Four Rooms – THE HAPPY NEW YEAR BLOGATHON!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Bring on the confetti, campaign, and festivities – 2 days to go!

As we bid 2017 farewell, It’s time to make a joyful entry into 2018 with this cool blogathon hosted by Movie Movie Blog Blog – Choosing “any movie that has any kind of theme related to the last day of the year.” To celebrate the many great things to come this year, I reviewed one of the quirkiest New Year’s movies ever made known as FOUR ROOMS. A masterful 22 years old movie always acclaimed for its first-rate cast, Lounge-Exotica melodies, shit-show of short films and crackerjack performance by Tim Roth.

Here goes…

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Set around New Year’s Eve, Mon Signor Hotel bellhop Ted, Teddy, Theodore, is having the first shift of his life hopping between four very unusual rooms:

Room 1 – The Missing Ingredient (directed by Allison Anders)
In this room, Ted becomes the final solution/ingredient to a reversed spell ceremony conducted by a coven of witches (Madonna, Sammi Davis, Lili Taylor, Alicia Witt).

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Room 2 – The Wrong Man (directed by Alexandre Rockwell)
In this room, Ted finds himself caught up in a sick role-playing game between an armed man (David Proval) and his tied-up wife (Jennifer Beals).

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Room 3The Misbehavers (directed by Robert Rodriguez) 
In this room, Ted is paid $500 to check up on two misbehaved children while their parents (Antonio Banderas and Tamlyn Tomita) go out celebrating New Year.

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Room 4 The Man from Hollywood (directed by Quentin Tarantino)
In this room, Ted meets Flamboyant film producer (Tarantino) and his Hollywood friends who make a rather strange bet.

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I’m not sure what triggered my interest most in Four Rooms. The decaying Mon Signor hotel, the loopy bellhop, the brilliant Combustible Edison score, or the shady characters Ted bumps into. Altogether, Four Rooms is a clever and sexy as hell mixed bag of kooky stories with one element linking between them – Ted. Wrap them up in a Tarantino co-production (Ted smoked Red Apples) and you get a masterpiece.

It’s not to be taken for granted that 4 completely different directors in both vision and style, could create such an intact ensemble. Only, these four do the job when put together as a whole. Separately, not as much. It all boils down to Ted and his reactions to things in the goofiest manner possible. Tim Roth is a delight to watch due to his masterful physical performance alone. I do think it’s his most memorable Tarantino role so far. Tim Roth sheds a comic light on what otherwise would be a bunch of horrifying circumstances. Working at a once-famous Los Angeles hotel that has fallen from grace and becomes a haven for criminals and creeps, Ted hops between floors with an uncanny will to help and be of service only to find out that this is perhaps the worst night of his bellboy career.

If I had to choose a favorite segment, I’d go with The Misbehavers. A Robert Rodriguez directed little gem, starring Antonio Banderas as a Latino gangster and Tamlyn Tomita as his passive wife, and their two mischievous children. This segment is perfectly odored with Rodriguez’s trademark direction style (mixed with the smell of a dead corpse hidden under a bed). It’s sexy, darkly humored and hilarious. It’s a clear-cut Cry Wolf scenario. The two children nag Ted for all sorts of things until they accidentally find a dead woman under the bed. The odd smell in the room, thought to be of feet and shoes, gave her away eventually. That end scene with Ted and the two children says anything but “Did They Misbehave?”. Brilliant.

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New Year’s Eve mentions

As this is a blogathon set around New Year’s Eve, I think it’s important to add that Four Rooms begins with the song “Auld Lang Syne” which is most commonly associated with New Year’s Eve, right when Ted inherits the bellboy hat from his predecessor. On The Wrong Man segment, Ted receives a call from room 404 / 409 where New Year’s drunk celebrators are in need of ice. In Room 3’s The Misbehavers the parents go out to celebrate New Year’s and in Room 4 The Man from Hollywood (Tarantino) glorifies a fine bottle of Chrystal to celebrate New Year.

Four Rooms is a bit ahead of its time. It’s filled with an excellent cast and talented filmmakers and I definitely say it’s a favorite of mine.

I hope you share my love for this movie.

Have a fabulous New Year 

Bottle With Popping Cork on Apple iOS 10.3

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Movies & TV Shows That Made My Childhood Awesome – Part 2

Part 2, straight up!

