Wow, another podcast episode more focused on classic film than horror! Horror can be peripherally involved, though, as the main thrust of our conversation is censorship and The Production Code that became the means for censorship in Hollywood for over three decades. I was graciously invited to join Cinema Junkie Beth Accomando at The La Jolla Playhouse’s Discovery Sunday event yesterday, following a production of their fantastic new play “Hollywood.”
“Hollywood” will run at The La Jolla Playhouse through June 12th, so if you listen to this early enough, you should definitely go see it! Not only is it entertaining, with some brilliant acting and some appropriately risque moments, but it is a clever look at the unsolved 1922 murder of director William Desmond Taylor through the eyes of Hollywood’s censor himself–William Hays. Patrick Kerr, by the way, plays Hays almost perfectly, with gusto and the kind of charm that would have given the staunch conservative a foothold among wild 1920s Hollywood.
The Discovery Conversation, though, was less about the play and more about the historical context behind and after the events portrayed in the play. We talk about the loose cannon state censorship boards of the 20s, the writing and adopting of The Production Code in 1930, the pre-code era, the actual enforcement of the Production Code in late 1934, and how it affected filmmaking thereafter. This is one of my favorite topics, so I was pretty enthusiastic despite the affects of losing my voice.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy listening to our discussion as much as the audience said they did yesterday! And, more importantly, go out and find some great classic films! We talk Pre-code a lot, but we also talk about Film Noir and some other subversive films. I handed out a pamphlet of recommended pre-code films at the event. Here is the PDF to get you started!
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