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The Pre-Code Hollywood Collection [3 Discs] [DVD]

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$39.99
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Overview

Special Features

  • Forbidden Film: The Production Code Era

Synopsis

The Cheat
This Depression-era melodrama chronicles the travails of a wealthy family that is nearly destroyed by a wife's compulsive gambling. The trouble begins when the Long Island housewife loses 10-grand while gambling in a club. Trying hard to conceal this enormous loss from her hubby, she embezzles from a charity fund and tries to win back the fortune by playing the market. Unfortunately, it fails and she is forced to take money from a wealthy fellow who has just come back from Asia. When her husband finds out, he pays the money to the cad, but he wants the wife instead. When he insists, the wife shoots him dead. A trial ensues, and there, the devoted husband sacrifices himself by taking the rap until his wife bursts in and admits her wrongdoing. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Torch Singer
In this musical drama from directors Alexander Hall and George Somnes, Claudette Colbert stars as Sally Trent, a children's radio show host by day and a nightclub singer by night. After giving her only child (a daughter) up for adoption amid hard times, Sally uses the listeners of her show as surrogate children while she searches for the girl in hopes of being reunited. Unfortunately, the girl's father also has plans of tracking him down. Penned by songwriters Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin, some of the songs in the film include "Don't Be a Cry Baby," "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Love," "It's a Long Dark Night," "The Torch Singer". ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi

Hot Saturday
This comedy/drama (which is really more drama) tells the tale of Ruth Brock (Nancy Carroll), a young woman who is at odds with the pace and texture of life in her small town. On the one hand, she is a dutiful daughter and the sole supporter of her aging father (William Collier, Sr.), home-maker mother (Jane Darwell), and younger sister (Rose Coghlin); she works at the local bank in her small upstate town and, from the looks of the film's opening sequence at the bank, may be the most serious and diligent employee under the age of 50 that the bank has. But she's also got a fun-loving, flirtatious side, which comes out when she's in the company of young men, especially her boyfriend and co-worker Conny Billup (Edward Woods). Invited to a party at the local getaway at a nearby lake, she is sidetracked briefly by the attentions of Romer Sheffield (Cary Grant), the town's resident ne'er-do-well -- a playboy of independent means who takes pleasure in the gossip that he knows is stirred by his every move, Sheffield does as he likes, without a care about what anyone thinks. That's fine for him, but his flirtation with Ruth causes her all kinds of problems -- in a fit of jealousy, Conny abandons her at the lake in the middle of the night, and in the ensuing confusion the whole town soon thinks that Ruth was alone with Sheffield at his mansion for hours, till two in the morning, and immediately believes the worst of her. She is fired from her job and can't even speak any longer to anyone in town. Her own mother, who is mostly concerned with the loss of her salary, attacks her. And then a ray of hope arrives in the person of Bill Fadden (Randolph Scott), a one-time neighbor boy who left to become a geologist, and is passing through on his way to do a survey nearby. He's loved Ruth since he was a teenager, and hasn't seen her in years, and their chance meeting in her parents' house leads the to two to decide to marry. But Conny, still jealous and now angry, successfully poisons Bill's image of her. He rejects her, and Ruth's world seems to be collapsing around her once again, until she realizes that her one real chance for redemption lies with the man who started it all, Romer Sheffield. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Merrily We Go to Hell
If only Merrily We Go To Hell was as interesting as its title! To escape an arranged marriage, heiress Joan Prentice (Sylvia Sidney) elopes with reporter Jerry Corbett (Fredric March). Unfortunately, Corbett is not only irresponsible, but also an abusive drunkard. To make matters worse, predatory Claire Hempstead (Adrienne Ames) has set her mind on stealing Corbett away from the hapless Joan. Finally fed up with her besotted mate, Joan walks out on him, only to discover that she's pregnant. The prospect of impending fatherhood causes Corbett to shape up and "dry out" in a hurry, but one still has doubts whether he'll be able to keep his promise never to touch another drop of liquor. Cary Grant has a tiny role as a stage actor in this unsettling blend of romance, drinking jokes, and Victorian melodrama. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Murder at the Vanities
The Earl Carroll Vanities, a popular Broadway revue of the 1930s and '40s, is the setting for this murder mystery interspersed with an assortment of variety acts, including Duke Ellington performing "Ebony Rhapsody" and a novelty number called "Marijuana." Victor McLaglen stars as Bill Murdock, a detective investigating a series of murders during the opening night of a new edition of the Vanities. When private detective Sadie Evans (Gail Patrick) is found murdered, Murdock must investigate between musical numbers to find the killer. When Rita Rose (Gertrude Michael) next turns up dead, Murdock concludes young ingenue Ann Ware (Kitty Carlisle) is the next person marked for death. Murdock has to find the murderer before the ending of the show or else he or she could disappear in the departing crowd of theatergoers. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Search for Beauty
Back in the 1930s, the "Search for Beauty" contests were designed to scout the hinterlands of America and England for beautiful girls and handsome men who might qualify as movie contractees -- though most the winners were drawn from the ranks of Hollywood residents. These contests, coupled with a play by Schuyler E. Gray and Paul R. Milton, formed the basis for this 1934 comedy. Real-life "Search for Beauty" winners Larry "Buster" Crabbe and Ida Lupino (both of whom had already appeared in a few films) head the cast in this story of a contest staged by a two-bit "physical culture" magazine. When the winners, Don Jackson (Crabbe) and Barbara Hilton (Lupino), realize that they've been hired exclusively to pose in bathing suits for the pin-up trade, they leave for the greener pastures of a legitimate health farm. The magazine's crooked publishers try to extort money from Don and Barbara, but they're foiled by a local justice of the peace (Frank McGlynn Sr.) who turns out to be an agent of the U.S. Department of Justice! ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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