Friday, April 29, 2016

Spinal Trap

Old Walter seems pitiless, mean
Spine faulty, he's bitter, all spleen
Poor Virginia Bruce,
Lives in sin, hits the juice
Better call heavy-hitter Joe Breen.

David Cairns

Virginia Bruce and Walter Huston as "Deadlegs" Flint in Kongo (William J. Cowen; 1932) .

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bring Me the Head of Lupe Velez


He rules with a fireworks display
Keeps 'em fooled as the jerks come to pray
By vengeance he's driven
Until then he won't give in
But cruelly, fate's quirks make him pay.

Surly Hack and David Cairns

Kongo (William J. Cowen; 1932): In the Kongo, embittered paraplegic "Deadlegs" Flint (Walter Huston) controls the natives by using cheap tricks that appear to be magical, assisted by his mistress Tula (Velez).

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Beast Muster

She's too fine--she's all wrong for your crew
Grab a vine--you belong in a zoo
You're too hairy, you see
Buy some Nair, climb a tree
Go and find Mrs. Kong for a screw. 

Richard Arlen protects Kathleen Burke in Island of Lost Souls (Erle C. Kenton; 1932).

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Verse of the Cat People

The fellow has only just met
This healthy and lonely brunette
She's a slinky hot item
But he thinks she might bite him
She'd be swell--but to own as a pet.  

Richard Arlen, and Kathleen Burke as Lota, the Panther Woman, in Island of Lost Souls (Erle C. Kenton; 1932).

Monday, April 25, 2016

Any Lust Requests?

Miss Dietrich is peddling her bod
A streetwalking, bed-hopping broad
Then when hired as a spy
She's a liar, quite sly
But gets beat by the dread firing squad.

David Cairns                 

Marlene Dietrich is given a last cigarette in Dishonored (Josef von Sternberg; 1931). Barry Norton is the young Lieutenant.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cellmate of the Month

She stares at this mister-ish frau
Whose bearing seems twisted somehow
Then we fade out to black
But what's played on the track
Is "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now?"

 David Cairns

Barbara Stanwyck and Lillian Roth (top) are Ladies They Talk About (Howard Bretherton, William Keighley; 1933). From David Cairns: "It's all true! Stanwyck encounters the cigar-smoking butch women inmates in Ladies They Talk About, looks amazed, and then the Vitaphone Orchestra plays her out with a cheeky, familiar tune..."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Raising the Barbara

Miss Baby Face started her climb
One man and one floor at a time.
A rising erection
Displayed the connection
Twixt her and the corporate slime.

Donald B. Benson

Baby Face (Alfred E. Green; 1933): Barbara Stanwyck and Theresa Harris look up at the "erection"of stone, steel and glass, the Gotham Trust building. Barbara seduces a clerk to get in on the ground floor of the bank, and uses sex to continue to rise from department to department, illustrated by the camera climbing a model of the skyscraper floor by floor.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Catherine Was Great

We're tempted by Sternberg's blonde starlet
An empress who yearns to be harlot
She's laid a battalion
And maybe a stallion
An attempt that has made her turn scarlet.

David Cairns

Josef von Sternberg's The Scarlet Empress (1934) does not show Catherine the Great (Marlene Dietrich) getting amorous in a stable, but the script throws in several teasing allusions to this apocryphal rumor.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Deleted Sins

Much too racy and slutty a whore
I get chased till my butt's out the door
I tormented and teased
Now the censor's displeased
I'm the face on the cutting room floor.

David Cairns

As Clark Gable and Tully Marshall look on, Jean Harlow kicks a drunk Donald Crisp out of bed: Red Dust (Victor Fleming; 1932).

Monday, April 18, 2016

Maximum Ernst

This frame lets us view them in bed
For shame! Since the wooers aren't wed
But what's shown isn't scandalous
Cuz he's known how to handle us
It's a game and he's two steps ahead.

Ernst Lubitsch directs the silhouettes of Herbert Marshall and Kay Francis in Trouble in Paradise (1932).

Friday, April 15, 2016

Alley of the Dolls

She came from that side of the tracks
Where dames makes the snidest of cracks 
Where in men they're degreed
So they tend to succeed
Unashamed to reside on their backs.

Barbara Stanwyck stands up to a shirtless Nat Pendleton: Baby Face (Alfred E. Green; 1933).

