Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (14)
| Top Critics (3)
| Fresh (14)
| Rotten (0)
| DVD (1)
A fascinatingly conflicted artifact of Depression-era do-me feminism.
If you've never seen Stanwyck in a pre-Code film, you've never really seen Stanwyck.
Well worth looking at.
Here is a blatant affront to generations of American provincial female teachings that value virginity over sexual freedom. Lily likes giving it away, for a cause - herself.
It's easy to see an anti-feminist 'Just look what happens to women who break the rules' underneath what is most obviously simply straight-up salaciousness.
A typical Depression tale of upward mobility and a good vehicle for Barbara Stanwyck; you can spot John Wayne in a small part.
They can't take their eyes off her. You won't be able to either.
Engagingly shocking to audiences who think of old movies as quaint and innocent.
...an amazing film for any age because it is purely about sex. Not X-rated, pornographic sex, but raw, sensual, unequivocal, unmitigated sex, nevertheless.
Baby Face is sort of the ultimate pre-Code film, with its repetitive form %u2014 that same come-hither look, that same goggle-eyed assent from the dude on the receiving end %u2014 almost beggaring belief.
Racy melodrama made before the Production Code.
Inarguably one of the greatest screen actresses of the century, Stanwyck gives one of her strongest performances here, all fire and hunger and pain.
Pre-Code Hollywood gems are the best kept secret in film history. Before films were heavily censored there were black and white talkies featuring nudity, sexual innuendo, swearing, and other obscenities. "Baby Face" is the film that pushed Will Hays into finally enacting the Hays Code. The film features gratuitous innuendo, a character that constantly sleeps with men to advance her standing in life, and obscene language. Stanwyck titillates in the role of Lily, a trodden upon young woman who uses the knowledge of a Nietzsche spouting philosopher, who tells her to use men before they can use her. Stanwyck is exceptional, as always, in a role she was born to play. Supporting characters include George Brent as Courtland, the supposedly dashing suitor who shakes up Lily's life, Theresa Harris as Chico, a black friend who often poses as her servant, and a young John Wayne as Jimmy McCoy Jr. This has been added to the National Film Registry, and stands as an exceptional example of the films made before censorship was common. If the ending hadn't been changed for the benefit of the censors, this would have been a better film, but for its time this is amazing and entertaining.
I really liked this movie, but it does remind you a lot of Red-Headed Woman story wise. I really liked Stanwyck in this movie. Also I loved the ending.
"baby face" was an mighty milestone to set up the stanwyckesque femme fatale image before the fatally classic "double indemnity"...generally..the vital charm of most femme fatales is their gluttonish sensuality and sex apeal...but the allure of stanwyck's femme fatale is based upon her ruthless toughnes and also her un-willing-ness to comprise..sorta refreshing...it's just like a man who takes what he wants without hesitation...basically BF is an heavily melodrama-driven story even it's worthy being praised for its audacious outrage in a conservative decade. to apply nietzscheistic superman into the "bad girl survives and rules" pattern is indeed feministically offbeat that could be considered a defying moral dynamite at that time. babyface's hostility against man is motivated by her experience of being exploited by men, especially her father. her remarks about her father philandering her was incredically explicit in the concern of the censor in the 30's. the quick wit and dare-devil adventurousness of stanwyck's material girl sorta savor the audience's appreciation over babyface's resourcefulness. but the devilsih brazen fun of the movie is somehow hindered by the moralistic closure. (bad girl is suddenly stricken with the meaning of love.) if interpretating it from a different perspect, perhaps it could be a touching story of an astray female discovering the warmth of bona-fide human affection. only stanwyck's swiftly polished acting talent could carry it off without diverged distortion.
If you see this, make sure you get the DVD that has both versions on it, the uncensored and the censored. Nowadays, I doubt there would be any question about toning down the original; it's tame by today's standards. But there was a time when what we take for granted in movies today was definitely considered dubious content.
Stanwyck is stunning as the abused child who sleeps her way to the top. Although she may appear to be heartless, it's a Hollywood ending 1930s style.
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