Today is Sunday, so it’s time for this week’s second 100+ New Code Films article. Every week this year, I plan to watch and review at least two American Breen Era (1934-1954) films for the first time. When I look at filmographies of classic actors, I am overwhelmed by how many fascinating films I have yet to see. I have never even heard of some of them! I made a list of Academy Award-winning films which I hope to see this year, plus Code films included in the American Film Institute’s Top 100 list. I am determined to cross all these famous and acclaimed movies off my list this year!
Today’s topic is Dangerous from 1935. Chronologically, this is the first film from my list of movies to watch in 2021, so I decided to watch it first. It is included on my list because Bette Davis won Best Actress for her performance in this movie. I needed to watch one more new Code film before going on a weekend trip, so I decided to make it one of the films I was supposed to watch during the year. I found the movie on ok.ru and watched it on Thursday.
A young architect is engaged to a wealthy young woman. When out with his fiancée and a friend one evening, he sees a former Broadway star, who is now frumpy, drunk, and denying her previous identity in a low café. He manages to escape his friends and go over to her table. He remembers what a brilliant star she was two years ago and pities her fallen state. Since a performance of hers inspired him to pursue architecture, changing his whole life, he feels indebted to her. She passes out, and he brings her to his place in the country. She is annoyed that he helped her out of pity and refuses to be civil to him or his housekeeper. However, he insists upon her spending the week in the country while he returns to the city. When he visits her the next week, he tries to convince her that she is not jinxed, although she believes that her bad luck has doomed her and all those around her. That evening, she entrances him with her wiles, getting him to kiss her, only to laugh at him the next day. However, when he is forced to return to the house because of a road closure, she tearfully admits that she purposely humiliated him out of spite. Back in town, he tells his fiancée that he is fascinated with another woman, and she kindly breaks their engagement, appreciating his honest while believing that he will return. He puts up his own money so that she can make her comeback in a play which is perfect for her. She loves him for it, but he can’t understand why she keeps avoiding his marriage proposals. Will the play and their romance be successful, or is the actress just too dangerous?
This movie stars Bette Davis, Franchot Tone, and Margaret Lindsay. Supporting actors include Alison Skipworth, John Eldredge, Dick Foran, Walter Walker, and Richard Carle.
This movie was directed by Alfred E. Green. It was produced by executive producers Hal B. Wallis and Jack L. Warner. The production company is Warner Bros. Pictures. The story and screenplay were both written by Laird Doyle. Bette Davis won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.
This is a good Code film. It is totally Code-compliant and decent. There is nothing unacceptable in this movie. Marriage is upheld at all times, and morality is esteemed. Leading man Don (Franchot Tone) is entranced by actress Joyce Heath’s (Bette Davis) flirtation, but he doesn’t think in terms of an immoral relationship. When he decides that he loves her, he is eager to get married and frustrated when she won’t agree. Instead of perpetuating a superstitious theory of a jinx, this movie promotes the true principle that people can drive their own destinies and bring bad things on themselves.
I highly recommend this movie. It is surprisingly short, its running time being under an hour and a half, but it is riveting and highly entertaining during that time. Bette Davis is magnificent and very dramatic as Joyce Heath, the “evil star.” She looks impressively dowdy and bedraggled at the film’s beginning, seeming worn and aged although still quite young. Her temper flares, her tears flood, and her voice screeches in her character’s hysterical moments. However, she tempers these wild outbursts with tender moments and genuine emotion. It’s hard to tell whether she is a good character or a truly bad one, but this vulnerable unpredictability won her the Oscar. Franchot Tone is perfect as the young architect. He is sympathetic and extremely honorable, yet he is human enough to be fascinated by Joyce’s tragic demise. We are confused throughout the film as to whether he is really in love with Joyce or with his fiancée, Gail. The audience’s confusion is a reflection of his mixed emotions. Who could be better as the other woman than Margaret Lindsay? Sweet, gentle, and patient, she is the perfect antithesis to Bette Davis’s fiery heroine. Perhaps she is not as exciting, but she certainly is safer! Alison Skipworth is lovable as the firm but caring housekeeper, Mrs. Williams, who helps Don get Joyce back on her feet. This is a great movie with an interesting, unusual story which is told in a simple but compelling way. I highly recommend it!
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