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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Baby Face" (1933)

Here's one of those Hollywood rags-to-riches stories that must have been so inspiring in the darkest days of the Great Depression. You too could overcome the nation's hard times and make it to the other side of prosperity. But another questionable message was being sent too, and that's the one that makes this Pre-Code artifact so fascinating. Tough as nails Barbara Stanwyck is a barmaid in her father's greasy spoon speakeasy. They run the place out of their grimy apartment and it's insinuated that good ol' Dad serves the factory worker clientele not just beers and hash but his good looking daughter too. One of her regulars gives the fed-up girl some advice, "You've got to use men for your own good!" And so she does. And does. And does. Stanwyck brazenly teases and flirts and beds every man that can get her one step higher on the social ladder, ultimately ending up a high class Park Avenue denizen. But at what price? It's a little creepy nowadays to watch a smart woman character whore her way to wealth and respectability but Stanwyck is so good having a high time controlling all those horned up dupes you can't help but admire her moxie by the end of the picture.


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