Megan McGurk introduces four pre-Code woman’s pictures starring the MGM queens.
Grab a drink at the bar in Brooks Hotel. Popcorn is free!
Tickets available at Eventbrite
Screens 7 September
If Joan Crawford and Clark Gable had lacked discipline, the heat from their illicit affair might have burned Metro to the ground. Luckily, they kept their clothes on long enough to face the camera for the third of eight pictures they made together. Director Clarence Brown builds a kept woman story into a captivating romance during one of the bleakest years of the Depression. Joan plays an earnest factory gal on the hunt for a rich man as if she was a one-woman Lewis and Clark expedition.
Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise (1931)
Screens 14 September
The picture’s subtitle tells you everything you need to know about the trajectory of woman’s pictures during the 1930s. After Greta Garbo escapes an arranged marriage, she finds refuge with Clark Gable and his German Shepherd. Before long, she’s left high and dry and joins the circus. Then she moves into a Penthouse financed by a sugar daddy politician. Almost every writer in MGM had a crack at the baggy monster of a script which censors found objectionable, but the whole escapade is pure GARBO-going-places.
Screens 21 September
Currently, Norma Shearer enjoys a reputation for being the great lady of MGM. But during the pre-Code era, Norma was targeted by religious groups for making pictures that they felt glorified premarital sex, adultery, and divorce. In Riptide, Norma follows her heart (or her libido) while wearing what is arguably the best wardrobe (by Adrian) of her entire career. Norma would be stuck in hoop skirts and period costume for the next five years. Will Norma choose Herbert Marshall or Robert Montgomery—and does it even matter when she looks so good?
Stamboul Quest (1934)
Screens 28 September
Based on the life of Annemarie Lesser, a famously dissolute spy who was dying in a sanitorium during the film’s production, Stamboul Quest stars Myrna Loy as agent Fräulein Doktor. Myrna is the whole show, playing a character who knows that romance is the Achilles heel for a counter-espionage expert. Myrna has an important job, yet she still falls for soft-spoken George Brent. Gowned to the nines by Dolly Tree, Myrna disproves the old canard about spies darting about incognito in trench coats and anonymous fashion.