FernGully: The Last Rainforest

But trees give life. They make the clouds, the water, the air.” Crysta

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All it takes is a whimsical animation, an enchanting musical score and a moral lesson to bewitch me. And that is exactly what FerGully is – magical. This one also goes straight in to my “if I watch this today, I’ll probably cry” list. I loved Crysta and was always so envious of her ability to fly and FernGully seemed like the perfect place to live in. What else do you need in life more than a cool pair of wings, a cute little red outfit, a funky short hair and a hot Zak, eh? I used to go overboard with emotions every time I heard “A Dream Worth Keeping” sung by Sheena Easton as the two oh so lovingly float and skip through waterfalls and lit fountains and fall in love… Oh man, I need to watch this like, TODAY.

 

FernGully has one of the best voice-over cast starting with Samantha Mathis as Crysta, Tim Curry as Hexxus, Christian Slater as Pips, and the legendary Robin Williams as Batty Koda. They say that this movie cannot hold a candle to Disney’s animators, producing a deeper, multilayered animation, and yet the FernGully’s filled with an aura of enchantment. I’ll always have this one in mind when someone mentions childhood favorites. And I’ll gladly introduce it to my kids when the time comes.

 

The Goonies

“Hey, you guys!” Sloth

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Remember Chunk, Sloth, Mikey and Data? A very young and handsome Josh Brolin? The Goonies was my ultimate summer vacation flick and I own the DVD for an occasional flashback.

Pirates, treasure hunts, gold-digging villains, swearing, and a heroic group of kids that want to save their homes from foreclosure – The Goonies has the right receipt for a children’s adventure. The Goonies joins the list of the typical cliques that could be found at every 80’s high school or a John Hughes movie. You have the optimist Mikey Walsh, his older brother Brandon, the nerdy and inventive Data, the cheerleader Andy, her sidekick Stef, the chatty smart ass Mouth, and the overweight klutz Chunk. Together they’re rummaging through damp tunnels and derelict scary underground paths to explore the location of One-Eyed Willy’s lost treasure only to stumble across the Fratellis, a family of criminals after the same treasure.

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I can’t remember this movie word-for-word as I do with the others which calls out for a re-watch. I do still listen to the theme song written and performed by 80’s icon and  favored singer Cyndi Lauper. From me to you…

 

The Neverending Story

“Never give up and good luck will find you.” Falcor

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The other day a friend challenged me to remember the name of the wolf-like creature. Cracking my brains I roared “G-M-O-R-K!”.

Wow, there’s so much to say about The Neverending story, starting with a breathe-taking story-line, avant-grade characters, imaginative setting, and one great theme song. Unlike The Goonies, the adventurous voyage takes place in the fictional world of Fantasia with only two heroes replacing a group of ambitious kids.

In Fantasy, the land of Fantasia is on the verge of destruction by a vengeful force called The Nothing and only one person can save it – a young Purple Buffalo hunter named Atreyu who’s sent to find a cure for the ailing empress. In reality, troubled and teased Bastian Balthazar Bux skips his math test to hide in the school’s attic and read. As the hours go by and the story climaxes, Bastian realizes he’s not just reading the story, but has a significant part in its development and outcome.

Amazing movie!

Favorite character?

Easy!

Morla the Ancient One.
This is one giant kooky turtle.

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Beetlejuice

Adam: What are your qualifications?

Beetlejuice: Ah. Well… I attended Julliard… I’m a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I’ve seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT… NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU’RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY… NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK? You think I’m qualified?

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Death, afterlife, a haunted house, creepy city-folks turned suburban and one obnoxious ghost named Betelgeuse (pronounced “Beetlejuice”) are tangled up in a 90 min comedy / horror / Gothic / timeless movie. Beetlejuice first introduced me to Tim Burton’s insane and morbid trail of movies which resulted in a lengthy period of admiration for that director with the hairstyle worn far beyond the excusable ’80s window.

Not enough words for Beetlejuice. To say it’s a favorite would be saying too little. Beetlejuice was and still a love at first sight for me – a masterpiece with the best portrayal of dark humor I’ve seen so far – recently deceased newly-weds Adam and Barbara Maitland find their now-vacant home invaded by brash new inhabitants, and hire the “professional” services of a sleazy ghost to scare them away. Filled with cleverly sarcastic dialogues, fantastic music score and an all-powerful cast, this movie is way way ahead of its time and still kicks ass ’til this very day.

“My whole life is a darkroom. One. Big. Dark. Room.”

