In the early 1930s, before Hollywood began enforcing a self-imposed Production Code, many films allowed for extraordinary frankness including nudity, adultery and prostitution. In this restored and remastered five-movie collection, daring young actresses are featured in racy, riveting star vehicles.
The Divorcee (1930): After several blissful years of marriage, a woman catches her husband in a compromising position and forces him to confess his infidelities. Her solution to the problem is to then try to match him tryst for tryst. Based on the 1929 Ursula Parrott novel Ex-wife, this highly controversial story was first published anonymously, with the author's name added only after thousands of copies were sold.
A Free Soul (1931): Lionel Barrymore shines as Stephen Ashe, a brilliant alcoholic lawyer who successfully defends dashing gangster Ace Wilfong (Clark Gable) on a murder charge only to find that his headstrong daughter, Jan (Norma Shearer), has fallen in love with his client. Jan, a fun-loving socialite seeking freedom from her blue-blood upbringing, is only too eager to dump her aristocratic boyfriend (Leslie Howard) for the no-good gangster. Barrymore gives a remarkable Oscar-winning performance culminating in a legendary courtroom scene that is powerful and deeply moving.
Three on a Match (1932): Childhood friends Mary Keaton, Ruth Wescott and Vivian Deverse reunite ten years after high school. Mary is now a chorus girl, level-headed Ruth has a job as a secretary, and sexy Vivian is on the verge of deserting her wealthy husband Henry Kirkwood and their baby in favor of a glamorous gangster.
Female (1933): In Michael Curtiz's romantic comedy Female, Ruth Chatterton plays Alison Drake, the iron-fisted president of a motorcar company. Alison oversees the daily operations of her male employees with a predatory gaze and frequently exercises her right to engage with them in any way she deems fit. She meets her match in an equally strong-minded new employee, Jim Thorne (George Brent), and the two engage in a smoldering, contentious, sexually-charged duel.
Night Nurse (1931): William Wellman's Night Nurse is a sassy, unsentimental comedy about a private pediatric nurse named Lora Hart (Barbara Stanwyck) who, after applying as an apprentice in a family home, discovers there is a plot afoot to starve her two rich, fat, young charges to death. The culprit is the family's chauffeur, Nick (Clark Gable), a villain who plans to marry the kids' dissolute mother and make off with their trust fund.
Thou Shalt Not - Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood (2008): Over seventy years later, they've lost none of their power to shock, entertain, and titillate. So-called "pre-Code" movies remain among the most vital films America has ever produced. But why were these films so much more sexually free and socially critical than what came before or after? Who created the Code, and what did it forbid? And why did it finally become a Hollywood commandment? The answer is a fascinating mix of scandal, big business and social history - a unique collision of events that resulted in one of the most dynamic - and delicious - periods in Hollywood history.