Sorry about the lack of screenshots, but I recently got a hospital bed and have become addicted to watching on the TV as a result. As you’ll notice, I’ve been watching a lot of pre-codes. I love them so much! Oh, and coming soon, I am going to do a sequel to the Deanna Durbin punishment posts with a series Esther Williams punishment articles. I think I can get my hands on about 16 of her films.
1. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – Not Recommended: More like the Dark Knight takes an elephant-size dump on its viewers. This movie is garbage. It’s no better than Lincoln or Iron Man 3. In fact, it’s worse because we actually have high expectations going in to it. What were they thinking following up a well-made film noir with this cartoonish comic book shit? Joseph Gordon-Levitt is completely unbelievable as a cop. Catwoman doesn’t even belong in this iteration of Batman. She simply cannot be taken seriously and just reminds us of how bad the film is with every frame she appears in. Batman spends the majority of the film ruminating and being fed spiritual claptrap from wisemen stereotypes instead of doing anything. Bane struts around like an ass, then disappears while we are supposed to be overwhelmed by the “revolution”, except we’re already lost to the film and are laughing our assess off at its incompetence.
The only redeeming thing about Christopher Nolan’s unholy piece of crap is Bane’s voice. That’s it. This movie is a joke.
2. Distant (2002) – Approach With Caution: You just end up talking to the screen, saying things like, “He’s watching TV next to a pillar rather than talking to the other guy…DISTANCE!” It’s very brick to the head obvious and pretty boring with a few nice landscape shots thrown in for beauty.
3. Vampyros Lesbos (1971) – Not Recommended
4. The Last of the Mohicans (1936) – Worth A Look
5. Trial by Trigger (1944) – Worth A Look
6. Funny Games (1997) – Not Recommended: Was that supposed to be startlingly or horrifying? To me, it was just boring. Predictable as clockwork.
7. Bridesmaids (2011) – Approach With Caution: Enough poorly done low brow humor that it drags down the whole film.
8. Bad Boys (1983) – Recommended: A good, realistic, no highbrow BS look at juvenile prison. I enjoyed it. Sean Penn did a good job in the lead and I loved Clancy Brown in a supporting role.
9. Bad Teacher (2011) – Worth A Look
10. The Castle (1999) – Recommended
11. Dirigible (1931) – Worth A Look: The scenes at the South Pole are something to behold. Great cinematography and unusually good performances for the 1930s. Worth slogging through the stupid parts for the extraordinary ones.
12. Roaming the Emerald Isle with Will Rogers (1927) – Approach With Caution
13. Chaplin Shorts: Kid Auto Races at Venice Beach (1914); Cruel, Cruel Love (1914); Tango Tangles (1914); The Star Boader (1914); His Prehistoric Past (1914); A Film Johnnie (1914); His Favorite Pastime (1914); Between Showers (1914); His Trysting Place (1914): They are all pretty much an approach with caution.
14. The Last Flight (1931) – Highly Recommended: This is shockingly good. It follows several post-WWI pilots as they drink their way from Paris to Lisbon along with a beautiful woman. The film does a good job showing how the men have had their eyes open to horrors they won’t forget and how their bodies and minds have been changed so they can’t forget. An example of how the pre-code era was a mini Hollywood Renaissance. A must see of the period.
15. Central Airport (1933) – Worth A Look
16. The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011) – Not Recommended: It gets a little better in the last 5 parts, but this really is one of the worst documentaries I have ever seen. It’s incredibly biased, heavy-handed, and ill-informed. And that’s coming from someone who has watched the documentary I Love Dollars where the director spends an inordinate amount of time showing us a financial institution’s front door because it has a street address of 666.
There is no reason to see this awful documentary. You can find the films to see elsewhere. And any teacher who shows it should be ashamed of themselves.
The story of film is not one of innovation. It’s a history. That means what happened, happened, and sometimes that means steps backwards, to the sides, and even in crazy zig zag patterns. Also, there is nothing super special about a particular time or place. Good, bad, and innovative film is made everywhere and at anytime. Don’t let your mind and film education be constrained by one man’s narrow and biased view. Mine included.
I disliked this movie enough that I made a little parody:
17. Private Lives (1931) – Highly Recommended: Fucking amazing! One of the finest pre-codes I have seen in a long time. It’s loaded to the hilt with things that couldn’t be done a few years before, and certainly couldn’t be done under the code. Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery are hilarious as a former couple who were once married. They meet while they are on their honeymoons with their new spouses, and run away together.
Great movie, and an essential for anyone studying film. This film is the pre-code era in a bottle.
18. Complicated Women (2003) – Worth A Look: A decent TCM documentary about pre-code Hollywood.
19. Washington Merry-Go-Round (1932) – Recommended: This isn’t a great film, but wow! It’s relentless in the way it indicts the US government for being corrupt. This is another classic example of a film that couldn’t be made after the production code. It ends with the main character telling someone there’s a gun in a drawer and you should probably use it, he does, and then an arm is extended around a girl for this happy suicide ending.
I love pre-codes!
20. The Merry Wives of Reno (1934) – Highly Recommended
21. The Merry Widow (1934) – Recommended
22. The Tenderfoot (1932) – Approach With Caution: This is a shitty pre-code. Enough said.
23. The Lost Squadron (1932) – Worth A Look
24. Topaze (1933) – Worth A Look
25. The Big Trail (1930) – Approach With Caution: Gorgeous cinematography that makes everything huge in scope. The fact that it is in widescreen helps too. Unfortunately, it’s pretty boring. Really boring, and the acting isn’t too good either.
26. Moby Dick (1930) – Approach With Caution: I thought the whale ate him at the end? It doesn’t in this one.
27. The Star Packer (1934) – Approach With Caution
28. The Lost Patrol (1934) – Recommended: An early implementation of the formula that says, “stick a bunch of people in an isolated location and have them picked off one by one by an unseen enemy.” It works, pretty much. Karloff is annoying and helps to ruin the film. John Ford could have also done much more to build tension and suspense. Still, quite good.
29. Jimmy The Gent (1934) – Approach With Caution