For our charming protagonists Adam & Barbara Maitland we have Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis. As the iconic run-down ghost we have Michael Keaton in one of his best roles (some would say it’s The Founder but I beg to differ), For the dry-witted smart little girl we have the fabulous and a then a Burton regular Winona Ryder. Her snotty parents Charles and Delia Deetz played by Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O’Hara, and of course Otho – the world’s most pretentious interior decorator – played by Glenn Shadix. 

And this brilliance of a movie wraps up my Movies & TV Shows That Made My Childhood Awesome – Part 2.

Still thinking of great shows and movies for Part 3.

Feel free to recommend.

Movies & TV Shows That Made My Childhood Awesome – Part 1

Remember your favorite movies and TV shows growing up?

TV was great, especially during summer breaks and holidays. I used to be hooked on shows like The Fresh Prince and Degrassi, Heartbreak High and Beverly Hills 90210… those were the days!

I used to frantically rent the Marry Poppins video every Friday, borrow Grease from my next door neighbor, binge on Donald Duck cartoons, and watch Disney’s Pinocchio every time I stayed sick in bed.

My childhood favorites form a respectable list, and because there are quite a few worth mentioning, I’ll have to break the list into 3 parts. Ready for part 1?

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Kidd Video

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Kidd Video is an American cartoon created by DIC Entertainment in association with Saban Entertainment.

Plot: A teen rock band is abducted to a cartoon fantasy world where music is the key to defeating their enemies and finding their way home (via IMDb). The show is partially animated as the band are sucked into the cartoon-ish world of villainous Master Blaster and try to find their way back home using super cool music.

I love Kidd Video ’till this very day. I even downloaded the ringtone. This TV show symbolizes the 80’s to me more than anything else and I’ll always cherish it’s very cool 80’s soundtrack that introduced me to quality music like Tears For Fears’ Head Over Hills, Madonna’s Angel, Duran Duran’s The Reflex, Rockwell’s Somebody’s Watching Me and many more.

Kidd Video ran on NBC network from 1984 to 1985, but reruns continued airing until 1987.

Labyrinth

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A fantastic musical created and directed by Jim Henson which I used to be obsessed about when I was a kid. Labyrinth properly introduced me to David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly and I’ll always remember it fondly for helping me pass many afternoons.

Plot: Jareth (Bowie) the Goblin King takes away Sarah’s (Jennifer Connelly) baby brother, as she wished. Regretful she asks for her brother back. In return Sarah (Conelly) has to solve Jareth’s labyrinth in 13 hours before her brother’s finally returned to her.

As The World Falls Down is one of the best songs on the soundtrack, written and composed by Bowie himself. It’s romantic and enchanting and I always fantasized replacing Jennifer Connelly on this scene, dancing with David. Such a breathtaking scene! The entire soundtrack is pretty amazing, actually, with all songs written and composed by Trevor Jones and Bowie.

I adore Jim Henson for creating Labyrinth and I’m also a pride owner of the Collector’s Edition. It’s been a while since I last watched it. I think I overdid it with Labyrinth, but I’ll definitely be watching it with my kids.  I feel I need to pass on the legacy.

The Clan of the Cave Bear

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Woah. Let me tell you… if I here the opening theme now, I’ll probably cry with emotions. This is one movie I watched a lot as a kid with my older brother and cousin. This movie brings up so many memories… They don’t make ’em like this anymore.

Plot: The Clan of the Cave Bear is based on the epic novel of the same name written by Jean M. Auel. It tells the story of a young Cro-Magnon girl orphaned, left exhausted and on the verge of starvation that is found and raised by a group of neanderthals who call themselves “The Clan”. Soon accustomed to the ways of the clan yet still considered an outsider, the girl Ayla (Daryl Hannah) tries to earn her value by becoming a well respected medicine woman.

Daryl Hannah is amazing as Ayla. Such a young actress that pulled off such a complex role. The scene I remember most is the one where Ayla is attacked by a cave lion. She is violently bruised and left with deep scratches across her thigh, nail shaped, which become iconic throughout the movie. Alas, I could not locate that scene on YouTube.

I think I had the illustrated book once. Gosh… I should find it.

Mary Poppins

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Now who does’t remember the most iconic nanny of all time…

I think I broke a Guinness record with Marry Poppins – “the most rented video ever by the same person”.

Plot: Mary Poppins pops out of Edwardian London sky holding a black umbrella and bag to govern Jane and Michael. Unlike the sour-faced candidates aligned for the nanny position, Mary soon becomes a fantasy filled experience for the Banks children and introduces them to a world of music and adventure.

I don’t remember what happened after the video store manager told my dad that I’ve exceeded my Mary Poppins rental rights. But don’t you think it stopped me from getting it elsewhere! I needed my Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, damn it!!

