If you’re not familiar with Ruth Chatterton, now’s the time to get familiar. While there may be good reason to not know Ruth, her work in some fantastic pre-code films in the 20’s and 30’s warrant attention. Those that paired her with husband George Brent were always particularly steamy.
One film most memorable is FEMALE, starring opposite hubby George. As in most of the pre-codes Hollywood goes to town with risqué topics- here we see the successful career women, unable to keep a man of her own, and as a result goes through them like water. Thus many a young engineer comes through her car company only to be spotted, tried out, and promptly disposed of. On a whim, and not wanting to be known for her success, Ruth takes to the town and runs into George. They flirt, and play and at the end of the night separate. Of course the next morning when he starts as the wonder boy engineer at her company, and suddenly doesn’t want anything to do with her. He knows this game, but she’s never been turned down before. The problem—she doesn’t really know how to be chased, and a man, well..likes to feel like a man. And so begins her transformation into a somewhat helpless lily in order to snatch the man she wants. But can she maintain the farce long enough to secure the man, or will her true nature get the better of her?
mariedeflor: Barbara Stanwyck and George Brent photographed for The Purchase Price, 1932
hollywoodlady: Dorothy Lamour
missavagardner: Pre-Code Hollywood refers to the era in the American film industry between the introduction of sound in the late 1920s and the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code (usually labeled, albeit inaccurately after 1934, as the “Hays Code”) censorship guidelines. Although the Code was adopted in 1930, oversight was poor and it did […]
They Call it Sin: George Brent, Loretta Young
Female: Ruth Chatterton, George Brent
I believe the word was Pre-Code girls. Otherwise known as Three Broadway Girls this 1932 pre-curser of How to Marry a Millionaire is a gem in the rough. Presented by Samuel Goldwyn and distributed by United Artists it featured Joan Blondell as Schatze, Madge Evens as Polaire, and Ina Claire as Jean(Betty Grable’s character was called Loco). David Manners, a Jeffrey Lynn lookalike played Polaire’s love interest Day, Lowell Sherman is the smarmy rich protagonist Boris Feldman that Ina Claire saves Polaire from, and Schatze’s Pop’s that she calls him, is never seen but heard from once, via a phonograph record after he has passed on. I found this movie in a set of ‘100 Greatest Comedy Classics’ offered at the local Wal E World big box store. I thought it would help pass the time away while I waited for TCM or Universal Studio’s to release more Deanna Durbin movies.
I laughed out loud when Ina Claire’s character connives to make Boris forget Polaire. First she pretends to leave his apartment with the others while Polaire is out getting a few things to bring back to feldman’s apartment, then she puts a phonograph record on and turns up the volume, the song she played was ‘Goodbye’ by Tosti. Everyone thinks that she has left and they leave, Boris thinking he is alone has heard enough of ‘Goodbye’ and breaks the phonograph record, turns on the radio and the next song announced to be played is ‘Goodbye’ by Tosti. Of course what was funny to me was this is the same song that Durbin sings to Franchot Tone in the movie ‘Because of Him’ as she chases him out of a hotel.
Then since I was having a pre-code 1932 weekend I watched the movie ‘Love Me Tonight’ (provided by my local Library) featuring Jeannette MacDonald, Maurice Chevalier, and Myrna Loy before she was Myrna Loy. The music and lyrics were written by Rogers and Hart. The Paramount film quality in this movie was excellent compared to the UA movie. Chevalier’s character a tailor whose name is also Maurice is stiffed by a Vicompte (Charles Ruggles) for several suits that he has neglected to pay for. What does Maurice do but go to the country estate where Ruggles lives to get his money. Who does he run into on the way but Princess Jeanette (MacDonald) riding in her horse drawn carriage singing the song ‘Lover’ by Rogers and Hart. Of course then I really laughed out loud since that is the same song that Durbin sang a duet with herself via a phonograph record, also from the film Because of Him. I laughed a few other times during the pretty risqué movie but just couldn’t get over the irony of what were the chances of watching two different pre-Durbin movies that each featured songs highlighted in one of her 1946 movies. Maybe the title of this post should be Two Degrees to Deanna Durbin…