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The Pre-Code Hollywood Collection (1930)

Cast: Tallulah Bankhead, Irving Pichel, Harvey Stephens, more...
Director: George Abbott, Dorothy Arzner, William Seiter, more...
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Universal Studios
Genre: Classics, Comedies, Drama, Suspense/Thriller, Classic Comedy, Classic Romance, Classic Comedy, Classic Drama, Classic Crime, Crime, Classic Crime, Gangsters, Classic Drama, Pre-Code, Precode

The Pre-Code Hollywood Collection (Disc 1 of 3): The Cheat/Merrily We Go to Hell (1930)
The Cheat (1931)
This Depression-era melodrama chronicles the travails of a wealthy family that is nearly destroyed by a wife's compulsive gambling. The trouble begins when the Long Island housewife loses 10-grand while gambling in a club. Trying hard to conceal this enormous loss from her hubby, she embezzles from a charity fund and tries to win back the fortune by playing the market. Unfortunately, it fails and she is forced to take money from a wealthy fellow who has just come back from Asia. When her husband finds out, he pays the money to the cad, but he wants the wife instead. When he insists, the wife shoots him dead. A trial ensues, and there, the devoted husband sacrifices himself by taking the rap until his wife bursts in and admits her wrongdoing.

Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)
If only Merrily We Go To Hell was as interesting as its title! To escape an arranged marriage, heiress Joan Prentice (Sylvia Sidney) elopes with reporter Jerry Corbett (Fredric March). Unfortunately, Corbett is not only irresponsible, but also an abusive drunkard. To make matters worse, predatory Claire Hempstead (Adrienne Ames) has set her mind on stealing Corbett away from the hapless Joan. Finally fed up with her besotted mate, Joan walks out on him, only to discover that she's pregnant. The prospect of impending fatherhood causes Corbett to shape up and "dry out" in a hurry, but one still has doubts whether he'll be able to keep his promise never to touch another drop of liquor. Cary Grant has a tiny role as a stage actor in this unsettling blend of romance, drinking jokes, and Victorian melodrama.

The Pre-Code Hollywood Collection (Disc 2 of 3): Hot Saturday/Torch Singer (1930)
Hot Saturday (1932)
In this romantic comedy, a socialite has an argument with her sweetie and decides to exact revenge by spending the whole day, and much of the night with a notorious playboy. It is all innocent, but unfortunately, gossip ensues and she loses her job. Things get worse when the scandal gets back to her beau and he threatens to call of their wedding. The whole mess is straightened out when the playboy comes forth and swears her innocence. Later it is he that becomes her husband.

Torch Singer (1933)
In this musical drama from directors Alexander Hall and George Somnes, Claudette Colbert stars as Sally Trent, a children's radio show host by day and a nightclub singer by night. After giving her only child up for adoption amid hard times, Sally uses the listeners of her show as surrogate children while she searches for her son in hopes of being reunited. Unfortunately, the boy's father also has plans of tracking him down. Penned by songwriters Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin, some of the songs in the film include "Don't Be a Cry Baby," "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Love," "It's a Long Dark Night," "The Torch Singer".

The Pre-Code Hollywood Collection (Disc 3 of 3): Murder at the Vanities/Search for Beauty (1930)
Murder at the Vanities (1934)
The Earl Carroll Vanities, a popular Broadway revue of the 1930s and '40s, is the setting for this murder mystery interspersed with an assortment of variety acts, including Duke Ellington performing "Ebony Rhapsody" and a novelty number called "Marijuana." Victor McLaglen stars as Bill Murdock, a detective investigating a series of murders during the opening night of a new edition of the Vanities. When private detective Sadie Evans (Gail Patrick) is found murdered, Murdock must investigate between musical numbers to find the killer. When Rita Rose (Gertrude Michael) next turns up dead, Murdock concludes young ingenue Ann Ware (Kitty Carlisle) is the next person marked for death. Murdock has to find the murderer before the ending of the show or else he or she could disappear in the departing crowd of theatergoers.

Search for Beauty (1934)
Back in the 1930s, the "Search for Beauty" contests were designed to scout the hinterlands of America and England for beautiful girls and handsome men who might qualify as movie contractees -- though most the winners were drawn from the ranks of Hollywood residents. These contests, coupled with a play by Schuyler E. Gray and Paul R. Milton, formed the basis for this 1934 comedy. Real-life "Search for Beauty" winners Larry \"Buster\" Crabbe and Ida Lupino (both of whom had already appeared in a few films) head the cast in this story of a contest staged by a two-bit "physical culture" magazine. When the winners, Don Jackson (Crabbe) and Barbara Hilton (Lupino), realize that they've been hired exclusively to pose in bathing suits for the pin-up trade, they leave for the greener pastures of a legitimate health farm. The magazine's crooked publishers try to extort money from Don and Barbara, but they're foiled by a local justice of the peace (Frank McGlynn Sr.) who turns out to be an agent of the U.S. Department of Justice!

GreenCine Member Ratings

The Pre-Code Hollywood Collection (Disc 1 of 3): The Cheat/Merrily We Go to Hell (1930)
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7.00 (3 votes)
The Pre-Code Hollywood Collection (Disc 2 of 3): Hot Saturday/Torch Singer (1930)
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7.00 (2 votes)
The Pre-Code Hollywood Collection (Disc 3 of 3): Murder at the Vanities/Search for Beauty (1930)
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5.67 (3 votes)

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