“Oh, you nasty man, making your love on the easy plan
Here and there and where you can, oh, you nasty man
You ain’t fooling me, You’re just as bad as bad can be
But you're darned good company, oh, you big bad man
You're sweet and nasty, I know what's on your mind
You'll pull a fasty, make me sizzle and then you chisel
Oh, you nasty man, I never met anyone who can
Be as bad or better than - you, you nasty man"
Ray Noble & his Orchestra 1934
Who is this nasty man, that is being sung about in this song? Who is this sleazeball, scuzzball, and every other adjective that is used to describe guy like him? I have no idea, but I can tell you, pre-code film doesn’t have a shortage of them and they’re a big part of what make pre-code film so great. Now there have always been the sleazeballs in film, and they continue to exist to this day (I have a feeling they will always be around), but in the pre-code era, the sleazeball seemed to break out, and come into their own. They don’t seem as cartoonish as they once were for the most part, and have a new, fresh quality of brazenness about them.
These individuals come from all different backgrounds, rich, poor, and in between. Some of them are seen as refine upstanding members of high society, others are just your ordinary everyday man, while still others are no-good lowlife gangsters and/or pimps. The things they all have in common is that they are prone to violent fits, have trouble keeping their paws to themselves, and keeping it in their pants. These are the guys that our mothers’ and fathers’ have warned us about, but I have to admit, there’s part of me that can’t help but be somewhat turned on by and attracted to them(I guess it‘s the whole good girls love a bad boy thing).
|Kurt Anderson (Warren William) sleazeball Department Store Manager of Employees' Entrance (1933).|
|Leo, the sleazeball gangster,(Ricardo Cortez) about to fight Tom( Franchot Tone) for the affections of Mary(Loretta Young) in Midnight Mary (1933).|
|Karl, the chauffeur(John Gilbert) puts the moves on Anna, the the maid(Virginia Bruce) in Downstairs(1932)|
Yes, there is an irresistible quality about them, but how can one not have a thing for these sleazeballs when they look and seem like, as the song says “darned good company”.
Keep an eye out for the profiles in pre-code sleaziness in the future.
|Last but not least, One of the biggest sleazeballs of them all, Trigger(Jack La Rue) from The Story of Temple Drake(1933)|
|Trigger getting ready to have his way with Temple Drake(Miriam Hopkins).|