Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930--1934

Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930--1934

by Thomas Doherty
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0231110944

ISBN-13: 9780231110945

Pub. Date: 08/28/1999

Publisher: Columbia University Press

Pre-Code Hollywood explores the fascinating period in American motion picture history from 1930 to 1934 when the commandments of the Production Code Administration were violated with impunity in a series of wildly unconventional films--a time when censorship was lax and Hollywood made the most of it. Though more unbridled, salacious, subversive, and just plain bizarre

Overview

Pre-Code Hollywood explores the fascinating period in American motion picture history from 1930 to 1934 when the commandments of the Production Code Administration were violated with impunity in a series of wildly unconventional films--a time when censorship was lax and Hollywood made the most of it. Though more unbridled, salacious, subversive, and just plain bizarre than what came afterwards, the films of the period do indeed have the look of Hollywood cinema--but the moral terrain is so off-kilter that they seem imported from a parallel universe.

In a sense, Doherty avers, the films of pre-Code Hollywood are from another universe. They lay bare what Hollywood under the Production Code attempted to cover up and push offscreen: sexual liaisons unsanctified by the laws of God or man, marriage ridiculed and redefined, ethnic lines crossed and racial barriers ignored, economic injustice exposed and political corruption assumed, vice unpunished and virtue unrewarded--in sum, pretty much the raw stuff of American culture, unvarnished and unveiled.

No other book has yet sought to interpret the films and film-related meanings of the pre-Code era--what defined the period, why it ended, and what its relationship was to the country as a whole during the darkest years of the Great Depression ... and afterward.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231110945
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
08/28/1999
Series:
Film and Culture Series
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
1440L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Prefacexi
1.On the Cusp of Classical Hollywood Cinema1
Patrolling the Diegesis3
Pre-Code Contexts15
2.Breadlines and Box Office Lines: Hollywood in the Nadir of the Great Depression21
The Lost Millions27
A Synchronized Industry31
"Mike Fright"34
3.Preachment Yarns: The Politics of Mere Entertainment39
Telegraphing Ideology45
Class Distinctions53
Professional Malfeasance58
4.Dictators and Democrats: The Rage for Order69
Hankering for Supermen70
"The Barrymore of the Capital": The Newsreel Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt77
A New Deal in the Last Reel85
The Mad Dog of Europe93
5.Vice Rewarded: The Wages of Cinematic Sin103
Packaging Vice107
Models of Immorality113
Figurative Literalness118
Queer Flashes120
"Women Love Dirt"125
Working Girls131
6.Criminal Codes: Gangsters Unbound, Felons in Custody137
Rushing Toward Death: The Gangster Film140
Men Behind Bars: The Prison Film157
7.Comic Timing: Cracking Wise and Wising Up171
Commentators on the Action174
Story, Screenplay, and All Dialogue by Mae West182
Newspaper Patter187
The Blue Eagle and Duck Soup (1933)192
8.News on Screen: The Vividness of Mechanical Immortality197
Library Stock204
The Newsreel Ethos208
Covering Up the Great Depression213
9.Remote Kinships: The Geography of the Expeditionary Film221
Points on the Compass225
Faking It: Phoney Expeditions and Real Deaths235
The Dark Continent245
10.Primitive Mating Rituals: The Color Wheel of the Racial Adventure Film253
"He's White": Tarzan, the Ape Man (1932) and Tarzan and His Mate (1934)256
Red Skin, Red Lips: Massacre (1934)262
East Mates West267
"The Ethiopian Trade"274
Nerve and Brains: Paul Robeson and The Emperor Jones (1933)284
Beauty and the Beast: King Kong (1933)289
11.Nightmare Pictures: The Quality of Gruesomeness295
Rugged Individualism: Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), and Their Progeny299
The Lower Orders Rise Up: Island of Lost Souls (1933) and Freaks (1932)308
12.Classical Hollywood Cinema: The World According to Joseph I. Breen319
"The Storm of '34"320
Hollywood Under the Code336
Post-Code Hollywood Cinema342
Appendix 1The Text of the Production Code347
Appendix 2Particular Applications of the Code and the Reasons Therefore [Addenda to 1930 Code]361
Appendix 3Amendments365
Appendix 4The Critical and Commercial Hits of 1930-1934369
Notes373
Index411
Film Index425

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