In Pwaise of Kay Fwancis

We’ve sung the praises of actress Kay Francis in this space many times, but if you’ve never taken the hint and checked out her work, now’s the time. Beginning at 6 a.m. ET tomorrow, TCM is airing 10 of her pictures in a row. (Look for the the full line-up at the end of this post.)

Francis was the queen of women’s pictures—romances and melodramas, with the occasional comedy thrown in for good measure—and a more fashionable star the world has rarely, if ever, seen. She wore glam garb as well as any actress in Hollywood and far better than most.

Francis is also remembered for a charming vocal quirk: She pwonounced R’s like W’s, Elmer Fudd-style. Her struggle with R’s was more understated than was Mr. Fudd’s but you get the idea. So we find it utterly charming that in 1935’s Living on Velvet (not airing tomorrow, but worth watching out for), she and George Brent had some fun at the expense of that vocal quirk. Nice to note that our Ms. Francis didn’t take herself too seriously.

Here, as promised, is the line-up for tomorrow’s Francis Fest; set those DVR’s now! All times are Eastern.

6:00 a.m. | I LOVED A WOMAN (1933)
A Chicago meat-packer tries to keep a rein on his social-climbing wife. Dir: Alfred E. Green; cast: Edward G. Robinson, Kay Francis, Genevieve Tobin

8:00 a.m. | I FOUND STELLA PARISH (1935)
An actress stops at nothing to protect her daughter from her shady past. Dir: Mervyn LeRoy; cast: Kay Francis, Ian Hunter, Paul Lukas

9:30 a.m. | SECRETS OF AN ACTRESS (1938)
A leading lady falls for a married architect who’s invested in her play. Dir: William Keighley; cast: Kay Francis, George Brent, Ian Hunter

11:00 a.m. | DIVORCE (1945)
A frequently divorced woman sets her sights on a happily married man. Dir: William Nigh; cast: Kay Francis, Bruce Cabot, Helen Mack

12:15 p.m. | GUILTY HANDS (1931)
A district attorney tries to frame an innocent girl for the murder he committed. Dir: W. S. Van Dyke; cast: Lionel Barrymore, Kay Francis, Madge Evans

1:30 p.m. | MANDALAY (1934)
A woman with a past tries to get rid of a former lover. Dir: Michael Curtiz; cast: Kay Francis, Ricardo Cortez, Warner Oland .

2:45 p.m. | THE HOUSE ON 56TH STREET (1933)
A woman loses her family after being falsely convicted of a crime. Dir: Robert Florey; cast: Kay Francis, Ricardo Cortez, Gene Raymond

4:00 p.m. | CONFESSION (1937)
A glamorous singer commits murder to protect her daughter’s virtue. Dir: Joe May; cast: Kay Francis, Ian Hunter, Basil Rathbone

5:30 p.m. | JEWEL ROBBERY (1932)
A jewel thief falls for a tycoon’s wife in Vienna. Dir: William Dieterle; cast: William Powell, Kay Francis, Helen Vinson

6:45 p.m. | ONE WAY PASSAGE (1932)
An ocean voyage leads to romance for a dying heiress and a condemned criminal. Dir: Tay Garnett; cast: William Powell, Kay Francis, Aline MacMahon

10 Things You Should Know About Dickie Moore

Here are 10 things you should know about Dickie Moore, born 93 years ago today. Some years ago, we were lucky enough to attend a special event at NYC’s Film Forum: a Q&A with Moore and his wife, actress Jane Powell.

It was a delight to see these two Hollywood veterans in tandem that night. They couldn’t have been more charming, and their mutual affection and respect was readily apparent—in short, they were darned cute together—as they delighted those assembled with insider tales of Hollywood’s glory days.

Moore was darned cute in the movies back in the day, too. He’s one of our favorite child actors of the 1930s.

Precode Movies 101: TCM Offers a Primer for Beginners


We’ve acknowledged that the precode era is one of our favorite era in movie history. For those that might not know, precode movies are those made after the ascent of sound but before the Hayes code, which greatly restricted the plot, language, and attitudes that Hollywood pictures were allowed to portray, began to be strictly enforced by the Breen office in 1934.

That quaint, wholesome quality you may associate with old movies? The pictures of the 1930s and ’40s that might convince you, if you don’t already know better, that life was simple, pure and uncomplicated back in the good old days? Those came after the code kicked in. Precode movies are another thing altogether.

Some pictures that typify the precode era are playfully bawdy; others are downright gritty, sometimes even a bit shocking today (though rarely very graphic, by our standards). Tomorrow (Tuesday, July 31st), TCM is giving precode neophytes the chance to do some serious catching up, as they’ll be airing precode favorites all day long, from 6am till 8pm. If you’ve ever wondered what the fuss was all about, here’s your chance to educate yourself.

If it’s gritty you’re looking for, we’d recommend Safe in Hell (1931) and Three on a Match (1932); if you’re just looking for a little salty fun, give Jewel Robbery (1932) and Blonde Crazy (1931) a look. But honestly, we recommend loading up your DVR with every one of these entertaining pictures; they all have something to recommend them.

Here’s the line-up (all times Eastern):
6:00 am — Downstairs (1932)
7:30 am — Loose Ankles (1930)
8:45 am — She Had to Say Yes (1933)
10:00 am — Faithless (1932)
11:30 am — Hell’s Highway (1932)
12:45 pm — Safe in Hell (1931)
2:00 pm — Jewel Robbery (1932)
3:15 pm — Three on a Match (1932)
4:30 pm — Footlight Parade (1933)
6:30 pm — Blonde Crazy (1931)