Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the late-night after party for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re closed for a private party tonight, but your name is on the guest list. Come on in and sit down. Come celebrate with us. There’s no cover charge. We’ve still got a few good tables available. Bring your own beverage.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
The Cubs beat the Mariners tonight, 3-2 in ten innings on Nico Hoerner’s first career walk-off hit. The Cubs have a chance to win a lot of ball games this way this year: pitching, defense, baserunning and timely hits.
Last week, I asked you what you thought of all the stolen bases so far this season. It wasn’t a close vote as 71 percent of you approve and want the players to run wild. Another 22 percent thought that more steals was good, but maybe MLB has gone a little too far. Only seven percent said you didn’t like all the stealing.
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.
Tonight we’ve got legendary drummer Gene Krupa on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1960 playing “Sing, Sing, Sing.” Although Louis Prima wrote and first recorded that song, it’s probably best-known today as a Benny Goodman song. And it was Krupa who played the famous drum solo in Goodman’s version.
Tonight’s film is Baby Face, the 1933 pre-code classic starring Barbara Stanwyck and directed by Alfred E. Green. It’s also one of the films that is considered most responsible for the establishment and enforcement of the Hays Code in 1934. Baby Face is one of those films that could only have been made during the pre-code era. For one, it completely rejects Victorian morality, so there still had to have been some of that around to reject. There is this pre-code element of “Look at this (wink, wink) sinful woman” in the plot. However, an edited version that was required to allow it to play in several states, did put in some lines about morality and wickedness to try to give it some veneer of being upstanding. But the original version actually paid very little lip service to the prevailing sexual mores of the day. Instead, it argued that a woman should use her sexuality to get what she wants from men.
When the code came in place in mid-1934, Baby Face pretty much went unseen in the US for decades. When it came back after the collapse of the code, only the edited version was available for years. But the original version was re-discovered in 2004 and then restored, and that’s the version that I watched and the version that you’ll see today.
Barbara Stanwyck plays Lily Powers, an impoverished young woman working in her father’s run-down tavern in a bad part Erie. Pennsylvania. (Remember, prohibition is still in effect in 1933.) Most of the customers sexually harass Lily (although that wasn’t a term in 1933), but one kindly old customer has taken an interest and encourages her to get out of Erie. The old man also tries to get her to read Nietzsche and to embrace Nietzsche’s philosophy of “Will to Power” rather than let herself be tied down to her abusive father. Yeah, that came out of the blue.
Lily’s father, the speakeasy owner, eventually pimps her out to an important local politician, but Lily resists by clubbing him over the head with a beer bottle. The local mob retaliates by burning down the speakeasy. Lily’s dad is incinerated in the blaze.
With no where else to turn, Lily goes back to the old man, who tells her to move to New York and to use her feminine power over men to get what she wants. Apparently, that’s what Nietzsche would tell her to do. I don’t know if they stuck Nietzsche into this film to try to make it seem more high-brow than it was, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that were the case. It certainly makes the film seem nuttier to modern audiences.
So Lily travels to New York alongside her friend Chico (more on her later) and decides she’s going to be rich. She immediately goes about sleeping her way to the top of a prominent bank. She sleeps with a bank clerk to get an interview, sleeps with the clerk’s boss to get a position, and so on and so on up the corporate ladder until she’s sleeping with the bank president. Lily apparently has what they called on the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend a “magic vagina,” which makes any man who gets intimate with her immediately lose their mind and become obsessed with her. It gets to the point where there are murders and suicides from the men Lily rejects as she climbs up the corporate ladder. Along the way, she gets more and more gifts from her suitors. Her hair and clothes get fancier. She starts to wear expensive jewelry. She moves into better and better apartments until she gets to the point where she’s in a luxury penthouse.
All of this is justified by her original poverty and the old man’s admonition that Lily should use her power over men to get what she wants.
Even if you could have made this film after the Code was enforced, Lily would have had to meet a terrible fate for her crime of breaking the prevailing sexual morality of the time. Instead, Baby Face has kind of a happy ending. Sure, she’s forced to choose between love and money at the end, but even in that situation, she’s ending up with one or the other.
