Forbidden Hollywood on TCM
Monday, 3 March 2008
8 p.m. The Divorcee (1930) – Based on Ursula Parrott’s spicy 1929 novel “Ex-wife,” this highly controversial film was nominated for four Academy Awards® including Best Picture. Norma Shearer won for Best Actress as a woman who decides to match her cheating husband tryst for tryst after catching him husband in a compromising position.
9:30 p.m. Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood (2008) – This never-before seen documentary examines the unique collision of events that resulted in one of the most dynamic – and most delicious – periods in Hollywood history. It’s a fascinating mix of scandal, big business and social history.
10:45 p.m. Night Nurse (1931) – This film from famed director William Wellman is a sassy, unsentimental comedy about a private pediatric nurse named Lora Hart (Barbara Stanwyck). After she applies as an apprentice in a family home, she discovers there is a plot afoot to starve her two rich, fat, young charges to death. The culprit is the family’s chauffeur, Nick (Clark Gable), a villain who plans to marry the kids’ dissolute mother and make off with their trust fund.
Midnight Three on a Match (1932) – This gangster melodrama stars Bette Davis, Joan Blondell and Ann Dvorak as a trio of school chums – Mary, Ruth and Vivian – meeting for a reunion 10 years after high school. This film from director Mervyn LeRoy follows each of the women’s lives. Mary is now a chorus girl after a stint in reform school; level-headed Ruth has a job as a secretary; and sexy Vivian is on the verge of deserting her wealthy husband in favor of a glamorous gangster. The film is noteworthy for the number of future stars making brief appearances, including Humphrey Bogart as “The Mug.”
1:15 a.m. Female (1933) – In director Michael Curtiz’s romantic comedy, Ruth Chatterton (seen in image above) plays Alison Drake, the iron-fisted president of a motorcar company. She oversees the daily operations of her male employees with a predatory gaze, but she meets her match in an equally strong-minded new employee, Jim Thorne (George Brent), and the two engage in a smoldering, contentious, sexually charged duel. The action of the film – one of the first to depict a female character turning a man’s world to her advantage – feeds on the novelty of presenting a woman as a corporate shark and bedroom hound.
2:30 a.m. Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood (2008) – encore.
3:45 a.m. A Free Soul (1931) – Lionel Barrymore captured an Oscar for his portrayal of a brilliant alcoholic lawyer who successfully defends a dashing gangster (Clark Gable) on a murder charge, only to find that his headstrong daughter (Norma Shearer) has fallen in love with his client (image above is from A Free Soul). Shearer and director Clarence Brown also received nominations for their work in this powerful and moving film.