1927 October 15

“No Lustful Kissing:” Hollywood Producers Issue “Don’ts and Be Carefuls”

 

Almost from the time motion pictures appeared there were strong social and political pressures to censure their treatment of sexuality. In the 1920s, Hollywood made several efforts to head off official censorship through voluntary self-censorship efforts. The list of “Don’ts and Be Carefuls,” issued on this day, was one part of that effort. The list prohibited “pointed profanity,” including the use of “God,” “Jesus,” “hell,” “damn,” and others; trafficking in drugs; miscegenation; “suggestive nudity;” scenes of actual child birth; and “willful offense to any nation, race, or creed.” The “be carefuls,” included use of the flag; use of firearms; “attitude toward public characters and institutions;” rape or attempted rape; “first night scenes” [presumably the] first night of marriage; surgical operations; “excessive or lustful kissing;” surgical operations; and others.

The “Don’ts and Be Carefuls” were voluntary and had little impact. Many of the early talkies (which were just beginning to develop in 1927) in the 1930–1933 years were pretty racy. Under pressure from a Catholic-led boycott of “objectionable” films, Hollywood, on June 13, 1934, adopted the infamous 1934 Production Code, which put a heavy hand of censorship on Hollywood until the late 1960s. It was then replaced by the current movie ratings system on November 1, 1968.

Learn more at a timeline of movie censorship: https://www.aclu.org/files/multimedia/censorshiptimeline.html

Read: Frank Walsh, Sin and Censorship: The Catholic Church and the Motion Picture Industry (1996)

Watch clips of pre-1934 Code films: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81DwZgieHmg

Read: Leonard Leff and Jerold Simmons, The Dame in the Kimono: Hollywood, Censorship, and the Production Code from the 1920s to the 1960s (1990)

Learn about film censorship in the 1920s and 1930s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYOm6ar716w

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