The Pre-code Weekend
Friday May 10th through Sunday May 12th, 2013
At The Carlton Cinema, 20 Carlton Street, Toronto, Ontario.

Toronto Film Society is dedicating this weekend to Pre-Code films. What exactly does Pre-Code mean? This term refers to films made before the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, under Will H. Hays with Joseph L. Breen, director of the Code Administration, put into strict effect on July 1, 1934 the self-regulatory code of ethics created in 1930. The code set forth general standards of “good taste” and specific do’s and don’ts concerning what could and could not be shown in American movies. Among the general principles of the code was the requirement that “no picture shall be produced which will lower the standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin.” The Code had a long reaching effect on American film producers and their films until the Supreme Court brought a sweeping revision to the Code in 1966 due to the pressures of social change. So please join us to see films that were racy, risqué, and even outrageous this coming May, 2013.

The cost for the weekend is $150.00. It includes all 24 films and 3 lunches at the theatre. There are limited seats available so book early. The deadline to book for the “Pre-Code” weekend is April 12th, 2013. After that time, if seats are still available, we will be offering a daily rate of $65 for the Friday or Saturday and $50 for Sunday. Rush seats for individual films will be available for $10.00 at the door prior to each screening. Check out the website for screening times. All screenings are at the Carlton Cinema, 20 Carlton Street, Toronto, Ontario. Film screenings begin at 9:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, Sunday at 10:00 a.m.

If you need a downtown hotel, there are many to choose from. TFS does not have a special group rate with any one in particular, but here is a list of hotels in the immediate area:

  • Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre, 30 Carlton Street, 416-977-6655
  • Courtyard Toronto Downtown, 475 Yonge Street, 416-924-0611
  • The Delta Chelsea, 33 Gerrard Street West, 416-959-1975
  • Best Western Primrose Hotel, 111 Carlton Street, 416-977-8000
  • Ramada Plaza Toronto, 300 Jarvis Street, 416-977-4823

For more information, contact Toronto Film Society at or 416-994-5375.

If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please send your name, mailing address and/or email address to To check out our website, go to

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Baby Face - (1933) - 71 min

Baby Face
Director: Alfred E. Green
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck
George Brent
Margaret Lindsay
John Wayne

This is the film that sparked the Code! Sold to the public with the salacious tagline, "She had it and made it pay". Baby Face is one the most sexually charged and notorious films of the Pre-Code era.

The Cheat - (1931) - 74 min

The Cheat
Director: George Abbott
Cast: Tallulah Bankhead
Irving Pichel

The Cheat is a remake of the 1915 film of the same name by Cecil B. DeMille, but with 100% more Tallulah Bankhead. She lies, she gambles, and she steals and causes all kinds of trouble.

The Greeks Had a Word for Them (Three Broadway Girls) - (1932) - 79 min

Three Broadway Girls (Three Broadway Girls)
Director: Lowell Sherman
Cast: Joan Blondell
Madge Evans
Ina Claire
David Manners

Vintage comedy of three gold-diggers who have sugar daddies to keep them in the lap of luxury. You have to watch it to find out the word the Greeks had for them.

Man Wanted - (1932) - 62 min

Man Wanted
Director: William Dieterle
Cast: Kay Francis
David Manners
Una Merkel
Andy Devine

Kay Francis is a powerful, competent business woman in need of an attractive young male assistant. We bet he doesn't mind overtime.

Madam Satan - (1930) - 116 min

Madam Satan
Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Cast: Kay Johnson
Reginald Denny
Lillian Roth
Roland Young

Angela Brooks means to win back her uninterested husband with a little help from a masquerade ball, a devil's mask, and a very alluring gown.

The Letter - (1930) - 65 min

The Letter
Director: Jean de Limur
Cast: Jean Eagels
Herbert Marshall

A cautionary tale about what happens when a man neglects his beautiful but restless wife. Adultery comes with a heavy price for which she pays. A rare appearance by the legendary actress Jeanne Eagels.

Lawyer Man - (1932) - 72 min

Lawyer Man
Director: William Dieterle
Cast: William Powell
Joan Blondell

Idealistic attorney Anton Adam makes headlines when he prosecutes a prominent New York racketeer. He also becomes a high profile target for a frame up from a sexy actress.

Safe In Hell - (1931) - 73 min

Safe In Hell
Director: William A. Wellman
Cast: Dorothy Mackaill
Donald Cook

A New Orleans prostitute, a murder, and a lam to the Bahamas—this William Wellman classic could be the poster child for the Pre-Code era.

The Naughty Flirt - (1931) - 56 min

The Naughty Flirt
Director: Edward F. Cline
Cast: Alice White
Myrna Loy

A coquettish socialite sets her sights on an associate in her father's law firm, but has to fend off the advances of a greedy fortune-hunter and her voracious sister.

