Book Review: SEX IN THE CINEMA The ‘Pre-Code’ Years (1929-1934) by Lou Sabini (Bear Manor Media 2017)

Those of you who faithfully follow this blog know what a huge fan of Pre-Code films I am, even devoting an entire series to them, “Pre Code Confidential”. Well, film scholar and all-around good guy Lou Sabini has gone a step further and written a new book, SEX IN THE CINEMA: THE PRE-CODE YEARS, published by the fine folks over at Bear Manor Media, a handy reference guide to 107 Pre-Code films covering topics like illicit sex, gangland violence, drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, abortion, and Busby Berkeley… what more could a Pre-Code fan ask for!!

Helen Twelvetrees & Charles Bickford in 1932’s PANAMA FLO

Out of the 107 movies covered here, I’ve seen a mere 36, and covered seven on CRV. That will certainly change, as a few of them are sitting in my DVR ready to be enjoyed (thanks, TCM!). Lou was a student of noted film historian/collector William K. Everson (who wrote the seminal CLASSICS OF THE HORROR FILM, among others), and the man obviously knows his subject matter. Each entry is crammed with a detailed plot synopsis, background information, and biographical data on the stars and directors behind the films, all in a light, easy to understand manner for those unfamiliar with the era. There are some Pre-Codes included even I’ve never heard of before! A few that definitely piqued my interest are THE FINGER POINTS (an early gangster role for Clark Gable), PALMY DAYS (featuring a musical number entitled “Bend Down, Sister”!), and PANAMA FLO (with the marvelous but forgotten Helen Twelvetrees).

Joan Blondell in 1931’s BLONDE CRAZY

Lou Sabini runs an excellent Facebook page for film fans called MY ‘REEL’ LIFE, on which your humble scribe is a regular contributor. His latest book serves as both an essential primer for those unfamiliar with the Pre-Code era and a fun look back for fans of these wild & wooly films. It’s packed with movie stills and behind the scenes anecdotes, and cinemaphiles of any era will want to own it. It’s available from Bear Manor Media  , purveyors of some great film-related books, Amazon, and wherever fine books are sold. Pick up your copy today and discover the joys of SEX IN THE CINEMA: THE PRE-CODE YEARS!

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