Before the Hays Thou Shall Not 1. Law Defeated. 2. Inside of Thigh 3. Lace Lingerie 4. Dead Man 5. Narcotics 6. Drinking 7. Exposed Bosom 8. Gambling 9. Pointing Gun 10. Tommy Gun

Before the Hays
The White Ribbon Alliance and “Life Begins”

So I saw this TERRIBLE film the other night that I DVRed (is that the correct spelling?) “Life Begins” (1932). I could not deal with the over sentimentality and the silly representation of a maternity ward. Not to mention, I cannot tell you how as a woman who is pondering having children (or shall I say reaching an age where the decision needs to be made) the entertainment value of a film set entirely in a maternity ward set my gag reflex on high. I found Loretta Young cloying and just far too simple to even watch in this film.

Here’s a link to the trailer-

But I sat through it looking for some Pre-Code nugget of fun. I still have a sugar high from the sweetness overload of Loretta Young’s performance. I usually don’t mind her, but man she got on my nerves in this one. I did enjoy Aline MacMahon’s performance a great deal. She reminded me of Nurse Jackie just a bit.

The film in no way shape or form depicts a maternity ward. But apparently this film is based on Mary Axelson’s play based on her experience in a maternity ward. I was very shocked. Either the maternity wards in the 30’s were places where women never had contractions or any sort of baby bump or some censorship was involved with the male screenwriter’s interpretation of the play. Hmmmm…

There is this one character that I just did not understand at all. A gangster’s moll (Glenda Farrell) with some feathered
silk robe who looks like Rene Zellweger
is drinking gin from a hot water bottle and after some X-Rays the doctor takes he breaks the news to her that she had twins or she is going to have twins? Some twins appear later that she bonds with so it is very confusing. There is also hints of abortion, but very difficult to decipher the intentions of this movie.

I guess what is also interesting about this movie is that it is set entirely in the hospital and from the beginning you just feel uncomfortable the whole time. Good luck setting a movie now entirely in maternity ward. How on earth would that sell in today’s market. The audience then was mostly women so you could make a movie like this, but what ghastly misinformation! I guess this is the flip side the the live birth overload that is currently going happening on TV and the internet. It’s better to have too much information, but I guarantee you mine will not be posted on Youtube.

Anyway, the reason I bring this movie up is that (SPOILER ALERT!) Loretta Young dies in the end giving birth to her child. (30 hours!!!) And I was reading my New Yorkers today. (I’m a little behind. This article is from the Oct. 12th, 2009 issue). Anyway, they were talking about a group called the “White Ribbon Alliance” which is a non-for profit group who’s mission is to improve maternal and infant health. They raise awareness about the half a million women each year who die from complications from pregnancy or labor.

So between the cringing movie “Life Begins” and the article I read about the “White Ribbon Alliance” I’m on the fence. I need to stop freaking myself out to start with. Let me know what you think of this film.
I wasn’t crazy about it. Maybe you are in a different place and have a better perspective than I.

Anyway, check out the “White Ribbon Alliance” and make me freak out less.

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One Response to The White Ribbon Alliance and “Life Begins”

  1. Axbish says:

    Loretta drank something the nurses told her to drink. I’m not sure what it was…maybe something to stop lactation, what with the life prison term awaiting her. Actually that was not unlike what maternity wards were like until the 70s. Knock out the mother, throw out the fathers and doctors had complete control.

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