Friday, September 30, 2016

Thirties Something

Films offensively shocking and dicey!
With a penchant for stockings quite spicy
Follow wastrels and brutes
And good taste down the chutes
'Til the censors make talkies play nicey.

Frank McHugh -- with the ladies, and Adrian Rosley -- in Fashions of 1934 (William Dieterle; 1934). From Pre-Code.Com: "(McHugh's) character of Snap is a pervert plain and simple, a cartoon looking to make it with any lady who crosses his path. One extended sequence is him simply being shown dirty pictures and he responds by laughing in that funny high pitched way."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Red Dustup

One more tart in a skirt with a bust
Just a smart aleck flirt, lower crust
While you're tapping the rubber
You play sap and you snub her, 
Drag her heart through the dirt and the dust.

In Red Dust (Victor Fleming; 1932), Jean Harlow and Clark Gable spar on a rubber plantation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Girls Just Want to Have Funds

Here's an ode to those ladies turned loose
And, ignobly, were paid to seduce
Who, in bedroom-set dramas
Played the reddest hot mamas
'Til the Code made these Sadies vamoose.

Joan Crawford as prostitute Sadie Thompson in Rain (Lewis Milestone; 1932).

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


The mariner feels such a booby
Though darn it, he's really no newbie
But his sweet Shanghai blossom
Proves a cheat, far from awesome
Sheer blarney, unreal, a fake Ruby.

David Cairns

Sailor James Cagney romances prostitute "Shanghai Lil", played by all-American Ruby Keeler: Footlight Parade (Lloyd Bacon, Busby Berkeley; 1933). Title by discombobulated Donald B. Benson.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Occidental Purist

He's sailing the Earth's seven seas
Assailing the birds and the bees
But broads who work ports
Are frauds, he reports,
"The frails in here sure ain't Chinese."

James Cagney and Ruby Keeler in Footlight Parade (Lloyd Bacon, Busby Berkeley; 1933). In the film's final musical number, “Shanghai Lil”, Keeler is in "yellowface" as Lil, one of the prostitutes working in a waterfront bar. Title by impurist Donald B. Benson.

Friday, September 23, 2016

"I Do" Or Die

If she let him, for free or for rent,
She's doomed even if she repent.
And she can't be his wife
When her man mates for life --
That's the "nice girl" who didn't consent.

Donald B. Benson

By the dictates of Hollywood morality, not only can prostitute Mae Clarke never marry soldier Douglass Montgomery, but she must also die. The wages of sin in Waterloo Bridge (James Whale; 1931).

Thursday, September 22, 2016

B. J. Hooker


Some broads in these stories were easy
Quite flawed, without moorings, and sleazy
When they ramped up the code
Such tramps hit the road
The bawdy made moralists queasy.

Mae Clarke and Doris Lloyd play prostitutes in Waterloo Bridge (James Whale; 1931).

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Working Girl Interrupted

Though she works, she can't draw on a pension
And the perks are too awful to mention
From the streets to the flops
All she meets are the cops
And those jerks of the law mean detention.

Barbara Stanwyck is one of the Ladies They Talk About (Howard Bretherton, William Keighley; 1933).

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Manhandle With Care

In the fight "Cagney versus Mae Clarke"
She might hurl a curse or remark
She'd nag and she'd glare
Then get dragged by her hair
His bite being worse than her bark.

James Cagney drags Mae Clarke out of bed and across the room -- by her hair: Lady Killer (Roy Del Ruth; 1933).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Public Enmity

Half-deranged, Cagney won't take no guff
He's no angel, he's prone to get rough
But when known dirty rats
Have him mown down with gats
For a change, he groans "I ain't so tough."

David Cairns

James Cagney in The Public Enemy (William A. Wellman; 1931).

Friday, September 16, 2016

On Golden Blonde

With plotlines more bracing than sappy,
Joan's hotties are aces and scrappy
Exposing her thighs
In hose she cracks wise,
Allotted lines racy and snappy.

Joan Blondell's gams are featured in the very first shot of Smarty (1934; Robert Florey); with Warren William.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Yankee Doodle Dainties

A fella who flails beneath dresses
Will dwell on a gal's bedroom messes
At tops you unhook
He stops for a look
To help turn his fails to successes.

