Sass Mouth Dames Film Club series 20

Megan McGurk introduces five pre-Code woman’s pictures in another series of Dublin’s popular cinema club, Thursdays in September.

Tickets are available through Eventbrite

Please note that start times vary!

Applause (1929)

Screens: Thursday 1 September, 7.00

Burlesque star Kitty Darling, played by renowned torch singer Helen Morgan, tried to shelter her daughter April (Joan Peers) from backstage coarsening by sending her to a convent school. Once April has finished her education, Kitty plans a respectable career, but her manager and main squeeze Hitch Nelson (Fuller Mellish Jr) has other plans. Shot on location in New York, Rouben Mamoulian crafts a dazzling love letter to the city in his directorial debut.

The Divorcee (1930)

Screens: Thursday 8 September, 5.00

What do you do if your husband is unfaithful? In pre-Code pictures, a heroine like Norma Shearer doesn’t take it on the chin. She tells her husband (Chester Morris) ‘I’ve balanced our accounts’ after having a fling with Robert Montgomery. Shearer won the Academy Award for Best Actress for playing a wife who insists upon a single standard in marriage. Gowned by MGM’s Adrian, Shearer showed women in the audience how to cope with men in style.

Call Her Savage (1932)

Screens: Thursday 15 September, 8.30

After more than a year’s absence from the screen, Clara Bow makes up for lost time, firing on all cylinders. In the opening scene, Gilbert Roland suffers at the end of her whip. Bow’s just getting started. She collects big plotlines from the woman’s picture canon and wrings them dry: Her character is expelled from school, creates a society scandal, has broken love affairs, a syphilitic husband, and a sick baby, while living in a cold water walk-up. Clara Bow is not to be missed.

Beauty for Sale (1933)

Screens: Thursday 22 September, 7.00

Metro’s adaptation of Faith Baldwin’s bestseller presents a cautionary tale about three gals who seek their fortunes in a beauty salon. Una Merkel plays a hardboiled wiseacre who knows the shortest route to a man’s wallet. Florine McKinney is the innocent one who believes the rough lies men tell to get what they want. Madge Evans plays the pragmatic dame forced into work by the Depression. Hedda Hopper joins the cast as Madame Sonia, the salon owner, who rules over society clients and the beauty operators with ice-water in her veins.

Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)

Screens: Thursday 29 September, 7.00

Although Glenda Farrell takes fourth billing, she owns this rare wonder in two-strip Technicolor from Warner Bros. Farrell plays an ace reporter who breaks a story about an actress’s suicide. Later, she happens upon a strange racket in the new wax museum in town and investigates. Fay Wray plays the roommate who has the misfortune to resemble Marie Antoinette. The special effects haven’t lost their wow factor over the years.

Refunds are available up to noon on the day of the screening.

Sass Mouth Dames Film Club series 19

Each Thursday in May, Megan McGurk presents four classic melodramas from the 1940s.

Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

IN THIS OUR LIFE (1942)

Benjamin Franklin kept a checklist of 13 virtues that he monitored each day to reflect on his growth as an upstanding citizen. By contrast, Stanley Timberlake, played by Bette Davis, keeps a scorecard of vice. She runs off with her sister’s fiancé then drives him to commit suicide. She’s manipulative, greedy, reckless. For the coup de grâce, she pins a homicide on an innocent Black man. Olivia de Havilland, as Stanley’s unfortunate sister Roy, holds her own with a steady underplay. In one scene, Olivia takes her time putting on a hat, which is enough to tell the audience she’s no doormat. John Huston’s Southern Gothic melodrama reaches a steady boil.

MY REPUTATION (1946)

Before Douglas Sirk exposed narrow-minded views about widowhood in vivid Technicolor with All That Heaven Allows, Curtis Bernhardt painted a stark monochrome portrait of a community who expects a woman to put herself in mothballs once she loses her husband. Barbara Stanwyck’s character shares the same fate as many other women after the war. Should Jessica wear black, stay single, and avoid gossip? Or should she follow the advice of wing woman Eve Arden and see what happens with George Brent?

THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR (1947)

Gene Tierney takes her adorable daughter (Natalie Wood) and trusty housekeeper (Edna Best) to live in a cottage by the sea. Unlike past occupants, she refuses to leave when she learns it has a resident ghost, a former ship’s captain played by Rex Harrison. Instead of rattling chains or disturbing her sleep with a repertoire of sea shanties, the mariner allows the women to stay and even strikes a bargain: Gene can write his salty memoirs and make herself financially independent.

DAISY KENYON (1947)

Joan Crawford stars in a three-cornered romance, caught between a cynical married man (Dana Andrews), who has strung her along for years and a battle-scarred veteran (Henry Fonda), who rushes to commitment one minute and disappears the next. Otto Preminger fashions a postwar melodrama about hot-and-bothered men who upset the placid life of a successful career gal.

Sass Mouth Dames Film Club series 18

Megan McGurk introduces a classic woman’s picture each Thursday in March.

