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Complicated Women (2003)

A look at actresses who starred in films with thought-provoking subjects made between 1929-1934 - before the Hollywood Production Code was enforced.

Director:

Hugh Munro Neely

Writers:

Mick LaSalle (based on the book by), Hugh Munro Neely | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Jane Fonda ... Herself - Narrator (voice)
Frances Dee ... Herself
Kitty Carlisle ... Herself - Interviewee (as Kitty Carlisle Hart)
Molly Haskell ... Herself - Interviewee
Mick LaSalle ... Himself - Interviewee
Mae Madison ... Herself - Interviewee
Karen Morley ... Herself - Interviewee
Mark Vieira ... Himself - Interviewee
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Fred Astaire ... Himself (archive footage)
Robert Barrat ... Himself (archive footage)
John Barrymore ... Himself (archive footage)
Lionel Barrymore ... Himself (archive footage)
Wallace Beery ... Himself (archive footage)
Charles Bickford ... Himself (archive footage)
Virginia Bruce ... Herself (archive footage)
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Storyline

Jane Fonda narrates the story of the years between the ascent of talkies until late in 1934, when the Hays Office cracked down on what it perceived as immorality in Hollywood movies. The emphasis is on how women were portrayed, and focuses on how they were much more liberated and equal (or superior) to men, until 1935 when they once again took subservient roles to their male co-stars. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

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Genres:

Documentary

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 May 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mujeres liberadas See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Timeline Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

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Did You Know?

Connections

Features The Divorcee (1930) See more »

Soundtracks

By a Waterfall
Written by Sammy Fain (music) and Irving Kahal (lyrics)
Used by permission of Warner/Chappell Music
See more »

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User Reviews

Revealing
24 May 2013 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

So, there was a period in Hollywood when the lid was pretty much off, when not all girls were virgins or dependents like those of the 1950's. That, of course, was the now legendary pre- Code period from 1929 to 1934. This independently produced documentary does a good job of profiling the different independent girl types from that freewheeling time. From prostitutes to femme-fatales to executive types, the array is colorful and challenging, with illustrating snippets from the films themselves, plus cameo commentary from a few of the surviving actresses (Karen Morley, Frances Dee, et al.).

Glimpsed among actresses of the time are such independent types as Kay Francis, Joan Blondell, Greta Garbo, and Norma Shearer, plus many others. Men are strictly marginal, though a few are recognizable in the longer shots. Of course, the emphasis is on sex and seduction, subjects that became taboo once the Code kicked in. So it's fascinating to view the explicitness from a time long before the twin bed and closed mouth kissing of the next 30- years. Most of all, however, it's the notion of liberated, independent women that comes across, as commentator Molly Haskell points out. In short, these are movie images that come much closer to real female sexuality than the censored Hollywood period that followed. For years these pre-Code films were not shown on TV because of their content. Thus, their existence may come as a surprise to many viewers, making this a revealing little documentary in more ways than one.


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