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Finishing School(1934)

Released a few months before the establishment of strict Production Code enforcement, this was among the first films to be condemned by the newly formed Legion of Decency. It was also the only 1930s Hollywood picture directed by a woman who wasn’t Dorothy Arzner. Wanda Tuchock was primarily a screenwriter, delivering her own script to the screen would grant her her only feature directing credit. The feminine touch allows for a non-judgmental view of young women taking their first stabs at adulthood. Frances Dee stars as an innocent girl sent to a posh boarding school. The rules set down by the headmistress (Beulah Bondi) are strict, but Dee’s roommate, a pre-stardom Ginger Rogers, tells her it’s all for show, as is their education. The girls learn the plots of great literary works without actually reading them, and they can break the rules all they want as long as nobody learns about it. For Dee, that means romance with a working-class medical student (Bruce Cabot) culminating in a Christmas tryst that leaves her pregnant (though nobody ever says the word). Moralists complained that none of the girls paid for their sins, but that now makes the film seem ahead of its time. (d. George Nichols, Jr. and Wanda Tuchock, 73m, 35 mm)

**Preserved by the Library of Congress.

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