Pre-Code Movies on TCM in November 2018, and a Eulogy for Filmstruck

For those of you who haven’t heard, Warner Media announced they are shutting down Filmstruck effective November 29th. Executives claim it’s part of their desire to eliminate ‘niche’ products and focus on more mainstream stuff like grown men dressing like rodents and Eddie Redmayne cacking up as many films as he can manage.

There’s a petition trying to prevent it (Filmstruck ending, not Eddie Redmayne films, but I’d sign that one too). I’m not getting my hopes up– they’ve let go the staff, and stepping back would bite their corporate synergized initiatives in the dollar signs. We’ll probably get a ‘FilmStruck Lite’ pasted onto some massive Warners streaming catalogue down the line, and without a doubt, it’ll be underwhelming.

I was honestly amazed at how angry the sudden news made me. Warner Archive Instant, which had a great first year followed by several years of intense neglect, at least died ingloriously and after giving everyone an opportunity to sample its wares.

Filmstruck, by contrast, was in the prime of life. The service felt renewed by the addition of the TCM Vault back in February (just nine months ago) and was consistently programmed with verve and energy. With access to both the TCM library (composing a great number of classic Hollywood films) and the Criterion collection’s library gave it a cache of streaming material never seen before on the internet.

It would have been easy for Filmstruck to stick with prestige as its selling point as that’s how most classic film aficionados fashion themselves, but the service offered up the likes of Michael Crichton’s ambitiously goofy Looker, the incomprehensible Petulia, and my favorite, the Neil Diamond ‘who the fuck thought this was a good idea’ Jazz Singer from 1979. It was a service that catered to every level of cinephilia, granting you access to a well-curated variety of movie the world over.

The platform’s push towards gender parity in its directorial and star highlights, too, was extremely welcome and marked the platform not just as tired catalogue listings but as a service vital for cinephiles looking for something new to study and enjoy. It pushed for reshaping film history as more inclusive, more dynamic, than any service before. And it was programmed with a obvious passion, created by people who love movies and wanted to share and celebrate them.

Filmstruck was a masterful solution to a lot of problems. With TCM contractually built as a cable channel (and probably under a sword of Damocles at the moment as well), its streaming solutions are still cut off to many potential customers– including myself when I lived overseas. It’s hard for people outside metropolises to understand what something like Filmstruck meant to far-flung communities of film fans. And there was still room to grow! There was so much potential!

But it’s over.

Where do we go from here? There are a number of articles with trusted advisors reminding everyone to buy physical media– which I, as a person who watches around 40 movies a month, think is a fucking silly piece of advice. Ignoring matters of economic privilege (and there are a few), hoarding isn’t practical. Telling me I should spend $15 on a DVD to see it for the first time rather than $8 on streaming it from amongst a library is just nuts.

There are other streaming services, of course. While classic film fans can’t and don’t expect much of anything from Netlfix or Amazon, and we’ve all sought out some poor rips uploaded on YouTube, there is a lot more of an arena geared towards modern independent film than classic because of labyrinthine copyright issues and studios who don’t see value in their vaults outside exorbitant licensing fees.

This has to change. The death of Filmstruck is pushes into making classic film even more niche, more left on the sidelines by a generation that needs instant access for any sort of exposure. We can’t wait for corporations to save us, and the ludicrous current standards of copyright law means operating outside their confines may be the best solution until someone, somewhere, with some talent and imagination can try to achieve the Filmstruck ideal again.

But it may be years or longer before we see something as elegant as Filmstruck ever. Pour one out for the service on November 29th, everyone. They earned it.

To swing back to this site’s purpose before I find myself fully advocating for just burning down some goddamn office buildings, there are a number of great pre-Code movies on the service, and may I add that if you have FilmStruck and haven’t watched any of these, do it now.

For anyone interested, I’m doing a thread of gifs from watching Filmstruck movies over on Twitter. Just click here to see more.

Lastly, just a friendly a reminder: if you want to support my site, you can become a Patron over at Patreon. This month, if you’re subscribed to my Patreon and you have shared your address with me (double check!), I’ll be sending you a few Filmstruck goodies that i recently received– something for you to remember them by.

Pre-Code Movies on TCM in November

Please note:

  • All times listed here are Eastern Standard. This schedule is subject to change (like if someone dies or the world ends– you know how it is).
  • Plot descriptions and casts lists below come from TCM. See the full listings for the month here.
  • If you subscribe to TCM via cable, you can watch TCM online via the TCM Watch site.
  • If you don’t have cable, check out Sling TV, where (Americans) can watch TCM online, via an app or on their Roku for only $25/month.
Date & Time Film

5th
5:30 PM

Heat Lightning (1934)

A lady gas station attendant gets mixed up with escaped murderers.

