
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This review is from: Forbidden Hollywood Collection 1 [DVD] [1933] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
arrived on time great dvd
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