Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|TCM Archives - Forbidden Hollywood Collection Vol 1 / Baby Face / Red-Headed Woman|
Waterloo Bridge 1931
Actors: Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Donald Cook, Alphonse Ethier, Henry Kolker
Genres: Classics, Comedy, Drama, Military & War
Includes: Waterloo Bridge (1931), Baby Face (1933), and Red-Headed Woman (1932).
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Clearing Up the Confusion
J. Michael Click | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 10/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There seems to be a great deal of pre-release confusion concerning what will actually be included on this upcoming set, and why. In the interest of sorting things out, I should first point out that although this is the first "Forbidden Hollywood" collection to be released by Warner Home Video on DVD, the franchise itself is not new. There were previously two "Forbidden Hollywood" boxed sets and a number of double features released on LaserDisc back in the 1990's. Additionally, quite a few "Forbidden Hollywood" titles were also offered on VHS cassette. From the git-go, "Forbidden Hollywood" titles were only culled from that cache of movies that premiered during the few short years after the introduction of "talkies" and the imposition of the Hays Production Code in 1934.
During this time frame, roughly 1929 to mid-1934, Hollywood studio product became increasingly concerned with subject matter that would later be condemned as taboo after the Code came into effect; these so-called "pre-Code talkies" were filled with characters who indulged in premarital sex, extramarital affairs, and even gay and lesbian liaisons. Films touched on hot-button topics such as rape, abortion, feminism, having children out-of-wedlock, drug abuse, and other social ills. And mind you, these things weren't just delicately hinted at in screenplays ... they frequently were shown on-screen and discussed quite frankly. After the Hays Code was adopted by the motion picture industry as a self-censorship tool, this group of films was deemed unacceptable for future distribution and exhibition without judicious editing to trim out now-objectionable material, and so they became, literally, "Forbidden Hollywood" product.
This new two-disc DVD set will feature three titles, but four films, two of them extremely rare. The first disc will include James Whale's 1931 "Waterloo Bridge", a film once thought "lost" and for the last 20 years only screened at film retrospectives (and apparently once or twice on TCM several years ago). The 1940 remake starring Vivien Leigh, though a wonderful and deservedly beloved film, will not be included here since it is not from the pre-Code era, and was never suppressed as part of the "Forbidden Hollywood" catalogue. Instead, the second film on this first disc will be the racy 1932 Jean Harlow vehicle, "Red-Headed Woman", which pushed the envelope back in the day for its bold depiction of a sexually free secretary who sets her sights on her married boss.
The second disc will include two versions of a single film, the 1933 scorcher "Baby Face", starring Barbara Stanwyck as a blonde bombshell who - after being pimped out by her father in her own hometown - moves to New York and sleeps her way up the corporate ladder to the very top. Many film historians point to "Baby Face" as the single film most responsible for the introduction of the Hays Code, the one that ushered in an era of censorship that was to last for more than 30 years. Intriguingly, the version that so shocked the public was actually an edited version of the original cut, which then disappeared for over 70 years ... until a complete print was found, restored, and finally premiered on the revival circuit in early 2006. That long-awaited, long-sought original version will be included on this set, as will be the edited version that managed to cause such an uproar when it played theatres in 1933.
And there you have it, the official contents of the "Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Volume One", enough to have a large number of pre-Code devotees jumping for joy at the chance to finally see (and own!) some seldom-displayed jewels. Let's just all hope that Volumes Two, Three, and so on are quick to follow!"
An excellent choice
Douglas M | 09/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The films of Pre-Code Hollywood (before 1934) have always held a special place in the history of Hollywood. The subjects were treated far more realistically than after the Code was imposed. This selection focuses on 3 films with 3 major central performances.
"Baby Face", starring a relentless Barbara Stanwyck, is a 1933 Warner Brothers film which traces the rise and rise of a tart. Stanwyck was quoted once as saying that the film was slated for her to give her glamour but that is the least of it. She is certainly dolled up but it is her tough realism that really makes the role as she leaves a trail of men in her path from poverty to riches. The early scenes in her father's speakeasy are particulary powerful. Look for a young John Wayne in the cast too. The DVD contains the recently discovered Director's Cut before the film was hacked by the Censors, so you really get to see what the fuss was about. It is interesting to observe how the cuts did not destroy the flow of the story. Part of the Censor's objections was that the heroine did not get her come-uppance so the tacked on ending in the cut version assures us that she ends up where she started, which was in fact ambiguous in the original version.