Dir:  Mervyn LeRoy Cast:  Aline MacMahon , Ann Dvorak , Preston Foster .

BW- 63 mins, CC,

5th
6:45 PM

Dark Hazard (1934)

A compulsive gambler loses everything.

Dir:  Alfred E. Green Cast:  Edward G. Robinson , Genevieve Tobin , Glenda Farrell .

BW- 73 mins, CC,

5th
8:00 PM

Little Caesar (1930)

A small-time hood shoots his way to the top, but how long can he stay there?

Dir:  Mervyn LeRoy Cast:  Edward G. Robinson , Douglas Fairbanks , Glenda Farrell .

BW- 78 mins, CC,

5th
9:30 PM

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

A World War I veteran faces inhuman conditions when he’s sentenced to hard labor.

Dir:  Mervyn Le Roy Cast:  Paul Muni , Glenda Farrell , Helen Vinson .

BW- 93 mins, CC,

5th
11:15 PM

The Mystery Of The Wax Museum (1933)

A disfigured sculptor turns murder victims into wax statues.

Dir:  Michael Curtiz Cast:  Lionel Atwill , Fay Wray , Glenda Farrell .

C- 77 mins, CC,

6th
2:00 AM

The Match King (1932)

An ambitious young man corners the market on matches, then faces the destruction of his empire.

Dir:  Howard Bretherton Cast:  Warren William , Lily Damita , Glenda Farrell .

BW- 78 mins, CC,

6th
3:30 AM

The Big Shakedown (1934)

A racketeer breaks into black-market medicine.

Dir:  John Francis Dillon Cast:  Charles Farrell , Bette Davis , Ricardo Cortez .

BW- 61 mins, CC,

6th
4:45 AM

Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men (1933)

A socialite can’t choose between the tough guy she’s turned into a gentleman and the gentleman she’s turned into a tough guy.

Dir:  Mark Sandrich Cast:  Charles Farrell , Wynne Gibson , William Gargan .

BW- 73 mins,

7th
8:15 AM

Christopher Strong (1933)

An aviatrix’s affair with a married man could cost her her career.

Dir:  Dorothy Arzner Cast:  Katharine Hepburn , Colin Clive , Billie Burke .

BW- 78 mins, CC,

8th
9:00 AM

Million Dollar Legs (1932)

A small country decides to enter the Olympic Games to raise money for their soon to be bankrupt home.

Dir:  Edward Cline Cast:  Jack Oakie , W. C. Fields , Andy Clyde .

BW- 62 mins,

9th
7:30 AM

Ace of Aces (1933)

After he’s branded a coward, a sculptor travels to France to help fight World War I.

Dir:  J. Walter Ruben Cast:  Richard Dix , Elizabeth Allen , Ralph Bellamy .

BW- 77 mins, CC,

9th
1:45 PM

Hell Below (1933)

A submarine captain clashes with one of his crew during World War I.

Dir:  Jack Conway Cast:  Robert Montgomery , Walter Huston , Madge Evans .

BW- 101 mins, CC,

10th
1:15 AM

Wild Boys of the Road (1933)

An impoverished girl masquerades as a boy to run with a gang of young hobos.

Dir:  William A. Wellman Cast:  Frankie Darro , Edwin Phillips , Rochelle Hudson .

BW- 68 mins, CC,

11th
11:30 AM

The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)

RAF pilots fight to endure the nerve-wracking ordeal of flying in World War I.

Dir:  Stuart Walker Cast:  Fredric March , Cary Grant , Jack Oakie .

BW- 73 mins, CC,

12th
10:45 AM

When Ladies Meet (1933)

A female novelist doesn’t realize her new friend is the wife whose husband she’s trying to steal.

Dir:  Harry Beaumont Cast:  Ann Harding , Robert Montgomery , Myrna Loy .

BW- 85 mins, CC,

12th
2:00 PM

Life Begins (1932)

A maternity ward becomes the focus for the patients’, doctors’ and nurses’ personal problems.

Dir:  James Flood Cast:  Loretta Young , A. Eric Linden , Aline MacMahon .

BW- 71 mins,

12th
3:15 PM

Mary Stevens, M.D. (1933)

A woman doctor decides to have a baby without benefit of marriage.

Dir:  Lloyd Bacon Cast:  Kay Francis , Lyle Talbot , Glenda Farrell .

BW- 72 mins,

12th
6:30 PM

Hi, Nellie! (1934)

A crusading newspaper editor keeps digging into corruption, even when he’s forced to write advice to the lovelorn.

Dir:  Mervyn LeRoy Cast:  Paul Muni , Glenda Farrell , Ned Sparks .

