Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood

Complicated Women Sex and Power in Pre Code Hollywood In the pre Code Hollywood era between and women in American cinema took lovers had babies out of wedlock got rid of cheating husbands enjoyed their sexuality led unapologetic careers

  • Title: Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood
  • Author: Mick LaSalle
  • ISBN: 9780312284312
  • Page: 117
  • Format: Paperback
  • In the pre Code Hollywood era, between 1929 and 1934, women in American cinema took lovers, had babies out of wedlock, got rid of cheating husbands, enjoyed their sexuality, led unapologetic careers, and, in general, acted the way many think women only acted after 1968.Before then, women on screen had come in two varieties sweet ingenue or vamp Then two stars came along In the pre Code Hollywood era, between 1929 and 1934, women in American cinema took lovers, had babies out of wedlock, got rid of cheating husbands, enjoyed their sexuality, led unapologetic careers, and, in general, acted the way many think women only acted after 1968.Before then, women on screen had come in two varieties sweet ingenue or vamp Then two stars came along Greta Garbo, who turned the femme fatale into a woman whose capacity for love and sacrifice made all other human emotions seem pale and Norma Shearer, who succeeded in taking the ingenue to a place she d never been the bedroom In their wake came a deluge of other complicated women Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, and Mae West, to name a few Then, in July 1934, the draconian Production Code became the law in Hollywood and these modern women of the screen were banished, not to be seen again until the code was repealed three decades later.A thorough survey and a tribute to these films, Complicated Women reveals how this was the true Golden Age of women s films.

    One thought on “Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood”

    1. I've watched more pre-code movies since I read LaSalle. His writing was so convincing and his cut to Breen's jugular so adept, I was carried along and convinced, although I'm not usually so convincable. Perhaps it was because he made Breen, the Censor who ruled over Hollywoodland from 1934 on so loathesome. Also, like most Americans who consider themselves intellectual, whether that's justified or not, I am predisposed to find inanity in rigid controls and government interference in artistic por [...]

    2. The fascinating history of the pre-code HollywoodThis is a fascinating book that discusses the movies produced during pre code period of 1929-1934 and evaluates the impact it had on the careers of Hollywood's leading ladies. The movies of Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo are extensively discussed along with many other leading ladies and how it impacted the studios and the Hollywood culture. Shearer was a smiling subversive and her most characteristic film is the Divorcee and Riptide in which she po [...]

    3. Mick LaSalle's central thesis is the pre-Code offered the most complex portrayals of women in the classic studio era--that this was the best time for actresses, more so than the 1940s, because women were allowed to be real people and to have real fun on screen. Although this argument might be persuasive (and even true), most of this book is actually about how much LaSalle really, really likes Norma Shearer.The book is organized around in-depth sections on Shearer and Greta Garbo. As a result, La [...]

    4. I fell in love with fashion because of the movies from the 1930s and 40s. What I failed to realize until I read this book is how much I actually missed by not seeing more pre-code films. What a loss what a waste of talent and we are still living with the ramifications. Worth reading.My only wish is that the author would mention race, i think he did once "black maids." I am bored with the idea that when we talk about women in American history we only mean white women. That is as limiting as only [...]

    5. Entertaining and informative history of women's roles in the pre-code (late 20's - early 30's) era. Warning: this book will make you want to see all of the films mentioned in it! But that's a GOOD thing.

    6. I have some disagreements with LaSalle's assessment of Pre-Codes. He makes them out to be much more progressive then they are and is a harder on the films that came after 1934 then I think is fair. I do agree that the representation of women between 1929 and 34 was more complicated, as LaSalle says. They did often subvert certain gender norms and cultural expectations, but they were also products of their time and could be just as misogynistic as any film made later. If anything, many of the fil [...]

    7. The preponderance of this book covers the female stars of Pre-Code Hollywood. The movies and actresses of this era reflected the new freedoms women had obtained as a result of changes in society. In the movies women were empowered and on an equal footing as men. Sex and romance combined to provide movie goers an idea of the new society. Stars like Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo exuded a sensuality that enticed men and women into the movies. Alas, reality was not to last. Anti-Semetic misogynists [...]

