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The most extreme of the pre-code Hollywood talkies I've seen yet
It's a shame that the common film-goer doesn't realize that sexual innuendo existed prior to film in the 1960s. Before the production code was strictly enforced, all sorts of depravity was captured on film and barely veiled. And until "Convention City" becomes available (if that will ever happen), "Call Her Savage" has to be the most extreme of all the early pre-code films available. The film presents a delirious story of a wild Texas girl (played in what was supposed to be her sound comeback by Clara Bow) getting cast off into the city. The film is full of not exactly subtle depictions of incest, bestiality, pedophilia, and all around sordidness. One particularly memorable sequence takes place in a drag bar, another one involves a child dying in a burning building. I can't forget to mention the positively epic cat fight between Clara Bow and Thelma Todd.
Another factor to the delirious atmosphere of the film is how uneven its tone is. The film veers sharply between screwball comedy and melodrama without missing a beat. I'm not sure if this was to treat audiences in the low economy of the time with as much as they could ask for from a motion picture, but it makes this a camp classic as well. It also makes it a very quickly paced experience, as the film is never remotely dull because there's always something over-the-top happening. In all fairness, what holds the film together is Clara Bow. As the strong willed female protagonist, she manages to play off the comedic and more tragic aspects of the film, making her character believable no matter how ridiculous the screenplay is. Also, she's still strikingly beautiful in this day and age, so it's obvious why all the males in the film fall for her. "Call Her Savage" is a hard to find film, but anyone interested in early Hollywood really needs to seek it down. (8/10)
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