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film reviews God's Sparrows Rose supposes with Lily too

Rose’s Supposes with Lily too

Rose and Lily, of God’s Sparrows fame, discuss Sparrows, the silent film that inspired God’s Sparrows. Plenty of scary alligators, mean dogs, and kidnapped children.

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film reviews

Be Careful–Pre-Code is a Dangerous World

After July’s #CleanMovieMonth, I binged-watched three Pre-Code films. Oh, the Poverty! Death! Adultery! Even More Death! A Code movie might be safer and better, but oh, what you’d miss.

In the first movie binge, Night Life in Reno, even the tiniest bit of adultery gets you shot. First, the avenging wife goes after the adulterer and then the adulterie! After watching this, I wouldn’t go to Reno for your divorce if I were you.

Then, I watched Blonde Crazy with Joan Blondell and Jimmy Cagney as a mild Bonnie and Clyde duo, and poor Jimmy gets it with a Tommy sub-machine gun! On a crowded New York street, no less. Yes, in Pre-Code, cops don’t even care about grandmas walking down the street. As I watched, I shouted, “Oh, come on. Really? A Tommy gun for a safecracker?” Yes, that’s what you get in Pre-Code.

Poster - Blonde Crazy 01.jpg

Finally, I watched Safe in Hell, where it’s anything but. The star’s not only led into prostitution but she kills a man–twice. Yes, the same man, both times to save her honor. As sentimental as this movie was, it was my favorite. I cried as they led the star to the gallows with her white throat gleaming–she’d been in the tropics for months and her skin was still milky white and she never needed a haircut. Perhaps it is better in Hell.

Safe in Hell 1932.jpg

I have to admit, I love the grittiness of Pre-Code films–the desperation of the people. No one lives a safe life of binge-watching movies, reading Facebook, and waking to a day at a secure job. No, in Pre-Code films, all depends on the characters’ wits and morality. I too dream of surviving in a Pre-Code world, walking to the gallows with my milky throat, my honor secure.

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film reviews

What’s a screwball comedy without Billie Burke–not a screwball comedy

As you know, I was upset by One Night in Lisbon because Billie Burke disappeared halfway through the picture–I know, outrageous–, but we get lots of BIllie in We’re Rich Again, and she’s worth every second. Here’s her introduction to a gorgeous swimmer:

The whole movie turns everything upside-down. Billie and her husband are no longer rich, they have no money even for dinner, but they fill their swimming pool. Their oldest daughter is getting married and she mopes around reading a book–my kind of girl. The Grandmother plays polo with her own gang of young men. And no one does anything about the fact that they have no money until the two-faced country cousin arrives. It’s all wackadoodle like a screwball comedy with Billie Burke should be.

Again you can catch it free on youtube.

 

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film reviews

The third act is weak — add more cowbells!

I don’t know about you, but I watch lots of old films that are about the theater and they are always telling the playwright that his (it’s always a “his” in old films) third act is weak, needs more punching up–more cowbells!

Well, the film, One Night in Lisbon, with Madeleine Carroll and Fred MacMurray took that advice to heart and added these to the third act:

A change of country

A new character or two–can’t tell you who or it’ll ruin the plot

Nazis spies!

Espionage!

and of course,

Danger, danger, danger!

They added all these cowbells to the third act of what otherwise had been a cute romantic comedy, with Fred MacMurray pursuing Madeleine Carroll with bird calls and kisses that reminded her of elephants. Doesn’t sound particularly romantic, but it was in a quirky way. Although, some of Fred’s pursuit borderlined on harassment. Oh, and funny Billie Burke simply disappeared by the third act–why leave her out and replace her with Nazis, espionage, and danger?

I disappeared? Why, I had the funniest lines.

A fun film that you can catch free on youtube. Just remember to act surprised by the change in direction it takes–don’t let me spoil it. More cowbells!

Of course, my favorite Madeleine Carroll/Fred MacMurray film is Honeymoon in Bali.