Archive for April 12, 2009

The Seven Wonders of the Pre-Code World: 2

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on April 12, 2009 by dcairns

Generalized Wrongness.


Nothing is as deliciously wrong as pre-code wrongness, as this still from William Wellman’s NIGHT NURSE demonstrates. And it’s a complicated thing, this wrongness. Taboo stuff that’s dark and scary, rendered perhaps slightly less threatening by history’s forward progress (towards…?) jostles for space with the merely naughty. We can enjoy the filmmakers’ skill and cheek in sliding suggestiveness or blatant smut past the authorities, or shudder at their crassness in matters of race or gender politics. Always, with the pleasure, a little malaise.


Intertitle of the Week: ‘ome

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2009 by dcairns


The cockney traveler’s lament.

From THE RETURN OF THE RAT, directed by Graham Cutts and starring Britain’s top film star of the mid-twenties, Ivor Novello. This is a sequel to THE RAT, from the same team, augmented by assistant director Alfred Hitchcock, which sadly isn’t available anywhere I know of (see Comments). Hitch and Cutts became enemies after that production, with Cutts objecting to Michael Balcon’s giving Hitch a directing gig. According to Hitch and Alma Reville, Hitch was of invaluable help to Cutts, and Cutts resented that. Hitch also considered Cutts, to put it bluntly, visually illiterate.


Looking at THE RETURN OF THE RAT, it seems that Cutts was perfectly competent, but perhaps uninspired, and it’s possible that the Hitchcockian suggestions he rejected were the more interesting ones. The movie does have Novello swanning around Paris in sharp suits, as a semi-reformed apache who’s made good, and Hitchcock alumni Gordon Harker, Marie Ault, and Isabel Jeans. And also,  special guest spot by the Virtual Reality Josephine Baker ~