ticket line. That's the central message in Jon Lewis's provocativeand insightful investigation of the movie industry's history of self-regulation.…Lewis shows that Hollywood films are a triumph of commerce over art, and that the film industry has consistently used internal censorship and government-industrial collusion to guarantee that its cash flow is never seriously threatened." The New York Times Book Review censorship and the American film industry…And what of the perennial tussles between politicos and the film industry? All show business, suggests Lewis, make-believe veiling the real power structure that has nothing to do with morals, let alone art (it would be interesting to get his take on the recent marketing brouhaha and its relationship to the recent threatened actors and writers strikes). A staggering saga worthy itself of a Hollywood movie, Hollywood v. Hardcore is film history at its most illuminating and intense."The Boston Phoenix In 1972, The Godfather and Deep Throat were the two most popular films in the country. One, a major Hollywood studio production, the other an independently made "skin flick." At that moment, Jon Lewis asserts, the fate of the American film industry hung in the balance. Spanning the 20th century, Hollywood v. Hard Core weaves a gripping tale of censorship and regulation. Since the industry's infancy, film producers and distributors have publicly regarded ratings codes as a necessary evil. Hollywood regulates itself, we have been told, to prevent the government from doing it for them. But Lewis argues that the studios self-regulate because they are convinced it is good for business, and that censorship codes and regulations are a crucial part of what binds the various competing agencies in the film business together. Yet between 1968 and 1973 Hollywood films were faltering at the box office, and the major studios were in deep trouble. Hollywood's principal competition came from a body of independently produced and distributed filmsfrom foreign art house film Last Tango in Paris to hard-core pornography like Behind the Green Doorthat were at once disreputable and, for a moment at least, irresistible, even chic. In response, Hollywood imposed the industry-wide MPAA film rating system (the origins of the G, PG, and R designations we have today) that pushed sexually explicit films outside the mainstream, and a series of Supreme Court decisions all but outlawed the theatrical exhibition of hard core pornographic films. Together, these events allowed Hollywood to consolidate its iron grip over what films got made and where they were shown, thus saving it from financial ruin.
Author Biography: Jon Lewis is Professor of English at Oregon State University where he has taught film and cultural studies since 1983. His books include Whom God Wishes to Destroy, Francis Coppola and the New Hollywood, The Road to Romance and Ruin: Teen Films and Youth Culture, and (as editor) The New American Cinema.