A must-see pre-code movie. Let's call it, "Baby face or how Nietzsche changed my life" with fancy Barbara Stanwyck make any man she wants fall for her. The surprising point was John Wayn's very short appearance, he is a young gentleman asking for a date but easily turned down by Stanwyk, it just lasts some seconds:))
I never really liked Barbara all that much, a good actress yes but eh. Great pre-code, captures the essence of what a pre-code film should be. Loved the scene at the end of the film where the men's faces are montaged on the vinyl disc. The film seemed somewhat modern at times with a mix of silent/sound tendencies which were typical post-1927
Essential pre code classic. Barbara Stanwyck was at her best in this risqué tale that added fuel to the fire for a quest for a motion picture code. In fact once the Hays code was established this film was taken out of release. Even by modern standards this one raises a few eyebrows. One must respect a tale in which a woman exploits herself on the advise of Nietzsche. From a story by Darryl Zanuck !!!
Stanwyck SLAYS as Lily, who does whatever it takes to get what she wants - a bold move in the pre-code era, considering Lily slept her way to the top. However, she's so confident, strong, clever, and aware, that you can't help but admire her regardless of being so sexually charged.
It seems at first that whoring to achieve something rather than nothing is a good idea. Inspired by the will-to-power theory of Nietzsche, Lily climbs up all the way to the top. Here she suddenly starts to love someone, viz the first man who was able to outsmart her. Does love -despite Lily's materialistic urges- conquer all? I find much of the film to be too transparent and cliche, however Stanwyck acts greatly.
Makes a fascinating comparison to Pabst's Pandora's Box, another film in which a woman (Lulu instead of Lily) leaves men powerless through her erotic presence. Unlike Lulu, though, Lily is fully aware of her power and fucks her way up the ladder of success with no remorse. Stanwyck's performance can only be described in superlatives (magnetic, intelligent, ferocious, etc.) and this remains one of her greatest roles.
You know why Barbara Stanwyck has played so many deceptive characters? It's because she is so natural on screen that we have to see her play a character that has to act to even appreciate her. It is as if she was born for the camera. Incredible. I love her for life now.
Stanwyck plays an unapologetically opportunistic woman who uses sex to gain security. The unvarnished primacy of security (here in the guise of money) as the driving feminine motivation may not sit comfortably with modern audiences, but it is still a very active force in our relationships. The story is a bit of a hit-the-highlights outline, but still effective.
Steel town barmaid (Barbara Stanwyck) goes to New York, uses God-given gifts to get ahead. Thirty yrs before Helen Gurley Brown's "Sex & the Single Girl," Alfred E. Green's BABY FACE (1933) horrified censors w/ its pragmatic morality. Four minutes were cut & an absurd ending coda was tacked on, but no editing can suppress the sexiest performance of the B&W era. The Pre Code-iest of all Pre Code films. (9/28/11 TCM)
Stanwyck's the pound-for-pound greatest fighter in the world as she bones her way up the corporate ladder, never losing her wits (or wit), & leaving a trail of star-struck jellyfish in her wake. There were two ways of ending such a tale in 1933 -- punishing our heroine w/ death or letting her fall for a bland good guy; this film picks the lesser of two evils. On the plus: pre-iconic John Wayne gets pumped'n'dumped.