Margaret Talbot and I will kick off our second series of Pre-Code films at Washington, D.C.’s Hill Center tomorrow night with “The Ladies They Talk About.” As Margaret says, it’s Depression-era “Orange is the New Black,” much of it set in a women’s prison with a colorful group of inmates. It is based on a play written by an actress who herself served time in prison.
Pre-Code films were made in the brief time between the beginning of the Sound Era (1927) and the enforcement of the Hays Code, which strictly limited the content of films, in 1934. Pre-Code films are frank and remarkably spicy. Tomorrow’s film, which stars Barbara Stanwyck and Margaret’s father, Lyle Talbot, may have a loopy plot, but portions of it feel very modern, including the treatment of a lesbian prisoner. I hope those of you in the area will join us!