Scene in Lil's bedroom


When Lil locks Legendre in her room and we see Lil's friend listening at the door as we hear Lil begging/moaning, are they having sex or is she struggling with Legendre? When we see Legendre again he's out of breathe and his hair is messed up lol.

reply

I think the audience is meant to wonder on this. Even in pre-code days a movie couldn't get away with a simulated sex scene. So what they did was to create a fight scene that's so sexually charged that the audience feels like they heard two people having sex. Both Lil and Legendre (Bill) are extremely... excited when the fight starts. Then the audience is sent outside of the room, not able to see what's going on, but able to hear. What we hear sounds extremely suggestive, but also ambiguous. When the audience gets back in the room we see Lil dropping the key down the front of her dress, daring him to get it, and he walks toward her slowly, fade to black, next scene: divorce court. That was supposed to imply that they had sex, but by that point the audience already feels like it heard something naughty. Basically, that was a crafty way for the filmmakers to titillate the audience while still staying within censorship boundaries. So to answer your question, they were struggling, but you were supposed to wonder if they were having sex. Those filmmakers sure succeeded because nearly 80 years later, that scene is still HOT.

reply

Basically, that was a crafty way for the filmmakers to titillate the audience while still staying within censorship boundaries.

The code wasn't established in 1932. Maybe 'good taste' would have prevented them from blatantly depicting sex, but censorship was not in place.

In any event, I think it's pretty clear that they had been fighting. If they had sex she wouldn't have been crying.

I agree that afterwards, when they fade to black and then are in the divorce court, was the clue that they had sex.

Anyway, I thought they had sex a lot earlier in the film, when she first went to his house. They had already broken that ice, so to speak.

Just be truthful and if you can fake that you've got it made. ;)

reply

"The code wasn't established in 1932. Maybe 'good taste' would have prevented them from blatantly depicting sex, but censorship was not in place."

The code absolutely existed in 1932, it just wasn't being enforced. However, censorship was most definitely in place. Prior to the enforcement of the code, every state had a local censorship board that would review movies before they were released for viewing locally. Even though filmmakers were busy trying to see what they could get away with, they wouldn't have made a movie that was so offensive that no board would approve it. The Hays code actually came up because the local censorship groups found that they were being kept awfully busy reediting, cutting, and outright banning films. The increasing complaints motivated the Hollywood powers to establish a self policing effort in 1930, the Hays Code, to mollify those groups and to keep federal government involvement at bay. However it was all lip service until 1934, when the Catholic League of Decency threatened that either Hollywood start enforcing the code, or they would advise Catholics to ban movies. In the 1930's, when Catholics were told to do something, they did it, so that effectively scared Hollywood straight so to speak.

reply

Thanks for the lecture. Point taken.

Just be truthful and if you can fake that you've got it made. ;)

reply

That suggests that audiences in sophisticated places like NYC got the original movie and small towns etc got the butchered versions and the people who created the movies had no say over their product. (Some movies have no known original prints left, just pieces, because slicing and dicing went on internationally, too, for all sorts of reasons including length.) That was undoubtedly one thing that led to copyright laws for the industry and the rise of the unions.

As we know, movies were made with song and dance numbers with blacks that were isolated from the plot so they could be removed in the South. It's all pretty scary, with Big Brother making sure you don't know what others know. For your own good, of course!

Just as the voice of moderation here, not ALL Catholics stayed away from movies or did what they were told, in any era. If they did, there wouldn't have had to be such punitive, even draconian, measures against the rule-breakers. That is always a sign of authority figures losing control and since the Jazz Age it has been extremely difficult to keep people in line. The history of the Catholic Church in America makes for fascinating reading. It's interesting that now that is seen as the action of fundamentalist Protestants. Those were European-background Catholics. I wonder what Hispanic Catholics of the future will do.

