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Friday, April 8, 2011

PRE-Code Double Feature DVD

One of my absolute favorite film reviewers is Cliff Weimer who runs the fabulous IN THE BALCONY website.  Here is one of his reviews:

Precode Hollywood Double Feature (VCI Entertainment, $19.99) Although the films are labeled Pre-Code, there’s not a whole lot of prurient material here beyond the malicious plot lines. Hell Harbor rates top billing, and is available in a lovely 64-minute cut (the general release print from 1934) or the 84-minute original version from 1930 (the print of which is perfectly acceptable, but not as nice as the shorter cut). I barely made it through the shorter version without either dozing off or swearing off movie-watching for all eternity, so good luck with the longer one.Lupe Velez is a Caribbean island sexpot; her father, bless his black heart, has sold her off in marriage to Jean Hersholt, who’s only slightly less slimy than algae on driftwood, and who is expecting a big payday when he sells some (stolen, of course) pearls to a visiting American. For no reason I could figure out (Lupe ‘spicks’ English like Ricky Ricardo with a mouth full of gumballs) she decides to kill the American ("Lak the PEEG that he is!"), only falls in love with him first. I spent most of the 64 minutes congratulating myself on not choosing the 84 minute version. Incidentally, in fairness to poor Lupe, her English is better here than Mr. Hersholt’s; he speaks as if he has a Danish caught in his throat, which would be ironic since he’s from Denmark, and I thought of that joke to amuse myself while I waited for the interminable monkeyshines to cease. This one is torture.
On the other hand, I couldn’t figure out why Jungle Bride (1933) is practically thrown in as a bonus. It’s a great print of a wonderfully goofy adventure comedy, highly entertaining. Follow this: Anita Page’s brother has been murdered, and she’s sure that Charles Starrett has done it, so she and her fiancé stalk Starrett and his comic sidekick on a tropical cruise – and when the ship is lost at sea, the four of them are trapped together on a deserted island. Luckily for them, they have food and water and are able to build some fairly intricate huts and houses. Luckily for us, Miss Page’s dresses have all been torn to quite revealing shreds during the shipwreck. Unlike Hell Harbor, everybody here speaks English, too, so there’s THAT going for it. Oh, and Anita gets to be quite smitten with Big Chuck, so much so that she trades in her peekaboo rags for an even skimpier li’l sailor suit. Voyeurism at its finest, and this DVD is worth recommending just for that. It's a hoot 'n' a half.