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Baby Face

One of the most historically renowned pre-code films, Baby Face is the type of film Warner Bros. was so good at churning out during the 1930s and beyond: an efficient, gritty, quick anti-morality tale. Screen idol Barbara Stanwyck plays Lily Powers, the down-and-out daughter of an overbearing small-town speakeasy owner (Robert Barrat). Following a personal tragedy, she hightails it with pal Chico (Theresa Harris) to the big city, where she quickly climbs the corporate ladder at the behemoth Gotham Trust by essentially sleeping her way up. However, when she meets wealthy heir Courtland Trenholm (George Brent), her fortunes drastically change—for better or worse? “Whatever the results of the tug of war between censors, studio, and producer, Stanwyck’s performance is the most powerful element of Baby Face. Lily is like a simmering cauldron on the verge of boiling over. She destroys lives, but only because life destroyed her first.”—Kendahl Cruver, Senses of Cinema.

35mm print preserved by the Library of Congress.

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Other Films by Alfred E. Green


Bette Davis won her first Academy Award for her portrayal of Joyce Heath, a Broadway actress down on her luck and needing rehabilitation to regain her lofty position among Broadway’s elite. She meets Don Bellows (Franchot Tone), an architect who was once inspired by Joyce to follow his career path, and who feels he owes