Expensive Women (1931)

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Expensive Women (1931) Poster

Expensive Women is a 1931 Pre-Code talking film drama directed by silent film veteran Hobart Henley and stars Dolores Costello. It was Costello's final film as a leading lady and star for ... See full summary »


5.6/10
177

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4 December 2011 | howdymax
8
| Ma Hat Ma Kane Jeeves
These depression era romantic romps served a real purpose. They took the audience out of their depressing existence into a world most of them would never know. They are frequently naughty and sexual innuendo and double entendres are everywhere - especially in pre-code entries like this one. In most of them, the male principals pretend to have some kind of vague position such as broker, banker, or sometimes they are just "in business", whatever that means. In this one, they don't even make the attempt. Nobody works. In fact, you rarely see the men in anything but tuxedos. They all live in swanky apartments, have country homes, use white telephones, and live on cocktails and snacks. Just like my well to do brother. Well, it's a short movie and ignoring all that annoying background saves a lot of time.

Still, it's a fascinating movie in it's own way. Pre-code allows the female lead, played by Dolores Costello to bounce from lover to lover without having to apologize for it. It also allows the irrepressible, outrageous, Polly Walters to get away with some of the snappiest, naughtiest dialog one could imagine. When she tells Warren Williams the taxi is waiting, he tells her to compensate him. She says: "I already compensated him - now he wants to be paid." Scrumptious. Another line worth noting. She tells him Bobby Brandon was evicted from a speakeasy for calling the doorman "a pansy". Pre-code also allowed Dolores Costello, by anybodies definition, a loose woman, to find happiness in the end - without paying a penalty.

As I watched this, I thought about how much talent went into this dialog. Compared to a lot of the visual filth we are subjected to today, it is amazing that anybody could have objected to the wit and humor that this movie and others like it gave us. Watch it with relish.

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