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tcm logoThe Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival has inspired us to take a look at classic films, so it was providential that two websites decided to host a blogathon about a historic era of film history. The websites in question are Shadows and Satin, as well as Pre-code.com, and the era of film history is what is known as the pre-code era of around 1929-ish-1934. If you don’t know about that era, I highly encourage you to visit those sites and explore the blogathon and listen to this episode! I also have an interview I am soon posting with Pre-Code.com’s Danny Reid. That will be episode number 132. Look out for it after my TCM Film Festival Wrap Up episode, number 131! 

For this episode, I have very pleased to say I have a new co-host, who I hope to have join me many times in the future. Her name is Angela Englert, and she has been a good friend in livetweeting glory with the Drive-In Mob, TCM Party, and other livetweeting groups on Twitter. She’s brilliant and fun, and is going to be a wonderful addition to our podcast thinkers! 

When discussing what pre-code films to discuss, we quickly noticed the number of Caucasian actors playing people of color, and that made us think of similar practices today (Exodus, the proposed Ghost In the Shell), and so our topic was born. We chose to look at how different races have been portrayed over the years, and how much it has changed today. Yes, it is a bit of a volatile topic. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. The use of the pre-code films are set as a sort of social benchmark. Best to listen to the episodes, but the films we talk about are:

The Mask of Fu Manchu

fu manchu

The Hatchet Man

the hatchet man

Thirteen Women

13 women

I hope you enjoy our talk as much as we enjoyed having it. If you can acquire and watch the films in question, I recommend them quite highly. For various reasons, including their historical context, I think they are highly enjoyable and important films. Keep tuning into my TCM Film Festival-inspired episodes!

Comments: 6

  • Karen 2015/04/017:40 PM

    Miguel, I’m so glad that you contributed your podcast to the blogathon, and that the blogathon served as a jumping off place for your discussion. I’ve had Hatchet Man in my collection for at least a year now, but I’ve never watched it — your discussion made me want to check it out (I’d now like to see Thirteen Women, too). Also, it was interesting to hear the insights that you and Angela offered about race and the movies, and the information about the films. Thank you so much for your participation!

  • Le 2015/04/083:50 PM

    This was a very interesting podcast! The theme attracted me a lot, and I have one big confession to make: I love exotic pre-Code Myrna Loy. Even looking fake, there is something believable and magical in her performances.
    Really good discussion on whitelashing and inter-racial couples before and after the Hays code.
    Don’t forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! 🙂

  • Danny 2015/04/164:26 PM

    Thanks for the discussion, Miguel and Angela! In writing about these movies and other films that use yellow face in the early 30s, I think it’s helpful to realize just how *horrible* it was to be Asian-American at this time, with laws on the books basically forbidding Chinese people from entering the country out of a mix of labor issues and xenophobia. For a rather interesting portrayal, check out I Cover the Waterfront (33), which puts this issue in the background as we follow a captain who smuggles Chinese men in for money– unless the risks become too high and he has to kill them. There was also a tremendous amount of condescension that the US showed towards Asian nations (rather forthrightly portrayed in Fu Manchu) which countries like Japan deeply resented and would later result in a few appropriate brouhahas.

    Thanks again for the great listen!

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