1933 is the end of the party. Hollywood finally went too far and crossed too many lines. For the past few years, all the Pre-Code films had to pass through state censors in order to be shown in theaters. Certain films weren’t shown in certain states for various reasons. (If you ever go back and read all the different reasons states refused to screen certain movies, you’ll be very amused.) Finally, after the government threatened to step in, Hollywood got serious.
The Production Code was technically around since 1922. After the William Desmond Taylor murder and the Fatty Arbuckle scandal, the government was trying to clean up on the “immorality” of the town, and Hollywood, rather than have the hammer come down, self-policed. It’s like when colleges self-impose bans to keep the NCAA from dropping the hammer on them. But no one really took it seriously. Then in 1927, they put out a list of “Don’ts and Be Carefuls.” Which was basically a list of “Don’t show white slavery. Don’t show miscegenation, be careful how you use the flag.” Shit like that. Again, generally adhered to, but with anything, people start bending the rules after a while. (more…)