Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Animal Kingdom

Watching one pre-code movie is never enough.

I decided to find one that stars another one of my favorites, Leslie Howard. The Animal Kingdom is a 1932 film starring him alongside Ann Harding and Myrna Loy.

Howard is adept at playing dignified men who become hostages to love affairs. Obviously, Ashley Wilkes is the character that made his career, but this type is often seen in his body of work.

In this one, Tom lives a Bohemian lifestyle, sharing an apartment and a bed with his best friend Daisy. He leaves her though when he becomes enchanted with Cecilia. Because she is the kind of woman every man gets warned about, a real femme fatale, she's not very good for him and eventually he realizes that her selfishness will be his downfall, so he returns to Daisy.

I think the quintessential pre-code moment comes when Daisy is being jilted, and she says "A virgin and a fool I be.  .  .well, a fool anyways." An unmarried woman admitting that she is not chaste would never made it past the censors in later films. In fact, it was during code enforcement that Hollywood began depicting married couples as sleeping in separate beds.

Television censors were no better:  Lucy and Ricky Ricardo had twin beds even though the characters, and the actors, were married!

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