Made between 1930, when the restrictive Production Code was adopted, and 1934, when it was in full effect, “pre-Code” films are beloved for their provocative content and rather risqué style.
Barbara Stanwyck Double Feature: LADIES OF LEISURE, 1930, Sony Repertory, 99 min. Dir. Frank Capra. This pre-Code romance captures both director Frank Capra and star Barbara Stanwyck on the cusp of fame. Wealthy, aspiring painter Ralph Graves falls in love with a model (Stanwyck), but her past leads the artist’s parents to suspect she’s a gold-digging party girl. With Lowell Sherman and Marie Prevost.
BABY FACE, 1933, Warner Bros., 70 min. Dir. Alfred E. Green. “She climbed the ladder of success - wrong by wrong!” Barbara Stanwyck stars as Lily “Baby Face” Powers, a tough woman of unusual beauty who learned how to handle herself around tough men while working as a barmaid in her father's factory-town saloon. When her father dies, Baby Face takes her maid and moves to New York, where she marries young office boy John Wayne - the first in a series of husbands and lovers as she sleeps her way to the top of a banking empire, leaving behind a trail of broken hearts in her headstrong quest for fame and fortune. Originally withdrawn from distribution following protests by theater owners and local censorship boards over the film's sexual innuendo. Program begins with an illustrated presentation by historian Kimberly Truhler.