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Pre-Code Hollywood Collection (The Cheat / Merrily We Go to Hell / Hot Saturday / Torch Singer / Murder at the Vanities / Search for Beauty) (Universal Backlot Series) (1931)

Cary Grant , Fredric March  |  NR |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

Pre-Code Hollywood Collection (The Cheat / Merrily We Go to Hell / Hot Saturday / Torch Singer / Murder at the Vanities / Search for Beauty) (Universal Backlot Series) + TCM Archives - Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 2 (The Divorcee / A Free Soul / Night Nurse / Three on a Match / Female) + TCM Archives: Forbidden Hollywood Collection - Volume One (Waterloo Bridge (1931) / Baby Face / Red-Headed Woman)
Price for all three: $82.96

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Product Details

  • Actors: Cary Grant, Fredric March, Tallulah Bankhead, Randolph Scott, Sylvia Sidney
  • Format: Box set, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: April 7, 2009
  • Run Time: 466 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001QFFBAM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,735 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Pre-Code Hollywood Collection (The Cheat / Merrily We Go to Hell / Hot Saturday / Torch Singer / Murder at the Vanities / Search for Beauty) (Universal Backlot Series)" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

For the first time ever, Universal opens its vaults to bring you 6 classic films from the most decadent era in motion picture history: Pre-Code Hollywood. In 1934, Hollywood was turned upside down by the enforcement of a strict “Production Code” that would change the way movies were made for the next 34 years. During the “pre-Code” period (1929 to mid-1934), censorship barely existed in Hollywood and filmmakers had free reign to make the movies they wanted and the public demanded. No subject was taboo including adultery, murder, or sex. Starring screen legends Cary Grant, Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Tallulah Bankhead, Randolph Scott, and Sylvia Sidney, the Pre-Code Hollywood Collection forever captures one of the most unique periods in cinema history. The Cheat A compulsive gambler (Tallulah Bankhead) will do anything to pay off her debt - including turning to a wealthy businessman behind her husband’s back. Merrily We Go to Hell An abusive alcoholic (Fredric March) reunites with a woman from his past and drives his wife (Sylvia Sidney) to drastic measures. Hot Saturday Scandal erupts after a young woman (Nancy Carroll) innocently spends the night with a notorious playboy (Cary Grant) and neglects to tell her fiancé (Randolph Scott). Torch Singer After giving up her illegitimate child for adoption, a notorious nightclub singer (Claudette Colbert) attempts to find her daughter through a children’s radio show. Murder at the Vanities While sexy musical revue “The Vanities” captivates an audience on its opening night, a murder investigation takes place backstage. Search for Beauty Olympic swimming champions (Buster Crabbe and Ida Lupino) are tricked into endorsing a racy magazine - and much worse.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
223 of 244 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neat package but some dreadful films April 16, 2009
Verified Purchase
While the interest in pre-code (June 1934) American talkies may never have been greater than currently, it should not be assumed that the films are good simply because they deal with subjects which became off limits after the code was upheld. This package is a case in point. We have 6 entries from Paramount Studios and they vary from very good to very bad. Let's start with the bad.

"Search for Beauty", released in 1934, is a terrible film. The pre-code elements are some nudity and a screenplay based on exploitation using sex as the bait. This would be of interest if the context in which they were presented had any merit but this must be one of the worst films ever. The garrulous screenplay concerns the sex-ploitation of athletic specimens, fronts for the get rich schemes of a trio of ex-cons. A teenage Ida Lupino, looking like a kewpie doll, and Buster Crabbe, an Olympic swimmer, star as the dupes, first via a health magazine and subsequently a health farm. The screenplay is dreadful, the production values ordinary, the editing poor and the cynicism behind the plot mind blowing. The film promoted a real life "Search for Beauty" and Ann Sheridan, who made her debut in this film and can be glimpsed as the winner from Texas, confirmed later in interviews that the whole thing was as appalling as it seems on the screen.

"Merrily We Go To Hell", released in 1932, is a marital drama whereby alcoholic writer Fredric March marries heiress Sylvia Sidney. When she is unable to reform him, she joins him in his extra curricular activities until she finds she is pregnant. It is a weak film with too much exposition. While the stars do a good job, the director, Dorothy Arzner, tries for unsubtle camera tricks which are corny.
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97 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Universal finally pulls out some of its precode entries January 24, 2009
Looking at what's available on DVD, you'd think that Universal did nothing more than crank out horror film after horror film during the early 1930's. In fact, they branched out from their typical western fare into other types of films from time to time. Probably the best known is Best Picture winner "All Quiet on the Western Front", but there was also the all-color musical "King of Jazz", "Broadway" and "Lonesome" directed by a bacteriologist, and a variety of precodes. Unfortunately, none of Universal's precodes are in this bunch. On the bright side, this is some of the best precode material from Paramount, which Universal happens to own. This time they even provide some extras. This is a great improvement over The Cecil B. DeMille Collection (Cleopatra/ The Crusades/ Four Frightened People/ Sign of the Cross/ Union Pacific) in which some of DeMille's more interesting precode Paramount films were dumped into a collection with no commentary, no context, nothing. The following description comes from the press release with a few extra comments of my own. These are never on TV and it's not like I've seen them all last week, but I have seen them and do recommend them.

