We continue our focus on the incredible efforts of institutions like the UCLA Film and Television Archive to produce preservation prints that enable audiences to see films that in many cases would be otherwise unavailable. This double bill from the Classical Hollywood era pairs a pre-Code exploration of crime, scandal, and corruption with a Code film about sexual role reversal whose naughty jokes deviously made it past the eyes of the censors and onto the screen.
Both films were highlighted in recent UCLA Festival of Preservation programs. The double feature will be introduced by Thomas Doherty, author of Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930- 1934 and the forthcoming (Fall 2007) Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration.
Film descriptions courtesy of UCLA’s Festival of Preservation notes. Special thanks to Thomas Doherty (Brandeis University) and Todd Wiener (UCLA Film and Television Archive).
Introduction by Thomas Doherty
February 25 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by William Wyler
US 1933, 35mm, b/w, 82 min.
With John Barrymore, Bebe Daniels, Doris Kenyon
Counsellor at Law unfolds at a breathless pace in the bustling New York law offices of Simon and Tedesco. John Barrymore, in a masterful performance, plays George Simon, a high-powered Jewish lawyer who has worked his way up from tenement to skyscraper by defending accused murderesses, powerful politicians, and the occasional hard-luck case from the old neighborhood. George is adored by his secretary (Daniels), but receives scant affection from his wife (Kenyon), a spoiled socialite who loves her husband's deep pockets but never lets him forget that her ancestors came to the New World on the Mayflower, while George arrived in steerage. In an extraordinary scene, an angry young communist (played by future director Vincent Sherman) accuses George of being a traitor to his class. In true pre-Code fashion, Counsellor at Law is a tough, no-holds-barred look at the class divide.
Preservation funded by The Packard Humanities Institute.
Directed by Hal Roach
US 1940, 35mm, b/w, 83 min.
With Carole Landis, John Hubbard, Mary Astor
This screwball comedy will enlighten anyone who thinks that gender identity, same-sex attraction and homophobia were off limits as subject matter in American movies before the 1960s. Tim and Sally Willows (Hubbard and Landis) bicker constantly because each believes the other leads a more satisfying life, until one night a Hindu idol switches their personalities, voices, and mannerisms. The next morning, chaos ensues when an ultra-feminine Tim flounces into his office while a butch Sally clomps around their apartment making household repairs. The film's delightful silliness is enhanced by skilled comedians like Adolphe Menjou, Donald Meek and Franklin Pangborn.
Preservation funded by Film Foundation and the American Film Institute/National Endowment for the Arts Film Preservation Grants Program.