Getting down and dirty with pre-Code Hollywood at Cinematheque

Damaged Lives was the first feature from Austrian émigré and future Poverty Row auteur Edgar G. Ulmer (Detour).

Film noir, horror, and “sheer Poverty Row audacity” are on the menu in Cinematheque’s Down and Dirty in Gower Gulch: Poverty Row Films Preserved by UCLA.

Most of the features date from Hollywood’s less-censorious pre-Code era. All were produced on Hollywood’s so-called Poverty Row in small, fly-by-night studios that churned out inexpensive pictures for the B-movie markets. These bargain-basement stakes made for a certain artistic freedom: controversial or risqué subjects the big studios wouldn’t touch could be explored; and directors enjoyed a degree of licence.

The program of lurid, low-budget treasures runs from April 11-29 and includes six films. And, in a throwback to how movies used to be presented in that era, each feature will be preceded by a newsreel and short subject. All titles were restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. According to Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the archive: “These ‘orphan films’ are worthy of restoration and presentation. They visualize many of the repressed or forbidden themes that preoccupy the nether regions of the American psyche. Get ready for a wild ride!”

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Getting down and dirty with pre-Code Hollywood at Cinematheque