Noel Francis

Active - 1930 - 1938  |   Born - Nov 21, 1906 in Temple, TX  |   Died - Oct 30, 1959 in Los Angeles, CA  |   Genres - Drama, Crime

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One of the better exponents of that pre-code specialty, the tough (and tough-talking) blonde, Texas-born Noel Francis had been in the 1926 edition of the Ziegfeld Follies and appeared opposite the comedy team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey in Rio Rita (1927) when signed by Fox in Hollywood. The year was 1929 and Francis was ushered into one of the year's biggest productions, Movietone Follies of 1930. Due to increasing public apathy to all things musical it tanked, however, and the studio dropped her option. Luckily, Francis rebounded over at Warner Bros., a company much more in tune with her special style of earthy glamour, and though she was never the lead female, she excelled in such delightful pre-code bon mots as Smart Money (1931), in which she is a faithless blonde helping Edward G. Robinson lose his bankroll, and Blonde Crazy (1931), where her target is the irrepressible James Cagney. In I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932), she runs into the studio's third tough-guy star, Paul Muni, who, like his predecessors, comes out of the encounter somewhat worse for wear. That, however, was it for Francis, who spent the remainder of her screen career in low-budget -- and sometimes even "no-budget" -- potboilers and bit roles. She returned to Broadway for something called Satellite in 1935, but it collapsed after only one performance. Old friend Buck Jones came to her rescue and Francis made her final three films with him, including Stone of Silver Creek (1935), in which she used her Broadway musical expertise to play a glamorous saloon chanteuse.

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