The Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 2 (3-disc)

 

The Divorcee (1930)      A Free Soul (1931)     Night Nurse (1931)

 

Three on a Match (1932)             Female (1933)

 

THE DIVORCEE (1930): After several blissful years of marriage a woman catches her husband in a compromising position and forces him to confess his infidelities Her solution to the problem is to then try to match him tryst for tryst. Based on the 1929 Ursula Parrott novel ‚€œEx-wife,‚€Ě this highly controversial story was first published anonymously, with the author‚€™s name added only after thousands of copies were sold. A FREE SOUL (1931): Lionel Barrymore shines as Stephen Ashe, a brilliant alcoholic lawyer who successfully defends dashing gangster Ace Wilfong (Clark Gable) on a murder charge only to find that his headstrong daughter, Jan (Norma Shearer), has fallen in love with his client. Jan, a fun-loving socialite seeking freedom from her blue-blood upbring, is only too eager to dump her aristocratic boyfriend (Leslie Howard) for the no-good gangster. Barrymore gives a remarkable Oscar-winning performance culminating in a legendary courtroom scene that is powerful and deeply moving. THREE ON A MATCH (1932): Childhood friends Mary Keaton, Ruth Wescott and Vivian Deverse reunite ten years after high school. Mary is now a chorus girl, level-headed Ruth has a job as a secretary, and sexy Vivian is on the verge of deserting her wealthy husband Henry Kirkwood and their baby in favor of a glamorous gangster. FEMALE (1933): In Michael Curtiz's romantic comedy FEMALE, Ruth Chatterton plays Alison Drake, the iron-fisted president of a motorcar company. Alison oversees the daily operations of her male employees with a predatory gaze and frequently exercises her right to engage with them in any way she deems fit. 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. NIGHT NURSE (1931): William Wellman's NIGHT NURSE is a sassy, unsentimental comedy about a private pediatric nurse named Lora Hart (Barbara Stanwyck) who, after applying as an apprentice in a family home, 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. THOU SHALT NOT: SEX, SIN AND CENSORSHIP IN PRE-CODE HOLLYWOOD (2008): Over seventy years later, they've lost none of their power to shock, entertain, and titillate. So-called "pre-Code" movies remain among the most vital films America has ever produced. But why were these films so much more sexually free and socially critical than what came before or after? Who created the Code, and what did it forbid? And why did it finally become a Hollywood commandment? The answer is a fascinating mix of scandal, big business and social history - a unique collision of events that resulted in one of the most dynamic - and delicious - periods in Hollywood history. ....

 

Titles

 

"The Divorcee" (1930). Ms. Shearer's Academy award winning performance as Jerry in the role her husband, Irving Thalberg, initially thought she wasn't sexy enough to play (a few wonderfully seductive portraits, courtesy of Mr. Hurrell were enough to prove his doubts had no basis) is excellent. Great minor role by her future leading man, Robert Montgomery, as well.

"A Free Soul" (1931). Ms. Shearer is Jan Ashe; Mr. Lionel Barrymore (in his Academy Award winning role) is her alcoholic, lawyer father, Stephen Ashe. Young Clark Gable made his cinematic bones with his role as mob heavy Ace Wilfong. For those who've only known Norma for "Marie Antoinette" and "The Women", be prepared for an entirely different actress. Ms. Shearer, resplendent in her erotic white gown, is pure bombshell.

"Night Nurse" (1931). Barbara Stanwyck was at her best in PreCodes (though I think "Illicit" is a better film) and Joan Blondell packs a punch as her nurse friend. This film has a plot to kill children, a nymphomanical mother, drug references and Clark Gable mobbing up again as Nick, the chauffeur.

"Three on a Match" (1932). Anne Dvorak, Joan Blondell and Bette Davis play the three ladies who share the karmic match. One's a bad girl who turns her life around (Blondell); another one is a good girl who remains true to her goodness (Bette Davis); the third has all the luck, money and the love of a faithful husband (Dvorak), but throws it all away for booze, drugs and shady men. Humphrey Bogart, also making his start as a mob heavy, plays her connection/kidnapper, Harve while the charming Warren Williams plays her abandoned husband, Robert.

"Female" (1933). The exceptionally talented Ruth Chatterton plays Alison Drake, president of a successful automobile factory, with a penchant for having trysts with her male secretaries and promptly transferring them to the company's Canadian office. Enter George Brent (Ms. Chatterton's husband off-screen at the time) as designer Jim Thorn and the sparks begin.

