Thursday 19 July 2012

Lessons from Precode Hollywood

Precode films are not only enjoyable, but educational. Several ladies of the early talkies have taught me alot about life and how to behave. Here are my top five:

1) No Matter What, Try and Have Fun
Teacher: Mae West (who else)
When: "Im No Angel" (1933)

Mae West is all about having fun. Even as, Tira - the dancer/ lion-tamer - during the trial where her true love has refused to marry her, she remained witty, upbeat and in control. I have tried to embody her free spirited behaviour and sense of humour.

She is always smiling...

2) Savour Your Best Moments
Teacher: Greta Garbo
When: "Queen Christina" (1933)

Not only, did Greta's triumph in "Queen Christina" break boundaries which respect to gay/ lesbians in film and the presentation of sophisticated adult content, it it also highly educational. Greta and her wonderful scene after her night with her real life and on-screen lover John Gilbert, shows audiences the beauty in savouring the important moments.


3) Be a Good Hostess
Teacher: Ruth Chatterton
When: Female (1931)

Whether with her work colleagues, school friends or men she is trying to seduce, Ruth Chatterton is always the perfect hostess. I don't no if it is the hospitality, constant food and drink available, witty conversation or the offer of a bed to stay the night that make Ruth so successful, but I don't have any other explanation.

At Ruth's everyone is taken care of...

4) In Life, Remember What You Love the Most (even when you think it is gone)
Teacher: Norma Shearer
When: "The Divorcee" (1930)

"The Divorcee" is generally known as a chronicle of sin and frivolity, but even in this there is a lesson. Although people usually criticise the end of the film for being anti-women and chauvinistic, Norma's character feels a renewed love for her husband and they reunite in the final scene.

5) Women Can Do Anything
Teacher: Kay Francis
When: "Man Wanted" (1932), "Mary Stevens M.D." (1933), "Dr Monica" (1934)

Sorry to all the males out there, Precode is mostly centred on the concerns and problems of women. Kay Francis proves that despite gender prejudice, she can succeed in any profession she wants. Kay is always confident and capable in medicine and business showing women can do anything.

Blink and you will miss it....

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