- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Stanwyck STANDS OUT
- Philip Clark
This film is one of the reasons Stanwyck became the great actress she would always be. Phenomenal as Lily (think Lilith in the Bible), processing through men faster than a lick on ice cream. Resonant, completely without guile, and one of the strongest pre-code films about women living their freedom (note what she reads in the scene as she holds a book by Nietzche, on Will), and taking whoever is in her way down with her. Everything about the film is wonderful -- sets, script, and all of the actors. Did you catch that very young John Wayne for three seconds on screen!? Adorned with the inimitable gowns of Orry-Kelly -- the BEST of any Hollywood designer -- Stanwyck shines from first appearance to inevitable end. Truly one of the most riveting, enjoyable and completely sexy films she's ever done. Bette Davis was the only one who came close to Stanwyck in my opinion and even Davis knew what she was up against. Stanwyck's long career is a pure example of the best in acting. To the very end. Also: Louise Beavers, who, as a black actress, was never credited for her role at the time, is excellent as her maid Beavers would go on to do some remarkable work, against so many of the obvious discrimination in Hollywood. Her version of 'An Imitation of Life' is much better and more believable than the Lana Turner remake.
A pre-code film treat
Of all the Hollyood stars of the 30s and 40s, Barbara Stanwyck is probably my favorite. She surprised me in this one, because I hadn't seen many pre-code films that escaped the efforts of censors trying to snip out enough to make them acceptable to filmgoers of the time. I don't think any amount of cutting could have excised the delicious raciness of this film and I'm glad TCM showed it in its original form. Maybe the most interesting aspect was the relationship between gold digger Lily (Stanwyck) and her black best friend, Chico (Theresa Harris). From the beginning, when they both work in the Erie speakeasy owned by Lily's father, Stanwyck as a waittress/prostitute and Harris as an impertinent cook/cleaner, they seem to consider themselves friends. When Lily takes off for the big city, Chico hops a freight train with her and they later live together. Chico sometimes dresses as a maid, but Lily doesn't treat her that way and one gets the impression that her maid's costume is for show to impress Lily's rich lovers. In other scenes, Chico's outfits parallel Lily's, growing fancier as Lily sleeps her way to the top. In fact, Chico could even be seen as the prototype black best friend, so ubiquitous in today's films. It's unfortunate that the Code came along and neutered most films for years.
Not as racy as you think
- Daniel Navarro
A few years ago, TCM screened a "festival" of sorts, offering us several Pre-Code films that they figured we had never seen before. The most highly trumpeted was "Baby Face" (1933). That film is supposedly salacious, scandalous, and should never be seen by decent people. But I thought it was a dud. What a gyp!I watched "Baby Face" expecting to see some sexy goings-on, but it was all talk. Yes, sure, Barbara Stanwyck plays a young woman who decides to seduce every successful man she meets, with the object of using each man to elevate her status in life. It works, I guess. In the words of the promos for the movie, she "sleeps her way to the top."But wait. Isn't "Baby Face" supposed to be a MOVIE?? A picture that appears to MOVE? A "Motion" picture? Not the version that TCM showed us that night, no, no. To qualify as a motion picture, a film must have interesting visuals. Without something to actually LOOK AT, and to SEE, the story would work just as well on RADIO. Yes, the audio was suggestive of Stanwyck's carnal climb up the ladder... but there were NO PICTURES for us to look at! That's why I say what a gyp! Dan
- Maria Ramos
Wow what a performance by a great actor, and she comes from Brooklyn. Barbara Stanwyck is a powerful beautiful actor. I love her in all her movies. Maybe this movie is about abusive, weak and vulnerable men who get played by a intelligent, manipulative, and beautiful woman. Maybe this is why precode people had a problem with this film. Barbara Stanwyck turned the tables. --- A fan From Brooklyn
"A woman, young beautiful like you has power in the world! You must use men, not let them use you. Be the master and make them your slave. Exploit yourself! Use men! Be strong! Use men to get the things that you want!"
80 years and nothing has changed!
I actually laughed aloud when Robert Osbourne and Molly Haskell discussed this film tonight! I know it was considered scandalous in the pre-Code era but eighty years later Stanwyck's character, Lily, is alive and well. Robert and Molly never mentioned this fact and they made it appear that things like this only happened back in the day. I worked for women exactly like Lily. They came from nothing and "worked" their way up. One married a member of the President's cabinet, another indeed married the President of a Wall Street bank! I love this film because I've known women like "Lily" all my life. Stanwyck's "conversion" to a decent sort at the end is because she finally fell in love with a man, instead of using him to fill her emptiness. She finally realizes that all the jewels and the bonds in the world don't put their arms around you at night!
What a story. Somehow she plays a completely conniving, heartless femme fatale, yet you end up liking her! Barbara is so great in this you know you can't watch it just once. I've seen both versions and the pre-code one is much grittier, better by far. The post-code version attempts to be some sort of morality play, but the pre-code one is a portrait of a girl doing what she has to do to survive in hard times. It's Barbara at her finest, cute and spunky! Knowing her real-life story, I wonder if some of the toughness was not all acting, especially when she remarks about the stuff she's put up with "since I was 15." Love her "look", the kind of sideways smirk of disdain she does when she is skeptical or fed up with someone; I've seen it in other of her early films.
