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August 01, 2011

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Good reading, good viewing. I'm curious as to whether the print Film Forum is showing restores a couple of Jewish-baiting jokes uttered by Lee Tracy's gossip columnist character that were disappeared from the film in the bad old days of Turner tampering.

La Faustin

Ruth Donnelly's delivery of "Why, there must be dozens" earns her a place among the immortals.

David Ehrenstein

My favorite Lee Tracy performance is "The Half-Naked Truth" in which he plays a carnival barker who psses off cooch dancer Lupe Velez as exotic royalty in the credulous big city.

La Faustin

And Eugene Pallette as a eunuch!

Gareth

I'm looking forward to seeing this one, though I found Tracy rather irritating in the same year's Doctor X, where his comic relief bits really seemed to jar with the overall "old dark house" tone of the film; it probably wasn't his fault, but the double-take pratfalls were extremely repetitive.

The capsule reviews for the Pre-Code films have made terrific reading, and I've been compiling "I need to see this" lists every week...

Shawn Stone

Excellent write-up. The scene in which Tracy talks Allen Jenkins into the electric chair and thoroughly scares him is one for the ages.

jbryant

Another big HALF-NAKED TRUTH fan here. Most Gregory La Cava films are worth a look.

Lee

Thanks for the recommendation, Glenn. I saw both of the Lee Tracy pre-code films today and had a grand time. What's stuck with me: Tracy's expert antics (verbal and manual) during each phone scene; Ann Dvorak's soulful eyes; and the hilarious Shapiro Shoes ad. I'd like a few pairs.

Glenn Kenny

So glad you enjoyed it, Lee! I and the Self Styled Siren were at the first showing of the double feature, and we had a GRAND time. It was fascinating to see Lee go all sincere at the wrap of "Molly Louvain," after nearly two and a half hours of being a delightful shitheel; he could sell THAT, too, it turns out. A one-of-a-kind presence in two one-of-a-kind films. And don't even get me started on The Divine Miss Dvorak.

Fabian W.

Just one question: Were the Jew-baiting jokes restored or absent? I find that fascinating, since I always think of Walter Winchell as the Jewish voice against tyranny in Roth's "The Plot Against America", including presidential candidacy.

Glenn Kenny

They were in there. But they were also milder than I remembered. More teasing than baiting, and actually rather knowing about New York in that period, and not unfunny.

jbryant

This coming Tuesday, August 9, you can get 24 hours of Ann Dvorak on Turner Classic Movies.

mike schlesinger

Is the scene with Mrs. Moscowitz ("You shouldn't tell that damned goy nothin'!") back in? It's never been in any 35 I've seen. It's in my 16, and I've repeatedly offered it to Warners to copy, but so far no soap.

Glenn Kenny

Now that you mention it, Mike, no, it's not, and I do have a vague recollection of that bit being a real jaw-dropper—I believe I saw that 16 print, or something like it, way back in 1987 or so. The print yesterday has the lead-up, as it were, to that scene—the exchange between Alvin and Stevens ending with the "Say, how many Jews do you think there are in New York" joke—but not the followup you cite. Darn it all. We must keep up the fight; I'd be disappointed to see "Blessed Event" come to DVD through Warner Archive in an expurgated version...

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