Sunday, November 26, 2006

Previewing the "Forbidden Hollywood" Collection

LA Times writer Susan King offers a nice summary and sneak preview of the forthcoming TCM Archives "Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 1." King explains how desperate studio executives got around the lax content guidelines in place in the early thirties.

All three films in the set (the newly restored "Baby Face," James Whale's "Waterloo Bridge" (pictured above), and "Red Headed Woman") will air on TCM on December 4th, the evening before the official release of the DVD set. As a bonus, TCM will also air three other Pre-Code gems, including Stanwyck's "Night Nurse," "Union Depot" which pairs Joan Blondell with the dashing Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and the seedy sounding "Under 18" with our favorite cad of the era, Warren William.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)

Recently screened this frequently censored MGM early horror film starring Myrna Loy at her vampiest in one of her last "bad girl" roles. Though the film is quite dated with its racially insensitive dialogue and stereotypes, it is nicely filmed and fun to see MGM give the picture what had to be considered big-budget treatment for its time.

Boris Karloff (buried under makeup) is sufficiently sinister, hissing most of his lines. Karen Morley attempts hysteria as the hero's girlfriend who is often in peril, though she comes off quite flat here. I remember Karen was honored at the 1999 San Francisco International Film Festival, but she was unable to attend. Wished I could have seen her - her career was effectively ended by the Red Scare in the late 40s and early 50s. Morley died in 2003.

The film is part of the superb Warner "Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection" featuring six classic screamfests, most with entertaining commentaries and trailers. The DVD features a fully restored uncut version of the film. And if you are squeamish - never fear, this is no "Saw III."