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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My review of Maud Hart Lovelace’s The Trees Kneel at Christmas
What a delightful book! I’d worried that it wouldn’t be on a par with her other books, such as Betsy, Tacy and Tib, but it was so thoughtful, rich in description, and in love with the American-Lebanese community in Brooklyn that I needn’t worry. All great writers have empathy–Charles Dickens at the head of the list. Maud Hart Lovelace does too. She wrote a warm description of little Afify, her brother Hanna, and their parents, grandmother, and grand uncle. She showed their faith in action at they built a new home and community in a place as foreign from Lebanon as Brooklyn.
I had placed the book on hold long ago and only now received it. I thought it was the wrong time to read it but it snowed today. My town is blanketed in a rich heavy spiritual snow just like in Afify’s Brooklyn on Christmas Eve. All the trees knelt in Ann Arbor on March 1.
A video from Ann Arbor to go along with the book. Anyone else’s tree kneeling today?