More Pre-Code Valentines for All You Swell Sinners

Back by popular demand! Last year I followed up my tragically hip noir valentines with a pack of naughty, bawdy pre-Code valentines.

For Valentine’s Day 2017, I cooked up a totally new batch of pre-Code love letters to keep the spark of censor-defying romance alive. 100% guaranteed to add oodles of whoopee, sizzle, “it,” hot-cha-cha to your day.

Why Be Good? (1929) – Colleen Moore gets her man—and teaches him a lesson or two—in this delightful feminist flapper romance.why_be_good_valentine

The Divorcee (1930) – Norma Shearer is looking for a revenge fling. And Robert Montgomery is very willing to be flung.

the_divorcee_valentine

Morocco (1930) – Sure, Dietrich ends up with Gary Cooper. But the real heat in the movie comes from that tuxedo kiss.

morocco_valentine

Frankenstein (1931) – You had me at “experiments in the reanimation of dead tissue.” Colin Clive doesn’t need a lightning bolt to give me life.

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The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) – Miriam Hopkins goes from drab to fab to impress Maurice Chevalier.

smiling_lieutenant_valentine

Horse Feathers (1932) – If you need me, I’ll be writing some Groucho-Thelma Todd fan fiction. The line comes from Monkey Business (1931).

Movie Crazy (1932) – Harold Lloyd gets himself into an adorable mess—all for his lady love.

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No Man of Her Own (1932) – Years before Lombard and Gable became a real-life item, they played an unlikely couple in this steamy romantic drama.

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One Way Passage (1932) – We all know what those dreamy dissolves mean… William Powell and Kay Francis make the most of their time together (especially the bits we don’t see) in this intoxicatingly beautiful film.

one_way_passage_valentine

Rain (1932) – “Who’s gonna destruct me?” Joan Crawford is a force of nature as Sadie Thompson.

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Scarface (1932) – Tony Camonte likes Poppy’s class and sass. What does Poppy like about Tony? The fact that he’s not making it out of this movie alive.

scarface_valentine

Footlight Parade (1933) – It’s a silly caption, I admit. But I honestly just can’t with these two.

footlight_parade_valentine

I’m No Angel (1933) – The perks of being an auteur of box office gold comedy? You get to write your own happy endings, like Mae West did.

im_no_angel_valentine

The Thin Man (1934) – Nick and Nora Charles remind us that excitement is the key to a long-lasting marriage. (Booze and money don’t hurt either.)

the_thin_man_valentine

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17 Pre-Code Valentines for All You Dizzy Dames and Sugar Daddies

blondellheartemojiI love pre-Code movies with the passion of a thousand heart emojis. There’s a good reason why the banner of this blog comes from a poster for Baby Face and why I chose the the famous “Thou Shalt Not” censorship picture for my Twitter avatar.

When I discovered pre-Code cinema through a college course in 2010 (and they say you don’t learn anything useful in schools these days), I fell hard. Movies made roughly between 1929 and 1934 regularly make me swoon with their witty irreverence, their flamboyant style, their exquisitely hardboiled female protagonists, and their slick, snappily-dressed bad boys. (Plus, the lingerie. Can’t forget the lingerie.) These movies were intended to deliver large doses of risqué pleasure during some pretty dark days in American history—and they still bring the joy, more than 80 years after they were made.

Last year I created film noir valentines and pre-Code candy hearts, so I decided to follow that up with a batch of naughty, bawdy, gaudy pre-Code valentines. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: These valentines (for the most part) reflect the spirit of the films and characters they’re alluding to, not necessarily my views or opinions. If any of these valentines offend your delicate sensibilities, feel free to call the Legion of Decency on me. What can I say? I’m a bad influence.

Clara Bow plays rough in Call Her Savage (1932).

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Herbert Marshall may be a crook, but he’s the crook that Miriam Hopkins adores in Trouble in Paradise (1932).

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Clark Gable would bankrupt the undershirt industry to impress Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night (1934).

ithappenedonenight

Mae West knows that Cary Grant is only playing hard to get in She Done Him Wrong (1933).

