The 1930s• Hollywoods dramatic prison dramas• B-actor John Wayne made his debut in his first major role in a western The Big Trail (1930) - one of the first films shot in „Grandeur‟ - Foxs experimental wide-screen 70mm format• Both the film and the new process flopped; it would be nine more years before his star-making appearance in Stagecoach (1939)
The 1930s• RKO won its sole Best Picture Academy Award for the western Cimarron (1931)• In 1930, the Motion Picture Production Code, administered by Joseph I. Breen and former Postmaster General Will Hays, set film guidelines regarding sex, violence, religion, and crime• The first daily newspaper for the film industry had its debut in 1930, The Hollywood Reporter• The first appearance of the cartoon character Popeye was in the Betty Boop cartoon from Paramount and Max Fleischer
The 1930s • The worlds first drive-in theatre opened in Camden, N.J. in June, 1933 • Walt Disneys 8-minute The Wise Little Hen (1934) featured the first appearance of Donald Duck • The American film industry was dominated by five major corporate-style studios in the 1930s • They exerted their influence over choice of films, budgets, the selection of personnel and scripts, actors, writers, and directors, editing, scoring, and publicity
The Depression• The poor economic climate hit Hollywood hard• Nearly all of the Hollywood studios (except MGM) suffered financially during the early 30s, and studios had to reorganise, request government assistance, cut budgets and employees, and close theatres when profits plummeted• Attendance at theatres was drastically affected, although during even the darkest days of the Depression, movie attendance was still between 60-75 million per week• Special incentives and giveaways (such as 2-for-1 features, dish nights, and other contests and attractions) helped to maintain a decent audience• During most of the Depression Era, Hollywood responded with expensive, mass-produced entertainment or escapist entertainment, like The Grand Hotel (1932)
The Lead Up To Regulation• Who were the most popular actors before the 1930s?• Which were the biggest studios?• What technological advancements had been made?• What kind of money was being pumped into the industry?• How do you think the rest of America saw Hollywood in the late 1920s?
Regulation• The factions of society who has successfully lobbied against alcohol, turned their attention to Hollywood• Motion Picture Association of America is set up in 1922• Its role was to regulate films and the industry in order to protect the business – self regulation• 32 States were also considering enacting laws against the movie business• In 1930, the Motion Picture Production Code was adopted• “If motion pictures present stories that will affect lives for the better, they can become the most powerful force for the improvement of mankind.”• Never really implemented until 1934, when the MPAA began to enforce the code
The Hays Code• From 1930 - 1934, The Hays code could not cut material out of films• Amended in 1934 giving the Production Code Administration more power• Every film had to be certified by the administration• The three main principles of the Hays Code:1. No picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin2. Correct standards of life, subject only to the requirements of drama and entertainment, shall be presented3. Law, natural or human, shall not be ridiculed, nor shall sympathy be created for its violation
The Hays Code• Sex: The sanctity of the institution of marriage and the home shall be upheld. Pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing.1. Adultery2. Scenes of Passion3. Seduction or Rape4. Sex perversion or any inference to it is forbidden.5. White slavery shall not be treated.6. Miscegenation7. Sex hygiene and venereal diseases are not subjects for motion pictures8. Scenes of actual child birth, in fact or in silhouette, are never to be presented9. Childrens sex organs are never to be exposed10.Twin beds for married couples11.No ridicule of ministers of religion12.The prohibition of various words "sex", "hell", and "damn”13.Suggestive postures and gestures
The Hays Code• All films would be submitted for a "seal of approval" - and if a film was unacceptable and denied a seal, it was not to be exhibited in theaters, and the studio would be fined $25,000• Between 1930, many films were either suppressed, or severely mutilated or censored to fit the seals requirements• Until 1934, restrictions on content were mostly evaded and ignored.• In the early days of the Depression in the early 1930s, the desperate Hollywood studios used the open sexuality to increase their profits
Catholic Legion of Decency• Rating system founded in 1933 based on the beliefs of the Catholic Church:• A - Morally unobjectionable• B - Morally objectionable in part• C - Condemned by the Legion of Decency• The A rating was divided further:• A-I: Suitable for all audiences• A-II: Suitable for adults• A-III: Suitable for adults only• A-IV: For adults with reservations
In Britain…• 1927: Home Secretary, "The position of the cinema in our national life is becoming more and more important .. [It] may have a very profound effect upon the national character.”• 1936: The Moyne Committee: “Film is undoubtedly a most important factor in the education of all classes of the community, in the spread of national culture and in presenting national ideas and customs to the world ... the propaganda value of the film cannot be over-emphasized.”• By 1939 "the cinema was easily the most important form of mass entertainment with 20m tickets being sold and 3 new cinemas being opened each weak, admission cost only a few pence, and provided probably the cheapest form of mass entertainment in most towns and cities
In Britain J. Arthur Rank • In 1933, J. Arthur Rank, who had started by making religious films in order to spread the word of the gospel, founded British National • In 1935, he went into partnership with C.M.Woolf to take over Pinewood Studios, 20 miles west of London and found the Rank Organisation • When some early films that he was involved with didnt get a very good circulation he realised that control of the movie theatres was the key to success • He went into partnership with a gent called Oscar Deutsch who was building aJ. Arthur Rank chain of cinemas • The two established the ODEON (Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation) cinema chain
The Debate!• The class will be split into two groups• One group will argue for the implementation of censorship (at the time of the Hays Code and today)• One will argue against censorship (at the time of the Hays Code and today)• Consider why censorship is important• Think about the restrictions censorship placed on the film industry – what effect might this have had?• 5 minutes to prepare for an debate…
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