Starting on December 1, Manhattan's Film Forum will begin one of its most anticipated retro-festivals to date: a three-week sleaze-a-thon of Hollywood films released just prior to the introduction of the Hays Code. The code, a detailed compendium of industry guidelines on what should and should not be seen in a Hollywood film, was laid down in 1934 and ruled the roost in tinsel town for the next thirty years. Among other things, the code expressly forbade nudity, interracial coupling, desecration of the U.S. flag, revenge killings, use of illegal drugs, crime methodology (you can't show the audience how to crack a safe), scenes of child-birth, depiction of priests as criminals, illicit bedroom decor, casual liquor use and "white slavery"!

Cinematical will hopefully be on hand to cover some of the classics being screened, including 1932's Call Her Savage, starring Clara Bow as a whip-wielding wild woman named Nasa Dynamite who brains her husband with a stool one day and then heads off to the local gay bar. (Her incurable wildness is later explained by the revelation that she is half-Indian) There's also Born to be Bad, with Loretta Young as a woman who thinks she's won the lotto when her young son is run over by a millionaire. Raoul Walsh's Yellow Ticket, with Elissa Landi trying to escape Czarist Russia by posing as a prostitute, will also be screened. Joan Blondell vehicle Broadway Bad, which ran once in 1933 before being slapped with an outright veto by the Hays office, is also on the bill.

The festival opens on Friday, December 1, with a new print of the Spencer Tracy screwball comedy Me and My Gal and runs through December 21. For more information, contact Film Forum.


categories Movies, Cinematical