BW- 75 mins, CC,

13th
6:00 AM

Registered Nurse (1934)

After her husband goes mad, a nurse fights off the advances of two amorous doctors.

Dir:  Robert Florey Cast:  Bebe Daniels , Lyle Talbot , John Halliday .

BW- 62 mins, CC,

13th
10:30 AM

Night Nurse (1931)

A nurse discovers that the children she’s caring for are murder targets.

Dir:  William A. Wellman Cast:  Barbara Stanwyck , Ben Lyon , Joan Blondell .

BW- 72 mins, CC,

14th
12:30 PM

Eskimo (1933)

An Eskimo family fights to survive harsh conditions in the frozen North.

Dir:  W. S. Van Dyke Cast:  Mala , Lotus , Joseph Sauers .

BW- 113 mins,

15th
8:00 PM

College Humor (1933)

College football players struggle with alcoholism, relationships and a singing drama teacher.

Dir:  Wesley Ruggles Cast:  Bing Crosby , Jack Oakie , Richard Arlen .

BW- 81 mins,

15th
11:00 PM

Murder in the Private Car (1934)

A speeding train becomes the setting for murder.

Dir:  Harry Beaumont Cast:  Charlie Ruggles , Una Merkel , Mary Carlisle .

BW- 63 mins, CC,

16th
3:00 AM

Night Court (1932)

A corrupt judge attacks a reformer’s family.

Dir:  W. S. Van Dyke Cast:  Phillips Holmes , Walter Huston , Anita Page .

BW- 92 mins, CC,

16th
4:45 AM

My Past (1931)

A stage star finds herself torn between a wealthy older man and a handsome younger one.

Dir:  Roy Del Ruth Cast:  Bebe Daniels , Lewis Stone , Ben Lyon .

BW- 72 mins,

16th
6:30 AM

The Blue Angel (1930)

A stodgy professor falls from grace when he’s seduced by a nightclub singer.

Dir:  Josef von Sternberg Cast:  Emil Jannings , Marlene Dietrich , Kurt Gerron .

BW- 107 mins,

16th
8:30 AM

Shanghai Express (1932)

A beautiful temptress re-kindles an old romance while trying to escape her past during a tension-packed train journey.

Dir:  Josef von Sternberg Cast:  Marlene Dietrich , Clive Brook , Anna May Wong .

BW- 82 mins, CC,

16th
10:00 AM

The Scarlet Empress (1934)

A young innocent masters the decadent ways of Imperial Russia in order to reign as Catherine the Great.

Dir:  Josef von Sternberg Cast:  Marlene Dietrich , John Lodge , Sam Jaffe .

BW- 105 mins, CC,

17th
12:00 PM

20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932)

When his girl commits murder, a hardened criminal takes the rap to protect her honor.

Dir:  Michael Curtiz Cast:  Spencer Tracy , Bette Davis , Arthur Byron .

BW- 78 mins, CC,

18th
6:00 AM

Footlight Parade (1933)

A producer fights labor problems, financiers and his greedy ex-wife to put on a show.

Dir:  Lloyd Bacon Cast:  James Cagney , Joan Blondell , Ruby Keeler .

BW- 103 mins, CC,

19th
1:45 PM

Central Airport (1933)

A World War I flyer can only find work as chauffeur to a lady sky diver.

Dir:  William A. Wellman Cast:  Richard Barthelmess , Sally Eilers , Tom Brown .

BW- 72 mins,

19th
3:00 PM

Three on a Match (1932)

A woman’s childhood friends try to rescue her from gangsters.

Dir:  Mervyn LeRoy Cast:  Virginia Davis , Joan Blondell , Dawn O’Day .

BW- 63 mins, CC,

19th
4:15 PM

The Keyhole (1933)

A private eye specializing in divorce cases falls for the woman he’s been hired to frame.

Dir:  Michael Curtiz Cast:  Kay Francis , George Brent , Glenda Farrell .

BW- 69 mins,

19th
8:00 PM

Havana Widows (1933)

Chorus girls travel to Cuba in search of rich husbands.

Dir:  Ray Enright Cast:  Joan Blondell , Glenda Farrell , Guy Kibbee .

BW- 62 mins,

20th
2:45 AM

I’ve Got Your Number (1934)

Two telephone engineers try to clear a woman of criminal charges.

Dir:  Ray Enright Cast:  Joan Blondell , Pat O’Brien , Allen Jenkins .

BW- 69 mins,

23rd
10:00 AM

Tarzan The Ape Man (1932)

A British lord raised by apes kidnaps a beautiful noblewoman exploring Africa with her father.

Dir:  W. S. Van Dyke Cast:  Johnny Weissmuller , Neil Hamilton , C. Aubrey Smith .

