Search - Pre-Code Hollywood - The Risque Years (Of Human Bondage / Millie / Kept Husbands) on DVD

Pre-Code Hollywood - The Risque Years (Of Human Bondage / Millie / Kept Husbands)
Pre-Code Hollywood - The Risque Years
Of Human Bondage / Millie / Kept Husbands
Actors: Clara Kimball Young, Joel McCrea, Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Helen Twelvetrees
Directors: John Cromwell, John Francis Dillon, Lloyd Bacon
Genres: Drama
UR     1999     4hr 9min

In the years before Hollywood submitted to the self-imposed censorship of the Production Code, filmmakers were free to use adultery, prohibition drinking, and sexual double standards to explore the moral complexity of the...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Clara Kimball Young, Joel McCrea, Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Helen Twelvetrees
Directors: John Cromwell, John Francis Dillon, Lloyd Bacon
Creators: Alfred Jackson, Ann Coleman, Charles Kenyon, Donald Henderson Clarke, Forrest Halsey
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Classics
Studio: ROAN
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 10/26/1999
Original Release Date: 07/20/1934
Theatrical Release Date: 07/20/1934
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 4hr 9min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Dazzling Trip Into our Pre-Code Past!
Jery Tillotson | New York, NY United States | 05/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Millie" and "Kept Husbands," both made in the very early 30s, are both a delight--a journey into America's past when movies were amazingly frank and frisky. "Millie" is the dramatic show-stopper with the legendary Helen Twelvetrees delivering a powerhouse performance. She's Millie, a weepy, naive young woman who marries a jerk and then she falls for another, bigger jerk. She has a baby who grows up to be a beautiful young woman. You watch Millie being used and dumped by more heels and she becomes increasingly bitter and gradually becomes an alcoholic. By this time, Millie has become a bitter, haggard woman who murders the sleazy heel who tries to seduce her daughter. In the courtroom scenes, Twelvetrees looks amazinly like Susan Hayward in her later years and the movie ends rather abruptly. But the scenes of Twelvetrees defending her daughter will stay in your mind, long after the movie has ended. "Kept Husbands,' is a risque, sophisticated drama, beautifully scripted and acted by Joel McCrae and Dorothy Mackail. Both are delightful as the beautiful young couple who marry for all the wrong reasons. Dorothy wants to "keep" her handsome architect all to herself and arranges a In-Name-Only high priced job with her father's construction empire. Joel is finally repulsed of being a kept husband and flees. The two stars are totally delightful. This is the first time I've seen Mackail and in some scenes, she looks exactly like Marion Davies, a close friend. You can't go wrong visiting the past in these two gems of a by-gone era where women were always beautifully gowned and everyone sat around having cocktails, flirting madly with each other and then slinking off into the boudoir."
The Alpha version of Millie is exceptional.
Prometheus | USA | 08/22/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Alpha version of Millie is exceptional. The print quality is outstanding and far better than I expected. This is the old Pre-Code story about Mother Love with exceptional performances by Helen Twelvetrees, Joan Blondell, Lilyan Tashman, and John Halliday."
Samantha Kelley | USA | 07/22/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Millie (Helen Twelvetrees) is a young girl jumping into marriage with a man named John (James Hall). Despite her inhibitions, she puts all she has into their relationship and bears a child, but finds that John has been cheating on her. She drops him and soon moves on to Tommy (Robert Ames), a reporter who appears to be very devoted to her. Not the case, as pointed out by Millie's two best friends, lovers Helen (Lilyan Tashman) and Angie (Joan Blondell). Time goes on, and Millie's daughter Connie (Anita Louise) becomes a beautiful young teenager, who unsuspectingly draws glances from men old enough to be her father.

For a pre-code, this film is surprisingly dull. Yes Millie is a woman who has "loved" multiple men who have jilted her, and yes she knows men that try to take advantage of both jaded and naive women, but these things are staples of melodrama, a genre that transcended the production code. The most shocking thing here is the lesbian relationship between Blondell and Tashman, which is only mildly important to the story."
How To Keep a Football Hero
"Tee" | LA | 03/11/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"KEPT HUSBANDS is a solid telling of an often-told story: spoiled rich girl sees good-looking poor hunk she wants, marries him with predictable marital difficulties down the road deciding who "wears the pants" in the family. When steel heiress Dorothy Mackaill's father invites a much-admired young worker home to dinner, Mackaill and her snooty mother are aghast that someone from the lower classes will be dining with them. Playgirl Dot's attitude changes though when she sees the man in question is hunky Joel McCrea - and when she learns he is the football hero she swooned over in the papers five years earlier, she's out to land him as a husband within the next month. Of course she is successful, getting daddy to promote him to an executive position that is pays a fortune and is pretty much a non-existant job, but not before their lavish honeymoon in Europe where Dottie repeatedly wires Pops for more money and buys $10,000 furs without much of a second thought. Virtuous McCrea can't help but wonder if he is on the way to becoming a counterpart to Mackaill's society friend Clara Kimball Young, who married and emasculated a promising archetect and made him basically her hand-maiden and now treats him with less affection than her pampered pekennese.

This is a smooth little drama that is predictable but goes down that well-worn path very effectively. Dorothy Mackaill, a fairly big star of the day for a period, does very well as the willful heiress and Joel McCrea, in one of his first films, is very dashing and appealing as the honorable man of modest means. Silent movie fans will want to check this out for rare major talking roles from well-known character actress Mary Carr (playing McCrea's mother) and former star Clara Kimball Young. Ned Sparks provides comic relief as the deadpan border at Carr's home who always peppers his comments with famous phrases, often slightly mangled.

This Alpha print is very good to excellent with some imperfections and blotches as well as the occasional broken-film repair with a quick snippet missing.