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Pre Hays Code Movies: My new nerd obsession

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I tried to do a movie blog last year but never found the time to update it. My in doing that, I watched a good number of movies from the teens, twenties, and thirties. And what I found is that I really really like Pre Hays Code films.

Hollywood could be remarkably racy in the 20s and 30s, and these films have a realism to them that largely vanishes in the 30s and 40s. Honestly, with a few notable exceptions, I feel like the late 30s into the early 50s were the weakest period of Hollywood filmmaking. The restrictions on the subject matter combined with an overly theatrical style of acting makes for some stiff productions - particularly from the studio system.

But the pre Code stuff can be wild.

I'm going to list some of my favorites. Anyone who is into Hollywood history can add their thoughts.

Red Headed Woman (1932) - This movie would be somewhat scandalous if it was released today. Jean Harlow (who is sexy as hell) puts on a red wig, ****s a rich married man, ruins his marriage, gets him to marry her, ****s the chauffeur, and attempts murder. And she gets away with it. And ends up with a happily ever after.

Cleopatra (1934) - An early Cecil B. DeMille film featuring naked slave girls and Claudette Colbert dressed like a ****tail waitress at Casar's Palace. It's historically ridiculous but moves much faster and is far more fun than the Liz Taylor version.

Horse Feathers (1932) - All the early Marx Brothers films are worthwhile, and Duck Soup is the "must see classic," but this is the film where it feels like Groucho is getting away with something. The college widow plot is filled with double entendres. And the football plot is basically about bootlegging and point-shaving. It also has really fun musical numbers whereas - outside of Duck Soup - the musical numbers in Marx Brothers films are usually painful.

The Public Enemy (1931) - Like the schmuck Noah said in The Sopranos: "Cagney is modernity."

Freaks (1932) - Again, this would be controversial and probably unfilmable today. Maybe Harmony Korine could get away with it.

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