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

An American Tragedy - (1931) - 96 min

An American Tragedy
Director: Josef von Sternberg
Cast: Phillips Holmes
Sylvia Sidney
Frances Dee

An American Tragedy is Josef von Sternberg's adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's novel by the same name. Full of turn-of-the-century sex, murder, and mayhem, even Dreiser was shocked by the film and (unsuccessfully) sued Paramount for libel. The much tamer version, A Place in the Sun, was made in 1951.

Born To Be Bad - (1934) - 62 min

Born To Be Bad
Director: Lowell Sherman
Cast: Loretta Young
Cary Grant

Born to be Bad was so "bad" it was rejected by the Hays Office twice and had to be re-cut twice before it was finally approved. Loretta Young plays a single mother who entertains (hint, hint) gentlemen to secure business contracts.

Girls About Town - (1931) - 66 min

Girls About Town
Director: George Cukor
Cast: Lilyan Tashman
Joel McCrea
Kay Francis
Louise Beavers
Eugene Pallette

This film is about two professional gold diggers—Marie has her heart in her work, Wanda doesn't. Girls About Town is funnier than your average Pre-Code.

The Cabin In The Cotton - (1932) - 78 min

The Cabin In The Cotton
Director: Michael Curtiz
Cast: Richard Barthelmess
Dorothy Jordan
Bette Davis

The Cabin in the Cotton is a Pre-Code departure by being rural instead of urban. But when you hear platinum blonde vamp/debutante Bette Davis drawl, "Ah'd love t' kiss ya, but ah jes washed ma hayuh" you know you're in the right place.

Blonde Venus - (1932) - 93 min

Blonde Venus
Director: Josef von Sternberg
Cast: Marlene Dietrich
Herbert Marshall
Cary Grant

Do not miss the sultry Marlene Dietrich cooing sexy numbers like "Hot Voodoo" to a too-young-to-know-better Cary Grant.

Hot Saturday - (1932) - 73 min

Hot Saturday
Director: William A. Seiter
Cast: Nancy Carroll
Cary Grant
Randolph Scott

Nancy Carroll is a pretty but virtuous small-town bank clerk who becomes the victim of a vicious rumour that she spent the night with a notorious womanizer. Can her childhood sweetheart save her?

Jewel Robbery - (1932) - 68 min

Jewel Robbery
Director: William Dieterle
Cast: William Powell
Kay Francis

Wealthy, married Francis yearns for excitement in her life and is captivated by debonair burglar Powel, in this witty, charming film.

Midnight Mary - (1933) - 74 min

Midnight Mary
Director: William A. Wellman
Cast: Loretta Young
Ricardo Cortez
Franchot Tone
Andy Devine
Una Merkel

Loretta Young is the classic hooker with a heart of gold, about to be saved by her prince - until her shady past catches up with her.

Narcotic - (1933) - 57 min

Director: Dwain Esper/Vival Sodar’t
Cast: Harry Cording
Joan Dix
Patricia Farley

As the opening scroll tells us, Narcotic was "presented in the hope that the public may become aware of the terrific struggle to rid the world of drug addiction." What follows is odd and outrageous.

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

The Stange Love Of Molly Louvain - (1932) - 73 min

The Stange Love Of Molly Louvain
Director: Michael Curtiz
Cast: Ann Dvorak
Lee Tracy

The Strange Love of Molly Louvain is the strange tale of the criminal, the unwed mother, the virtuous bellhop and the fast-talking newspaper man.

Ex-Lady - (1933) - 67 min

Director: Robert Florey
Cast: Bette Davis
Gene Raymond
Frank McHugh

The much better remake of the 1931 Pre-Code Illicit, has one of the sexiest night club scenes—all action, no words.

The Crash - (1932) - 58 min

The Crash
Director: William Dieterle
Cast: Ruth Chatterton
George Brent

What happens to a philandering high society seductress when her charms fail along with the Stock Market? Chatterton and Brent may be perverse, but are they ultimately in love?

Tarzan And His Mate - (1934) - 104 min

Tarzan And His Mate
Director: Lowell Sherman
Cast: Johnny Weissmuller
Maureen O’Sullivan

Nude swim scene, political incorrectness, unmarried sex in the jungle—a perfect Pre-Code recipe for a day at the movies.

No Limit - (1931) - 72 min

No Limit
Director: Frank Tuttle
Cast: Clara Bow
Norman Foster

Theater usherette Bunny O'Day (Clara Bow) inadvertently becomes hostess of a private gambling den, and gets involved in a romance with a ne'er-do-well gambler.

She Done Him Wrong - (1933) - 66 min

She Done Him Wrong
Director: Lowell Sherman
Cast: Mae West
Cary Grant

New York nightclub owner Lady Lou (Mae West) has more men friends than you can shake a stick at. When Grant is invited by Mae to come up and see her sometime—he does!