Forbidden Hollywood: The Pre-Code Era (1930-1934)

Forbidden Hollywood: The Pre-Code Era (1930-1934) : When Sin Ruled the Movies

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It's classic Hollywood -- uncensored. Filled with rare images and untold stories from producers, censors, stars, exhibitors, and the movie-going public, Forbidden Hollywood is the ultimate guide to a gloriously entertaining and strikingly modern time in early American films: the Pre-Code era.
"Pre-Code" -- a catchy misnomer for the days before a strict code of censorship purified the content of Hollywood films -- encompasses movies made from 1930 through 1934, when Hollywood censors were lax or absent. But there was already a Production Code in place, the result of a collaboration between Catholic bishops, Protestant politicians, and Jewish-American film producers with the aim of preventing federal censorship. The Code prohibited violent, vulgar, or sexual content in films. It was well intentioned, but no one abided by it, especially after the Great Depression began to keep filmgoers away from theaters. The easiest way to lure them back was with sex and violence. For the next four years -- before a grassroots movement caused the Code to be fully instated -- sinful cinema ruled the screen.
Forbidden Hollywood is a history of Pre-Code like none other because it tells the story of the era by taking the reader there. Through the text you will eavesdrop on conferences between producers and writers, read nervous telegrams from executives to censors, and listen to conversations between censors and directors, where artistic decisions meant shifts in power -- and money -- when one third of a nation was desperate. You will see how these decisions were so artfully wrought as to fool some of the people just long enough to get films into theaters. You will read what theater managers thought of such craftiness. You will read letters from a variety of fans as they, depending on community standards, applauded creativity or condemned crassness.
The book spotlights twenty-three films which author and film historian Mark A. Vieira identifies as the definitive list of movies that brought on strict enforcement of the Code in 1934, including a loincloth-clad Johnny Weissmuller in Tarzan and His Mate; Barbara Stanwyck climbing the corporate ladder on her own terms in Baby Face; a group of misfits out for revenge in Freaks; and Paul Muni leading the crime world in the original Scarface. More than 200 newly restored (and some never-before-published) photographs throughout illustrate pivotal moments in the careers of such stars as Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Norma Shearer, Marlene Dietrich, and Jean Harlow, completing a definitive portrait of an unforgettable era in filmmaking.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 206 x 256 x 32mm | 1,380g
  • Running Press Adult
  • London, United States
  • English
  • 200 Illustrations, black & white
  • 0762466774
  • 9780762466771
  • 79,634

Review quote

"This is the ultimate guide to a gloriously entertaining and strikingly modern era."---Discover Hollywood "Impressively informative, absorbing, detailed, and definitive portrait of an unforgettable era in American filmmaking, Forbidden Hollywood: When Sin Ruled the Movies is an inherently fascinating, page-turner of a read that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic American Film History collections and supplemental curriculum studies rosters."---Midwest Book Review, Reviewer's Bookwatch "Forbidden Hollywood is filled with lush and often erotic stills from pre-Code era movies. This is an in-depth work, an intriguing film history that dives deep into the art and commerce of Hollywood productions versus the social engineers who attempted - and ultimately failed - to set American movies into rigid cultural values."---New York Journal of Books "Even knowledgeable film fans will find new information.... Hollywood historian, author and photographer Vieira's well-laid-out, lush, lascivious look at film's pre-Code era, the early 1930s, is a gorgeous volume augmented by historical snapshots."---Liz French, Library Journal "...a fascinating history lesson centered on a five-year period leading up to the signing of Hollywood's Production Code, which prohibited violence, profanity, nudity, provocative dancing, illegal drug use and a host of other scandalous onscreen behaviors. Vieira traces the transition from silent cinema to sound films, which led to the new candor that necessitated these interesting window into Tinseltown's early days."---The New York Times Book Review "No one knows more about the tantalizing and provocative films of the early 1930s than Mark Vieira, and no one has access to better still photos... With exquisitely showcased illustrations and informative text, this book meets the high standard one would expect from its author and publisher."--- "...lavish and splendid.... utterly essential and sophisticated..."---Jeff Simon, Buffalo News " illuminating, superbly researched treasure trove of Hollywood history and gossip. ...Forbidden Hollywood is a real treat for film buffs. The hundreds of photos are dazzling and evocative, and Vieira's history lessons are compelling and fresh."---Kevin Howell, Shelf Awareness for Readers "Mark A. Vieira, an expert in his field, uses scintillating images to explore racy pre-Code doings."---Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times "Forbidden Hollywood is the ideal film book...the perfect marriage of information and entertainment."---Raquel Stecher, Out of the Past Film Blog "Informative, intelligent, and delightfully scandal-filled . . . Illuminating an integral part of movie history often seen through soft-focus and murky lighting, this clearly written survey deserves a spot both on film scholars' book shelves and movie buffs' coffee tables."--Publishers Weekly, https: //
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About Mark Vieira

Mark A. Vieira is a photographer and author who specializes in Hollywood history. He has lectured at USC, UCLA, Lincoln Center, Universal Studios, and the Hollywood Heritage Museum. Vieira has appeared in documentaries such as TCM's Moguls and Movie Stars and Complicated Women. He is also the author of George Hurrell's Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille, and Into the Dark, among other film-related titles. Vieira resides in Los Angeles.
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Rating details

99 ratings
4.08 out of 5 stars
5 36% (36)
4 40% (40)
3 19% (19)
2 3% (3)
1 1% (1)
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