Big budget mainstream movies would have been made to rake in as much money as possible but that doesn't mean that nobody made movies for a niche market such as for blacks, for Yiddish speakers, or for people who wanted peepshows brought to the big screen which is where you'd see more graphic sex, drugs, and all that jazz. Prim people of today call some of these "sexploitation films" which of course is ridiculous because they were simply dirty movies striving for a larger market share. :) Of course there aren't a lot of early porn flicks that were saved for our viewing pleasure and I'm sure the most overt were thrown out after use so we think, oh my, how quaint they got turned on by a woman in her underwear. They also went to brothels, read French novels, or if very wealthy and radical, went to the Far East to learn arcane tricks.

Many mainstream movies were made on two levels. There was the general audience level and the "adult" level. "Airplane!" or Busby Berkeley movies are examples of that. That maximized the amount of money that could be earned but does give modern viewers the impression that it was "a more innocent age" when in fact it was a canny age--two, two, two films in one. :) And if that wasn't enough to get your imagination going, there were movies where you could see a lot more. :) Same as today.

reply

As was mentioned, Lil put the key in her bra as a dare for Bill to get it. Of course we would never be allowed to see him do THAT even in a pre-code. The implication is that he went for it and she fought him off (that is fought him from getting the key) and he fought back, maybe with a couple of smacks but ultimately this intense power struggle lead to at the very least some very heavy petting and most probably sex as well.

reply

To me it looked like Lil and Bill were fighting. Bill was trying to get the key from her yet keep her from kissing him; maybe if he was a little rough she would back off. However she was committed in getting her man with money. I am basing the opinion that he was hitting her because he asked her if she was alright when the camera entered the room again. Then he gently picked her up off the floor and placed her on the bed.

When he tried to leave again and realized he still didn't have the key he looked back to Lil who was placing it down her bra. He went to get the key and what would probably happen seemed to be ok with him as they were both charged up at this point.

As a side note, I do not think he ever really truly loved her but was caught up in her pursuing him sexually as strong as she did. Remember, she pulled the same maneuvers on Charles Gaerste.

reply

[deleted]

When Lil locks Legendre in her room and we see Lil's friend listening at the door as we hear Lil begging/moaning, are they having sex or is she struggling with Legendre? When we see Legendre again he's out of breathe and his hair is messed up lol.


It's even kinkier than that. In that very famous scene, early on, he slaps her pretty hard. The intent is to get her to back off, but though Lil is shocked, she's also really turned on and throws her arms around him for a kiss, begging, "Do it again! I like that! Do it again!" To that point, Lil's calculating, in control, very unsympathetic, and not at all sincere. But in that moment (great bit of acting from Harlow), she inadvertently discovers her true sexual kink: masochism. Physical pain. She's exhilarated. She wants him to slap her a lot more!

Afterward, he's ashamed and it's not very clear whether they had full-on, all-bases sex, or how much *he* liked it. But somebody sure had an orgasm (besides the roommate listening at the door, anyway).

How do we know? Well, remember that earlier scene where she spent the night and it was pretty clear they'd had sex? Remember that fake, blubbery, post-coital, mocking crying she does and she claims a woman can cry when she's happy? Well, she does that after he beats her, too. It subsides a bit after he puts her on the bed, but when he asks for the key, the blubbering comes back. Then she gives him a calculating look and puts the key in her cleavage.

Also, check out what the roommate is eating when he shows up--a banana.

As for porn, it certainly existed back then. Not that many of the films survive now, but a quick google of YouTube with "early porn films" is eye-opening, to say the least. What's interesting is that the porn films didn't exist in a vacuum from other genres but on a continuum, exploring the same themes that were popular in mainstream films and not always as boldly.

Innsmouth Free Press http://www.innsmouthfreepress.com

reply

A friend bought some property in Texas and found a couple hundred pornographic movies from the 30's-40's in a shed. After looking through a few he burned all of them. I thought that was a shame because he assumed they were all similar without really knowing what they were. He may have destroyed something of historical significance. I was surprised by his actions because he's an artist and certainly doesn't come across as a prude.

reply

Yeesh, you're right. That *is* a shame, especially since there's no way for him to have known if they were all porn or not. Even if they were, they'd have historical value, being so old and rare.

Innsmouth Free Press http://www.innsmouthfreepress.com

reply