    8. I loved this book. It's a thorough and joyful review of the leading ladies and their films in the late twenties and early thirties before the Code was enforced in Hollywood. When you read about the actresses, their ambitions and independence, the influence they held and exercised in their work, the strength of the characters they played and the personas they inhabited - it's all startlingly modern. I came out of this book with a fresh and more favorable view of Garbo as an actress - her mystique [...]

    9. This is a book about the onset of censorship in Hollywood and its attack on women, mostly headed up by TADA! the religious right and the Catholic church. The same sort of evil clowns who brought you the 50's comic code. Women were advancing, progressive and permissive roles were shown on the silver screen; that had to stop.I only remember a handful of the movies listed in this work and I'm not old enough to have seen them in theaters, but for those LaSalle's descriptions are spot on. The author [...]

    10. Fascinating subject and wonderfully written book. These actresses deserve so much more recognition that what they get. Wow.

    11. I can't praise this book enough. It's the Best, together with the 'sequel' Dangerous Men!!!Complicated Women is intelligent, highly readable, informative and perceptive in equal measure. It tells the story of the Pre-Codes (uncensored Hollywood films between 1929 and 1934) in the best possible context, with just enough examples and synopsys to makes its points without ever becoming boring or overbearing.As I'm writing this in early 2018, the entertainment world (and not only that) is at a crossr [...]

    12. I'm very angry about this book, and the way LaSalle talks about women. Clearly this book is the product of the early 00's, but even then I can't imagine this book was considered a forward-thinking book. I've never read a book this anti-woman while being this pro female sexuality.I've taken some serious time to ruminate on this book and digest why I am upset with it. My main reasons boil down to the condescending tone of the book, LaSalle's madonna/whore complex with Garbo and Shearer, and LaSall [...]

    13. The author made what should have been a fun topic eye rollingly boring. It seemed to be entirely the author's opinion about the actresses ad nauseam. Hundreds and hundreds of movies mentioned one after the other until my eyes glazed over and then the author says the movies were cut by the sensors so it's impossible to watch them even if I cared to.

    14. I love the movies of the 1930s, and I loved reading Mick LaSalle's take on some of these films, which is the main reason that I'm giving this book a five-star rating. It's perhaps too easy to dismiss these movies as dated or corny and not give them the respect they deserve. I appreciate that LaSalle takes these films seriously.Specifically, LaSalle addresses the Pre-Code movies, made before mid-1934 when the censorship rules became compulsory, rather than suggested. It's an interesting look at w [...]

    15. Book 22: Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood - Mick LaSalle8.5/10This was a great look at women in Pre-Code. The author clearly worships the period and heavily mourns it at the same time making it very satisfying to read. Basically with Pre-Code, women were in control of their lives and afterwards their freedom was taken away by the punishing and suffocating women’s picture to come after. Films were being made that actually had women making decisions for them and were doing [...]

    16. "Between 1929 and 1934, women in American cinema were modern. They took lovers, had babies out of wedlock, got rid of cheating husbands, enjoyed their sexuality, lead unapologetic careers, and, in general, acted the way many think women acted only after 1968."This spawned one of my favorite documentaries, so I was hoping it would live up to it. I missed seeing clips of what he was discussing, but I still greatly enjoyed it. I always love any Norma Shearer movie I see, and she was often the focus [...]

    17. This book is righteous. It details a short, but fantastic period in film, from the time that talkies came into being, until the Hollywood Production Code of 1934 was put into place. This was an incredible time in our social history, what with industrialization and the end of the first world war, and the book discusses, in detail, the emergence of the modern woman (as well as the modern man, in 'Dangerous Men,' also by Mick LaSalle). The brilliance of this period in film is that it actually refle [...]

    18. Do you think that old and vintage somewhat means virtuous, unsullied, and pure? Do you equate the age when our grandparents were just wee children with the age of innocence? If your answers to those questions are yes, prepare to be surprised. In USA, at least, it was a wild and free age, at least before the enforcement of Hays Code.This book is suitable for ones who are interested in movie history or simply love anything from the period of 1920s-1940s. The author, I think, is biased but it doesn [...]

    19. I've been binging on early talkies lately (as one does), so I was interested in LaSalle's dissection of the "pre-Code" era (roughly 1929-1934) in which Hollywood films were more racy, violent, cynical and (per LaSalle's interpretation) gynecentric than the "Golden Age of Hollywood" features that followed the industry's implementation of self-censorship in late '34. LaSalle relates some fascinating history, especially about the anti-Semitic bigotry that sparked the "Production Code" which prohibi [...]

