Monday, July 04, 2005

Pre-Code Summer Screenings

There are a few great pre-code series that are underway at art house theaters across the country that have been getting a bit of press. New York's Film Forum has assembled a rare collection of Paramount Pre-Codes, many of which are not available on DVD or video and haven't been seen on the small screen in many years. Paramount stars featured include Kay Francis, Claudette Colbert, Cary Grant, Mae West, Marlene Dietrich, Miriam Hopkins, and Gary Cooper. I only wish I could be there to see them! Paramount arguably pushed the envelope more than any other studio until the Hays Office clamped down on things in 1934. The outrageous Murder at the Vanities and Search for Beauty are worth a look if you have never caught these oddball delights.

Over on the left coast, another pre-code series is screening at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, California. Though many of the features in this series are screened frequently on TCM, there are still some rarities. The highlight of the series will be Library of Congress motion picture curator Michael Mashon proudly introducing his spectacular find, an uncut version of Barbara Stanwyck's Baby Face. This will be the Bay Area premiere of the restored version, which contains five minutes of racy material that was excised prior to the film's official release. Mashon will also present a few other Warner Brothers classics: Night Nurse, Employees' Entrance, and Two Seconds. Could these all be part of Warner Home Video's planned pre-code DVD box set slated for sometime in 2006?

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