Sunday, November 21, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Ladies They Talk About (1933) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

The highly enjoyable pre-Code prison melodrama LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT (1933) has just been released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

As the movie begins, Nan Taylor (Barbara Stanwyck) is helping a gang of crooks (including Harold Huber and Lyle Talbot) rob a bank. Nan is caught but comes to the attention of crusading preacher David Slade (Preston Foster), who knew her way back when in Benecia, California.

The idealistic David, believing Nan innocent, arranges to have Nan paroled to him but drops the idea when Nan makes clear that she really was involved in the heist.

However, David can't give up his interest in Nan even after she's sent to prison in San Quentin. Nan pushes him away while trying to help her old gang members escape from the men's prison, but eventually David's love might get through to her...

Most of the film is set in a women's prison, and it's highly entertaining for a variety of reasons:

*An excellent cast, including Lillian Roth and the always-welcome Ruth Donnelly in addition to Stanwyck.

*Speaking of Stanwyck, she's a bad, bad woman who resists reforming...which is part of the fun. One has to wonder at movie's end whether she can stay on the straight and narrow permanently.

*The fantasy aspect: Were women's prisons ever actually run more like college dorms, to the point of allowing dogs?!

*The very pre-Code dialogue. If someone wants to know what pre-Codes are all about, this film is an excellent example.

*The snappy, fast-paced 69-minute running time, which lends itself to a film which doesn't particularly tug at the emotions yet entertains splendidly.

Nagging question: What happens to the cute dog Nan is carrying in the bank robbery scene? Hopefully it found a good home...

The movie was directed by Howard Bretherton and William Keighley and filmed by John F. Seitz. A trio of writers constructed the screenplay, based on a play by two more writers.

LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT was previously released on DVD in the Warner Archive's Forbidden Hollywood Volume 5 collection; I reviewed the film when I watched that print in 2013

I didn't do a side-by-side comparison of the DVD and Blu-ray but can say that the Blu-ray quality is strikingly good, especially considering the film's age, with an excellent soundtrack.  I'd go so far as to say this is one of the best-looking Blu-ray prints I've seen of a film from this era.  Fans of pre-Codes and Stanwyck should be quite pleased with it.

Blu-ray extras consist of the trailer and the cartoon I LIKE MOUNTAIN MUSIC (1933).

Recommended.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection Amazon Store or from any online retailers where Blu-rays are sold.

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