Thursday, April 14, 2016

My Bare Lady

He chiseled, and hammered and scraped
A vision of damsel undraped
The model's not shown,
But the body in stone
Is in sizzling, glamorous shape.

Cleverly finessing the censors, Brian Aherne sculpts Marlene Dietrich in The Song of Songs (Rouben Mamoulian; 1933).

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Baby Face Lift

The climb's steep but this this lady won't stop
No Bo Peep, in the hay she will hop
Although quoting from Nietzche,
Not one note of it's preachy
Baby's sleeping her way to the top.

Theresa Harris is Chico, and Barbara Stanwyck is Lily Powers, aka Baby Face (Alfred E. Green; 1933).

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Damsel in Undress

After traipsing his way through the trees,
The big ape gives Miss Wray a good squeeze
Wet and snug her dress clings
So he tugs at her things
She's undraped in a playful strip tease.

Surly Hack and David Cairns

Fay Wray is in the grip of the decidedly pre-Code King Kong (1933).

Monday, April 11, 2016

Stop Making Censors

These fillies, delightfully saucy,
Fill stills black-and-whiteful and glossy
But the prude just sees red
Since he's screwed in the head
He thrills at self-righteous and bossy.

Kathryn Crawford, Carole Lombard and Josephine Dunn in a production still from Safety in Numbers (Victor Schertzinger; 1930).

Friday, April 8, 2016

I've Just Wet a Girl Named Maria

The big schmuck goes and makes quite a stink
When she's chucked in the lake for a sink
Drowning twerps is just awful!
And on purpose, unlawful!
The Production Code's take: "Please rethink."

 David Cairns and Surly Hack

The Monster (Boris Karloff) tosses little Maria (Marilyn Harris) into the drink: Frankenstein (James Whale; 1931).

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Monkey's Pawing

When King Kong makes Fay's garment get ripped
Hays is strongly alarmed by the script.
Let the censor condemn
Such a sensual femme  
Are we wrong to be charmed now she's stripped?

David Cairns

Fay Wray in the grip of King Kong (Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack; 1933). Will Hays was the namesake of the Hays Code for censorship of American films.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Hays' Gaze

It's a fault of the MPAA's
They assault with contemptuous gaze
Their refined master-cutter
With his mind in the gutter
Is exalted, untempted Will Hays.

David Cairns

Will Hays was the first president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) (1922–45), running what came to be called the Hays Office, enforcing what became known as the Hays Code. In the postwar period, this organization would be renamed the Motion Picture Association of America , or MPAA.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Thirties Rock

Screaming Fay has a date with an ape-brute
Smiling Kay's tempting fate, no escape-route
Busby's girls underdress
Just in pearls, or much less
And poor Mae gets a face full of grapefruit.

David Cairns

A passel of pre-Code prettys: Fay Wray flirts with King Kong (1933); gold-digger Kay Francis is one of the Girls About Town (1931) with Joel McCrea; moll Mae Clarke has breakfast with The Public Enemy (1931), James Cagney.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Legion Squares Disease

To not offend Decency's Legions,
Or upset Midwestern Norwegians,
You must never speak of
Or venture a peek of
A roster of bodily regions.

Donald B. Benson

The 1933 founding of "the Catholic organization the National Legion of Decency, which rated films independently of the motion picture industry, put pressure on the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, which had theretofore enforced the industry's own self-censorship standards, albeit not very seriously." --Wikipedia  Image: Miriam Hopkins in The Story of Temple Drake (Stephen Roberts; 1933).

Friday, April 1, 2016

Mean Joe Breen

Joe Breen would exclude the explicit
And clean up the crude and illicit
He'd lighten the dirt
That writers insert
The scenes so de-lewd-ed you'd miss it.

From Wikipedia: Joseph Ignatius Breen was an American film censor with the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) who applied the Hays Code to film production.

The 1933 founding of the Catholic organization the National Legion of Decency (NLD), which rated films independently of the industry, put pressure on the MPPDA, which had theretofore enforced the motion picture industry's own self-censorship standards, albeit not very seriously.

Will H. Hays, who had been in charge of enforcing the industry's voluntary code since 1927, worried that the NLD's efforts could weaken the power of his own office and hurt industry profits. Thus he stepped up enforcement efforts and appointed the "tough Irish Catholic" Breen as his assistant to impose the more rigorous standards.