Proof That It’s Pre-Code:
- There are gay people in this film, and our hero boldly mocks their lisps.
- Our comic relief dishes out the middle finger to a jerk.
- Some attempted adultery, and a rich woman hiring a guy on his looks. She notes, “I’m making an exception here. All of my other chauffeurs have been Frenchmen! I find Frenchmen are more… volatile.”
- Booze running up through Canada since this was made in the waning days of Prohibition, but then the movie doesn’t stop there– there’s honest to God narcotics trafficking as well
- Though he’s talking about murdering people, this line still probably couldn’t make it past the censors a few years later: “I’ve rubbed out a few in my day.”
- And these lines definitely wouldn’t have: “What law?” “The one we all laugh at.”
Seeing as how I’m about 25 films into my series about Pre-Code Hollywood, I decided, at long last, to actually sit down and read the Hayes Code of 1930 which laid out the moral guidelines that films were supposed to follow. They finally started following them in 1935 when all scripts became required to get the Code’s approval before being filmed, which hampered severely Hollywood’s previous reaction to the Code which was, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission. And even then, you really only need to ask for forgiveness if the film flops.”