Re: Barbara Stanwyck / pre-Code material

From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.past-films
Date: Friday, February 27, 1998 9:44 PM

Honestly Kolaga wrote in message <6d81h1$>…
>Here's another early Stanwyck movie that is worth watching. …
>["The] Purchase Price["] (1932)
>[Summary written by Doug Sederberg {]
>Torch singer Joan Gordon, tiring of her relationship with small-time
>hood and racketeer Eddie Fields, flees to North Dakota and becomes the
>mail-order bride of down-to-earth farmer Jim Gilson. Their chance for
>happiness is threatened by Gilson's own stubborness, a lecherous
>neighbor and the reappearance of Fields.
> Kolaga continues:
> It's a
>melodrama of the good sort. The story starts in the city and then
>moves to the cold blizzards of the North. It revolves around Stanwyck
>who is willing to work (as she always is!) but who wants something out
>of her relationship with mean -- same thing Aretha Franklin wanted --
>respect. [A lesser aspect of the plot is] whether the farmer will ever get to sleep
>in the same room as his mail-order bride.
>Perhaps the story is a little like those silent film melodramas but it
>isn't an exploitation story. It's not the titillation of LADIES THEY
>TALK ABOUT (1933) which is a women behind bars melodrama.

There is a little "titillation" in "The Purchase Price," but it is delivered by secondary characters. The first notable moment occurs when Stanwyck's maid tells Stanwyck that the maid is to become a mail-order bride. Stanwyck realizes that such a marriage would help her get away from the racketeer, and inasmuch as the maid submitted Stanwyck's picture as the maid's, Stanwyck is what the groom will expect. The maid is happy that the money that Stanwyck will give her to forsake the mail-order marriage will help the maid locate a husband of the maid's choice: "I get ta try before I buy!," the maid exclaims, happy about the various relationships she can get into before settling on the best man.

The second such scene occurs on the train that Stanwyck takes to get to her groom. She's well-mannered, but the several other mail-order brides in the same coach have joined for raucous conversation, including such alluring remarks as, "Is it true what they say about men with bushy eyebrows and long noses?" The laughter that the women burst into tells us that they know what body parts about which are truly being inquired of.

David Hayes


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