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They Call It Sin
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They Call It Sin More at IMDbPro »

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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Zippy pre code WB hit.

7/10
Author: ptb-8 from Australia
27 November 2007

I think this film is terrific. What starts off with a B movie feel swiftly shifts gears into an A grade melodrama with very strong moral dilemma and emotional logic, this First national WB Vitaphone picture is very rewarding for anyone remotely interested in the technical era of talkies in 1932. There are IMDb comments that spew on this film which I find puzzling, and I encourage you to read the excellent and informative review by 'rsoonsa' also on this site. Personally I was constantly surprised at the storyline and loved every minute of seeing and hearing the fabulous genuine Vitaphone (gramophone record) sound. The sound editing and camera smoothness and many lavish sets and the camera movement about them was of particular interest because this film is so deliberately experimental in furthering the ability to capture and record and be sophisticated in its presentation. With a great cast and the gorgeous Loretta Young front and center... and with hilarious Una Merkel (as Dixie Dare...!) you are in for a treat of pre code proportions with solid and exciting production values, humor and storyline. Other comments can tell you the story line, I just want to encourage you to see this film and have 70 minutes of constant surprises.... both technically and as entertainment.

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A bare minimum of frippery results in a very effective feature.

7/10
Author: rsoonsa (rsoonsa@bandbbooks.com) from Mountain Mesa, California
12 March 2002

A startlingly mature teenage Loretta Young stars in this fast-moving melodrama as Marion Cullen, a songwriter who leaves her Kansas home for New York City to shape a career in show business and to follow the man she loves, Jimmy Decker (David Manners), a salesman whose business junket to her home town has tied their hearts together. Decker, however, is betrothed to another (Helen Vinson) and Marion discovers that success in her new profession benefits from a relationship with Ford Humphries (Louis Calhern), an influential producer but a libertine whose demands upon her include more than her ability to craft tuneful pieces for the stage. Decker, now married, continues to harbour his love for Marion, as does his best friend, medical doctor Tony Travers (George Brent) and it remains for the young musician to decide which of the three men she will choose and what sort of position she will prefer for herself, that as mistress, wife, or other woman. Graceful Loretta Young is asked to provide acting skill instead of solely her superb bone structure, and she does so to good result in mosaical scenes, displaying a full range of emotions while making them believable and, of course, is a perfect mannequin for the Orry-Kelly gowns with which she is raimented. David Manners must rely upon more than his profile here, and the stage-trained actor performs creditably, specially so in airy scenes, while silky George Brent and shrewd Louis Calhern execute their roles well; it is Una Merkel as Dixie Dare, Marion's Gotham companion, who nearly steals the show with her rendering of a salty-mouthed, high-stepping chorus girl. The entire production benefits from the extensive cinematic background of director Thornton Freeland who utilizes an interesting assortment of camera angles, is responsible for the crisp cutting and editing and handles his extras with sureness, with only the abrupt final minutes barring the work from achieving a higher aesthetic plane.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Gotta love these pre-code Loretta Young movies

6/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
14 December 2007

"They Call it Sin" is a 1932 film starring Loretta Young, George Brent, Una Merkel, Louis Calhern and David Manners. It's about a small-town beauty named Marion who falls in love with a man, James Decker (Manners) passing through town. He is engaged to another woman. It doesn't stop him, however, from falling in love with Marion. After a row with her parents and finding out she's adopted, Marion heads for New York, hoping to do something with her musical talent, and looks up Decker. Disillusioned upon learning he's engaged, she eventually takes up with a producer (Louis Calhern) who has a bad reputation as far as women are concerned. When he realizes she's in love with someone else, he fires her from his show and steals the music she wrote. Trouble follows.

Una Merkel plays dancer Dixie Dare, Marion's roommate, and she's a riot - wait until you catch her dance act sans the cartwheels she was hired to do. George Brent is a doctor friend of Manners who finds himself falling for Marion. All in all, it's a very attractive cast. As was the style in the early '30s, Loretta is blonder here than most people will remember her. The luminous Young is gorgeous in a series of outfits. Some people criticize her acting - I have always found her very natural and believable.

