Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
Architect Peter Ibbetson is hired by the Duke of Towers to design a building for him. Ibbetson discovers that the Duchess of Towers, Mary, is his now-grown childhood sweetheart. Their love ... See full summary »
Three shady characters - Larry, Jean, and Dan - want to make money legally by resuscitating a fitness magazine with cheesecake and beefcake photos and salacious stories with tacked-on morals. They hire two recent Olympic champions as editors to give legitimacy: Barbara Hilton, an English diver, and Don Jackson, a U.S. swimmer. When Jackson and Hilton object to the magazine's contents, they send him on a worldwide search for beauty, for youthful paragons of fitness. When Barbara and Don want out of the partnership to start their own fitness farm, the trio hatches a plan to bilk the kids. Can Barbara and Don avoid being conned or will a femme fatale undo their partnership? Written by
The difference between films from their start to the early '30s and the post-1934 era is astounding.
In the '30s, you have femininely dressed women, single, dating, ogling men, and having sex. In the '40s, the clothes are stiff, tailored, the women are single and we're told they are unfulfilled and unhappy. Such was the code, which dictated morals to the movies and possibly to a lot of naive and unsophisticated people across the country. I know because my mother was one.
This film is precode at its most outrageous.
During the 1932 summer Olympics in LA, some con artists (James Gleason, Robert Armstrong, and Gertrude Michael), convince top athletes to endorse their health and fitness magazine.
In order to find the best of the best, as a publicity stunt, they stage an international competition. They send one of the endorsing athletes, Don Jackson (Buster Crabbe) out to find the athletes and get their consent to be part of a magazine spread.
While Don is conveniently out of the country, the cons publish the magazine they really intended to -- a tawdry cheesecake rag with lurid stories and plenty of sex.
When one of the athletes, Barbara (Ida Lupino) finds out what they're up to, she summons Don. To appease him, a deal is made whereby Don is given a farm that he and Barbara can turn into a health farm.
Well, the health farm as far as our erstwhile publishers are concerned is nothing more than a high-class bordello.
This is a fast-moving, fun film with men showing their naked butts, and women drooling over mens' bodies, (with one set of binoculars focused on Crabbe's crotch) and plenty of suggestive clothing.
Robert Armstrong and James Gleason are a couple of old pros and handle the dialogue well. Buster Crabbe was a gorgeous man, almost pretty, who was a two-time Olympic medalist in swimming, but he wasn't much of an actor. He played a lot of comic book heroes like Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Captain Gallant, and did dozens of adventure films and westerns.
This was an early American film for Ida Lupino, who plays a star swimmer. She still has her British accent and sports the style of the day, platinum blonde hair and penciled in eyebrows. She is barely recognizable but she does a fine job.
The question is, was this film ahead of its time or was this the way things were? Well, my opinion is that this is the way things were in places like Hollywood and New York among the film and theater communities. I don't think the whole country was this way, nor do I think in the '40s the whole country was all THAT way. After all, men were going to war and might never see their girlfriends again. It was all somewhere in the middle, though the code would have had us believe differently.
Fun, and really needs to be seen to be believed.
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