Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


BABY FACE (1933). Director: Alfred E. Green.

"Where would I go -- Paris? I got four bucks!"

"Are you really thinking or just pretending to?"

Lily Powers (Barbara Stanwyck) works in her unpleasant father's speakeasy, but an old customer named Adolph (Alphonse Ethier), suggests she take a cue from Nietzsche, of all people, and use men the way they all want to use her. So Lily takes off with her maid Chico (Theresa Harris), goes to the big city, and makes her way onward and upward through a bank by basically sleeping with one man after another [ not exactly what feminists today would consider female empowerment]. After casting aside both Ned Stevens (Donald Cook), who is engaged to Ann (Margaret Lindsay), as well as Ann's father (Henry Kolker), the now-notorious Lily has to deal with new president Courtland Trenholm (George Brent) -- and deal with him she does. Stanwyck is fine in a role that seems more tailored for Joan Crawford, Brent is satisfactory, and even John Wayne has a small role as another of Lily's early conquests. The main problem with the movie is that the characters are one-dimensional, and despite this being a "pre-code" movie, it's all rather dated; the ending may be unconvincing for many viewers as well. Still, it holds the attention.

Verdict: Stanwyck in man-eating mode. **1/2.

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