    20. Having always loved old movies, I really enjoyed this book. It is an interesting, informative, and well-written look at early Hollywood and the forces that shaped its films. It gives credit to a host of wonderful early actresses and addresses the complex relationship between society and the movies. The author’s love for Norma Shearer is apparent early on, and, having seen a few of the films he recommends, I can see why. She really is brilliant. The book is worth reading, if only to gain a list [...]

    21. 'Complicated Women' takes us back to Hollywood, before the enactment of the 'Hayes Code' in 1934. This code ripped the heart out of Hollywood movie making and brought us things like married couples sleeping in twin beds and only kissing on either the upper or lower lip, and other assorted ridiculousness.Before the Hayes Code, men took a back seat in the movies. Women were the real stars, the box-office draws, the money-makers. Norma Shearer features heavily in the book and is obviously the write [...]

    22. Fascinating insight into pre-code Hollywood in the early 20th century. Very reflective of different/opposing views/expectations for women. It particularly compared the careers of two women- Norma Shearer, and Greta Garbo-& related them to two traditional stereotypes of women. Interesting to read how socially advanced Pre-Code film were at for the time. And also, reflects on the influence of events on society, on culture. Very interesting. I especially enjoyed reading how many 1920s/early 193 [...]

    23. I adore old Hollywood flicks, and I love what they still say about society today. They are still relevant. And LaSalle makes an incredibly compelling argument for many of these actresses that have sadly fallen by the wayside or mis-remembered because of the Hollywood Code. It used to be that the biggest box-office hits, for men and women, were movies about WOMEN. Women's health and choices and their sides of the marriage and divorce, female prostitution and even issues of abortion. But all that [...]

    24. I just happened to snag this book as I was stacking at my library, and what a treat. I know so much more about pre-code Hollywood, and LaSalle makes an extremely convincing case for Norma Shearer's status as a latent feminist icon. After reading about all her pre-codes, I am a little curious to see them, but I worry that they won't live up to LaSalle's exalted description. He doesn't seem to think much of the 30s screwball comedies I love with my whole heart, so it's likely we have different tas [...]

    25. Complicated Women takes us on a journey into pre-code Hollywood – the early days before the ridiculous and diluting piece of legislation that was called the Hayes Code was enacted in 1934. This was a time when women were the biggest stars and male actors were secondary. Women were the real driving force in pre-code Hollywood – not just ingenue or muse, but movers and shakers and box office dynamite.Mick LaSalle has a real grasp of his subject and an obvious affection for the era. His obvious [...]

    26. I think LaSalle did a good job capturing the Hollywood of the pre-code era. I love the old movies and think the portrayal of women was much more realistic before Breen et al; LaSalle gives the reader an in-depth history of why the Code existed without being boring. One thing he doesn't cover is how/why the Code passed out of existence. It's fairly obvious that he loved Shearer and Garbo as he spent so much of the book on the films of these two women. I will watch Garbo films differently now than [...]

    27. Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood (Paperback) by Mick LaSalle ILLToC from Worldcat:The ingenue gets a life -- Like a virgin -- I said "yes" -- In regards to the movie "The Divorcee", the author writes:p67 "Here was sex without victimhood, sophistication without chastity."p69 "Hollywood was finally catching up with facts that the censors would eventually force it to deny. Women had changed. So had marriage."Not too young and not too nice -- "I'm in an orgy, wallowing" -- Shop [...]

    28. Very informative. Loved the appendix at the end that lists the movies discussed, where and if they can be found for viewing and the brief account of where the Ladies themselves ended up. Gave very good accounts of the Movies that he discussed as most are impossible or extremely hard to find and watch for the average person. This book was written in a way that holds all other actresses up to Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo for comparison. I'm excited to use this book as a tool to hopefully track do [...]

    29. If you expect to read about Shearer about GarboThen this book is is for you. Granted, in writing this bok, the author does set up Garbo and Shearer as the two women who paved the way in making sure that they were e new, modern woman. Women that chucked the double standard. However, there were only little bits and pieces about Stanwyck, Carol Lombard, Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Harlow, Crawford, whom all should be included as sane, sexy women in the Pre Code years.I did give this book a 4 star [...]

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