Phew. That’s it for now. This post triggers so many childhood memories. Stay tuned for Part 2. I’m sure you’ll see some familiars on there as well.

Thank you for reading and feel free to share your awesome thoughts with me!

Genre Grandeur – The Hateful Eight (2015) – Moody Moppet

It’s been a while… but I’m always up for one of MovieRob’s GGs. This time the movie genre was awesome and chosen by Kira of Film and TV 101. Here’s my entry 🙂

For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Western CrossoverMovies, here’s a review of The Hateful Eight (2015) – by Reut of Moody Moppet

Thanks again to Kira of Film and TV 101  for choosing this month’s genre.

Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Ashleigh of The Movie Oracle and it is Spoof/ParodyMovies.

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of November by sending them to spoofashleigh@movierob.net

Try to think out of the box! Great choice Ashleigh!

Let’s see what Reut thought of this movie:

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The Hateful Eight (2015) – Movie Rob’s Genre Grandeur

Howdy, partners!

First off, thanks to Movie Rob and Kira of Film and TV 101 for choosing this great Western Crossover genre. I happily chose an all-time-favorite of mine, a nice little delicacy called The Hateful Eight, directed by Quentin Tarantino. But I guess you knew that already.

So…

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The Horrorathon – The Raven (1963)

maddy loves her classic films has announced her Horrorathon a month ago (I’m guessing for Halloween) and I thought I’d pick a Vincent Price film I haven’t seen yet for the occasion.

The Raven (1963) seemed like a good choice because I was always fascinated with Edgar Allan Poe’s work and Vincent Price is one of my favorite actors, but my film verdict isn’t as tolerant as my love for Price.

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Even though I’m usually up to a classic b-movies spoof, The Raven just didn’t cut it for and I truly thought it was a lousy spoof. Even for a spoof, it sucked and I hope Vincent’s ghost isn’t going to come haunting my scared ass just because I said The Raven sucked.

The Raven is b-rated farce about a mediocre wizard (Peter Lorre) turned into a raven by a powerful sorcerer named Dr. Scarabus (Boris Karloff). The wizard turns to Dr. Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price) to ask for help in bringing him back to his human form. Unaware of his powers and still bereaved of the death of his wife, Lenore, Craven takes pity on the poor whining bird and brews a shape-shifting potion. Dr. Bedlo (the former Raven) declares he’s after revenge and tells Dr. Craven he had seen Lenore in Scarabus’ castle and convinces him to come along and see her for himself. Accompanied by his beautiful daughter Estelle and Bedlo’s son Rexford (Jack Nicholson), Craven faces Dr. Scarabus in a duel of magic.

The Raven is not my first Roger Corman film and yet the first one making me go “ohhhh… no”. After a glorified trail of films including House of Usher (producer), Dementia 13 (producer), and The Masque of the Red Death (producer), which I loved, The Raven, I must say, was a bit of a blow which I didn’t bother watching all the way through (your forgiveness, Maddy). Choosing a cast so refined as Corman did is what saves the film from being a total disaster, starting with Vincent Price – the Horror king who always delivered an exquisite performance. The man embeds dread with humor oh so well, and his ghoulish voice is just… AHHH… everything. Watching him act is a delight for any Horror lover when even the shittiest role turns into his masterpiece. The man is a living and breathing horror legend.

The rest of the cast includes A-listers Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and a then unfamiliar Jack Nicholson. Boris Karloff is one of the most iconic names in Horror cinema mostly known for his mythical characters, The Mummy, Frankenstein and my recent The Black Cat’s Hjalmar Poelzig. Peter Lorre’s Dr. Bedlo is a truly odd looking character much like Lorre himself, which probably explains why he starred in everything terror – Tales of Terror, The Comedy of Terrors, and The Man Who Knew Too Much (not terror). Mystery, Horror, and Oddity are written all over this guy’s face.

Jack Nicholson as Bedlo’s son Rexford, is a total goofball and very much dissimilar to the Jack we all know and love. But I guess we all need to start somewhere.

I love the ghastly setting of Craven’s house and Scarabus’ castle. Nothing does it for me more than old haunted rooms covered in spiderwebs and dim candle lights, morbid paintings of dead wives and in-house mausoleums. Corman is fantastic at setting a grim mood even if he slips in a few comic props.

After all of my ranting about The Raven, I still can’t decide if I was being way too harsh or simply honest. I’ll just remain ambivalent and on to the next one.