James Cagney plays Lingerie Inspector in Blonde Crazy (Roy Del Ruth; 1931). Title by dainty Donald Benson.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Baths of Glory

When eyeing a dame in the tub,
A guy's always game for a rub
But censors say nyet!
To anything wet
Keep it dry, or film frames they will scrub.

James Cagney and Joan Blondell, having fun in Blonde Crazy (Roy Del Ruth; 1931). Title by bathist Donald B. Benson.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Con With the Wind

This sleaze with the wandering mitts
Will squeeze her if blondie permits
Present her with jewels
And then, April Fools!
Turning tease, she'll abscond with the glitz!

Guy Kibbee falls for con woman Joan Blondell in Blonde Crazy (Roy Del Ruth; 1931). Title by windy David Cairns.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Joan of Arc Lights

Her life wasn't joy uninterrupted
The strife sometimes boiled and erupted
But Blondell had that flair
That compels you to stare
Just one eyeful and boy! You're corrupted.

David Cairns

In the 1930s Joan Blondell was a staple in racy pre-Code films at Warner Brothers Pictures, usually playing a sexy, wisecracking blonde. From Wikipedia: Rose Joan Blondell was born to a vaudeville family. Her cradle was a property trunk as her parents moved from place to place and she made her first appearance on stage at the age of four months when she was carried on in a cradle as the daughter of Peggy Astaire in The Greatest Love. Her family comprised a vaudeville troupe, the "Bouncing Blondells."

Friday, September 9, 2016

Blondell Crazy

We're aflame, cock-a-hoop, took by storm!
With that same Betty Boop-looking form
For Joan's luminous quality
Dispels gloom, promotes jollity
This dame's ice-cream scoops stacked -- but warm.

David Cairns

Joan Blondell takes a bath in Blonde Crazy (Roy Del Ruth; 1931).

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Guy's the Limit

Here's a portly and jiggly bear
Just the sort you would figure was square
Although jolly and paunchy
With the dolls he gets raunchy
All while sporting a wig (that ain't hair).

Joan Blondell runs her fingers through Guy Kibbee's toupée in Convention City (Archie Mayo; 1933). Guy Kibbee added comic dimension to such pre-code films as 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933 and Footlight Parade. From Wikipedia: "Kibbee specialized in playing jovial, but not particularly bright, businessmen and government officials."

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Trimming Your Salesman

When adulterous straying's portrayed
Don't show sultry young ladies arrayed
Though that's boffo B.O.
Cut it off, let it go
Ere your cult pre-code payday's mislaid.

David Cairns

Rubber salesman Adolf Menjou is caught in a compromising situation with Joan Blondell in Convention City (Archie Mayo; 1933).

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

And the Banned Played On

This movie gets lost in the shuffle
It proves way too hot, feathers ruffle
The censor objects
To the plentiful sex
It behooves them to blot out and muffle.

David Cairns

Joan Blondell and Dick Powell in Convention City (Archie Mayo; 1933).The film was banned by censors, and later physically destroyed by its studio.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Grope Rates

A rubber convention gone wild
It's anything other than 'mild'
With girls, guys and gin
It's swirling with sin
The trouble was censors were riled.

Joan Blondell heads the cast of Convention City (Archie Mayo; 1933). Title by first-rate Donald B. Benson. The raciness of Convention City was one of the causes of enforcement of the film production code.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants

Responses to censors were varied,
But one film was sentenced and buried
Because it betrays
The code -- Not of Hays --
But that of the men who are married.

Donald B. Benson

Frank McHugh, surrounded by fellow conventioneers in Convention City (Archie Mayo; 1933). The Motion Picture Production Code was known as the "Hays Code" after Will Hays, president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America from 1922 to 1945.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Sanitized For Our Protection

When booze-drinking Babbitts convene
They grope and they grab -- It's obscene!
So Jack did agree
Their wives mustn't see
Their out-of-town habits onscreen.

Donald B. Benson

Dick Powell, Mary Astor and Adolf Menjou revel in Convention City (Archie Mayo; 1933). Studio head Jack L. Warner ordered that all prints of the racy sex comedy be destroyed.