"Baby Face" (1933)
There is something forbidden about the pre-coded films of yesteryear. It has this gritty and often risque tone, speaking about things that weren't spoken of in public-mainly sex. And Baby Face has it all in spades.
When I first saw this film, I wasn't really versed in Barbara Stanwyck's films. I remember only having seen her in "Thorn Birds" in the early 1980's but by then she was much older. And I didn't know that this film was pre-coded and really was blown away by all of the sexual innuendo's. Even my husband was!
Stanwyck plays Lily Powers who works in a speakeasy during the prohibition era. Her father has been prostituting her since she was fourteen and when he dies in an explosion she decides with the help of a friend that she should start over, move into the city, and use men to get what she wants. And use is an understatement of what Lily does! She literally sleeps her way to the top of an a company called "Gotham Trust". And one of her many "victims" is a young John Wayne! That was really neat to see him.
I have to be honest, I really was shocked by the underlined theme of sexuality and manipulation. I am not a prude but you expect certain things out of classic films. I didn't get over my shock until after I finished the film and really had a "WOW" moment. "Wow" that Stanwyck played this determined woman who used her body to fight to have a better life for herself. I was so impressed with her performance. She was tough, street smart, and savvy but she was also vulnerable, desperate, and almost child-like in her pursuit to ultimate happiness.
Unfortunately, her character gets caught up in a horrible and violent scandal, one which George Brent's character, Trenholm finds himself involved in. He just happens to be grandson of the company's founder. She figures out how to seduce him and they eventually marry. When Trenholm gets blamed for the company's mismanagement, he asks her to stay with him and sell her things to help him get through this mess but does she? Will Lily stand by her man and finally stop using them and help him instead? Or will she abandon him when he needs her most and live her life continuously using men for her bidding?
You must see this film. It is now one of my Stanwyck favorites. It will just make go "wow", it really will and in a great way!
Stay tuned this week as I will spotlight Barbara Stanwyck; her life, career, fashion, and my other favorite film of hers, "Ball of Fire".