The British have decided to go a bit pre-Code crazy this month. Anyone with a subscription to well-regarded “Sight & Sound” magazine has probably picked up on this as its cover story for May 2014 goes into the history of pre-Code movies and its taboo-breaking habits. I haven’t read the issue yet (still psyching myself up to spend the $20 it’s going to cost to get it here) but, considering its pedigree, I have high hopes. You can read about the issue here.
But those wacky blokes across the pond (or, in my case, across the sea and the continent of Asia and then another sea) didn’t stop there. The British Film Institute (BFI) is doing a ‘Deep Focus’ screening series containing double and single features of many pre-Code classics with introductions by a host of film experts. These showings will happen at their BFI Softbank Theater in London (more on the location here), and take place in the evenings throughout the month. You can see the full schedule and where to purchase tickets here, and it looks like many of these are selling out fast. Buy now if you think you want to go! (And if you’re on this site, you do!)
Here’s the schedule with links to my own reviews. They’re only featuring a few films I haven’t seen, but considering the quality of their choices, I’d say its pretty hard to go wrong.
UPDATE: Thanks to a comment from James Bell, I have added additional showtimes throughout April you can check out as part of their Passport to Cinema series. It also sounds like the pre-Code series extends into July, though there isn’t a schedule yet. So stay tuned! And, again, check this stuff out if you get a chance!
|April 16th, 8:50 PM||I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang|
|April 17th, 6:10 PM||King Kong|
|April 18th, 8:45 PM||King Kong|
|April 21st, 6:10 PM||I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang|
|April 21st, 8:50 PM||Freaks|
|April 25th, 8:50 PM||I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang|
|April 28th, 6:10 PM||Red Dust|
|April 29th, 8:40 PM||Red Dust|
|April 30th, 8:40 PM||Red Dust|
|May 1, 8:15 PM||Little Caesar and Two Seconds|
|May 2, 6:20 PM||A lecture entitled, “Vile and Unwholesome Moving Pictures.”
Presented by Mike Mashon.
|May 2, 8:30 PM||The Gold Diggers of 1933|
|May 3, 2:30 PM||Night Nurse and Baby Face|
|May 3, 5:50 PM||Little Caesar and Two Seconds|
|May 5, 6:10 PM||42nd Street|
|May 5, 8:15 PM||Employees’ Entrance and Taxi!|
|May 9, 6:15 PM||The Gold Diggers of 1933|
|May 10, 5:50 PM||Three on a Match and Redheaded Woman|
|May 11, 3:00 PM||Night Nurse and Baby Face|
|May 11, 6:20 PM||The Front Page|
|May 11, 8:15 PM||Employees’ Entrance and Taxi!|
|May 12, 6:10 PM||The Front Page|
|May 13, 6:20 PM||42nd Street|
|May 19, 6:10 PM||Duck Soup|
|May 20, 8:45 PM||Duck Soup|
|May 23, 5:45 PM||Jewel Robbery and Trouble in Paradise|
|May 23, 8:50 PM||Gabriel Over the White House|
|May 24, 5:40 PM||Jewel Robbery and Trouble in Paradise|
|May 24, 8:30 PM||Design for Living|
|May 25, 5:40 PM||Hell’s Highway and 20,000 Years in Sing Sing|
|May 25, 8:40 PM||Gabriel Over the White House|
|May 26, 2:50 PM||Wild Boys of the Road and Heroes for Sale|
|May 26, 5:50 PM||Madam Satan|
|May 27, 8:20 PM||The Story of Temple Drake and Virtue|
|May 28, 5:50 PM||Wild Boys of the Road and Heroes for Sale|
|May 28, 8:30 PM||Madam Satan|
|May 30, 5:40 PM||Murders in the Zoo and Island of Lost Souls|
|May 30, 8:20 PM||Hell’s Highway and 20,000 Years in Sing Sing|
|May 31, 4:00 PM||Design for Living|
|May 31, 5:45 PM||The Story of Temple Drake and Virtue|
|May 31, 8:20 PM||Murders in the Zoo and Island of Lost Souls|
If you end up going to the festival, drop me a line either here or at my Twitter and let me know how it goes!
Cliff Aliperti · April 16, 2014 at 11:52 am
Great line-up! Besides the obvious (Yay, Employees’ Entrance!) I’m very excited to see two of my favorites, Two Seconds and Hell’s Highway, be included for this royal treatment.
Looks like someone else may have to be out 20 bucks too! Going to check that out now, thanks for linking it.
Danny · April 16, 2014 at 12:06 pm
I’ll be honest, I’ve never even heard of Two Seconds before. With your praise, I’ll definitely bump it up on my lengthy list.
And I’m still trying to figure out if I can get a cheaper option on that magazine. It’s on eBay for ~$20, but maybe if I find a good book store in Tokyo…
Cliff Aliperti · April 16, 2014 at 12:11 pm
Yup, found it on eBay too. Once I wrangle 20 bucks into my PayPal account I think I’m going to grab it. Oh man, Two Seconds starts out routine and it develops into my favorite Edward G. Robinson performance of them all, and I like Edward G. quite a bit in anything. Without spoiling anything he becomes insanely intense over the last 15-20 minutes of the movie, it just builds and builds, to the point you want to applaud your TV. Pretty sure Warner Archive has it, you’ve got to pick it up!
Danny · April 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm
I’ll definitely put that on the list for stuff to get next time there’s a sale and I exhaust my current queue… which is, as you know, 30 movies or so!
Cliff Aliperti · April 16, 2014 at 11:54 am
… And holy crap to Warren William receiving such prominent mention with the other pre-Code heavy-hitters over there!
James Bell · April 16, 2014 at 4:04 pm
Thanks! The season doesn’t stop there! There are many more pre-Codes in the ‘Passport to Cinema’ strand, which runs until the the end of June (though June titles aren’t yet listed on the BFI website): https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/Online/default.asp?BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::permalink=passport-to-cinema
Danny · April 16, 2014 at 5:52 pm
Awesome! I tried to fix your link, but I think WordPress just doesn’t like the double colons. I added the info into the post above. Thank you for sharing!
Judy · April 18, 2014 at 5:50 am
I’ll be going on May 3 to fit in four films in one day (‘Little Caesar’, ‘Two Seconds’, ‘Night Nurse’ and ‘Baby Face’.) I’d love to see some more but don’t think I’m going to be able to make it to London more than once due to work,, etc – eagerly looking forward to it, anyway!
Danny · April 19, 2014 at 6:50 am
Those are some great pics, Judy. I’m super jealous!
Judy · May 6, 2014 at 6:30 am
Thanks, Danny. I had a great day watching those four, though I can’t say I’m a big fan of Two Seconds’ as it is hideously misogynistic… I do agree with Cliff above that Eddie G’s intensity is amazing, however. ‘Baby Face’ was best of the bunch for me, though I do love ‘Night Nurse’ too.
Couldn’t resist going back for more, so I’ll be there later this month to see ‘The Story of Temple Drake’ and ‘Virtue’, and then in June for two Dietrich titles, ‘Blonde Venus’ and ‘The Song of Songs’.
Danny · May 7, 2014 at 9:38 pm
You lucky so and so! I’m jealous as all get out. Thanks for the report, and let me know how those other screenings go. Having just seen Temple Drake on a very bad dupe, I can’t imagine how amazing that must look on the big screen.
Walter L. · October 30, 2015 at 2:57 am
…Horror movie-oriented sources have mentioned that negative reaction in Britain to the classic horror movies of the early 30s led to the first restricting-underagers-admission censorship/ratings classification , ” H ” (for Horiffic) .
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