Thursday, July 10, 2008

Risqué films

Let me begin by pointing out that risqué is in the eye of the beholder (sometimes quite literally), and that when watching these 'racy' films, it pays to keep in mind the times in which they were made. As Cole Porter said, "In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, but now, God knows, anything goes".
Before the censorship board started imposing strict moral rules on Hollywood films, there was some pretty heady stuff up on the silver screen. In the Forbidden Hollywood Collection: vol. 2 you can watch 5 different provocative films:
  • The Divorcee (1930) in which Norma Shearer tries to out-tryst her adulterous husband.

  • A Free Soul (1931) in which an alcoholic lawyer (Lionel Barrymore) watches his daughter (Norma Shearer again) dump her aristocratic boyfriend (Leslie Howard) for hardbitten gangster Clark Gable.

  • Three on a Match (1932), which stars a platinum-blonde Bette Davis, features adultry, drug abuse, and neglected children. Whee!

  • Female (1933) is about a factory owner who feels her male employees are always on the clock - even in her boudoir.

  • Night Nurse (1931) stars Barbara Stanwyck, Clark Gable and newbie actor Humphrey Bogart in a chilling plot to starve rich children to death in order to get their money.

The Rules of the Game is a classic film by French director Jean Renoir. Released in 1939, it skewers French society by showing its selfishness and loose moral fabric in relation to love. Set at a hunting party in a remote chateau, characters wander in and out of each others' arms.

Pulp Fiction (1994) caused a stir on its release for its graphic violence and drug use (violence? In a Quentin Tarentino film?). This R-rated film contains some darkly funny performances and some great dialogue. Worth watching for Samuel L. Jackson alone.

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