" This is a gun that you have in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me ? "If Mae West had known that, a few years after the release of Lady Lou, Lowell Sherman, the movie industry would win by censorship, would it go as far in the provocation ? With Jean Harlow, another fiery blonde in the cinema of the 1930s, she embodies the Hollywood libertarian, irreverent, feminist, whose influential leagues under catholic will never cease to stigmatize the productions considered immoral, as well as the morals allegedly depraved of its actors.
this is the "Forbidden Hollywood" – also called "Pre-code" in reference to the charter that would regulate itself for the studios – that pays homage to Warner, out indoor, these days, ten treasures of this film forgot, in the restored version.
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1930 : America has a hangover after the stock market crash of 1929. In Hollywood, the movie industry is trying to overcome the costly and chaotic transition from silent films to talkies. The frankness of the dialogue peppered with slang fueling the protests of the critics of Hollywood, for that sex and vulgarity are increasing in movies. "In 1934, while rocking," said George Feltenstein from Los Angeles, where he directs the archives of Warner. The studios put in place a code that regulates the content of movies. It is a reaction to the fact that the film shows in the era of increasingly provocative, without taboo, with characters who engage in adultery, alcoholism, and even drug... "
The government, worried about the power corrupter of Hollywood, threatening to put his nose in the manufacturing process of the films, the moguls are organized. Senator William Hays, a presbyterian republican who does not drink and does not smoke, presides over the drafting of a charter that the Production Code Administration is responsible to enforce. The idea ? Sell a movie to " own " the audience. Now, only films that have received permission will be able to go out in the room. But four years will pass before the rule is applied. It is during this interval that emerges from the cinema Pre-code, sassy, daring, provocative, sensual. The figures of the gangster (in Scarface, Little Caesar, Jewel Robbery) or of the woman fallen that rises socially by using its charms (great Baby Face) get the favors of an audience that identifies with these forsaken, pure products of the Great Depression.
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" You've got to use men to get what you want ! "
The code Hays only ends in 1968. In the meantime, the blasphemy, the portrayal of sex, violence of any kind, homosexuality, drug abuse, prostitution, kissing for more than thirty seconds, necklines pests, the presence of a man and a woman in the same bed, all that is beautiful and well finished. The question, therefore, after 1934, to stage heroines flaming, like Joan Blondell in Blonde Crazy (Roy Del Ruth, 1931), which provides easy prey to his con man lover... Or as Barbara Stanwyck in Baby Face (Alfred Green, 1933), and Jean Harlow in Red-Headed Woman (Jack Conway, 1932). More question no more of the load of erotic romantic relationships : it is enough to compare the embrace torrid Jean Harlow and Clark Gable in The Belle de Saigon (Victor Fleming, 1932) and the chaste juxtaposition of the same Gable and Ava Gardner in the film remake, Mogambo (1953), to understand to what point the Hays code being changed the landscape of hollywood.
The program of the "Forbidden Hollywood" offers and surprises. In Female (Michael Curtiz, 1933), a woman runs a company that produces cars : it imposes its authority at all, not without suffering from the furious pace of production that the imperative of profitability imposes. In Baby Face, a character pushes Barbara Stanwyck to escape the shackles imposed by society on women : "You must be the master and not the slave ! Look at what that says to Nietzsche : All life is exploitation. This is what I say. You have to exploit, to use men to get what you want ! "A political message a far cry from the moralism compassé that will prevail after the implementation of the code in Hays.
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The holy Grail of the Hollywood forbidden
The path to the halls of these forgotten films has not been obvious : he had to find the negative in film libraries around the world, and, above all, restore the cut scenes to the timeline... " films were regularly in the 1940s and 1950s, in particular, says George Feltenstein, but redacted their content shocking. We sought to reconstruct them such that the first spectators had seen them. "Where are some finds memorable, such as the one at the library of Congress, at Washington, of the Baby Face of the original, a quote from Nietzsche included :" All of this had disappeared in the outside, of course ! Of same the charge made by Barbara Stanwyck to his father to have been sold to dirty snowmen in his teenage years. "This remains a dream of the archivist : find Convention City, a film of 1933, deemed so shocking that Jack Warner would have done to burn the negative's original..." It is like our Moby Dick, " the holy Grail of the Hollywood forbidden, fun George Feltenstein.
Souls free (Clarence Brown, 1931), Angel white (William A. Wellman, 1931), Baby Face (Alfred Green, 1933), La Belle de Saigon (Victor Fleming, 1932), Blonde Crazy (Roy Del Ruth, 1931), Employee''s Entrance (Roy Del Ruth, 1933), Female (Michael Curtiz, 1933), Red-Headed Woman (Jack Conway, 1932), Jewel Robbery (William Dieterle, 1932), The Mind Reader (Roy Del Ruth, 1933). In rooms.
Rhabillez me the Betty Boop !
Betty Boop 1930s © Rue des Archives / Rue des Archives / Rue des Archives/RDAEn 1930, the character created by the Fleischer Studios appeared in Dizzy Dishes and then in a dozen other cartoons under the guise of a seductive long lashes, molded in a sexy dress, leaving all her charms express the image of pin-up magazines of the time (see previous page). But, as early as 1934, the sex symbol, which the languid " poo-poo-pee-doo ", which will be taken over by Marilyn Monroe, is suddenly dressed again by the code Hays. Her dress is extended up to the knees, her garter removed, and the seductress is requested to be stored in the class much more tolerable of women in the home, unmarried.Betty Boop, post, Henry, (poster art), 1930s. (Photo by LMPC via ) © LMPC / LMPC / LMPC via LMPC
"Baby Face" (1933)
Incarnation of the femme fatale, Barbara Stanwyck is Lily Powers's provocative desire, who fled from a father who's a prostitute in a bar shabby from Pennsylvania to climb the ranks of a bank in new york, using men as a footstool. Watermark proves that America is ruthless.
Alfred Green, with Barbara Stanwyck and George Brent.
"Red-Headed Woman" (1932)
The redhead is Jean Harlow, the icon, the sex appeal of this pest, which will serve as a model of Marilyn. Here, she is Lilian, a secretary is determined to rise in the social hierarchy, even to break up a few marriages. If Harlow is at the height of the myth, the true star of the film is the screenwriter Anita Loos, whose aftershocks spiritual and provocative pop like a firework.p>
Jack Conway, with Jean Harlow, Chester Morris, Leila Hyams.