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Baby Face (1933)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  December 1933 (UK)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 3,308 users  
Reviews: 92 user | 26 critic

A young woman uses her body and her sexuality to help her climb the social ladder, but soon begins to wonder if her new status will ever bring her happiness.

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(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Title: Baby Face (1933)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Lily
George Brent ...
Trenholm
Donald Cook ...
Stevens
Alphonse Ethier ...
Cragg
Henry Kolker ...
Carter
...
Ann Carter
Arthur Hohl ...
Ed Sipple
...
Robert Barrat ...
Nick Powers
...
Brody (as Douglas Dumbrille)
Theresa Harris ...
Chico
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Storyline

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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She climbed the ladder of success - wrong by wrong!

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

December 1933 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Mulher que Nos Perde  »

Box Office

Budget:

$187,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (restored)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In spring of 1933 this film was submitted to the New York State Board of Censors, who rejected it, demanding a number of cuts and changes. Warner Brothers made these changes prior to the film's release in July 1933. In 2004, a "dupe negative" copy of the film as it existed prior to being censored was located at the Library of Congress. This uncensored version received its public premiere at the London Film Festival in November 2004, more than 70 years after it was made. See more »

Goofs

Courtland's hands change position as he sits down in the boardroom. See more »

Quotes

Lily Powers: What could I do? He's my boss and I have to earn my own living.
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Soundtracks

What Will I Do Without You?
(uncredited)
Music by Lewis E. Gensler
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User Reviews

 
BABY FACE (Alfred E. Green, 1933) Pre-Release Version: ***1/2; Theatrical Version: ***
12 June 2007 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

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!


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