I counted at least seven men that Lily has an affair with in the 76-minute film. And that doesn’t even include the men she just charms by flirting but doesn’t actually have sex with. One of the earlier men that Lily sleeps with on her way up the corporate ladder is played by a young John Wayne.
This film could never have been made anytime other than the 1929 to 1934 pre-code era. After the Code was enforced, it was banned for decades because of its immorality. After the code broke down in the 1960s, the plot is just too ridiculous for anyone to take seriously. I suppose someone could take the plot and turn it into a sex farce, but then it would have to be played for laughs and not as a serious “rags-to-riches” melodrama that it is here.
I should make it clear that Baby Face doesn’t show much, other than some slow leering shots of Barbara Stanwyck’s legs. But there’s no question of what is going on when Lily makes doe-eyes at a man and then suggests that they “discuss” things in that empty office. Or in a women’s restroom. Or a hotel room. Or wherever Lily and a man she wants something from can get it on.
Baby Face has a soundtrack, and much of it is a repeated playing of the 1928 song “Baby Face.” (“You’ve got the cutest little baby face.” That one.) The W.C. Handy tune “St. Louis Blues” also plays a lot and at one point is sung by Theresa Harris, who played Chico.
Chico isn’t really a character. Her purpose is to show that Lily actually does have one friend whom she repeatedly refuses to leave behind. But that’s what’s striking in a film from 1933—a white woman whose only friend is a Black woman. Chico has no life or goals of her own—she’s just a character trait for Lily. But it’s still striking to see Lily stand up to both her father and some of her lovers who insist upon Lily getting rid of Chico. That’s a pretty big statement from Hollywood in 1933 on race relations, even if the film tries not to make a big deal out of it.
Should you watch Baby Face? If you’re curious about pre-code films, then definitely. If you’re a Barbara Stanwyck fan (and why wouldn’t you be?*) then definitely. She’s got the only part in this film that requires any real acting and she does her usual bang-up job. The film is pretty ridiculous and over-the-top, but it’s entertaining. Check it out. And besides, you get to see John Wayne before he became “John Wayne.”
Here’s the scene where the corrupt local official tries to have his way with Lily, although she isn’t having it. This is what leads to her leaving Erie.
*Stanwyck was a big supporter of the Hollywood blacklist in the forties and fifties. I guess that’s the only good reason not to be a Stanwyck fan.
Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies.
Seiya Suzuki is working his way back to Chicago down in Iowa. He’s played two games down there so far and apparently feels fine. He missed almost all of Spring Training, so he’s probably got some at-bats to get in before he is back up to game speed. From what the Cubs were saying today, it sounds like they expect Suzuki to return either this weekend in Los Angeles or early next week in Oakland.
When Suzuki gets activated, someone else has to come off the roster. So tonight’s question is: Who should be removed from the roster when Suzuki comes off the injured list?
I’ve got several candidates, and I want you to tell me which one should go to Iowa. Now some of the players on this list are out of options and can’t be sent down without exposing them to waivers or allowing them to refuse an assignment and select free agency. Those players are catcher Luis Torrens, infielder Edwin Ríos and infielder Eric Hosmer. Yes, I’m including Hosmer because I know a lot of you were calling on him to be released in Spring Training. But if you vote to release him while he’s hitting .320/.393/.400 over eight games, all I can say is “tough crowd.”
Anyway, to be clear, if you vote for Torrens, Ríos or Hosmer, you’re calling for them to be released and not sent down.
I’m also not letting you vote for a pitcher. With the move that sent Javier Assad down to Iowa and the recall of outfielder Nelson Velázquez, the Cubs have 12 pitchers and 14 hitters I can’t see the Cubs going with an 11/15 split. But if you insist that they should, then vote “other” and make your case in the comments.
So who should the Cubs remove from the roster when Suzuki returns from injury?
Who should the Cubs remove from the roster when Seiya Suzuki is activated?
This poll is closed
Other (leave in comments)
We’re so glad you decided to stop in this evening. We hope you’re as happy about the Cubs win as we are. And we hope that you’ve continued to have a good evening with us. Please recycle any cans or bottles you may have brought. Please get home safely. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow for more BCB After Dark.