Great Moments In Film – Baby Face (1933)
The return of Babara Stanwyck.Baby Face is an interesting look at censorship. In fact, it was banned in some cities around the country because of it’s content.Made before the Hayes Code was established, this movie was deemed too racy by the New York State Censorship Board due to the many suggestive shots and countless sexual innuendos. The Board suggested that many changes be made before it was deemed releasable, changes that Warner Brothers would make. Luckily, an unaltered cut still remains for us to watch.
Stanwyck plays Lily Powers, a young woman who’s father has been pimping out since she was 14. No, really. She rebels against one powerful “patron” which causes the establishment to be shut down and her to leave home. This is the scene where she gets an idea on what to do with her life. She meets with a simple cobbler, the only man Lily trusts, who’s very much into Nietzsche. Using the German’s philosophy, he tells her exactly what a woman can do to get ahead in the world. This leads to Lily moving to a big city, sleeping her way up the social ladder (including a young John Wayne). Of course, the obvious question remains: will this bring her happiness in the end?
Stanwyck is great as always. I love how she uses her eyes in this scene. You can see the light bulb turning on in her head as the cobbler makes his speech. It’s the subtle things, in an otherwise very unsubtle film, that make it all work and memorable.
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