"Red Headed Woman" is probably Jean Harlow's toughest role, playing like Stanwyck a heartless tart who climbs her way to the top. Other actresses on the MGM payroll did not want the unsympathetic role but Harlow, with hair dyed from the trademark platinum blonde, has the requisite humour to put it over. Parts of the film are very funny with Una Merkel entertaining as Harlow's sidekick. The ending is hilarious with no contrived retribution for our heroine. The film really helped put Harlow on top and type cast her in the public's mind even when MGM later softened her image.
"Waterloo Bridge" is the early Universal version of the MGM favorite, this time directed by James Whale. Film historians who have seen this version have always claimed it is far superior to the version starring Vivien Leigh in 1940 with a memorable performance by Mae Clarke. (By the way, that's Mae Clarke peeking out of the DVD Case). It is a treat to see and notable for a very early appearance of Bette Davis in a small supporting role. Compared to the MGM film, this version is much closer to the original play, both in script and the way it is filmed. It has a realism and sense of tragedy which is more moving than the glossy tearjerker from MGM. Douglas Montgomery, as the soldier, is far more convincing than the starry Robert Taylor but you can see why it would never have been the box office bonanza the MGM version was - the difference between parsimonious Universal in 1931 and glamorous MGM in 1940.
The DVD set contains trailers of "Baby Face" and "Red Headed Woman" and a cursory introduction by Robert Osborne. The film prints are fine given the age of the films. The worst is probably the released version of "Baby Face" but once you have picked up where the cuts were made, you may not view it again, so it doesn't matter.
The package would have been improved with a suitable documentary about the significance of the films, if only because both "Baby Face" and "Red Headed Woman" explore some interesting ideas about the power of woman over men. In both films, men are the victims, in the former of Stanwyck's hatred and the latter Harlow's greed. Both women use sex brazenly to achieve their ambitions."
PatrickJS | Los Angeles, CA | 12/15/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I won't bother discussing the films themselves since that has been discussed and if you're reading this you're probably familiar with 30s cinema anyway.
I'd like to express my disappoinment with these DVDS. Not only did Warner Bros (WB, not TCM, because WB owns these films and markets them) do a cheap job on the DVDs by putting two-to-a-disc instead of three seperate discs, as well as an embarassingly "let's do this quick" "introduction" pertaining to the three films (which barely lasts over a minute!), but the discs themselves are mis-labeled! Disc 1 contains the contents of Disc 2 and visa versa. Where is the quality control?
I admit that I am slightly biased, as I am a huge Jean Harlow fan and in this reviewer's opinion Miss Harlow's legacy deserves better than this slapped-together job, but the overall product should've been of a higher quality and the films themselves deserved better than sharing DVD space together, especially given the SRP (suggested retail price) of this product."
Reine des Coeurs | New York, NY USA | 09/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For many fans of Pre-Code cinema, the only options to watching the movies we cherish has been to fastiduously comb through television listings, spend outrageous sums of money on limited release VHS versions or pray that your particular favorite is released with a Signature Collection DVD set. Pre-Codes aren't often given prime time slots and some of the best ones are still vaulted and unavailable in any format. Thank goodness this particular set is being released and may it hopefully be the springboard for the release of many other such sets.
As for the films themeselves, "Red Headed Woman", "Baby Face" and "Waterloo Bridge" are excellent choices both for connisseurs and classic film fans unfamiliar with this particular time in cinematic history. Jean Harlow could not have become the movie myth she eventually did in the post Breen years. Stanwyck, an exceptional actress in many genres, was at her best in many of her Pre-Codes and it's about time her fans got the chance to see one of her devilish best. As a fan of Mark Viera's "Sin in Soft Focus" and Mick LaSalle's "Complicated Women" who has not yet had the opportunity to watch the much praised Mae Clark, "Waterloo Bridge", I cannot wait to see this particular film.
December cannot come quickly enough."