BW- 100 mins, CC,

25th
6:00 AM

The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933)

A boxing champion falls for a gangster’s moll.

Dir:  W. S. Van Dyke Cast:  Myrna Loy , Max Baer , Primo Carnera .

BW- 102 mins, CC,

25th
11:45 AM

Of Human Bondage (1934)

A medical student falls prey to a sluttish waitress.

Dir:  John Cromwell Cast:  Leslie Howard , Bette Davis , Frances Dee .

BW- 83 mins, CC,

26th
3:45 PM

Girl Missing (1933)

A new bride disappears from her honeymoon hotel the same night a dead body pops up.

Dir:  Robert Florey Cast:  Glenda Farrell , Ben Lyon , Mary Brian .

BW- 69 mins,

26th
8:00 PM

Lady For A Day (1933)

A gangster helps an old apple-vendor pose as a society woman to fool her visiting daughter.

Dir:  Frank Capra Cast:  Warren William , May Robson , Guy Kibbee .

BW- 96 mins, CC,

26th
11:00 PM

Bureau of Missing Persons (1933)

A police chief helps a young bride find her missing husband or at least his corpse.

Dir:  Roy Del Ruth Cast:  Lewis Stone , Pat O’Brien , Glenda Farrell .

BW- 73 mins,

27th
2:00 AM

Merry Wives Of Reno, The (1934)

Three couples raise a ruckus when they travel to Nevada for quickie divorces.

Dir:  H. Bruce Humberstone Cast:  Guy Kibbee , Glenda Farrell , Donald Woods .

BW- 64 mins,

29th
6:00 AM

Doctor X (1932)

A reporter investigates a series of cannibalistic murders at a medical college.

Dir:  Michael Curtiz Cast:  Lionel Atwill , Fay Wray , Lee Tracy .

C- 76 mins, CC,

29th
8:45 AM

Alias the Doctor (1932)

Brothers with different work ethics clash while attending medical school.

Dir:  Michael Curtiz Cast:  Richard Barthelmess , Marian Marsh , Norman Foster .

BW- 61 mins,

29th
10:00 AM

Bedside (1934)

A fake doctor sets up a lucrative high-society practice.

Dir:  Robert Florey Cast:  Warren William , Jean Muir , Allen Jenkins .

BW- 66 mins, CC,

30th
6:45 AM

Jimmy the Gent (1934)

An unscrupulous detective makes a killing locating missing heirs.

Dir:  Michael Curtiz Cast:  James Cagney , Bette Davis , Allen Jenkins .

BW- 68 mins, CC,

30th
5:00 PM

Blonde Crazy (1931)

A con-man bellhop and his chambermaid girlfriend set out to fleece hotel guests.

Dir:  Roy Del Ruth Cast:  James Cagney , Joan Blondell , Louis Calhern .

BW- 79 mins, CC,

30th
6:30 PM

Trouble in Paradise (1932)

A love triangle ignites trouble between two jewel thieves and their intended victim.

Dir:  Ernst Lubitsch Cast:  Miriam Hopkins , Kay Francis , Herbert Marshall .

BW- 82 mins, CC,

Questions? Comments? Or do you just want to bug me? Leave a comment below!

3 Replies to “Pre-Code Movies on TCM in November 2018, and a Eulogy for Filmstruck”

  1. I’m really sorry to hear that things are moving in that direction in the US. Can you imagine what it’s like trying to access pre-code films when you live in Australia?!! We used to be able to subscribe to TCM but it was sadly discontinued in Dec 2016. I had actually stopped subscribing well before then since the provider (Foxtel) made you purchase a bundle of channels that I didn’t want just to get the one channel that I did. Instead, I decided to use the money I would have spent on the subscription to purchase and collect a large number of pre-code films from Turner Classic Movies, ebay, etc. However, with changes to exchange rates and postage costs over the years, I decided it might be more cost effective to renew my subscription to TCM. Unfortunately this was around the time it was being discontinued!! There is a bricks and mortar shop in Australia that I can purchase DVDs from but they’re generally around $40 AUS each (nearly $30 US). This is too expensive for me, and I’ve only purchased DVDs from them that have been discounted. I’ve recently turned to Youtube, which I’m thankful for, but the quality isn’t always there. At least I have a good collection of pre-codes but I still want to keep exploring ones I haven’t seen. Anyway, just thought I’d give another perspective on the subject!!

  2. I own many of these and use them in the classroom. These forward thinking films raised thoughtful and timely questions, which still remain with us today.

  3. I believe we are blessed with TCM and having a darn good recorder. FilmStruck leaves a void, but not close to a calamity. Let TCM continue in it’s significant role in treating us to classic films. They will survive because of a steadfast and continuing desire to do so.

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