I have been watching a lot of TCM lately and it has me all fired up for classic films. It especially has me watching a lot of what are known as pre-code movies. These are movies made before Hollywood clamped down and police itself on the portrayal of loose morals. Hearing the term “pre-code” and watching these movies, you would think they would be risque, but by modern standard these films are tame. Still once you start to watch pre-code films, you start to get clued into what the “forbidden” parts are and it becomes exciting to spot them (some like unwed pregnancy are obvious).
I has wanted to see Finishing School for a bit, since I heard that Ginger Rogers steals the show (and she does). The film starts off really strong as you get to know the characters, but has a bit of a lull in the middle. Stick with it thought, because it really picks up towards the end. Now if you do not see a lot of pre-code films, you might laugh to see that the plot twist that got this film condemned at the time by religious groups, is a plot you find in “special episodes” of sitcoms, but try and view it in its historical context. I found it very satisfying and chalk it up as another great release from the Warner Archive. Here is a clip and overview of Finishing School.
No smoking. No drinking. No lipstick. Pretty Virginia Radcliffe (Frances Dee) earnestly accepts the strict rules enforced by exclusive Crockett Hall. Have a smoke, have a drink and have a wild weekend in New York, suggests her roommate Pony Ferris (Ginger Rogers), who knows the rules have nothing to do with the girls’ welfare and everything to do with the school’s reputation. Adorably worldly, appealingly smart, third-billed Rogers steals the show in Finishing School, giving pretense a swift kick in the comedy keester as she mother-hens her classmates through a booze-and-bad-boy Manhattan fling. The frank pre-Code storyline even allows innocent Virginia to wind up pregnant…and unpunished.
Order your copy of Finishing School on DVD [@] Warner Archive