THE GOLDEN AGE OF CENSORSHIP: AN ANALYSIS OF MARRIAGE AND SEXUALITY BEFORE AND AFTER THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CODE IN 1930S HOLLYWOOD
The Motion Picture Production Code, which was enforced in 1934, drastically altered films by strictly regulating their content. Female characters were particularly susceptible to censorship in appearance, attitude, and behavior. This thesis compares women in 1930s film before and after the enforcement of the Code and questions the role of religion and morality in the shift in female representation. In order to do so, it analyzes MGM and Warner Brothers pre- and post-Code melodramas and explores primary documents from key figures in the Code’s enforcement including the Catholic Church, the film studios, and the Production Code Administration. It highlights two key components of pre-Code films: female sexuality and women’s anxiety towards marriage. In contrast, it finds post-Code films punished female sexuality and dispelled women’s anxiety towards marriage. Church documents as well as the Production Code Administration’s archive indicate the elimination of sexuality and anxiety was an intentional effort by religious activists to reestablish Victorian morality and fortify the sacred institution of marriage.
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