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TCM Archives - Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 2 (The Divorcee / A Free Soul / Night Nurse / Three on a Match / Female)

4.4 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Forbidden Hollywood Collection Vol. II (TCM Archives) (DVD)

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 upbring, 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.


Special Features

  • All-new documentary: Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin, and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood
  • Commentary by film historians Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta on The Divorcee and Night Nurse
  • Theatrical trailers of Female, Night Nurse, and Three on a Match

Product Details

  • Actors: Norma Shearer, Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck
  • Directors: Clarence Brown, Michael Curtiz
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, Color, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • DVD Release Date: March 4, 2008
  • Run Time: 449 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000YRY7VC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,975 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "TCM Archives - Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 2 (The Divorcee / A Free Soul / Night Nurse / Three on a Match / Female)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Reine des Coeurs VINE VOICE on November 20, 2007
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March will mark the release of some PreCode gems on this Forbidden Hollywood set, in particular for Norma Shearer fans.

"The Divorcee" (1930). Ms. Shearer's Academy award winning performance as Jerry in the role her husband, Irving Thalberg, initially thought she wasn't sexy enough to play (a few wonderfully seductive portraits, courtesy of Mr. Hurrell were enough to prove his doubts had no basis) is excellent. Great minor role by her future leading man, Robert Montgomery, as well.

"A Free Soul" (1931). Ms. Shearer is Jan Ashe; Mr. Lionel Barrymore (in his Academy Award winning role) is her alcoholic, lawyer father, Stephen Ashe. Young Clark Gable made his cinematic bones with his role as mob heavy Ace Wilfong. For those who've only known Norma for "Marie Antoinette" and "The Women", be prepared for an entirely different actress. Ms. Shearer, resplendent in her erotic white gown, is pure bombshell.

"Night Nurse" (1931). Barbara Stanwyck was at her best in PreCodes (though I think "Illicit" is a better film) and Joan Blondell packs a punch as her nurse friend. This film has a plot to kill children, a nymphomanical mother, drug references and Clark Gable mobbing up again as Nick, the chauffeur.

"Three on a Match"(1932). Anne Dvorak, Joan Blondell and Bette Davis play the three ladies who share the karmic match. One's a bad girl who turns her life around (Blondell); another one is a good girl who remains true to her goodness (Bette Davis); the third has all the luck, money and the love of a faithful husband (Dvorak), but throws it all away for booze, drugs and shady men. Humphrey Bogart, also making his start as a mob heavy, plays her connection/kidnapper, Harve while the charming Warren Williams plays her abandoned husband, Robert.
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A little over a year after the release of volume one, Warner Home Video is finally giving us volume 2 of its Forbidden Hollywood series. There are supposedly to be two releases of this series a year from this point forward. Included in this set are:
a. Five films instead of the three in volume one.
b. Commentaries for two of the films.
c. A new documentary on the precode genre.

The films included are:

"The Divorcee" (1930) and "A Free Soul" (1931). These two films feature great performances from Norma Shearer. In "The Divorcee" she plays a wife who discovers her husband has cheated on her. When confronted he admits what he did but insists it meant nothing. However, he has a different attitude when Norma does the same with hubby's best friend (Robert Montgomery). The two divorce and Norma enters into a long string of ill-fated affairs. Shearer won Best Actress for her performance.
In "A Free Soul" alcoholic attorney Stephen Ashe (Lionel Barrymore) and his daughter Jan (Norma Shearer) have always lived a lifestyle of which the rest of their socialite family disapproved. Stephen has always taught his daughter to go her own way and not pay attention to what other people think. Now this may be good advice when it has to do with priggish conventions rooted in tradition rather than right and wrong. However, what Stephen has failed to point out to Jan is that people also generally think it is a bad idea to walk into a busy intersection blind-folded, and just because this is a majority opinion does not make it a convention ripe for the testing. Thus, completely blindfolded, Jan walks into the busy intersection that is the world of gangster Ace Wilfong (Clark Gable), a murderer that her father has recently managed to get acquitted in one of his more sober moments.
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The announcement of the second set of the Forbidden Hollywood series is welcome. The set falls neatly into 2 groups - the MGM pair and the Warners trio.

The former are well mounted up-market A pictures with the prestigious Norma Shearer. Shearer was the wife of MGM wonderboy producer Irving Thalberg and his management of her limited talent was masterful. Both films carefully showcase her in "modern" stories of liberated women with attitudes to sex which were scandalous in 1930.

- In "The Divorcee", Shearer won the best actress Oscar playing a woman who divorces her husband because he is unfaithful then proceeds to "liberate" herself with other men. The film is a very early talkie with all the associated limitations - stagy, endless talk and some corny acting, including a very mannered Shearer. The disk contains a commentary which notes these limitations, particularly Shearer's.
- "A Free Soul" enhanced Shearer's reputation as THE prototype of the sexually liberated woman in this tale of a woman whose fiance, Leslie Howard, murders her lover, a very raunchy Clark Gable. Lionel Barrymore won an Oscar for his performance as Shearer's lawyer father and deservedly so. This is a much better film than "The Divorcee", demonstrating how quickly Hollywood progressed with talkies - better direction, photography, recording and acting. The story is really interesting with some great twists and Shearer is generally less mannered and accordingly much more effective than the earlier film. She also wears some of the best clothes ever seen on the screen, transforming her dumpy figure into a svelte and sexy one.

The remaining trio reflect Warner's assembly line approach to film making at the time and have shorter running times and faster pace.
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