1927 March 26

Will Hays Asks for Constitutional Amendment to Protect Movies From Censorship


Will Hays, President of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association, representing the major Hollywood studios, on this day suggested a constitutional amendment to protect movies from censorship. Movies, he argued, had been subject to “unfair aggression,” adding that it is an “affront to conscientious men” to have movies “strained through the sieve of a censor.” They should enjoy the same constitutional protection as the press, he added.

Obviously, no constitutional amendment protecting movies was ever created. And under Hays, the film industry finally capitulated to the threat of external censorship with self-censorship in the form of the notorious Production Code, adopted on June 13, 1934.

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

Learn about “pre-Code Hollywood films: Thomas Doherty, Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American inema, 1930-1934 (1999)

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

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

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