Kay Francis, I’m embarrassed to say, is a performer whose delightfulness eluded me for far too many years. I find myself saying this alot, but I didn’t fall into her work until 2020 when there was suddenly time. Friends, don’t make the same mistake I did. There is much to be written about the tragedy of her “Box Office Poison” label and the inherent sexism within it. Audiences should have enjoyed quality Kay Francis performances for many more years. However, the strength and wittiness of her persona is second to very few and leads her to become a truly integral part in Pre-Code cinema. She thrives in this very specific era in Hollywood… and it’s a great time to shine.
I’m really looking forward to diving into more of her movies today.
A Career in Review:
Trouble in Paradise (1932)
If You Can Only Watch One:
Trouble in Paradise!! Trouble in Paradise!! If you watch nothing else, make sure to watch this delightfully amazing pre-code gem when it plays on TCM during primetime (9:30pm EST). Besides Kay Francis, it features an amazing performance from another brand new Kim fave Herbert Marshall, as well as the always fun Miriam Hopkins. This movie opened my eyes when I watched first-time-watched it a few months ago and everyone else must share this experience with me.
While I’m not as strong with the second film I’m going to mention, I must also take some time to shill for another Ticklish Business favorite: Jewel Robbery. The movie features Francis against the always delightful William Powell in an urbane and delightful mystery/comedy featuring jewel robbers, bored society women and… marijuana-laced cigarettes. How’s about that for pre-code goodness?
What Kay Francis movies are you looking forward to today? Let us know in the comments.
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Podcaster, film historian, and general lover of all things classic film and television. Studying the contributions of women behind the camera in classic television.
You can find me on Twitter @kpierce624!