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Film / The Animal Kingdom

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The Animal Kingdom (1932) is a pre-Code drama directed by Edward H. Griffith, starring Leslie Howard, Ann Harding, and Myrna Loy.

Tom Collier (Howard), a publisher, doesn’t want to end his friendship with his friend/lover, Daisy (Harding), but she insists that they must since he’s going to marry Cecilia Henry (Loy). But Tom soon finds the marriage unsatisfactory: Cecilia makes him sacrifice his artistic vision for money and forget not only Daisy, but his other artistic friends. He soon realizes that he must choose between these two women if he wants to come out with his soul unscathed.

This film is in the Public Domain. It also has nothing to do with the 2010 Australian film Animal Kingdom.


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The Animal Kingdom demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Tom’s father’s estimation of him.
  • Chosen Conception Partner: Daisy wants Tom to be her child’s father, but they don’t go through with it because of his impending marriage.
  • Dead Sparks: Although there may be some sexual sparks thrown here and there, sex is only Cecilia’s way to use and manipulate Tom. They really don’t like each other much.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Tom is almost never seen without it.
  • Friends with Benefits: Tom and Daisy’s relationship which is a rarity for films even from The Pre Code Era.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Tom recalls a wonderful little brothel he used to go to:
    Tom: I know, the Florentine! A private room at the Florentine.
    Cecilia: What's that?
    Tom: Its a sort of hotel. Run by a woman called Flora Conover.
    Cecilia: Sounds wicked.
    Tom: It used to be the best place in London.
    Cecilia: Place? What sort of place?
    Tom: Twenty guineas.
    Cecilia: Twenty guineas?
    Tom: On the mantle piece.
    Cecilia: What are you talking about?
    Tom: In advance, at that.
    Cecilia: Rather expensive, wasn't it?
    Tom: Well, one went to Flora's to celebrate and the food was good, the waiter discreet, the wine excellent, the lady most artful.
    Cecilia: I don't care to hear about it, thank you.
    • Daisy:
    A foolish virgin me. [Pause]. Oh, foolish anyway.
  • The Jeeves: Averted with Tom's butler, Reagan, who was a prizefighter before Tom hired him as a butler. He does everything wrong like drinking the drinks he serves and being too chummy with the guests. He does, however, pretend to be a snooty jeeves and puts on an English accent for an evening, much to Tom's enjoyment
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  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Tom is determined not to be like his father, and he isn’t for the most part.
  • Love Triangle: Daisy loves Tom, Tom loves Cecilia (or so he thinks), and Cecilia loves Tom or maybe Owen?. Tom then chooses to be with Daisy.
  • Manipulative Bitch: It’s apparent that Cecilia uses sex to make Tom do what she wants, but he finally realizes this and leaves her for Daisy.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Daisy proposes one to Tom, so she can lawfully have a kid.
    Daisy: On the boat coming over, the sweetest small boy, about two, and I got crazy about him and I want one. I want one badly. So would you please be good enough to marry me?
    Tom: [Startled and stands straight up]
    Daisy: Oh, you always said you wanted to and I wouldn't let you. Well, it isn't terribly serious, not a life sentence, you know, just for a little while if you like. Will be such a dirty trick on him if you didn't.
  • Only in It for the Money: Cecilia’s manipulations has changed Tom into a money-obsessed man when he was Doing It for the Art before.
  • The Pre Code Era: This is the type of film that could’ve only been made during the loose time of the early thirties.
  • Ready For Love Making: Cecilia prepares a romantic evening in her parlour, inviting Tom to her bedroom, and undresses, waiting for his arrival.
  • Sell-Out: What Tom has become. He’s selling his publishing company to a large corporate one that will give him a lot of money, but not much artistic merit.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: How Tom explains his relationship with Daisy to Cecilia.
  • Title Drop: Daisy mentions that Tom and she are still part of “the animal kingdom” i.e. still tempted by their instincts and desires.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Will Tom come back to Daisy? He does.
  • Unrequited Love: Owen (Neil Hamilton) is still in love with Cecilia even after she’s married to Tom.
  • Your Cheating Heart: It’s obvious that Cecilia still has a thing for Owen, and she almost kisses him before Daisy awkwardly finds them in this compromising situation.

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