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Do you watch pre-code movies too?

Ruth Chatterton in "Female".

Ruth Chatterton in “Female”.

I love movies from before the Hays Code. They make you realize how insane the fifties really were. Women in these movies aren’t so different from women of today: they have unsuccessful love affairs, they have careers, they make mistakes, and they have sex lives. Bravo.

My beloved will usually watch these with me, and enjoys being as gobsmacked as I am by the portrayal of women in these movies.

Tonight’s selection was “Female”, starring Ruth Chatterton as the rich and powerful president of Drake Automobiles, a car manufacturing company. She takes home whatever man from work she fancies, and disposes of them relatively neatly afterward, but all in all, you shouldn’t foul your own nest, whether you’re a man or a woman. At least she gives them a bonus in their paycheck instead of leaving money on the dresser.

Her aide, Mr. Pettigrew, is clearly a genius, and has his own plans going on, including cozying up to one of the female secretaries. (Ruth Chatterton’s character is making her way through the male ones.)

Here’s why I’m posting: at one point he compliments his target lady light on her perfume, asking if it’s “Guerlain’s Breath of Love”. “No,” she says, “it’s Passion Flower No. 2.”

What wonderful pre-code product placement! I can’t find anything online on either of these perfumes (though I admit I did only a cursory search). Would they have made up a perfume to mention in the movies back then? The movie is from 1933. But they did mention Guerlain. Are we to assume that Passion Flower No. 2 was also Guerlain? Was everyone wearing it then? Oh how I wish I knew! Breath of Love sounds very pretty. Perhaps in the N’Aimez que Moi vein. But, you know, Guerlain.

Do you watch pre-code movies? Do you wonder if our internet databases are as complete as they could be? What unknown treasures have we forgotten?

Tell me. because it will be a few days before the Unseen Censer can post her thoughts about Sniffapalooza, among other treats. The ear infection I’d had for the last two weeks was treated with amoxycillin, which has turned into hives and an allergic reaction. I’ve never had anything like this before. Sick uncomfortable Censer is sick and uncomfortable. Hopefully all back on track by the weekend, what ho.

Picture totally swiped from I apologize for all my shortcomings.

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2 comments to Do you watch pre-code movies too?

  • Get better! Neither an ear infection nor an alergic reaction is fun.

    I’m not really interested in old perfumes that haven’t survived. I do notice perfumes mentioning in movies and usually try to figure out if I recognize the bottle – but that is the extent of myinterest.

    • Judith

      I’m totally interested in the history of brands and perfumes, and as captivated by the idea of lost perfumes as I am by the idea of the lost library of Alexandria. So much we have known and lost!

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