hepclassic

Pre-Code Looks At Violence

6 posts in this topic

While the Pre-Code era had many films where people got away with every social ill in the book at the time, or what was thought socially ill at the time, what amazes me is the violence that these films have as well. 

 

Take for example, the Colosseum scenes from Sign Of The Cross, made me shudder a bit. Also, Scarface is a bloodbath. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While the Pre-Code era had many films where people got away with every social ill in the book at the time, or what was thought socially ill at the time, what amazes me is the violence that these films have as well. 

 

Take for example, the Colosseum scenes from Sign Of The Cross, made me shudder a bit. Also, Scarface is a bloodbath. 

 

Related to this topic;   In many, if not most,  of Cagney's pre-code movies he is quick to use violence.   Often this is a 'soft' form of violence that he uses on women;  pushing them around,  slapping them,   grapping them hard,  etc....  Of course sometimes he hits them.   

 

I assume the general public loved this type of violence from Cagney as well as the overall 'soft' violence by many characters in pre-code films.   e.g. women slapping around other women.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Related to this topic;   In many, if not most,  of Cagney's pre-code movies he is quick to use violence.   Often this is a 'soft' form of violence that he uses on women;  pushing them around,  slapping them,   grapping them hard,  etc....  Of course sometimes he hits them.   

 

I assume the general public loved this type of violence from Cagney as well as the overall 'soft' violence by many characters in pre-code films.   e.g. women slapping around other women.   

That kind of "soft" violence was the cultural norm at the time regarding treatment of women. 

 

Also, with the precode era starting in the throes of the Great Depression and Prohibition, there was a lot of social undertow to explore, and people found ways of relating to gangsters, bootleggers, and other economically destitute characters.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i'd deem the 'branding' scene in 'the cheat' rather violent; well, at least 'extreme' violence towards women.

a rather disturbing and shocking event even for a pre-code.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re:  Pre-Code violence in films.  I was watching one recently with Helen Twelvetrees getting married.  She had no idea that

her husband's best friend, Goldy, is a man of violence and belongs to a gang.  Though her husband is not that way, she is soon

very fearful as Goldy is violent towards her when she rejects a pass he made toward her just after the wedding.  They are on a yacht (which he helped pay for). The moment her husband is out of town on business, the friend pays the bride a visit. He seemed to think that his wedding gifts and paying for the reception entitled him to the bride as well.  I shuddered at the part where he shot out department store windows and apartment buildings in his frustration!  Some people think pre-codes are tame by today's standards, but I think they are more indicative of violence in some ways that are more subtle! 

 

I found The Sign of the Cross and Scarface very scary that way as well.  I wasn't expecting these scenes to be that extreme, but they were and were very effective.  Still, I would rather have those than some of the current violence in films.  Sometimes a good actor (like Robert De Niro) is stuck with a violent part and accepts the role (understandably).   THey probably think there is no limit to this simulated violence which often turns out to be almost the real thing in many cases!   I found Cape Fear to be too much in that respect as well!  I did not last through the film, to be honest.  I went ahead and watched the one I had seen on TV as a kid again; Cape Fear '64 with Robert Mitchum.  (My grown children wanted me to see the newer one, but could not take it.  The same with The Vampire movie with Brad Pitt).  Thanks but no thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re:  Pre-Code violence in films.  I was watching one recently with Helen Twelvetrees getting married.  She had no idea that

her husband's best friend, Goldy, is a man of violence and belongs to a gang.  Though her husband is not that way, she is soon

very fearful as Goldy is violent towards her when she rejects a pass he made toward her just after the wedding.  They are on a yacht (which he helped pay for). The moment her husband is out of town on business, the friend pays the bride a visit. He seemed to think that his wedding gifts and paying for the reception entitled him to the bride as well.  I shuddered at the part where he shot out department store windows and apartment buildings in his frustration!  Some people think pre-codes are tame by today's standards, but I think they are more indicative of violence in some ways that are more subtle! 

 

I found The Sign of the Cross and Scarface very scary that way as well.  I wasn't expecting these scenes to be that extreme, but they were and were very effective.  Still, I would rather have those than some of the current violence in films.  Sometimes a good actor (like Robert De Niro) is stuck with a violent part and accepts the role (understandably).   THey probably think there is no limit to this simulated violence which often turns out to be almost the real thing in many cases!   I found Cape Fear to be too much in that respect as well!  I did not last through the film, to be honest.  I went ahead and watched the one I had seen on TV as a kid again; Cape Fear '64 with Robert Mitchum.  (My grown children wanted me to see the newer one, but could not take it.  The same with The Vampire movie with Brad Pitt).  Thanks but no thanks!

 

I am finding myself more shocked at Pre-Code violence than the violence in modern movies. I feel more shocked maybe because thinking classic movies are only from 1934 to 1965, the Hays Code period you aren't used to seeing something sold as innocent not be. Yet, its exhilarating. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us