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Hays Code (1930-1968) and the Crime Movie. The start…. Hollywood’s scandals: Early 20’s: a murder, a drug overdose, and a manslaughter trial. Hollywood as “Sin City” 1922—Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association Slaps on the wrists and a lot of “tsk, tsk, tsk”.

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Presentation Transcript
the start
The start…
  • Hollywood’s scandals:
    • Early 20’s: a murder, a drug overdose, and a manslaughter trial.
    • Hollywood as “Sin City”
  • 1922—Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association
    • Slaps on the wrists and a lot of “tsk, tsk, tsk”
formal enforcement 1930 1934
Formal Enforcement : 1930-1934
  • Great Depression comes along, film makers want to make $$
  • Sex sells. Violence sells.
  • 1934: Production Code Administration
    • Films required a certificate of approval for showings and distribution
what s in the code
What’s in the code…
  • specific restrictions on language and behavior:

sex, violence, and crime = bad.

  • None of the following:
other issues
Other Issues
  • No films that make audiences sympathize with criminals
  • Crime never pays (bad guys get bad ends)
  • Murder and violent scenes must not be shown to make it want to be imitated
  • Murder and violent scenes cannot be graphic, detail, or, in some cases, visible.
what more issues
What? More issues?
  • Sanctity of marriage and the home will be upheld (Huh?)
  • Adultery and sex cannot be shown
  • Granted, these may be necessary to plot
    • If so, they are to be off camera and not discussed.
    • Directors did find ways around them.
production codes tumble
Production Codes Tumble!
  • Golden Age of Hollywood goes

Ah-buh-bye!

  • What happened to Hollywood?
    • TV! Fie and a pox on that squawk box!
    • Hollywood needed sex and violence to sell tickets

There was none of that on TV!

slide8
Hays Code and the administrators needed to change
  • Films were changing, becoming racier despite tougher regulations in 1951
  • Ticket sales were plummeting
  • MGM released Blow Up even though it was rejected. (Oh well. So much for the fun!)

1968, Rating system was then formed by the Motion Picture Association of America.

  • No restrictions on what was filmed
  • No crazy stuff quite yet—slow to change.

I don’t like these here new dang-fidnagled movies

the crime film the original gangstaz
The Crime Film.The original Gangstaz
  • 1920’s—a wild time with lots of colorful figures
    • Many came straight out of history: Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger.
  • 1930’s—Great Depression.
    • A time of unrest and turmoil
    • Allowed viewers to do what

they could never do

slide10
Early gangster films helped give birth to Hays Code
      • Violent! Violent! They were violent! And un-American!
  • Once production codes came along, gangester films need to become more American
  • Crime film is American: hard work brings power, wealth and fame.
slide11
Bad guys die dishonorably:
    • Gunned down in streets
    • Die in the gutter
    • Lovers die together but cannot touch each other
    • Falling from a height (literal and figurative fall)
    • Die a coward, begging and pleading

James Cagney in Angels with Dirty Faces (Curtiz, 1938)

some symbols to watch for
Some symbols to watch for:
  • Guns: used as a sense of power and prestige, also a charm to remain invinsible
  • Clothing: shows growth, from floppy hats and rags, to pin stripe suits and fedoras.

Images from Public Enemy (Wellman, 1931)