Beginning this weekend, Cinematical contributor Martha Fischer and myself will begin to bring you highlights from the long-anticipated Pre-Code festival at Manhattan's Film Forum. The festival, which runs from December 1 through December 21, will showcase a large sampling of films released prior to 1934, the year when Hollywood adopted the infamous Hays Code. The code was a strict set of industry guidelines on what could and could not be shown in an industry film, and was rigorously followed for the next 30-odd years. The code forbade such things as nudity, revenge killings, depiction of drug use, interracial coupling, crime methodology (you can't demonstrate to the audience how to crack a safe), child-birth scenes, and depiction of priests as criminals, among many other things.
While we don't yet have an exact list of what films we will be reviewing for you, a quick consultation with Martha earlier today has given me a good idea of which films are more likely than not to be written up. You can almost certainly count on us to cover 1932's Call Her Savage, staring Clara Bow as an incurable wild woman who brains her husband with a stool one day and heads down to the local gay bar. Hoopla, another Clara Bow sizzler in which she educates a dizzy farm boy about the ways of the world, is also on our list. 1933's Blood Money, a heist film condemned by the Legion of Decency for inciting "law abiding citizens to crime" will not be missed. Nor, in all likelihood, will the Joan Blondell vehicle Broadway Bador the Spencer Tracy film Bottoms Up, about a scam involving the movie business.
Other films being screened that we hope to cover, time permitting, include The Bowery, Now I'll Tell, The Yellow Ticket, The Tria of Vivianne Ware and Sailor's Luck. Stay tuned to Cinematical for all the coverage, and if you're in the Manhattan area, check out more information about the festival on Film Forum's Web site.