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Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood (2008)

Various film historians, film makers, and cultural commentators discuss the cultural, political, economic and religious reasons for what is known as the pre-code era of Hollywood movie ... See full summary »

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Steven Smith
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Valerie Spencer ... Herself - Narrator (voice)
John Landis ... Himself - Interviewee
Jonathan Kuntz Jonathan Kuntz ... Himself - Interviewee
Rudy Behlmer ... Himself - Interviewee
Jerry Beck ... Himself - Interviewee
Camille Paglia Camille Paglia ... Herself - Interviewee
Hugh Hefner ... Himself - Interviewee
Jack Valenti ... Himself - Interviewee
Will H. Hays ... Himself (archive footage) (as Will Hayes)
Jeffrey Vance ... Himself - Interviewee
Molly Haskell ... Herself - Interviewee
Mark Vieira ... Himself - Interviewee (as Mark A. Vieira)
Norma Shearer ... Various Roles (archive footage)
Clark Gable ... Various Roles (archive footage)
Barbara Stanwyck ... Various Roles (archive footage)
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Storyline

Various film historians, film makers, and cultural commentators discuss the cultural, political, economic and religious reasons for what is known as the pre-code era of Hollywood movie making in the early 1930s, and those same factors which resulted in the drastic turn to working under the code for the twenty or so years starting in 1934. The "code" is the Hollywood Production Code of 1930 (also known as the Hays Code, so named for Will H. Hays, the first head of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America), which was developed in order for movie making in Hollywood to run smoothly in the face of increased outside censors. The code was largely ignored until 1934, when its enforcement was overseen by Joseph I. Breen who took over from Hays and who had a different agenda of moral purity. During those four years, pre-code Hollywood movies are characterized by their rawness and pushing the envelope of sexuality and moral ambiguity (with the depraved side often winning), which... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 March 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hollywood prohibido See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Black and White (archive clips)| Color
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included in Warner Home Video's 2008 DVD set "TCM Archives - Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 2". See more »

Connections

References Day of Reckoning (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

Temptation
(uncredited)
Written by Nacio Herb Brown
Performed by orchestra
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User Reviews

 
Fascinating glimpses of pre-code Hollywood during the early '30s...
16 March 2008 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

TCM aired this documentary on the pre-code era of Hollywood films during the early '30s: THOU SHALT NOT: SEX, SIN AND CENSORSHIP IN PRE-CODE Hollywood, and it lives up to its title with a rundown of various films that pushed the envelope before the Hays Office came into existence and censorship in films began with some rigid codes about what could and could not be shown.

As someone else pointed out, a lot of films went unmentioned and could have been included with reference to racy dialog that got past the censors, even in innocuous Laurel & Hardy comedies. Of the films mentioned, we get fleeting looks at NIGHT NURSE, THE Divorcée, THE PUBLIC ENEMY, and other such films that were considered risqué at the time but got past the censors. There's barely a mention of Mae West and her many one-liners, so there's a lot of material that isn't covered in the documentary's brief running time.

Comments from people like Camille Paglia, Rudy Behlmer, Leonard Maltin and others is incisive and to the point. Most amusing is the fact that twin beds always had to be shown in the budoir and there were rules about bedroom etiquette that included something about a man's foot had to be shown on the floor. Curious do's and don'ts ruled the day as soon as censorship boards were taken seriously.

Covers quite a bit of ground but leaves out a lot of other information which would have made for a more complete documentary.


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