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Friday, June 01, 2018

A Precode That's Hotter Than Hot


Why Don't We See More of She Had To Say Yes? (1933)

I would argue this to be the raunchiest of all Warner precodes, more so than missing Convention City, which may be better off that way for preserving its repute as hottest of the hot. Nobody mentions She Had To Say Yes, and I haven't noticed it headlining precode festivals, or maybe it's just me not attending them. The set-up promises what the picture delivers: girl stenos drafted as "escorts" for visiting buyers to spike their bosses' sale ledger. There's no disguising virtual prostitution this amounts to; when have movies been so frank re politics as played at worksites? Such would later be termed sex harassment, and treatment today would mete punishment to characters engaging it, but this was 1933 when drop from office high wires had not safety netting installed since. Play ball with the boss or face a breadline is reality Loretta Young faces here, and deals with. She gets hard-boiled in a hurry and must choose between Lyle Talbot and Regis Toomey, or "the lesser-of-two evils" as she puts it, an accurate phrase as neither are sugarcoated or anything other than on-the-make. Busby Berkeley directed She Had To Say Yes, perhaps a reward for making hits of his musicals, but frankly, any of staff sweeping floors could have done as much what with tart dialogue and ideal casting already in place. A humdinger, and there's a DVD from Warner Archive.

4 Comments:

Blogger CanadianKen said...

This has been my favorite pre-code ever since I first saw it eight or nine years ago.
Busby Berkeley had a reputation as a kind of complicated womanizer. But with this film - whether on purpose or subconsciously - he created a genuinely stinging indictment of the sexual double standard. Loretta Young - most sympathetic and luminously positive of pre-code put-upons - is perfectly cast here. The fade-out may be interpreted by some as a happy ending. But - for me -that final ideal-shattering moment of resignation to a social code that's permanently loaded against her still packs a wallop.

6:17 AM  
Blogger Chris H. said...

According to the 1957 Associated Artists Productions (A.A.P.) catalog of their package of pre-1948 Warner Bros. features for television syndication, "She Had to Say Yes" (1933) was included in Group #9 of the package: https://archive.org/stream/moviesfromaappro1957asso#page/n51/mode/2up/search/SHE+HAD+TO+SAY+YES

2:51 PM  
Blogger Donald Benson said...

The Charley Chase at Hal Roach set includes two shorts that explicitly feature "good time girls" employed by Charley to keep clients happy.

In "Whispering Whoopee" he hires three hotties to soften up a trio of (briefly) pious babbitts. "Looser Than Loose" has him under orders to do the town with a big client, accompanied by two girls from the boss's little black book (fiancee Thelma Todd insists on being one of the girls; the client chooses her over the actual professional). Illegal booze figures in both shorts.

In both shorts the "good time girls" are seemingly happy and untroubled in their work (although tough Anita Garvin in "Whoopee" has a hard time concealing her contempt); they appear to be professionals. There's an amused wag of the finger at the solid citizens who "date" them, but no questioning that such women are a standard part of business.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Marc J. Hampton said...

Definitely up there with Baby Face, Red Headed Woman, and Call Her Savage in the pantheon of wildest Pre Codes.

The final credits came up and I turned to my partner and said "did that really just happen?".

8:39 PM  

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