Friday, September 19, 2008

Call Her Savage

The Fox Movie Channel are running another of their pre-Code rarities, Call Her Savage, at 7:30 AM ET on September 20.

Clara Bow stars as Nasa Springer, a woman who's a bit of a wild child. Well, "a bit" might be an understatement. We see at the very beginning of the movie that her grandfathef, who moved west with the pioneers, was wild himself, and the sins of the father are visited upon the children. At any rate, her father sends her to a finishing school in Chicago, which doesn't really help her finish anything, instead leading her to marry a rich man out of spite and find out that such a marriage is doomed to failure. Poor Nasa has to go through the same tribulations that more high-class women went through in similar pre-Code movies in what was called the "weepie" genre, except that in her case, they're a hell of a lot more fun. Fox stuffs a lot of pre-Code goodness into this, much more than we get in movies like Helen Hayes' The Sin of Madelon Claudet. There's prostitution, implied pedophilia, a gay bar, a husband with a venereal disease who says, "I get up every afternoon", and so on. Indeed, in the picture above, one of the first glimpses we see of Nasa, she's whipping another man and seemingly getting a thrill out of it!

Frankly, it's good that Fox put in all this pre-Code titillation, because the story can't stand by itself. It is, unfortunately, a trite story about the woman gone bad, having to learn how to redeem herself that was seen a hundred times in the early 1930s. Indeed, TCM has been showing a bunch of those movies this month in their salute to Kay Francis. If you watched Transgression last night, you'll see a familiar story, even if it isn't quite the same as Call Her Savage.

The one other good thing is the presence of Clara Bow, who is about as good as can be expected considering the plot nonsense. Bow is best known as a silent movie actress and the "It" girl, having starred in the 1927 silent film It (which is available on DVD). Call Her Savage is not yet out on DVD, and considering Fox's record at putting its early stuff out on DVD, I don't expect to see it any time soon.

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