Tickets available through Eventbrite

Cleopatra (1934)

Screens 3 March

Cecil B. DeMille’s ‘epic with sex’ was subjected to changes by the newly installed Production Code Administration, led by po-faced Joseph Breen. Even with the bluenose interference, DeMille’s production is full of lusty charm, glamorous design, and erotic choreography. Travis Banton’s costumes for Claudette Colbert will knock your eye out. And it clocks in at an economical one hour and forty minutes.

Desire (1936)

Screens 10 March

Marlene Dietrich marches into a jewellery shop with the same royal command she used for playing Catherine the Great, mounted on horseback, clearing the palace of enemies. The most glamorous jewel thief on the planet is prepared for every contingency, except falling for a big galoot from Detroit (Gary Cooper). Directed by Frank Borzage and produced by Ernst Lubitsch, it’s a prized gem of sexy romance.

Libeled Lady (1936)

Screens 17 March

Once you set aside disbelief that Jean Harlow wants to marry a ham-fisted thug like Spencer Tracy, the farcical hijinks and snappy dialogue of this stylish ensemble piece, also starring Myrna Loy and William Powell, create one of the bubbliest screwball comedies of classical Hollywood.

History Is Made at Night (1937)

Screens 24 March

Jean Arthur is almost raped during a scheme engineered by the wealthy husband she’s trying to divorce (Colin Clive wearing a permanent sneer). At the last minute, she’s rescued by Charles Boyer. Before dawn, she has fallen in love with the dashing head waiter. But the psycho ex refuses to let her go. Director Frank Borzage’s romantic melodrama argues that nothing can keep two lovers apart.

The Awful Truth (1937)

Screens 31 March

A fake tan and close quarters with a singing instructor are two random details misconstrued by a husband and wife. Irene Dunne and Cary Grant discover that love is doomed when faith goes out the window. Leo McCarey sets the gold standard for the screwball ‘comedy of remarriage,’ proving that inside every dedicated gag man beats the heart of an incurable romantic.

Sass Mouth Dames Film Club series 17

Join Megan McGurk for a series of woman’s pictures in glorious Technicolour, Thursdays in January 2022.

Screenings begin at 6.00 sharp to comply with new restrictions.

Tickets are available from Eventbrite

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)

6 January

Ava Gardner plays a petulant beauty who toys with men for kicks until James Mason appears in this lush romantic fantasy. The gorgeous cinematography by Jack Cardiff is a sight for sore eyes.

The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956)

13 January

Run out of town on a morals charge, Jane Russell sails to Hawaii, turns brick top, and finds a lucrative loophole that brings financial independence and freedom from the small minds of men.

Bells are Ringing (1960)

20 January

Judy Holliday played the switchboard operator who works miracles for her clients over 1000 times before she faced the camera for this seratonin-boosting Metrocolor musical. Each little bit of business she performs is as fresh as a daisy.

Madame X (1966)

27 January

Lana Turner proves that when a star falls to pieces on the big screen, she still has an inner reserve of strength from years of studio training. Deep in her cups, at her lowest point, Lana’s character retains the MGM walk. She gives an exquisite performance from start to finish.

Sass Mouth Dames Film Club series 16

Each Thursday in November, Megan McGurk introduces a classic woman’s picture in the Brooks Hotel cinema.

Popcorn included!

Tickets are available through Eventbrite

Be sound and wear a mask. Bring your vaccine cert.

Primrose Path (1940)

Ginger Rogers is supposed to follow the women in her family who work in the world’s oldest profession. She hides out in tomboy duds until one day she falls for Joel McCrea. Ashamed of her family, she tells a whopper about being thrown out of the house to hasten their nuptials. Trouble follows when he learns the truth. Director Gregory La Cava had an eye and ear for sass mouth dames–he was always on our side.

Screens 4 November

The Seventh Veil (1945)

I bet you can name at least a dozen pictures about a male genius and the woman who loved him. How many can you think of where the woman is the genius and the man devotes his life to serving her art? Ann Todd and James Mason flip the traditional script in a gorgeous tale about the collision of art and desire with some psychological twists.

Screens 11 November

Sleep, My Love (1948)

Claudette Colbert can’t figure out how she woke up on a train without having any memory of getting there. Nor can she account for other foggy recollections or why she’s sleepwalking on her balcony. Could it have anything to do with the strange man in thick glasses who scratched up her upholstery? Is it because of another strange man who seems so solicitous? Or is her handsome husband, played by Don Ameche, with that pillow talk voice, the one responsible? Douglas Sirk goes full Bluebeard.

Screens 18 November

Tension (1949)

Technically, this isn’t a woman’s picture. But there would be no other reason to watch it but for the sublime acid tongue, unabashed greed, and self-absorption of star Audrey Totter. If they had assembled 90 minutes of Audrey Totter scowling at men, I’d still be watching it. And Cyd Charisse is along for the ride.

Screens 25 November