Lil works for the Legendre Company and causes Bill to divorce Irene and marry her. She has an affair with businessman Gaerste and uses him to force society to pay attention to her. She has ... See full summary »
After accidentally killing the man who raped her and forced her into prostitution, a New Orleans woman flees to a Caribbean island. While she awaits her fiancé, the vicious local police chief sets his sights on her.
William A. Wellman
A relationship gradually develops between a savvy New York street girl and a good-hearted cab driver--who first meet when she stiffs him for the fare--but other matters keep getting in their way, including financial problems and a murder.
Frisco Jenny was orphaned by the 1906 earthquake and fire and has become the madame of a prosperous bawdy house. She puts her son up for adoption and he rises to prominence as district ... See full summary »
William A. Wellman
Helen Jerome Eddy
To share expenses unemployed Alabama move in with also unemployed Bill and Toodles. Bill is hired by a gangster's mistress and ultimately becomes the gangster's bodyguard. Alabama ... See full summary »
Alfred E. Green
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
Fresh out of medical school, young Dr. James Kildare decides to leave his father's country practice and take up a position at a large New York hospital. There he meets the famous Dr. ... See full summary »
Lilly (Baby Face) sleeps her way from basement speakeasy bartender, literally floor by floor, to the top floor of a New York office building. Bank sub-manager Jimmy McCoy finds her a job in the bank only to be cast aside as she hooks up with the bank's president. When he complains of not seeing her she says: "I'm working so hard I have to go to bed early every night." Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the original 1933 sneak preview, Barbara Stanwyck's dialog in the opening sequence where she attacks her father for surrounding her with men since she was the age of 14 is intact, although it was actually cut from the release version. See more »
After Mr. Carter stays the night, Lily gets out of a car. There is a reflection of faces on the window of the car as it pulls away. See more »
Yeah, you're exclusive, *you* are! The sweetheart of the night shift...
See more »
BABY FACE (Alfred E. Green, 1933) Pre-Release Version: ***1/2; Theatrical Version: ***
This one is considered a key Pre-Code film from the director who later made the musical biopic THE JOLSON STORY (1946), but also the paranoid sci-fi INVASION U.S.A. (1952)! and features one of Barbara Stanwyck's best early roles.
She's supported by a fine cast which includes popular actors and valued character performers of the day George Brent, Douglass Dumbrille, Edward van Sloan, Nat Pendleton and John Wayne (at one point addressing Stanwyck with the titular nickname, derived from a popular song which is heard constantly throughout) in the former category and, in the latter, Robert Barrat (as Stanwyck's father), Donald Cook (as her most tragic conquest), Alphonse Ethier (as her elderly mentor more on this later), Arthur Hohl (as a lecherous politician) and Henry Kolker (as Cook's boss and father-in-law, whom Stanwyck also seduces). Curiously, scenes in which Walter Brennan appeared were subsequently deleted at his own request when the film ran into trouble with the censors!
Abetted by crackling i.e. typically hard-boiled dialogue and realistic Anton Grot sets, the narrative contains unexpected overtones of Nietzschean philosophy fed to our small-town heroine by the intellectual Ethier (Stanwyck complains to him early on that she's no "ball of fire" which, of course, contradicts her later comedy directed by Howard Hawks and co-starring Gary Cooper of that name!). Under Ethier's auspices, she quickly blooms into an essentially heartless character determined that nothing shall stand in her path to success; the symbolic depiction of her rise in stature at the New York firm she's eventually employed with is reminiscent of a similarly sardonic one relating to an ambitious statesman's lust for power in Sergei Eisenstein's October (1927)! Sociologically, it's also interesting that Stanwyck is constantly seen sticking her neck out for her black maid/companion.
The first two-thirds of the film are simply terrific; at first, I found the latter stages somewhat disappointing because I was expecting to see Stanwyck get her comeuppance by falling for the belatedly-introduced George Brent character while he ignores her but, just like the others, he's soon under her spell! On second viewing, however, this aspect felt less jarring as it's evident that Stanwyck has been affected by the two deaths her selfish behavior has caused, and that her tenure in Paris has softened her (even if she tries to cling to her hard-earned wealth for as long as it's possible).
Released on DVD by Warners as part of their FORBIDDEN Hollywood VOLUME 1 COLLECTION, the film is presented in two strikingly different edits a recently unearthed Pre-Release version and the tamer Theatrical Release print. Among the considerable footage cut from the latter is dialogue pertaining to Stanwyck's life as a tramp from the age of 14 (though it's heard in the accompanying trailer!), while many other scenes have been shortened (i.e. censored for content): the violent fisticuff which develops between Stanwyck and Hohl after she resists his advances; the seduction at the railroad car; the scene in which Dumbrille is surprised with Stanwyck by Cook; the shooting, followed by a suicide (only shots are heard in the shorter version); Stanwyck thinking about her conquests while the phonograph is playing (again, only Brent appears in the version released to theaters), etc. Tha latter, then, utilizes alternate takes for some scenes and includes an establishing shot of the city which is missing from the longer version; however, we also get an obviously tacked-on happy ending (the Pre-Release version concludes abruptly on a very effective open-ended note) and an equally unconvincing cautionary letter sent by Ethier to Stanwyck in New York which, basically, has the function of substituting all references to Nietzsche!
18 of 19 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?