Susan Burns

Motion Picture Production Code background

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For any of us who are not already familiar with the "code" and "pre-code" terms mentioned in the lecture notes, here is a link to the very informative Wikipedia summary of the story of the adoption of the Motion Picture Production Code (also known as the Hayes Code) in 1930. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Production_Code  

In the years since, the MPCC was eventually replaced by the MPAA's film rating system, which is where the ratings of PG, PG-13, etc. come from on today's movies. 

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I am sorry to bug all of you, but I was hoping I could get some help. This question might seem odd for the classic movie lover. Could someone be able to inform me where I could find the Code in a document format? I am wanting to learn more about the Code that is mentioned many times in the lectures. I want to pull apart the Code and even better learn more about it. 

Many Thanks,

Kita

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Yes, I was curious about this also.  I came across this, which presumably is the actual 1930's code:  http://www.artsreformation.com/a001/hays-code.html  A lot of concern over indecency.

Of particular note:

General Principles

1. No picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin.

 

II. Sex
The sanctity of the institution of marriage and the home shall be upheld. Pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing.

[So insults about sleeping around/prostitution etc. are okay? As in "as long as there are sidewalks you'll have a job"]

 

VI. Costume      [How many of the early 1930's musicals have violated the following?]
1. Complete nudity is never permitted. This includes nudity in fact or in silhouette, or any lecherous or licentious notice thereof by other characters in the picture. ["Pettin in the Park" is a clear violation, silhouettes and smirking urchin]

2. Undressing scenes should be avoided, and never used save where essential to the plot. [This looks like a C.B. DeMille loophole. Sin is okay in the first 7 reels as long as redemption takes place in the 8th]

3. Indecent or undue exposure is forbidden. 

4. Dancing or costumes intended to permit undue exposure or indecent movements in the dance are forbidden.

VII. Dances
1. Dances suggesting or representing sexual actions or indecent passions are forbidden.

2. Dances which emphasize indecent movements are to be regarded as obscene.

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Those "Do's and Don'ts" that came before the Code were eye-popping. Use special care in showing actual hangings, branding, sale of women? I should hope so! 

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