Hollywood's Censor

Hollywood's Censor : Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration

3.38 (34 ratings by Goodreads)
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From 1934 to 1954 Joseph I. Breen, a media-savvy Victorian Irishman, reigned over the Production Code Administration, the Hollywood office tasked with censoring the American screen. Though little known outside the ranks of the studio system, this former journalist and public relations agent was one of the most powerful men in the motion picture industry. As enforcer of the puritanical Production Code, Breen dictated "final cut" over more movies than anyone in the history of American cinema. His editorial decisions profoundly influenced the images and values projected by Hollywood during the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. Cultural historian Thomas Doherty tells the absorbing story of Breen's ascent to power and the widespread effects of his reign. Breen vetted story lines, blue-penciled dialogue, and excised footage (a process that came to be known as "Breening") to fit the demands of his strict moral framework. Empowered by industry insiders and millions of like-minded Catholics who supported his missionary zeal, Breen strove to protect innocent souls from the temptations beckoning from the motion picture screen.
There were few elements of cinematic production beyond Breen's reach--he oversaw the editing of A-list feature films, low-budget B movies, short subjects, previews of coming attractions, and even cartoons. Populated by a colorful cast of characters, including Catholic priests, Jewish moguls, visionary auteurs, hardnosed journalists, and bluenose agitators, Doherty's insightful, behind-the-scenes portrait brings a tumultuous era--and an individual both feared and admired--to vivid life.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 440 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 33.02mm | 589.67g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 60 illus.
  • 0231143591
  • 9780231143592
  • 1,149,082

Table of contents

Opening Credits Prologue: Hollywood, 1954 1. The Victorian Irishman 2. Bluenoses Against the Screen 3. Hollywood Shot to Pieces 4. The Breen Office 5. Decoding Classical Hollywood Cinema 6. Confessional 7. Intermission at RKO 8. At War with the Breen Office 9. In His Sacerdotalism 10. "Our Semitic Brethren" 11. Social Problems, Existential Dilemmas, and Outsized Anatomies 12. Invasion of the Art Films 13. Amending the Ten Commandments 14. Not the Breen Office 15. Final Cut: Joseph I. Breen and the Auteur Theory Appendix: The Production Code Notes Film Index Index
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Review quote

Doherty writes with such wit and verve, bringing the past to life... a very entertaining read. Publishers Weekly Compelling, colorful, insightful, and nearly encyclopedic in detail, this book seems destined to become the definitive scholarly biography of Breen. Highly recommended. Library Journal [An] entertaining and rigorous biography of Breen. -- Ada Calhoun New York Times Book Review A fascinating read for anyone interested in American film history. -- Carol O'Sullivan Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [An] authoritative, entertaining, unexpectedly unnerving biography. -- Kenneth Turan Los Angeles Times [A] brilliant and absorbing new book. -- Gerald Peary The Phoenix Hollywood's Censor is a stinging portrait of a cultural strongman who made it his business to baby his fellow citizens. -- Dennis Drabelle Washington Post Written with controlled exuberance, and much wit. -- Scott Eyman Palm Beach Post A pleasure to read. -- Rob Hardy Commercial Dispatch An exemplary biography... Highly recommended. CHOICE
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About Thomas Doherty

Thomas Doherty is professor of American studies at Brandeis University. He serves on the editorial board of Cineaste and is the author of Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture; Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934; Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II; and Teenagers and Teenpics: The Juvenilization of American Movies in the 1950s.
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Rating details

34 ratings
3.38 out of 5 stars
5 21% (7)
4 26% (9)
3 32% (11)
2 12% (4)
1 9% (3)
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