Baby Face, 1933

Tough pre-code melodrama about the not-so-easy way to the top

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"Baby Face" - Theresa Harris and Stanwyck

There are several versions of this 1933 pre-code morality tale afloat. The rarest (and longest) version has several scenes in which it is clearly spelled out the horrendous situation Stanwyck's character works in at her father's speakeasy-saloon. Thesesa Harris is on hand as a quasi-sister, maid and moll for Stanwyck's character.

The later scenes in which Stanwyck's character works through man after man while amassing a fortune is what is usually used to describe "Baby Face" in the film history books, but it is the earlier scenes in which Stanwyck spars with her degenerate father that sets the tone. A typical pre-code bad-girl movie shows the audience there is a price to be paid after all of the pre-code fun, but this film turns that around: Stanwyck's character has already been paying the price before she ever begins her climb up the ladder of social power, using leering males as the rungs.

Longtime Stanwyck co-star George Brent is on hand (they made five films together) as the only guy that might be able to slow her down. A very young John Wayne is also briefly onscreen as one of this tales army of expendable males.

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