Monday, August 24, 2009

Buster Crabbe goes PreCode

Search for Beauty is the final entry in the Pre-Code Hollywood DVD set, and what a hoot. Buster Crabbe (of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers fame) plays an Olympic swimmer who becomes an editor for a health magazine, only to discover the owners are interested in a sex magazine. One interesting point is that the movie opens at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, showing Crabbe's character, Don Jackson, winning the gold medal in the 400 meter swim meet - the event for which Crabbe actually won his gold medal. His best girl is played by Ida Lupino (appearing as a platinum blonde!). Both are hired by the magazine to give it credibility, while the publishers fill the rag with salacious pictures and stories.

There is lots of innuendo here; there are also male and female swimmers in showers; beauties in bathing suits and tight training outfits; ladies dancing on table tops in lingerie.  In this musical number, you can get a glimpse of some of the milder aspects of the movie:


But parts of the movie are even a bit racier:  there are also naked male bottoms. Early in the film, we venture into the locker room at the Olympics, to witness several young men running to showers bare bottomed. 

We found the combination of Buster Crabbe, as our upright hero, and Robert Armstrong, as our loose-moraled publisher (his character, Larry Williams, just got out of jail as a result of selling non-existent oil wells) amusing. And, of course, it is never hard to have James Gleason in a movie, even when his character is not quite on the right side of the moral.

Finally, do watch to see the scene in which Ida Lupino listens to two female writers relating the sensational stories they have written for the magazine. These two look like they should be teaching Latin, not writing salacious stories!

Next week, we start Forbidden Hollywood, 3