STARDUST AND SHADOWS is meandering down Pre code street Theater district as  we cruise in with to look at First National film  THEY CALL IT  SIN (1932).  Has to be one of the best lurid titles for a picture along with the Burt Lancaster 1948  Film Noir  KISS THE BLOOD OFF MY HANDS  outside of the  Horror titles to come.

THEY CALL IT  SIN (1932) was the  original  name for the  picture also known by the  tamer  title of  THE WAY OF LIFE  was  Directed by Thornton Freeland and produced by  none other  than Hal B. Wallis.     Freeland was  behind the camera for  other  dramas  such as  WORKING WIVES (1932), LOVE  AFFAIR (1932),  BREWSTER’S MILLIONS (1945)  with  Jack Buchanan  and Lili Damita (Mrs  Errol Flynn) even the  musical Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Delores del Rio  picture FLYING DOWN TO RIO from 1933.

THEY CALL IT SIN  features so wonderful  performances by Loretta Young,  George Brent and  Halifax Nova  Scotia Canada  born  David Manners  as  three people caught up in the  events of stolen musical  scores  spurned  advances  and  eventually literally a  fall by Louis Calhern



Marion Cullen (Loretta Young)  is  the pious, church organ playing, small town  girl with  hidden musical composing talent who falls under the  spell of betrothed traveling sales man  Jimmy Decker (David Manners) who is on a  stop over.    Jimmy Decker is a ‘Man of the world” to small town girls as professed by a female Soda Jerk played wonderfully by five  foot  tall Marion Byron in a delightfully desperate scene at the beginning of the picture. Marion and Jimmy are infatuated with each other even causing Decker to lie to  his Fiance Enid Hollister (Helen Vinson) in  telegrams as  he prolongs his stay with Marion.    Jimmy eventually leaves only to  make  a surprising second stop on the way back to see Marion where they spend a “Pre code”  late  evening together when finished she is observed by  Marion’s parents from the porch window as  she  exits Decker’s  car.

This sets up the  key scene in the picture as Marion learns a  stunning fact of her birth from her Mother (Elizabeth Patterson)  and Father (Erville Alderson).  This disclosure causes Marion to flee  her small town life that she felt she did not  fit into and  follow Jimmy to New  York to  develop her music and  be  with Jimmy.  In  New York  the  adventures  begin  by attending auditions when she meets  Dixie  Dare (Una Merkel) in a  potential picture stealing  yet all to brief performance.

Marion and  Dixie also meet Broadway  musical producer Ford Humphries (Louis Calhern) who has designs on the wholesome  Marion.

Small town girl now has  her  eyes opened  to the party life yet its not  all  bad  as  she meets  good  guy  Doctor  Travers (George Brent) who is Humphries medical  Doctor.

Will Marion become  a  gold  digger like so many?  The evils of spurred  advances,  the  discovery of the betrothed Jimmy,  stolen musical  score  and a  fall from a balcony all round out this story.

Loretta Young replaced original star Bette Davis in the role of  Marion Cullen which could have been turnabout.   Young had the  part of  “Gallagher” shortened and   Jean Harlow  had  her role of  “Ann Schulyer” extended as  Columbia re  worked  and  re  titled  GALLAGHER’  to  become PLATINUM BLONDE for 1931 to capitalize of Harlow’s rising  popularity.

THEY CALL IT  SIN (1932)  packs  at lot of  sleaze and  innuendo  into its 69 minutes. Great fun,  good performances as  mentioned  by the principals   but also the  all to brief characters such as  the  already mentioned  Marion Byron female  Soda Jerk to Roscoe Karns as  the harried rehearsal Director Brandt.  The  writing, the look of the  sets and clothes and the  radiance of eighteen year old  Loretta Young who was being slipped  more and more into adult roles  make this  good  part of  any evenings double or  triple  bill.







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: