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NIGHT WORLD (1932)

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A year after they co-starred in Frankenstein (1931), Boris Karloff and Mae Clarke reteamed for this fast-paced underworld tale. The film stars Lew Ayres and features George Raft, all involved in one night at Karloff’s speakeasy. While Karloff deals with aggressive bootleggers, his star dancer (Clarke) has to choose between crooked gambler Raft and bitter, hard-drinking playboy Ayres, who can’t get over having seen his mother (Hedda Hopper) kill his father. Tying all these subplots together is Tim (Clarence Muse), the club’s doorman and the film’s moral center. This drama is filled with the kinds of risqué material typical of pre-Code films. Prominently featured in the opening montage is a streetwalker before and after a pick-up. One of the club’s patrons is a lisping man who hangs out by the men’s room propositioning anything in pants. The club’s chorus girls are shown in varying stages of undress as the characters get ever drunker and the double entendres fly. Of special interest is the big dance number, “Who’s Your Little Who-Zis?,” choreographed by Busby Berkeley. It’s filled with his usual camera tricks, including overhead shots of the chorus girls and the camera zooming between their legs. (d. Hobart Henley, 58m, 35mm)

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