There was nothing new even in 1932 about the young girl in the big bad city, but the cast makes this film fresh and holds one's attention. It's not a long movie, but for the time it lasts, it's entertaining.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Glossy Soaper

10/10
Author: Ron Oliver (revilorest@juno.com) from Forest Ranch, CA
20 February 2004

A small-town Kansas girl encounters hard luck & happiness when she follows her true love to New York City.

Aided by an excellent cast, THEY CALL IT SIN is a superior soap opera which delivers just enough sentiment & humor to keep the attention of most viewers. While the heroine's change of affection in the final scene is never really explained, this doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the film. Particularly commendable are the sequences set in the Merton park, with the softly playing ukulele setting a gentle romantic mood.

Beautiful Loretta Young is radiant as the sweet young thing who follows her dreams to the Big City. Doe-eyed & innocent, her purity is nicely countered by brassy, sassy Una Merkel, cartwheeling through her role as a chorus girl who doesn't take nonsense from anyone. Suave doctor George Brent & earnest businessman David Manners are both very fine in their roles as the fellows who adore Miss Young.

Helen Vinson plays Manners' wealthy fiancée. Elizabeth Patterson scores in her small role as Miss Young's spiteful ‘mother.' Louis Calhern plays the proper scoundrel as a lecherous theatrical producer.

Movie mavens will recognize an uncredited Roscoe Karns as a sarcastic dance rehearsal director. Marion Byron delivers some funny moments as the Merton soda jerk.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Let it get going, the plot weaves around these four solid actors nicely

7/10
Author: secondtake from United States
12 April 2014

They Call It Sin (1932)

One of many really good Loretta Young films from this era. She's young and energized and makes a great lead. This story of a sweet country girl being swept off her feet by a genuinely nice man must have struck to the core of women all over the country. Nothing extraordinary here, but all in all well done and compact.

There are parts of the film that feel like it's an early talkie—they are a bit stiff— but there are many more parts, especially with Young, that are so fresh and alive they feel almost contemporary. The other big name is George Brent, more famous for many low key roles next to Bette Davis, and it's fun to see him so young here. But it's actually the two other leading actors —there are four—who match Young for energy on the screen. One is the other man, a common kind of actor (David Manners) with believable energy. The second is a sassy woman who supports Young through her travails, Una Merkel.

So in all they make a fast and strangely interwoven group. You won't find the sexually suggestive layers of other pre-Code films here, even though some rules are seemingly broken. But you will find a freshness, if not intensity, that keeps this breezy drama going. They call it entertainment.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Racy Title; Tame Enough Script

6/10
Author: misctidsandbits from United States
28 December 2012

This is an amazing one to see, especially for early days of the actors we're more familiar with decades later. Was Louis Calhern ever young? Even here, he has a very mature look. There's a very placid and pleasing Loretta Young, mostly philosophic, never very ruffled for long by the twists and turns that come her way. Her wild roomie, Una, is no end of fun, getting ruffled enough for the both of them. David Manners caught my eye and looked for other movies with him, his having left Hollywood after less than a decade or so in favor of stage work. Very handsome young man, who reminded me of Jeffrey Lynn, who also wasn't around very long, in his case, to pursue another career altogether. George Brent transfers his usual low key portrayal from the last time you saw him. Surprisingly lively and interesting older movie.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Loretta Young was so Beautiful

7/10
Author: whpratt1 from United States
11 December 2007

This film caught my attention immediately because of the great actors in this film and Loretta Young, (Marion Cullen) who looked so radiant as a church organist in a very small church. David Manners plays the role as Jimmy Decker who comes from a rich family and is an engaged man to his boss's daughter. Jimmy Decker visits Kansas and walks into a church and is struck by the beauty of Marion Cullen who plays the hymns: "On Ward Christian Soldiers" and "Rock of Ages" which seem to captivate his heart strings. Jimmy gets deeply involved with Marion and she gets into a problem with her mother and father and they tell her she is an adopted girl and they do not think she is a good Christian and in many ways disown her. Marion runs off to New York City and seeks out Jimmy Decker and then the trouble starts for this couple in love. Great film and George Brent, (Dr. Tony Travers) gave a great supporting role. Enjoy.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

