Pre-Code Film

All posts tagged Pre-Code Film

Music To Make Horror Movies By: Ann Sothern

Published July 29, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

ann sothern

In a career spanning 60 years, the magnetic Ann Sothern mastered everything from the pratfalls of delightful physical comedy to the art of pulling heartstrings, subtly, in the form of classic musicals. As many Pre-Code beauties before her, Sothern also dabbled in the darker avenues offered by such Gothic outings as Lady in a Cage, The Killing Kind and The Manitouann sothern lady in a cage

 

1948’s Words and Music, nicely, gave Sothern a justifiably deserved Technicolor moment as she, feelingly, asked Where’s That Rainbow?

the manitou poster

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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“RAMON-CE”: In Gay Madrid

Published April 21, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Roman In Gay Madrid.jpg

Ramon Navarro, one of the more charismatic gay performers to charm his way through early Hollywood talkies, earned his stripes as a Horror Hunk due to a latter day appearance on the Boris Karloff hosted anthology series Thriller. Here, we look at some of his most famous roles in other genres.

It’s the golden rule of slashers – do drugs or have sex (and goddess forbid, if you do both) and you pay the price with the knife. But horror films are not the only moralistic form of entertainment….by far.

Let’s examine the case of Ricardo, the careless youth that Ramon Navarro plays in 1930’s In Gay Madrid. Indeed, Ricardo, who tells impulsive tales and flirts with a dancehall queen, must suffer through the punishing effects of a gunshot wound before being allowed to marry the girl of his dreams, the kind and loyal Carmina (Dorothy Jordan).

Surprisingly chaste for being a Pre-Code film, In Gay Madrid was actually developed as an opportunity for Navarro to show off his singing voice. This he does to solid effect in a couple of grand choral numbers.

But what is most noticeable here is the chemistry that he shares with the handsome David Scott. Scott, as Carmina’s innocent brother Ernesto, definitely plays up his devotion to Ricardo and the friction shared between these two is ultimately far greater than any emotion that happens to accidentally arise between Jordan and Navarro. In Gay Madrid, indeed!

In Gay Madrid 2

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Maid for Horror: Leila Bennett

Published December 8, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

Leila Terror 1

With elastic eyes and a rubbery physique, Leila Bennett enlivened multiple Golden Age comedies, almost always playing domestics. On a controversial level, she even played a maid named Hattie, in black face, in both the stage and screen versions of a piece called The First Year. While this is a decision she probably would have neLeila Dr X 2ver made in a more enlightened time period, thankfully, she did make some correct assessments, career wise. For example, classic fright fans will forever benefit from her choice to appear in a number of fun, highly regarded gothic horrors.

In 1932’s Doctor X, Bennett’s often timid Mamie is forced to reenact the death throes of a serial killer’s victim through the investigative experiments of Lionel Atwill’s determined titular character. Nicely, when Mamie isn’t being terrified by Atwill, she is tending to Joanne, his supportive daughter who is played by the legendary Fay Wray. Coming to Joanne’s defense when Lee Tracy’s manipulative reporter tries to con her, Bennett is able to also display some feistiness here, giving her screen time a fine sense of fun and inventive balance. Leila Terror 2

In 1933’s lesser known Terror Aboard, Bennett displays an aggressiveness not seen in Doctor X. Here, as a maid named Lena, she pursues famed comedian Charles Ruggles’ frazzled steward, Blackie, with an ardent surety. Harassment as humor turns to horror, though, when Lena discovers that John Halliday’s smooth Maximilian, the owner of the ship on which this misadventure occurs, is the man responsible for all of the mayhem and bloodshed that the guests are experiencing. Bennett, nicely, applies a little coy navigation to her concern here, but her efforts to outwit Halliday end in failure. Thrown overboard by the villain, Bennett’s Lena joins the other victims in this Pre-Code slasher pre-curser. Mostly ignored upon its release, this piece’s interesting kills, including death by freezing and assisted suicide, have begun to give it a bit of recognition among gothic connoisseurs, as of late. This will, hopefully, help to put an end Bennett’s semi-obscurity, as well.

Leila Mark 11935’s Mark of the Vampire, dominated by Bela Lugosi’s haunting presence as Count Mora, is probably the most famous of this moldable pro’s terror offerings. But, Maria, her character, is, perhaps, the most pedestrian of the trio represented here. Put in charge of watching over Irina, the film’s heroine played by the regal Elizabeth Allan, Bennett is required to do little more than react in ever growing fright. Her presence, as in the other roles, is substantial and committed to with boundless energy, though. In fact, Bennett has more screen time than the mystical Carroll Borland, whose exotic nature and haunting composure have long made her one of this project’s most memorable features.

Leila Dr X 1.jpg

Seemingly retiring from acting in 1936, Bennett died in New York City at the age of 72. But, forever young in celluloid, this engaging, unique performer is truly ripe for deserved rediscovery now.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Miriam Hopkins: Pre-Code Horror’s Eclectic Wonder!

Published June 24, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

miriam hopkins
It seems like only yesterday that Big Gay Horror Fan was fighting off the advances of some scientifically induced, whip smacking monster. Alas, after asking for a slight commitment – I totally scared HIM off!

The elegant, eternally eclectic Miriam Hopkins (1902-1972) must surely have known what that was like.

jekyll-2As prostitute-showgirl Ivy Pearson in the classic 1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hopkins radiates with frank sexuality during her first encounter with the kind Dr. Jekyll. But as Mr. Hyde’s personality bursts forth with a vengeful emphasis on Ivy, Hopkins reacts with deep layers of majestic, eternally wounded fright. The scenes where Ivy-Hopkins endures Jekyll’s (a superior, Academy Award winning Fredric March) psychotic attentions still resonate with gut wrenching power over 80 years later.

’18 years later, Hopkins joined the ranks of superior supporters in 1949’s The Heiress, a gothic adaption of Henry James’ Washington Square. As (Academy Award winning) Olivia de Havilland’s seemingly air light aunt, Lavinia Penniman, Hopkins delivers scene stealing antics. Here, she paints a woman filled with frivolity but wise to the ways of the world. At the mercy of her rich brother’s 19th Century kindness (a fact the intuitive Hopkins uses to underscore many of her scenes) Hopkins-Penniman encourages shy de Havilland’s romance with a money seeking playboy played by Montgomery Clift. Sure that a little compromise is always necessary for happiness, Hopkins effectively shows concerned shock when de Havilland’s abandoned heroine reacts with steely resolve at the film’s door barring conclusion.miriam the heiress

doomsday-hopkinsIn famed science fiction anthology show The Outer Limits, Hopkins (in one of her final roles) showed another side of her talents with the 1964 episode “Don’t Open Until Doomsday”. As the demented and coquettish Mary Kry, Hopkins, whom had first gained fame for her committed performances in a series of Pre-Code films, is both childlike and savagely determined. Determined to rescue her fiancé from a space-controlled box, that he was sucked into on the eve of their wedding years before, Hopkins-Kry willing traps a young couple in her chilling world of fantasy and alien abduction.

Be sure to check back in the future, as Big Gay Horror Fan (www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan) frequently exposes the creative energy of the grand femmes of horror.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!
miriam hyde