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Complicated Women (2003)

A look at actresses who starred in films with thought-provoking subjects made between 1929-1934 - before the Hollywood Production Code was enforced.


Hugh Munro Neely


Mick LaSalle (based on the book by), Hugh Munro Neely | 1 more credit »


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Credited cast:
Jane Fonda ... Self - Narrator (voice)
Frances Dee ... Self
Kitty Carlisle ... Self - Interviewee (as Kitty Carlisle Hart)
Molly Haskell ... Self - Interviewee
Mick LaSalle ... Self - Interviewee
Mae Madison ... Self - Interviewee
Karen Morley ... Self - Interviewee
Mark Vieira ... Self - Interviewee
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Fred Astaire ... Self (archive footage)
Robert Barrat ... Self (archive footage)
John Barrymore ... Self (archive footage)
Lionel Barrymore ... Self (archive footage)
Wallace Beery ... Self (archive footage)
Charles Bickford ... Self (archive footage)
Virginia Bruce ... Self (archive footage)


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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User Reviews

2 March 2004 | by THEOKREUGERSee all my reviews

The people who are saying that this documentary was in any way exaggerated or inaccurate are themselves inaccurate. This film is historically documented and completely true to the spirit of the pre-Code era. And lest anyone think the film pandered to a modern sensibility, keep in mind: It had three ninety year old ladies in it, and was narrated by 66-year-old JANE FONDA, not Courtney Love. The fact is, the pre-Code was an extraordinary period for women's films -- something that becomes more not less evident after one has seen two hundred or three hundred pictures from this period. And it was not extraordinary only for what it showed or dared but for the points the films made -- for those points that were intrinsic to the MESSAGES of the films -- which go way beyond a flimsy gown or anything that could be edited into tameness. If anything this documentary needed more time -- three or four hours -- to do justice to the range of pre-Code women's films. Still working within the constraints, this was a splendid achievement and yet another laurel for Turner Classic Movies.

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Release Date:

6 May 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mujeres liberadas See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Timeline Films See more »
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