Excerpt from Reine des Coeurs review at Amazon HERE

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1930 - 1933

 DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Warner (3-disc) - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Warner (2-disc) - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC
Bitrate:

Disc 1 - The Divorcee (1930) A Free Soul (1931)

Bitrate:

Disc 2 Three on a Match (1932) Female (1933)

Bitrate:

Disc 3 Night Nurse (1931)

Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.54 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 
Audio English (original mono) 
Subtitles

English (CC), French, none

Features

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary on The Divorcee by Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta
Commentary on Night Nurse by Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta

• Trailers for Three on a Match, Female and Night Nurse
• Documentary: Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood (1:07:52)
 

DVD Release Date: March 4th, 2008
3 tiered digipack (individual disc compartments) - inside a cardboard box (see image at top)

Chapters: various

 

Comments:

It seems our collective voices may have been heard about the wonderful world of pre-codes with this Vol.2 of Forbidden Hollywood package now being released to DVD improving upon Vol.1. Warner have added more films - a 3rd disc - and some excellent supplements including two commentaries and a long documentary (and unlike in Vol. 1 - they appear to have labeled the discs correctly!). Overall this is an excellent package. Thank you Warner!

 

This is a 3-disc set and has disc one sharing two Pre-Hayes Code, Norma Shearer features - The Divorcee (1930) and A Free Soul (1931). Disc two has Three on a Match (1932) and Female (1933), while the third disc has the highly anticipated Night Nurse (1931) plus an hour long documentary Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood. There are two commentaries (on The Divorcee and Night Nurse). All three discs are dual-layered and progressive (the supplement documentary is interlaced) - it is coded for regions 1 thru 4 in the NTSC standard. The package itself, also an improvement, is not overlapping but each disc has its own compartment in a three-tired digipack. All five films have original English mono and optional English close-captioned, or French, subtitles.

 

The transfers have Warner's usual consistency but the prints vary a bit in quality. Three on a Match and Female look the best of the five appearing relatively clean and with a more discernable image reflecting in both the sharpness and contrast.  The Divorcee and Night Nurse look somewhat rougher with plenty of minor scratches and light blemishes. I can't complain too much as I am sure these look as good as they possibly could on digital. Sharing two films on an SD disc is really not a negative as the productions are all fairly short in length. The light noise, often appearing as grain, is no worse than we have seen from other Warner films of this era. I hope the screen captures below give you a fair idea. They are all very watchable - representing each film adeptly. The audio is expectantly another weak facet. One should keep in mind that these films are at least 75 years old each and premium sound quality was not at a high level when the films were initially shown theatrically. There are slight hiss instances but I noted no outrageous pops and drop-outs. In the grand scheme of Pre-codes the audio on these films is most acceptable - at times, surprisingly so. Subtitles (English CC or French), standard at this time for Warner, are appreciated and although unnecessary for standard viewing - but the option is there if desired.

 

     

I am very happy with the supplement features. The commentaries are excellent with a wealth of knowledge shared by Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta. Vance is more of an expert acquainted with the silent era (penning numerous books about Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd) but he imparts some good information about pre-code and its many stars including Stanwyck, Gable, Bette Davis, Bogart and Shearer. Maietta and him seem to work well together with only a few gaps and plot explanations or narrations. Certainly in the two separate commentaries the pre-code information is appreciatively overflowing. There are also trailers for Three on a Match, Female and Night Nurse but I thoroughly enjoyed the hour, 7 minute, long 2008 documentary on disc 3 - Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood. It has input comes from numerous sources including film historians Jonathan Kuntz and Rudy Belmer, Professor Camile Paglia, filmmaker John Landis and former MPAA President  Jack Valenti. What I loved most were the extensive clips from pre-code films and some of the amusingly 'naughtier' scenes. I think this was an excellent primer on Pre-code but experts may finds it talks down a shade to them. I think it was a fabulous inclusion and obviously a lot of work went into it's production.   

It's hard to articulate what I find so appealing about these films - but the clothes, attitudes and decor are a big part of the charisma for me. Certainly the, at times, shocking nature of some of the narratives plot-turns and limited skin-scenes represents a unique - and somehow totally honest - view of the era's grass root dynamics. This may infer a slight link to Film Noir with its similar inferences to realism and lack of family-oriented fantasy. This package is, obviously, barely touching the surface of pre-code but I am thrilled with the direction that Warner are taking with these DVD sets. I can't wait for Volume 3. For those interested in this fascinating time in Hollywood this DVD collection is strongly recommended!       

Gary W. Tooze



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Screen Captures

 

The Divorcee (1931)

 

 

 

 


A Free Soul

 

 

 

 


Three on a Match

 

 

 

 

 


Female

 

 

 

 


Night Nurse

 

 

 

 

 

 


DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Warner (3-disc) - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC




 

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