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Kay

Sedition in Pre-Code Films?

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Sedition was one of the many things banned during the code era, and if I recall correctly it was Joseph Breen who took it upon himself to tag it on to the end of the list of demands.

 

I've not seen a lot of pre-code films, but I've never heard of sedition or any radical behavior being a part of these films whereas it couldn't have been a few years on.

 

Was sedition ever an issue in pre-code films?

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do you mean sedition as in like undermining american ideals? i dont recall that being an issue in anything ive read about the pre code era. it was more a 40s thing when the communists started getting more active and irganized in hollywood. but im no expert of course.

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do you mean sedition as in like undermining american ideals? i dont recall that being an issue in anything ive read about the pre code era. it was more a 40s thing when the communists started getting more active and irganized in hollywood. but im no expert of course.

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That what was banned was probably dependent on what Joseph Breen considered seditious, and I'm going to assume that was an awful lot. I just wanted to know how it ended up on the list. If there actually were films made before the code that inspired him to target sedition in particular.

 

I always thought the code was put in place mainly to target lewd conduct, but I saw some of that TCM doc about the pre-codes that said that Joseph Breen (I think) decided, basically single-handedly, that essentially anything questioning or opposing the morality and ethics of the U.S. government should be banned as well, or something to that effect. I don't recall the exact sentiment, but it seems to show up on the list as "sedition." It's entirely possible that he included it as a preventive measure.

 

Thanks for your comments.

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That what was banned was probably dependent on what Joseph Breen considered seditious, and I'm going to assume that was an awful lot. I just wanted to know how it ended up on the list. If there actually were films made before the code that inspired him to target sedition in particular.

 

I always thought the code was put in place mainly to target lewd conduct, but I saw some of that TCM doc about the pre-codes that said that Joseph Breen (I think) decided, basically single-handedly, that essentially anything questioning or opposing the morality and ethics of the U.S. government should be banned as well, or something to that effect. I don't recall the exact sentiment, but it seems to show up on the list as "sedition." It's entirely possible that he included it as a preventive measure.

 

Thanks for your comments.

 

He probably did. 

 

With the Depression happening in the U.S. at the time, the precodes were not afraid to be critical of the Hoover administration whenever they could. Whether it was the "Remember My Forgotten Man" number from Gold Diggers of 1933 to criticizing the way veterans of World War I were treated in Heroes for Sale

For the filmmaker's sake, they were responding to the times with their art, but clearly, organizational groups who did not go to the films they opposed thought otherwise and had moneyed interests behind them. 

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An interesting "seditious" precode entry is "Gabriel Over the White House," in which pleasure-love W.G. Harding style president, played by Walter Huston, gets into an automobile accident, and experiences a personality change.  The new "president" becomes concerned with social issues, the national debt, etc.; he also becomes dictatorial.  An interesting and disturbing film...

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Thanks for mentioning that film, Rosebette. On the wiki page for this movie it says it's socialist in tone, but veers toward fascism. And makes a plea for fascism? Interesting subject for a depression era film, as it always seemed to me that sympathies steered more toward left-wing socialism during this period. (However, Mussolini was getting quite a bit of respect...) But perhaps this is one film that pleas for left-wing totalitarianism(?), as it also says FDR liked this film and contributed to the script!

 

It might not be exactly seditious, but it sounds quite serious at heart and very interesting to me. Thanks again! I hope I get to see it some time soon.

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I haven't seen Gabriel Over The White House myself- but it does sound like an interesting film. 

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