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With all the mentions of pre- and post-Code, I would have liked to have seen some concrete examples of the differences.  The pre-1930 films I have seen don't seem to be that different from those filmed after the Code.  Of course, I am one of those people who do not often pick up subtleties and have to be hit over the head.

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There's a website that can help you with distinguishing between the two cinematic eras: http://pre-code.com/ 

Check it out- you'll have a grand old time there! 

By the way, some concrete examples of Pre-Code movies that wouldn't/couldn't have been made in the Code's heyday include Baby Face (1933), Freaks (1932), The Story Of Temple Drake (1933), Scarface (1932), Night Nurse (1931), The Black Cat (1934), Three On A Match (1932), Smarty (1934), Safe In Hell (1931), Red Headed Woman (1932), Murder At The Vanities (1934) Gabriel Over The White House (1933), Island Of Lost Souls (1932), I Am Suzanne! (1933), The Bitter Tea Of General Yen (1932), Wild Boys Of The Road (1933), I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang (1932), Heroes For Sale (1933), Employees' Entrance (1933), Skyscraper Souls (1932), Search For Beauty (1934), Blonde Venus (1932), Shanghai Express (1932), Call Her Savage (1932), The Miracle Woman (1931), The Scarlet Empress (1934), The Lost Patrol (1934), Queen Christina (1933), The Sign Of The Cross (1932), I'm No Angel (1933), The Song Of Songs (1933), Murders In The Zoo (1933), The Sin Of Nora Moran (1933), Bombshell (1933) The Most Dangerous Game (1932) and Jewel Robbery (1932). 

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4 hours ago, Rick LaRoche said:

With all the mentions of pre- and post-Code, I would have liked to have seen some concrete examples of the differences.  The pre-1930 films I have seen don't seem to be that different from those filmed after the Code.  Of course, I am one of those people who do not often pick up subtleties and have to be hit over the head.

One difference is the use of profanity. Though pre-code films were racier with sexual themes presented more overtly, the language was still not vulgar...even in gangster pictures where one might expect a hoodlum to have a foul mouth. But in the post-code era there is a push for characters to use more profane language. I would also add that blood and gore is more prevalent in the post-code era. Films from the 70s like MASH and THE GODFATHER have graphic sequences. A film made in 1931 like THE PUBLIC ENEMY or LITTLE CAESAR has violence but we do not see blood spurting out when the characters are shot.

So in a way the pre-code films are still "cleaner" than the post-code films.

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You could also go with the most literal definition--precode films were produced between the advent of sound pictures in '27 (maybe '29?) to mid-1934.  I believe that the production code was put into place in July of 1934.  The first Thin Man film is a pre-code as is It Happened One Night.  

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5 hours ago, Rick LaRoche said:

With all the mentions of pre- and post-Code, I would have liked to have seen some concrete examples of the differences.  

I thought the same thing.  I expected that the differences between Pre- and Post-Code would be explained in detail with examples given.  It's the kind of basic thing that should be included in the lecture without having to resort to an outside source for information. 

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It's more interesting to speculate on whose careers completely changed course because of the code.

A good example is Jeanette MacDonald. The code took her playful sexuality. We got to see a bit of it briefly return in THE FIREFLY, but I think the code really hurt her career in a way, even though she enjoyed a long run in films.

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7 hours ago, Charlie's Girl said:

I thought the same thing.  I expected that the differences between Pre- and Post-Code would be explained in detail with examples given.  It's the kind of basic thing that should be included in the lecture without having to resort to an outside source for information. 

Part of the problem might have to do with the fact there is an over-emphasis on pre-code and less emphasis on post-code. Honestly I don't think post-code is fully defined because technically it continues up to the present and content is always evolving. So this is an area where more research can be conducted.

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2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Honestly I don't think post-code is fully defined because technically it continues up to the present and content is always evolving. So this is an area where more research can be conducted.