The Cheat (1931, 74 min.) directed by George Abbott
(Actually a Paramount production)
A compulsive gambler (Tallulah Bankhead) will do anything to pay off her debt - including turning to a wealthy businessman behind her husband's back.

Merrily We Go to Hell directed by Dorothy Arzner (1932, 78 min.)
(Actually a Paramount production)
An abusive alcoholic (Fredric March) reunites with a woman from his past and drives his wife (Sylvia Sidney) to drastic measures.
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder At The Vanities is a Rare Gem!!! February 13, 2009
Verified Purchase
I am not all that familiar with the other films in this package, but I can highly recommend Mitchell Leisen's MURDER AT THE VANITIES 1934 with Kitty Carlilse, Carl Brisson, Jack Oakie, Victor McLaglen, Gertrude Michael, Duke Ellington and his Orchestra. This is a wonderful back-stage murder mystery with lavish musical numbers in the Busby-Berkeley style, with exciting visuals and some scantily dressed chorus girls. Songs include "Cocktails For Two", the outrageous "Marijuana" (in which blood, from a murder victim, drips down from the rafters onto the shoulders of one of the half naked chorus girls while they are all performing on stage), "Where Do They Come From, Where Do They Go?" and "Ebony Rhapsody". If you're a fan of 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, Dames, Lady Of Burlesque, etc., you're going to love this rare gem, and now it's finally coming to DVD April 9th!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THANKS UNIVERSAL!!!!!!!!! April 11, 2009
Verified Purchase
Received Pre-Code Hollywood collection Friday 4/10/09. Watched The Cheat & Merrily We Go To Hell Friday night and Hot Saturday plus Torch Singer tonight. They are in excellent visual and audio condition and over 75 years old. Fascinating stories with excellent acting by all the female leads --Tallulah Bankhead, Sylvia Sidney, Claudette Colbert and Nancy Carroll. What gorgeous women! Lovely early 30s background music, nifty cars, fabulous clothes, great stories that move fast - - little more than an hour each. WHAT IS THERE NOT TO LIKE ABOUT THIS COLLECTION OF PRE-CODE MOVIES???? Can't wait to see the other two films tomorrow night. Thank you Universal for QUALITY. No need to have all the extras when you can have such good films of this vintage. Very nice packaging too. PLEASE PLEASE bring more of your pre-code Paramount films to DVD. Any chance of 1931 movie 24 Hours with Miriam Hopkins?? Thomas C. Kelly
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Pre Code, why I love them.
I love the 1930's movies, I'd like to see the Hayes office look at todays movies. they'd have a heart attack. I like the pre-code movies best and the quality is great.
Published 24 days ago by leonard grabner
4.0 out of 5 stars Displaying the darker sides
This comprehensive box shows us the movies which were seminal for the later "fim noir" style, and a style was suppressed during the Depression, partly by "the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Helmut Huber
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Collection
Really wonderful movies...some funny, some suspenseful, all terrific. You'll love Hot Saturday with Cary Grant. There's not a bad movie in the entire collection!
Published 3 months ago by eptattoo
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Very surprising what was allowed in the pre code movies, still tame by today's standards (sadly) but was amazed that they allowed brief nudity and obvious prostitues in those days.
Published 8 months ago by Karen Schickling
3.0 out of 5 stars i give this a 6
Anytime you are trying to find a good example of the pre code era, do yourself a favor and research
the product. Read more
Published 9 months ago by watcher
4.0 out of 5 stars worth watching
For anyone interested in pre-code motion pictures these are all worth watching. I think "Search for Beauty" is the least interesting of the lot (except to see a very young Ida... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for pre-code fans
Pre-code films are wonderful and I thought I had seen most of them, but this collection adds some that I had never seen before.
Published 10 months ago by NJCathi
4.0 out of 5 stars If you think....
that movies today are racy, then imagine a time when racy meant something else.

This six-pack of Hollywood's precode goodies is, for their time racy, almost outlandish. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Kenneth L.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movies
Very enjoyable films and the quality is incredible. Looks like they were made this year!
That is my review why do you need 5 more words?
Published 12 months ago by J. A. Tufano
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection
A fascinating look into an era that was relatively hidden from view until recently. I've been reading books on this era and it is wonderful to see the films referred to in the text... Read more
Published 14 months ago by B. Locke
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will the dvds for this be double sided?
These are single sides discs with two movies on each disc.
May 31, 2009 by Tee |  See all 2 posts
Possible Titles for Volume Two of Pre-Code Hollywood
How about a triple-title Tallulah Bankhead DVD (1931-1932). "My Sin", "Tarnished Lady", and "The Devil And The Deep"?
Mar 5, 2010 by Efroseni |  See all 2 posts
pre-code hollywood collection Be the first to reply
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