The Public Interest

Blue movies

Walter Berns

Spring 1995

HOLLYWOOD Censored,† we are told on the book’s dust jacket, “examines how hundreds of films—Mae West comedies, serious dramas, and films with a social message—were censored and often edited to promote a conservative political agenda during the golden age of studio production in the 1930s.” It goes on to explain how, because of the 1922 Hollywood sex scandals, Will Hays was hired by the movie industry to clean up its image. Hays’s solution was to adopt what came to be known as “the Production Code.” Written by a St. Louis priest and a Catholic layman, it “stipulated that movies stress proper behavior, respect for government, and ‘Christian values’— thereby challenging the moguls’ staunch belief that movies entertain, not preach morality.”


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