Baby, look at her now ...
This girl had it all pulling her down from the get-go. I'm thinking that Barbara Stanwyck beats Joan Crawford as a toughie. (Betty Davis? hmmm, not sure about that) I can see why this was pre-Code. She was blatant in her come-on, albeit in look. In any event, her targets quickly get the message. But her temperature suddenly dips when her interests aren't being served. One of her targets catches another in her penthouse, shoots him and then himself. She basically just calls down to the lobby and tells them to see about getting it cleared up. It's very interesting to see her angle her way through the various men, co-workers and situations to get that far. But, she gets stubborn over Brent (at first meeting) and his assumption that she will play according to type with the offer he makes her to transfer out of the country after the scandal (the bump offs in her penthouse were execs from his bank). She digs her heels in another way, to disprove his cynical presumption that she will blow the new job and resort to party life. That part is not so active in some ways, but I think interesting to see her character take a turn. And she keeps turning, going from hard boiled to soft boiled. Brent really loved her, and that came to bear on her conscience. Anyway, she is heartfelt in her moment of reckoning at the end (details concealed here). She had changed her M.O. to prove him wrong, then got him to marry her rather than just keep her. However, his loyalty to her worked on her until she ends up with a woman's heart, for the first time in her life.If that sounds sappy to you, catch the first half or two-thirds. Otherwise, you might enjoy the whole thing. It's good.
I saw this movie the other night on TCM and was completely mesmorized by it. Barbara Stanwyck was such a beautiful woman and the story so believable. Like they say, "They don't make them like they use to".
Stanwyck the Magnificent
- David Atkins
I saw Baby Face on TCM and was knocked out by Barbara Stanwyck's sizzling performance. Amazing movie,and great to see John Wayne in one of his earliest movies in support of Stanwyck.This is a great movie and I repeat it is Stanwyck's all the way.What a Broad ( When Barbara Stanwyck fell ill and could not do a movie Heat of Anger she was replaced by Susan Hayward who sent Stanwyck a big floral bouquet "From One Brooklyn Broad to Another, and when Susan died Stanwyck's wreath noted "From One Brooklyn Broad to Another"
Another gem by Barbara Stanwyck who needs to has a COMPLETE box set released of ALL her films.
Baby Face 
Thank You TCM for showing Baby Face. What a fantastic movie...Stanwyck...FABULOUS as always. TCM...u r the Best!
BABY FACE Hey Baby (STANWYCK)
- Derrick T. Ivory
Barbara Stanwyck in this film, is one of the reasons why I watch T C M. As a kid growing up watching her on Big Valley I was a true fan. And now seeing all of her films, just blows me away. A well knowed hollywood bigshot, stated that she was not sexy enough to be in one of his films. I'm going to expose him Sam Goldywn, she was a kind of tomboyish but she had it, STAR POWER and she knew how to use it. And why is it that Billy Wilder used her in a lot of his films, shut up Sam Goldfish. George Brent as Courtland Trenholm was no match for her as Lily Powers. In this film she WORKED IT, and got what she wanted. Her flavor is very rare just ask Fred MacMurray, Robert Ryan, Henry Fonda and Robert Taylor, and you must see her on TCM. Did you see John Wayne before stagecoach. For All STANWYCK FANS.
Stanwyck sizzles in this one
Terrific pre-code film. A must see for Stanwyck fans. She excels in her part as a vamp who works her way to the top bedroom by bedroom.
Pre Code has the Edge
A film like this during Pre Code somehow has the edge over the ones after 1934. The content in this film would not be shown after '34 and this is why I find this very fascinating and one great film. Stanwyck nails her character down wonderfully as one of Hollywoods ground breaking achievement in films. This one should be a must own on DVD.
One of My new Favourites
- ian b
I had never seen this movie before, but it is now one of my new all-time favourites.Stanwyck is tremendous in this depressionera soap opera type movie... it is one of the best kept secrets of the 1930's.I had never been a huge Stanwyck fan, but after seeing her last few movies on her 100th birthday event, she has shown me her power,beauty,talent,and vulnerability .
She was a female archetype for the Depression.
Sad to say my mom and countless others of her generation were forced to such rude circumstances and 'choices' in order to survive. Lily is an archetypal representative of so many women, past and present. - They felt that their transitory beauty was their only ticket to survival. - Were they right? You decide.
Great movie. I'm glad I saw the documentary "Complicated Women" first. Knowing about the pre-code era makes "Baby Face" all the more enjoyable. Imagine what the world -- not just movies -- would have been like if not for the movie code in 1934. The whole Women's Liberation movement wouldn't have been necessary, or if it had, would have happened 30 years earlier.
I love this movie
Every women should see this movie
Which version is TCM showing?
It would be great if TCM shows the original. Surely it can't be too racy for current sensibilities, and true film fans would welcome the opporunity to see it as it was originally filmed.What's it going to be, TCM?
Uncensored Version Screened
- heh iii
In spring of 1933 this film was submitted to the New York State Board of Censors, who rejected it, demanding a number of cuts and changes. Warner Brothers made these changes prior to the film's release in July 1933. In 2004, a "dupe negative" copy of the film as it existed prior to being censored was located at the Library of Congress. This uncensored version received its public premiere at Film Forum in New York City on 24 January 2005, more than 70 years after it was made.