Thanks for reading.

The Black Cat (1934) – The Great Breening Blogathon!

Today I’m joining Tiffany from pure entertainment preservation society (PEPS) in her first and awesome blogathon centered around October 14, which is  TODAY, and also the 129th birthday of Joseph I. Breen, the head of the Production Code Administration. My film choice is from an era before the Breen Production Code was actually carried out and I explained, as required, what I think makes The Black Cat a pre-code film.

If you wish to know more about the Production Code during the Breen era, head over to PEPS’s blog.

Also… Tiffany just sent me the link to day 2 of the Breenathon, which includes myself and other wonderful participants’ contributions and tributes, so you can check them out on there as well.

Welcome to my entry for The Great Breening Blogathon!

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The enigmatic Horror The Black Cat (1934) stars two iconic actors Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi pairing up for the time. It is 65 minutes long and released two months before the Production Code was enforced. The film is an obvious pre-code simply because it’s undoubtedly a boundary crosser, according to the code’s guidelines, and includes unpleasant themes such as Pedophilia, Necrophilia, human sacrifice, torture, drug abuse, and Ailurophobia (dread of cats).

** The code required all films released on or after July 1, 1934 to obtain a certificate of approval before being released (according to Wikipedia).

Just as I like ’em, the plot is slightly based on a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe. It entails American honeymooners, Joan and Peter Alison, travelling in Hungary by train and encountering a mysterious man named Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Béla Lugosi), which seems oddly taken by the two lovebirds. Following a road accident in which the bride is injured, Dr. Vitus takes the Alisons to the eerie home of an old friend, one Hjalmar Poelzig, a villainous occultist, to recuperate. Trapped and kept from leaving, the lovers end up caught in a strife of good and evil.

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Why I Think The Black Cat is a pre-code film?

** Beware! Spoilers Ahead**

  1. Dr. Werdegast seems a bit fixated on his fellow travelers kissing and cuddling and even allows himself to gently stroke the woman’s hair while she’s sleeping. If anything, his behaviour is odd and unsettling.
  2. The good Dr. is a practiced psychiatrist, and yet he gives Joan medical treatment and injects her a sedative to calm her down and ease her sleep, which later on causes Joan to act erratically.
  3.  Hjalmar Poelzig is an Austrian architect by day and a satanic priest by night, waiting to execute his human sacrifice ritual during the dark of the moon. 
  4. Poelzig nurtures a glorified gallery of dead women kept in glass coffins, suggesting they were former sacrifices and he’s still quite infatuated with their beauty and youth.
  5. Poelzig is seen reading The Rites of Lucifer in his bed with a young blonde woman sleeping next to him. The woman is later on revealed to be Werdegast’s daughter, whom was lost for decades when she was a child. Hints of Pedophilia suggest that Poelzig must have had his eye on the girl since she was young, and when her mother “passed” she became her replacement.
  6. To salvage the Alisons from Poelzig’s monstrosity, the two rivals play a game of chess, gambling on the couple’s lives. An implication of a battle between good and evil, perhaps… and gambling.
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Lugosi & Karloff butting heads on a critical chess game

8. From the moment he met her, Poelzig desires to covets Joan and make her his next human sacrifice. “Don’t pretend, Hjalmar. There was nothing spiritual in your eyes when you looked at that girl.”

9. Discovering his daughter was kept alive and away for all these years, the maddened and vengeful Dr. Werdegast strikes down his devilish friend and hangs him by his arms only to skin him alive. “Ultra violence”. ⏰🍊

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Fun facts 

  • Karloff’s character, Hjalmar Poelzig, draws inspiration from Aleister Crowley’s life, infamous for being “the most notorious occultist magician of the twentieth century” and the most wicked man the world has ever witnessed.
  • The Black Cat is notable in pairing Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi for the first time.
  • The film’s original title was House of Doom, as director Edgar G. Ulmer tried to create an arresting feeling of doom on each Poelzig house scene.

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The Black Cat wasn’t critically acclaimed in Hollywood back then and is considered an underdog, despite of his legendary cast. It was quite abnormal for its cinematic era. It’s not a scary film per se, but it has so many rough edges and does leave you pondering upon its jagged plot overall. I mean, satanism, dark rituals, human sacrifices, and perverted suggestions cannot be that easily brushed off, after all.

By the way… 

I ran into Danny’s blog, pre-code.com, on which he completely dissects The Black Cat and explains why it is a pre-code film and does it so remarkably well. If you want to delve more into this wonderful film, check it out!