A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #42: The Complicated Women of Pre-Code Cinema

… or how the Code Ruined Everything. Welcome listeners! For our March episode we will look into the cinema of the 1930s, before the Motion Picture Production Code was enforced in 1934. Just after the roaring ’20s and through the Great Depression, there was a space for stories and characters which would ultimately be lost to Hollywood. A space where there was an opportunity for a different kind of part – especially for women. Where rather than just virgin or vixen, there was room for something in between: something more interesting, more human, and so much more fun! Tune in as Alan and Julie explore what makes pre-code films, and the characters who inhabit them, so special!

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The Rear-View Mirror: The Thin Man (1934)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

When MGM got William Powell on loan from Warner to make The Thin Man with Myrna Loy, the studio anticipated they had just green-lit a quick B-movie. Director W.S. Van Dyke was known to be able to keep to his deadlines and they managed, incredibly, to shoot the film in two weeks, with only a few days’ extension. Perhaps it was due to the spontaneity of Loy and Powell, the cinematography by James Wong Howe, perhaps is was partly because it was a passion project for Van Dyke. But far from being a throwaway comedy, it went on to secure four Oscar nominations and spawn five sequels, three of which were directed by Van Dyke himself. (MGM was never a studio to give up a lucrative formula).

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