Before the Motion Picture Production Code (or "Hays Code") was implemented in 1934, the biggest selling pictures in Hollywood were the female "vice films," featuring a sultry and sordid cast of bad girls and fallen women that thrilled audiences and closed down movie houses.
Join film historian Stacy Davies as she discusses these bad girl vamps and vixens of the "pre-code" era, women who dominated the silver screen and never apologized for their overt sexuality or ability to be self-sufficient. These liberated ladies were allowed unprecedented freedoms of the female animal and brought compelling, dangerous and titillating performances to audiences that would, only a few years later, be disguised, punished or entirely wiped from the screen. Each feature film is prefaced by a brief lecture on the actresses, behind-the-scenes stories, images and film clips.
Mae West, Sat., Feb. 23
This inimitable icon is much more than just curvy hips and witty one-liners - as actress, playwright, screenwriter and author, Mae West was a one-woman PR and creative machine, and there's never been another like her. Come on up and see the "queen of the sex comedy" in the film that saved Paramount Pictures from ruin - "She Done Him Wrong"!
Jean Harlow, Sat., April 20
Fall in love with the original Blonde Bombshell Jean Harlow and thrill as she turns up the heat and knock them off their feet in "Red-Headed Woman"!
Barbara Stanwyck, Sat., June 22
One of the greatest - if not THE greatest - actress who ever appeared on screen ate up the scenery for six decades. Watch her trample, claw and sleep her way to the top in "Baby Face"!
Claudette Colbert, Sat., Aug. 17
Although she would eventually be known for her "devoted wife" roles, before the Hays Code purified Claudette Colbert, she was one red hot, torch singing, surly Roman and/or Egyptian queen! See her at her vampy best in "Torch Singer"!
Ruth Chatterton, Sat., Sept. 21
One of the most famous actresses of the 1930s (nominated twice for an Oscar) , Chatterton has been all but forgotten – until now. Considered a fan favorite, "Female" turns the tables on the male species in the business world and the bedroom. Watch Chatterton throw 'em out like yesterday's news!
Marlene Dietrich, Sat., Nov. 16
Her legs were insured for a million dollars and her face is one of the most recognized in history. See what made Shotzy (as her pal Mae West endearingly called her) the most famous woman in the world and an enduring, enigmatic legend. Feature film: "Blonde Venus."
Seating is limited - reservations suggested.
Gallery admission: $15
Stacy Davies is an award-winning arts and culture journalist for the OC Weekly and ArtScene Los Angeles, a film historian at UC Riverside and a guest lecturer at Rancho Mirage Public Library, Scripps College and UC Irvine. She is a former coverage writer for Jodie Foster’s Egg Pictures and the Sundance Institute, and coordinating producer of development at E! True Hollywood Story.