Director: Alfred E. Green
Goodness, my oh me - this is a simply amazing film experience! I just got the "Forbidden Hollywood Collection volume 1" on the mail today, and after having manipulated my boyfriend to watch it with me (Oh, it's a dirty, dirty picture! It was locked away in a bank vault for 70 years!), here I am, totally excited.
(This film convinced be that it's okay to alter the trith a bit to get your way, so I won't feel bad for using people around me to make me feel better. Thanks, Ruby Stevens.)
Barbara Stanwyck and Nat Pendleton in the beginning of the film. (Was there one 1930's film made in America that didn't include Nat Pendleton? No offence, I like him. But Jeez...)
The plot is quite simple. Lily (played by a lethal pre-code Barbara Stanwyck) runs a speakeasy with her father who sells her body to slimy business men to get the business running. After some inspiration from a wicked old man of a mentor, Lily realizes that a beautiful young woman can go a long way in her career if she just "crushes all sentiment" (way to go, Nietzsche!) and uses everyone for her own purposes.
In a previously cut-out scene, Lily offers a train inspector sexual favours (accompanied by the lovely singing voice of her maid Chico) to be able to get to New York. Wandering the streets with Chico (Theresa Harris), she stops in front of a skyscraper building. She understands that there must be a lot of money in that building, seducing an innocent young man at the employment office and starts her womanizing way of climbing the career ladder - literally from floor to floor. Along the way she seduces a young John Wayne (hey, he could actually be handsome!) and George Brent among others, and soon is covered with furs and diamonds.
One of the cut-out scenes, where the douchebag gropes Stanwyck's breasts and she knocks him over with a beer bottle.
I won't reveal more of the plot, if any of my precious readers haven't seen this marvellous film yet. But for any classic film devotee, this is a must-see - it was one of the main films resulting in a much more strict film cencorship called the Hay's Code. (Hail, Satan.)
The cencors at the time ran amuck about the story of a female sexual predator and her friendly relationship to her black maid Chico. And I must admit, even today one is quite shocked while viewing the film - even though I don't feel to ban it as much as I want to worship it. But the cencors weren't even a little bit thankful to this masterpiece (I mean, just see how tastefully done all the seductions are - obvious, but far from vulgar), and took out the scissors.
But did they stop with only the scissor treatment? Oh no, they had to add a new ending, totally destroying the feeling of the film as a masterpiece. I thought that the original ending was relatively happy and realistic, so that cencored one was... Crap! Total crap! Insulting! Meaningless! A piece of re-used dog shit, to be frank. Why, oh why, did they feel that they had to insult the audience's intelligence that way?
The restored version didn't exist until 2004 (poor people), and when the original, five minutes longer, version finally was discovered in a film vault by Library of Congress curator Mike Mashon (George Willeman is the man credited on Wikipedia), we knew that we would no longer have to suffer.
Trailer for Baby Face.
To sum this up: This is an incredibly innovative, clever and amusing film with as many laughs as chins dropped. I will report back on the other Forbidden Hollywood films, Red-Headed Woman (1932) and Waterloo Bridge (1931). (And when the tax re-payment arrives the next week: watch out, volume 2 and 3!)
A John Wayne youngster and some Baby Face posters, for ya!