They left the sin on the cutting room floor

8/10
Author: judy t from United States
25 October 2013

The film's title, taken from a popular novel of the day, is misleading as there's no sin on display, unless you think Una Merkel in her undies is censorable. This is one of the 4 films on Forbidden Hollywood Vol 4, and the provocative title led me to expect a story of unwed motherhood, ala Constance Bennett, and so I came close to not watching it. But luckily I did pop it into the DVD player.

The film has an interesting script that doesn't go where you think it will and the 3 male leads, who are all vying for the love of Loretta, even the suave Calhern before he turns vindictive, are likable. Despite 2 unbelievable episodes - Loretta's confession followed by Calhern's confession - my enjoyment of this film remained intact. And the major deliverer of enjoyment is Loretta. No wonder 3 men are in love with this beautiful, talented songwriter, who is also very nice. But there's more to Loretta's character than a pretty face, talent, and a sweet disposition. This girl has confidence, courage, and determination, just what a cinema role model should possess, which apparently are qualities Loretta possessed off screen as well, qualities that raised her from ingenue to star. While Loretta's expressive face is good to look at, with the fresh and lively dialogue written for her, she's good to listen to as well. And it was a pleasure to see Loretta behave well under the onslaught of various shocks and setbacks. Happily, in the end, due to our heroine's abundance of common sense and goodness, she won for herself a worthy husband, and, I feel certain, regained ownership of her hit song.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

They Missed a Chance at Classic Romance

5/10
Author: wes-connors from Los Angeles
9 January 2015

New York-based traveling salesman David Manners (as James "Jimmy" Decker) arrives in a Kansas small town, on business. Out seeing the local sights, Mr. Manners immediately arouses soda counter clerk Marion Byron. He brushes her off and meets beautiful farmer's daughter Loretta Young (as Marion Cullen) playing her organ, in church. The two are mutually attracted, but Ms. Young's exacting foster parents do not approve when she comes home at midnight. Called "common trash," Young follows Manners back to New York City...

Young and Manners find it difficult to deny their continuing attraction. However, he remains engaged to his boss' daughter. Young also dates Manners' doctor friend George Brent (as Tony Travers) and her amorous boss Louis Calhern (as Ford Humphries). A tragedy threatens Young's prospects for happiness...

Both the credit order and certain plot developments consider Mr. Brent to be Young's leading man. But, the focal characters are Young and Manners. However the original novel proceeded, their performances make them the leads. Having the story change direction is disarming, due to the appeal in pairing Young and Manners. Cartwheeling showgirl Una Merkel (as Dixie Dare) has fun as Young's roommate. The tragic incident is nicely handled by director Thornton Freeland and the crew. After that, the characterizations and story unravel.

***** They Call It Sin (11/5/32) Thornton Freeland ~ Loretta Young, David Manners, Una Merkel, George Brent

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

experimental pre code melodrama

6/10
Author: Dunham16 from United States
19 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What makes this film worth watching is experimentation with seemingly modern camera angles, a tight ensemble cast and elegant cinematography depicting postcard rural and urban life. Though the plot sketch mimics moral melodrama the underlying premise is hard to grasp. Each character in the tight ensemble feels they are doing the right thing and the storyboard seems to move to give each their just desserts yet they all engage in actions many consider improper - THEY CALL IT SIN. As one example Loretta Young as the the heroine is unjustly thrown out on the street in Kansas to then be unjustly fired from a New York City job for refusing sexual favors from a boss who steals her ticket to fame - her wonderful music compositions. While we feel sorry for her character and think she deserves a happy ending much of what she does and how she handles the final scene would be considered sinful in the 1934 Hays code. This seems the template for the dichotomy of each and very fictitious character in the ensemble cast.

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