Plot: The Forbidden Hollywood Collection continues to explore the deep archives of Warner Brothers, with a fifth volume that offers a good variety of pre-code cinema to pore over. This release houses four movies, all of which are well worth a peek and feature some impressive talent, put to work in the kind of narratives the pre-code era is known for. Barbara Stanwyck in a women in prison movie, Joan Blondell as a nurse pulled into an old, dark house murder mystery, so the ladies are well represented, but the gentleman are here as well. James Cagney as a charismatic conman and Warren William is present as a different kind of grifter, one that uses mysticism to con his marks, though both encounter unexpected obstacles from potential romance. The casts also include such stars as Lyle Talbot, Constance Cummings, George Brent, Mary Brian, Clarence Muse, and Allen Jenkins, as well as numerous other familiar faces from this period. I don’t mind when collections like these gather up themed pictures, but I also love how diverse the sets can be and this fifth volume is the latter, four very different, but worthwhile pre-code efforts.

I have written full reviews for each of the movies in this collection and you can find those links below, though if you just want a quick take on the set, I had a lot of fun with these four pictures. I appreciated how different each one was from the others, while also falling in line with the expected pre-code elements, with all four worth a watch and filled with memorable moments. I don’t think there’s a weak link here, as all the movies have good stories, solid casts, and dynamic leads, though I would rate The Ladies They Talk About above the others. But I am biased, as I love Barbara Stanwyck and seeing her as a hard edged inmate in a women in prison narrative was a lot of fun, not to mention she really nails the role. Joan Blondell is also fun as the easily frightened nurse in Miss Pinkerton, a movie that has some comedy, some thrills, and even light horror vibes, a quirky, enjoyable picture. The other are both conman movies, but Hard to Handle features Cagney as a tough guy rigging dance contests, while The Mind Readers has Warren William as a more suave, charm driven swindler, who uses faux occult sessions to rake in cash. I had immense fun with these four movies and for those who appreciate pre-code movies or classic cinema, give this collection a spin.

1. Hard to Handle-

2. The Ladies They Talk About-

3. The Mind Reader-

4. Miss Pinkerton-

Final Thoughts: While perhaps not as high profile or acclaimed as some of the movies throughout the rest of the Forbidden Hollywood Collection, I found all four of these films to be quite fun. The star power is front and center, with none of the big names phoning it in and even Joan Blondell, who faints every other scene, manages to deliver a likable, memorable performance. The technical presentations of all the movies are up to par, with mostly clean, detailed looking visual treatments, while the trailers for each film is also included. This is a great collection of movies given solid presentations, so this set is highly recommended.

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