Wes Anderson Talks Early Hollywood Censorship in ‘TCM Picks’ Video for Barbara Stanwyck’s ‘Babyface’ (Exclusive)

Wes Anderson Talks Early Hollywood Censorship in ‘TCM Picks’ Video for Barbara Stanwyck’s ‘Babyface’ (Exclusive)

Wes Anderson recommends Warner Bros.‘ early Barbara Stanwyck vehicle Babyface, made in 1933 during pre-Production Code Hollywood, for top viewing as part of the November 2023 Turner Classics Movies lineup in the Asteroid City director’s own TCM Picks video that dropped on Wednesday.

The Hollywood studio made the infamous melodrama from director Alfred E. Green during the height of the Depression and before the official censors got their scissors into studio movies after Hollywood’s attempts at self-censorship, including with the Hays Code, failed to keep critics and the authorities at bay.

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“There’s a period there where there’s nobody stopping them. Babyface follows into that time, very, very strongly. It’s one of the most pre-code, pre-codes I can think of,” Anderson says of the breakout movie for a young Stanwyck.

The legendary Hollywood actress early in her career plays a character aptly named Lily Powers, a tenacious daughter of a brutal bootlegger played by Robert Barrat, who pushed her as a teen into prostitution. After he dies, a bitter Powers hops a boxcar to New York City and, deciding to turn the tables, uses her lethal charms to ruthlessly seduce her way to the top of a Manhattan bank.

“This movie shows someone who struggles out of the most dire, harsh conditions and fights her way up the ladder of life to get what she wants, and gains a new perspective,” Anderson explains in the TCM video.

The success of Babyface is widely seen as having seen official government film censorship imposed on Hollywood in mid-1934. Anderson’s other picks for November are Roman  Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers and Ben Hecht’s Design for Living.