Technically, but I wonder if it wouldn't be better to think of there having been three eras of the Hollywood sound film, pre-code, code, and the rating system era.

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2 hours ago, Chuck V. said:

Technically, but I wonder if it wouldn't be better to think of there having been three eras of the Hollywood sound film, pre-code, code, and the rating system era.

Same difference. Right? We're still in the rating system era. Though the rating classifications have evolved since 1968.

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4 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Same difference. Right? We're still in the rating system era. Though the rating classifications have evolved since 1968.

I still think these "eras" are fairly distinct, even though there is evolution within them. The sauciness of some of the pre-code films wouldn't fly during the production code, while something like The First Nudie Musical (let's stick to our brief) couldn't have been distributed pre-code or during enforcement of the code. 

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7 minutes ago, Chuck V. said:

I still think these "eras" are fairly distinct, even though there is evolution within them. The sauciness of some of the pre-code films wouldn't fly during the production code, while something like The First Nudie Musical (let's stick to our brief) couldn't have been distributed pre-code or during enforcement of the code. 

Mostly the eras seem to be defined by years. I do think it's inconsistent when film scholars define pre-codes as roughly covering the period from 1927 to 1934, suggesting precodes are synonymous with talkies. When in actuality most silent films (and some of them had daring content going back to the 1910s) are pre-(before the)code.

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2 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Mostly the eras seem to be defined by years. I do think it's inconsistent when film scholars define pre-codes as roughly covering the period from 1927 to 1934, suggesting precodes are synonymous with talkies. When in actuality most silent films (and some of them had daring content going back to the 1910s) are pre-(before the)code.

That is an inconsistency, I won't deny. Presumably they prefer to deal with silents as a separate entity, but when considering content and potential censorship, I don't see why there is a reason to.

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Just now, Chuck V. said:

That is an inconsistency, I won't deny. Presumably they prefer to deal with silents as a separate entity, but when considering content and potential censorship, I don't see why there is a reason to.

Exactly. Because film scholars try to break up the eras, they lose a sense of continuity in their discussions regarding overall film history.

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Baby Face, starring Barbara Stanwyck is a in your face pre-code movie. There is prostitution, incest, suicide, sleeping with father and son, if this doesn’t show you nothing will. 

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3 minutes ago, starryeyzze said:

Baby Face, starring Barbara Stanwyck is a in your face pre-code movie. There is prostitution, incest, suicide, sleeping with father and son, if this doesn’t show you nothing will. 

KINGS ROW (1942) also has incest and suicide, as well as euthanasia and butchery. Some films got away with it, even in the "code" era.

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15 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

KINGS ROW (1942) also has incest and suicide, as well as euthanasia and butchery. Some films got away with it, even in the "code" era.

How they got away with it is the trick, often.  We know Gene Arthur and Irene Duane were allowed some space because for some reason they weren't perceived as overtly sexual (ridiculous because both of their chemistry with a host of actors is fireworks) for example bedroom scenes implying sex although not married in The Awful Truth.  Then we have Hitchcock get away with Bergman and Grant's extended kiss by various stages of lip-locking, touching, in Notorious. Stanwick is exceptionally sexual and exceptionally tough in so many of her films and she seems to not get the punishment the code might require for some during the code years. Perhaps it was also a bit of favoritism as well as how things were nuanced. Gilda (hot song and dance by Rita although not a musical) infers so very much and is a code movie, and the lovers walk away. Same with To Have and Have Not (singing again by Bacall this time along with the incomparable Hoagy C.).  Oh, and think about the double entendres in dialogue between Bogart and Bacall in the Big Sleep in the club were they talk about the horse race....murder, cheating, gambling...The Big Sleep has it all -- including singing (again Bacall). In fact, Casablanca gets away with a great deal as well if we want to really examine the code's turning a blind eye.

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22 hours ago, DiamondFace7060 said:

There's a website that can help you with distinguishing between the two cinematic eras: http://pre-code.com/ 

Check it out- you'll have a grand old time there! 

