Synopses & Reviews
"Pre-Code Hollywood" explores the fascinating period in American motion picture history from 1930 to 1934 when the commandments of the Production Code Administration were violated with impunity in a series of wildly unconventional films -a time when censorship was lax and Hollywood made the most of it. Though more unbridled, salacious, subversive, and just plain bizarre than what came afterwards, the films of the period do indeed have the look of Hollywood cinema -but the moral terrain is so off-kilter that they seem imported from a parallel universe.
In a sense, Doherty avers, the films of pre-Code Hollywood "are" from another universe. They lay bare what Hollywood under the Production Code attempted to cover up and push offscreen: sexual liaisons unsanctified by the laws of God or man, marriage ridiculed and redefined, ethnic lines crossed and racial barriers ignored, economic injustice exposed and political corruption assumed, vice unpunished and virtue unrewarded -in sum, pretty much the raw stuff of American culture, unvarnished and unveiled.
No other book has yet sought to interpret the films and film-related meanings of the pre-Code era -what defined the period, why it ended, and what its relationship was to the country as a whole during the darkest years of the Great Depression . . . and afterward.
This book explores the four-year interval between 1930 and 1934, a time when censorship was lax and Hollywood made the most of it. Doherty chronicles how the freewheeling films of an unrestricted Hollywood inform the culture of America in the 1930s.
Exploring the four-year period in American history between 1930 and 1934 when censorship was lax, this book chronicles how the freewheeling films of an unrestricted Hollywood informed the culture of America in the 1930s. The Marx Brothers and Mae West are among those featured.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -410) and indexes.
Table of Contents
On the cusp of classical Hollywood cinema -- Breadlines and box office lines: Hollywood in the nadir of the Great Depression -- Preachment yarns: the politics of mere entertainment -- Dictators and Democrats: the rage for order -- Vice rewarded: the wages of cinematic sin -- Criminal codes: gangsters unbound, felons in custody -- Comic timing: cracking wise and wising up -- News on screen: the vividness of mechanical immortality -- Remote kinships; the geography of the expeditionary film -- Primitive mating rituals: the color wheel of the racial adventure film -- Nightmare pictures: the quality of gruesomeness -- Classical Hollywood cinema: the world according to Joseph J. Breen.