The Motion Picture Production Code was adopted by all of the studios in 1930, and more strictly enforced beginning in 1934. This is the infamous “Code” that took much of the sex and fun out of Hollywood movies for many years. Below are some of the more interesting guidelines or rules from the Code.
Principles Underlying the Code
- No picture shall be produced which will lower the moral standards of those who see it.
- The sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil, or sin.
Crimes Against the Law
- The technique of murder must be presented in a way that will not inspire imitation.
- Brutal killings are not to be presented in detail.
- Revenge in modern times shall not be justified.
- Illegal drug traffic must never be presented.
- The use of liquor in American life, when not required by the plot or for proper characterization, will not be shown.
- Scenes of passion should not be introduced when not essential to the plot. In general, passion should be so treated that these scenes do not stimulate the lower and baser element.
- White slavery shall not be treated.
- Miscegenation is forbidden.
- Scenes of actual child birth, in fact or in silhouette, are never to be presented.
- Children’s sex organs are never to be exposed.
Claudette Colbert in Sign of the Cross (1932). The code was in effect, but loosely enforced. Sigh.
Various Topics (my heading)
- The treatment of low, disgusting, unpleasant, though not necessarily evil subjects, should be subject always to the dictates of good taste regard for the sensibilities of the audience.
- Dances which emphasize indecent movements are to be regarded as obscene.
- Complete nudity is never permitted.
- No film or episode may throw ridicule on any religious faith.
- The use of the Flag shall be consistently respectful.
- Salacious, indecent, or obscene titles shall not be used.
The following subjects must be treated within the careful limits of good taste.
- Actual hangings, or electrocutions as legal punishments for crime.
- Third Degree methods.
- Brutality and possible gruesomeness.
- Branding of people and animals.
- Apparent cruelty to children or animals.
- Surgical operations.