Women flout social norms in Hollywood Before the Code

by Pam Grady

“Every train carries its cargo of sin,” says the Rev. Mr. Carmichael (Lawrence Grant) as the journey gets underway in Shanghai Express (1932), the fourth of seven collaborations between star Marlene Dietrich and director Josef von Sternberg. The cargo in this case is two ladies whose reputation precedes them — Chinese courtesan Hui Fei (Anna May Wong) and the notorious white “coaster” — a local euphemism for prostitute — known as Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich). They are but two of the fallen women to be found in Elliot Lavine and I WAKE UP DREAMING’s latest festival of classics, Hollywood Before the Code, screening at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre for six consecutive Wednesdays beginning Feb. 24. Continue reading

Dash’s Crib – Where modern crime fiction was born

by Eddie Muller

[John Huston’s film version of Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Turner Classic Movies presents screenings Feb. 21 and 24 at theaters around the country. For more, click here and for the line-up of TCM Big Screen Classics.  And, as is our policy, look for extras after the article-ed.]

The first time I walked into Sam Spade’s apartment I thought my head would explode. Continue reading

Gothic Cinema: Darkness and Desire

by David Robson

For nearly 20 years, film-and-video curator Joel Shepard has programmed one of the country’s best film programs at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Shepard’s new series is Gothic Cinema: Darkness and Desire, which spotlights the moody shadows, doomed love and nightmarish atmospheres of Gothic films from more than several decades. This weekend sees a marvelous Valentine’s Day pairing of the series’ first two films, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein, with 11 more features to come before the series wraps in April. Continue reading