Just gals being pals in Queen Christina (1933).

queenchristina_valentine

Pre-Code poster children Joan Blondell and Warren William feel the (cheap and vulgar) love in Gold-Diggers of 1933.

golddiggersof1933

Count Dracula’s love for Mina will never die. Because it’s already dead.

dracula1931_valentine

Cagney and Harlow get cozy in The Public Enemy (1931).

publicenemy_valentine

Garbo wants some “me time,” but she’ll settle for some “me and you time” in Grand Hotel (1932).

grandhotel_valentine

Miriam Hopkins can’t choose between Fredric March and Gary Cooper in Design for Living (1933). Who can blame her?

designforliving

Barbara Stanwyck is feelin’ frisky in Night Nurse (1931).

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Warren William is the Big Bad Wolf in Employees’ Entrance (1933).

Employees' Entrance (1933) Directed by Roy Del Ruth Shown: Warr

Looks like Little Caesar just can’t quit his friend Joe Massara. (I can relate. I think about Douglas Fairbanks Jr. a lot too.)

littlecaesar_valentine

Barbara Stanwyck knows what men are good for in Baby Face (1933).

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Carole Lombard gives John Barrymore some tough love in 20th Century (1934).

20thcentury

Watch classic movies and get busy, like Bob Montgomery and Anita Page in Free and Easy (1931).

freeandeasy

Yes, I even got a tad sentimental over Whitey Schafer’s famous “Thou Shalt Not” photograph, showing all the things you couldn’t do in post-Code films.

thoushaltnot

15 Film Noir Valentines for All You Lovelorn Mugs and Molls

outofthepastIt’s that time of year when flurries of cards in Pepto-Bismol hues invade our lives with syrupy messages of eternal devotion. I see gestures of love like that and I think, “What would Raymond Chandler do?”

Well, he’d probably have a drink and say something funny and bitterly insightful, I guess. But I’m no Raymond Chandler. So I did the next best thing and spent some time communing with Photoshop to make shoddily satirical valentines.

When you think about it, though, film noir is first and foremost about relationships—romances that actually reveal the dark side of human interactions and the shallow pretense of bourgeois affection… oh, who am I kidding? I just wanted to make some damn noir valentines. As for the analysis, today, baby, I don’t care.

Please note that these valentines are ironic and are not meant as an endorsement of: homicide, codependency, passive aggression, guns, necrophiliac crushes, l’amour fou, watered-down penicillin, or bad romance of any kind. Make sure you talk to your doctor about whether hardboiled dialogue is right for you.

And, without further ado, the valentines…

Martha Vickers says what we’d all like to say to Bogie in The Big Sleep (1947):

thebigsleep_valentine

Rita Hayworth tells us how she really feels in Gilda (1946):

gilda_valentine

Gloria Grahame is not charmed by Glenn Ford’s hang-ups in The Big Heat (1954):

thebigheat_valentine

Grimy drifter Ann Savage just can’t quit Tom Neal in Detour (1945):

detour_annsavage_valentine

Noir’s rottenest couple, Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity (1944):

doubleindemnity_valentine

You thought your girl- or boyfriend was clingy? Get a load of Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven (1946):

leavehertoheaven_valentine

It was surprisingly hard to come up with something romantic for Harry Lime (Orson Welles) of The Third Man (1949) to say. But I think this is pretty heartwarming.

thirdman_valentine

Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth are fools in love in The Lady from Shanghai (1947):

theladyfromshanghai_valentine

Maybe Bogie loves Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon (1941), but he won’t play the sap for her!

themaltesefalcon_valentine

Ava Gardner explains to Burt Lancaster that she has some emotional baggage in The Killers (1946):

thekillers_valentine

Outlaw lovebirds Peggy Cummins and John Dall in Gun Crazy (1950):

gun_crazy_valentine

The ultimate in noir tragic coolness, Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past (1947):

outofthepast_valentine

I couldn’t help but get a little mushy over my favorite noir screen team, Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd in This Gun for Hire (1942):

gunforhire_valentine

Gloria Grahame recites some melodramatic script lines to express her despair over losing Bogie at the end of In a Lonely Place (1950):

inalonelyplace_valentine

Dana Andrews seems a tad too fixated on a portrait of a dead dame in Laura (1944):

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 Happy Valentine’s Day to all you femmes and hommes fatals!