Pre-Code Unknown

The Late Show Late Movies Blogathon is OVER — except, as befits the nature of the thing, I anticipate a late entry or two.

Meanwhile, the third in our series of Forgotten Pre-Codes over at the Daily Notebook today is SING AND LIKE IT. I’m kind of shuffling through genres, here — not sure I’ll find a good enough western from the period, but for comedy we’re spoiled for choice. This one is so good it’s really surprising it’s not better known.

Don’t be put off by Ned Sparks’ incredulous reaction above — he makes that face in response to everything.

17 Responses to “Pre-Code Unknown”

  1. It’s a shame Ned Sparks never got to work with Walter Matthau.

  2. David Boxwell Says:

    I like to affect the Full Pert, whenever presented with anything or anyone that I am supposed to impressed by, but which isn’t impressive at all: a flat, nasal, unemotional deadpan wisecrack expressed in 30s argot.

  3. Throw in Allen Jenkins and you have some kind of celluloid heaven!

  4. It’s probably not better known due to it being a Seiter film with no big stars, since Seiter was mostly a comic journeyman who gets little notice outside Sons Of The Desert or Colleen Moore silent devotees. I find his films generally likeable (he has two of my three favorite Wheeler and Woolsey films, then again he also did Room Service, which I can’t stand) and he sometimes has moments of inspiration. Another example apart from yours at The Forgotten is the perfume girls bombing of Henry Fonda in The Moon’s Our Home – Seiter follows the (comically large) wafts of scent as they reach Fonda, nauseating and finally driving him out of the store.

  5. His timing’s maybe not as tight as some pre-code masters, but otherwise Seiter has a sure hand. And the lack of stars may not be as big a difficulty for the film today, since many starting out on a discovery of old cinema don’t even have basic familiarity with the best-known faces of Old Hollywood. So suddenly Warren William is on a par with Barrymore — the main thing is visibility, and thanks to TCM, WW has the edge! And I get the impression Pert Kelton is creeping up on Garbo.

  6. Kelton must be good! In one of her films, I took a serious dose of El Brendel and didn’t even blink.

  7. She cancels him out like anti-matter.

    Planning to write something on Sunnyside Up! where Brendel maybe isn’t as bad as usually… maybe…

  8. I didn’t think so. His schtick was less finished, sort of like being jabbed by a blunt pencil vs. a sharp one.

  9. Maybe it was just a director yelling “Stop smirking!” that made the difference, who knows. He only smirks SOME of the time in that one.

  10. Christopher Says:

    its much to our great loss we don’t have Ned Sparks and movie titles like SING AND LIKE IT! a days :o))

  11. Is “Viva Villa” pre code? That’s a sort-of-Western I’ve always been curious about…plus there’s that Michael Curtiz opretta from 1930, “Under a Texas Moon”…

  12. It’s a fantastic mixed-message title. You hear it, and it’s, like, “What?” It’d never be allowed in today’s market-tested Hollywood, although I would argue that Cowboys & Aliens comes close.

  13. La Faustin Says:

    What about TO THE LAST MAN for Pre-Code Western?

  14. Viva Villa is 1934 so it’s right on the cusp. I’m sure it IS interesting.

    Under a Texas Moon doesn’t seem to be available among my contacts, alas. I enjoyed Curtiz’s Frank Fay films from 1930.

  15. The point on obnoxiousness of the characters in SALI also seems much in evidence in The Moon’s Our Home, where Sullavan is an impulsive, violent brat of an actress with a hilariously OTT screen name I am sorry no porno actress used, and Fonda a snobbish Mr. Great White Hunter, writing travelogues with muscular prose all while despising the popular culture that he traffics successfully in. It’s like someone thought, “let me write a love story for a man and woman, each so awful they’re able to clear a room”.

  16. JacK La Rue goes west! And I’ve never seen such an early Henry Hathaway, so that’s of interest too…

    Re The Moon’s Our Home: “Cherry Chester” — that’s pretty good, though I’m not sure Sullavan had the figure to stand behind it.

  17. Ned Sparks was born a British Subject. He was born in Canada, but there is no such thing as a Canadian citizen prior to 1947.

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