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Complicated Women (2003)

TV Movie  -   -  Documentary  -  6 May 2003 (USA)
7.7
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A look at actresses who starred in films with thought-provoking subjects made between 1929-1934 - before the Hollywood Production Code was enforced.

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Title: Complicated Women (TV Movie 2003)

Complicated Women (TV Movie 2003) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Herself - Narrator (voice)
Frances Dee ...
Herself
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Herself - Interviewee (as Kitty Carlisle Hart)
Molly Haskell ...
Herself - Interviewee
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Himself - Interviewee
Mae Madison ...
Herself - Interviewee
Karen Morley ...
Herself - Interviewee
Mark Vieira ...
Himself - Interviewee
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
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Himself (archive footage)
Robert Barrat ...
Himself (archive footage)
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Himself (archive footage)
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Himself (archive footage)
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Himself (archive footage)
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Himself (archive footage)
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Herself (archive footage)
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Storyline

Jane Fonda narrates the story of the years between the ascent of talkies until late in 1934, when the Hays Office cracked down on what it perceived as immorality in Hollywood movies. The emphasis is on how women were portrayed, and focuses on how they were much more liberated and equal (or superior) to men, until 1935 when they once again took subservient roles to their male co-stars. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

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6 May 2003 (USA)  »

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Complicated Women  »

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Connections

Features Red-Headed Woman (1932) See more »

Soundtracks

Jazz Up Your Lingerie
Written by Oscar Straus and Clifford Grey
Used by permission of Famous Music
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User Reviews

 
Revealing
24 May 2013 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

So, there was a period in Hollywood when the lid was pretty much off, when not all girls were virgins or dependents like those of the 1950's. That, of course, was the now legendary pre- Code period from 1929 to 1934. This independently produced documentary does a good job of profiling the different independent girl types from that freewheeling time. From prostitutes to femme-fatales to executive types, the array is colorful and challenging, with illustrating snippets from the films themselves, plus cameo commentary from a few of the surviving actresses (Karen Morley, Frances Dee, et al.).

Glimpsed among actresses of the time are such independent types as Kay Francis, Joan Blondell, Greta Garbo, and Norma Shearer, plus many others. Men are strictly marginal, though a few are recognizable in the longer shots. Of course, the emphasis is on sex and seduction, subjects that became taboo once the Code kicked in. So it's fascinating to view the explicitness from a time long before the twin bed and closed mouth kissing of the next 30- years. Most of all, however, it's the notion of liberated, independent women that comes across, as commentator Molly Haskell points out. In short, these are movie images that come much closer to real female sexuality than the censored Hollywood period that followed. For years these pre-Code films were not shown on TV because of their content. Thus, their existence may come as a surprise to many viewers, making this a revealing little documentary in more ways than one.


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