Mandalay (1934): Curtiz’s Pre-Code Melodrama, Starring Kay Francis

Michael Curtiz directed Mandalay, a pre Code drama, written by Austin Parker and Charles Kenyon based on a story by Paul Hervey Fox.

The film stars Kay Francis, Ricardo Cortez, Warner Oland and Lyle Talbot, and features Ruth Donnelly and Reginald Owen.

Francis plays a world-weary woman, nicknamed “Spot White” at the local brothel-bar, who struggles to survive.

Curtiz used cutting edge wipes and opticals in the film.

Child star Shirley Temple won a small walk-on role in the film as the daughter of the Donnelly and Littlefield characters. (Originally, her name was not listed in the credits and was only included years later).

The lead roles were initially offered to George Brent and his wife Ruth Chatterton. Chatterton turned down the role because she did not want to play a prostitute again, and Brent because he did not want to make the trip to the Stockton, California location on San Joaquin River, where the film shot for 10 days.

The movie was moderately popular, making a profit of $83,462.

Kay Francis as Tanya Borodoff
Ricardo Cortez as Tony Evans
Warner Oland as Nick
Lyle Talbot as Dr. Gregory Burton
Lucien Littlefield as George Peters
Ruth Donnelly as Mrs. George Peters
Reginald Owen as Police Commissioner
Shirley Temple as Betty Shaw (most scenes deleted)


TCM showed the movie on March 14, 2021.