Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administrationby Thomas Doherty
Cultural historian Thomas Doherty recounts the untold tale of the man who dictated "final cut" over more movies than anyone in the history of American cinema. Empowered by industry insiders and millions of like-minded Catholics, Joseph I. Breen oversaw the editing of A-list feature films, low-budget B movies, short subjects, previews of coming attractions, and even
Cultural historian Thomas Doherty recounts the untold tale of the man who dictated "final cut" over more movies than anyone in the history of American cinema. Empowered by industry insiders and millions of like-minded Catholics, Joseph I. Breen oversaw the editing of A-list feature films, low-budget B movies, short subjects, previews of coming attractions, and even cartoons. Populated by a colorful cast of characters, including Catholic priests, Jewish moguls, visionary auteurs, hardnosed journalists, and bluenose agitators, Doherty's insightful, behind-the-scenes portrait brings a tumultuous eraand an individual both feared and admired-to vivid life.
A fascinating read for anyone interested in American film history.
The Washington Post
The New York Times
In this comprehensive coverage of cinematic censorship, Doherty, a professor of American studies at Brandeis University, probes the power of Joseph I. Breen (1888-1965), head of Hollywood's puritanical Production Code Administration from 1934 to 1954, and along the way, he captures the clash of "Catholic priests, Jewish moguls, visionary auteurs, studio hacks, hardnosed journalists and bluenosed agitators" in pre-TV Tinseltown. Born in Philadelphia, the Irish-Catholic Breen was a journalist turned publicist. His successful marketing of a film documentary showing "Catholic multitudes" at the 1926 Eucharistic Congress catapulted his career. With powerful backers in his corner, the Catholics and the New Dealers, Breen tightened the screws: "I am hopeful of doing something, to lessen, at least, the flow of filth, but I have no illusions about the problem." He ruled with an iron fist, altering scripts and deleting footage until Otto Preminger cracked the Code in 1953 with The Moon Is Blue. Amid an avalanche of anecdotes and fascinating movie lore are 60 illustrations (ads, posters, stills) and a copy of the 1956 Production Code. The 42 pages of bibliographic notes are evidence of the author's exhaustive research. Doherty writes with such wit and verve, bringing the past to life, that this scholarly study is also a very entertaining read. (Nov.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Joseph I. Breen, as head of the Production Code Administration from 1934 to 1954, influenced more movies than anyone else in history. Doherty (American studies, Brandeis Univ.; Pre-Code Hollywood) has woven his extensive research into sparkling prose that portrays the players-the moguls, money men, bluenoses, journalists, clergy, and filmmakers-and issues swirling around Breen as he enforced the Production Code and ensured that pictures were chaste, moral, and wholesome. Doherty's rendering of the cultural climate in America contextualizes the code and traces its reception from the Great Depression to the post-World War II era, addressing the influence of foreign films, art houses, television, politics, world events, and changing mores of the motion picture industry and the code's enforcement. Doherty's characterization of Breen as an Irish Catholic with Victorian sensibilities and a divine motivation is rich and multilayered. Compelling, colorful, insightful, and nearly encyclopedic in detail, this book seems destined to become the definitive scholarly biography of Breen. Highly recommended.
Donna L. Davey
- Columbia University Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.00(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
What People are Saying About This
Thomas Doherty uncovers wonderful details in his research, and he presents them with aplomb. He writes a good book on an important figure in American film history about whom too little is known. This is a valuable contribution.
Chuck Maland, Lindsay Young Professor of English, University of Tennessee
Meet the Author
Thomas Doherty is professor of American studies at Brandeis University. He serves on the editorial board of Cineaste and is the author of Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture; Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934; Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II; and Teenagers and Teenpics: The Juvenilization of American Movies in the 1950s.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews