Sunday, February 19, 2006

Today's Movie: Life Begins (1932)

This pre-Code era film, which depicts a day in a hospital maternity ward, was apparently considered fairly daring in its time for tackling the subject of childbirth. In fact, according to the entry at Internet Movie Database (IMDb), linked above, the film was banned in London.

However, for modern audiences accustomed to such TV programs as A BABY STORY, the film seems very tame. The women in the labor and delivery ward (quaintly termed the Waiting Women's Ward) don't seem to have a single labor pain!

The movie is short (70 minutes) and fairly entertaining. Loretta Young plays a girl serving a prison term for murder or manslaughter (it's never made quite clear) who comes to the hospital to have her baby. I always enjoy Young, who is very sympathetic in this role. Aline MacMahon comes off particularly well as a kind nurse.

The film's portrayal of some of the attitudes of the time toward medical patients is quite interesting; in one scene a nurse says she's not supposed to tell a patient what the medicine she's been given is for!

LIFE BEGINS does not appear to be currently available on video or DVD, but is part of the Turner Classic Movies library. (I taped it several weeks ago.) The film was remade in 1939 as A CHILD IS BORN, with Geraldine Fitzgerald in the Loretta Young role.


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