By the way, some concrete examples of Pre-Code movies that wouldn't/couldn't have been made in the Code's heyday include Baby Face (1933), Freaks (1932), The Story Of Temple Drake (1933), Scarface (1932), Night Nurse (1931), The Black Cat (1934), Three On A Match (1932), Smarty (1934), Safe In Hell (1931), Red Headed Woman (1932), Murder At The Vanities (1934) Gabriel Over The White House (1933), Island Of Lost Souls (1932), I Am Suzanne! (1933), The Bitter Tea Of General Yen (1932), Wild Boys Of The Road (1933), I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang (1932), Heroes For Sale (1933), Employees' Entrance (1933), Skyscraper Souls (1932), Search For Beauty (1934), Blonde Venus (1932), Shanghai Express (1932), Call Her Savage (1932), The Miracle Woman (1931), The Scarlet Empress (1934), The Lost Patrol (1934), Queen Christina (1933), The Sign Of The Cross (1932), I'm No Angel (1933), The Song Of Songs (1933), Murders In The Zoo (1933), The Sin Of Nora Moran (1933), Bombshell (1933) The Most Dangerous Game (1932) and Jewel Robbery (1932). 

How about Dinner at Eight? 

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I was trying to find out an exact date for the adoption of Production Code and we have three dates as you can see in the following. So my question is if one asks when did Production code ‘actually officially begin’ I don’t mean just enforced. What’s the definitive answer, 1930, mid-1934 or July 1, 1934?  I have had different answers from different people in the past.  

“Pre-Code Hollywood refers to the brief era in the American film industry between the widespread adoption of sound in pictures in 1929[1] and the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code censorship guidelines, popularly known as the "Hays Code", in mid-1934. Although the Code was adopted in 1930, oversight was poor and it did not become rigorously enforced until July 1, 1934, with the establishment of the Production Code

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Easiest way to tell the difference, the beds. Pre, double bed implying the couple sleeps together. Post twin beds in the master bedroom even if they are married.

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14 hours ago, sagebrush said:

It's more interesting to speculate on whose careers completely changed course because of the code.

A good example is Jeanette MacDonald. The code took her playful sexuality. We got to see a bit of it briefly return in THE FIREFLY, but I think the code really hurt her career in a way, even though she enjoyed a long run in films.

Absolutely!  Also very adversely affected by the code crackdown were Mae West and Betty Boop.

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On 6/6/2018 at 3:38 PM, Rick LaRoche said:

With all the mentions of pre- and post-Code, I would have liked to have seen some concrete examples of the differences.  The pre-1930 films I have seen don't seem to be that different from those filmed after the Code.  Of course, I am one of those people who do not often pick up subtleties and have to be hit over the head.

One pre-code example no one has mentioned yet is Union Depot (1932) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Guy Kibbee, and Joan Blondell. I'd never seen the movie before nor heard about pre-code movies at the time I bought the DVD from an online DVD store 2005. When I got the DVD, the DVD case said it was pre-code. Watching this movie, yes, you can certainly see how "far" pre-code went!

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I have a couple of questions about the Production Code.

1. What led to its being developed?

2. It wasn’t enforced until 1934. How and why was it enforced at that time?

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On 6/7/2018 at 9:05 PM, Steve Ziegfeld said:

Easiest way to tell the difference, the beds. Pre, double bed implying the couple sleeps together. Post twin beds in the master bedroom even if they are married.

There's a scene in Born to Dance where Jimmy Stewart asks where's the 2nd bed. The movie is from 1936, so definitely post-code. Maybe it's poking a bit of fun at the code? Particularly as it evolved into a comic scene with Stewart and the salesman breaking the bed.

I also noticed in the Shuffle Off to Buffalo number in 42nd Street, it seemed that Ginger Rogers' character seemed to poke fun at the code when she "corrects" her lyrics...all while still having some of the pre-code sexual innuendo of being nick-named Anytime Annie.

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