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


“Forbidden Hollywood: The Pre-Code Era (1930-1934)” is a must for movie buffs.

Written by Mark A. Vierira (who also provides an intro), “Forbidden Hollywood” dives into the era of films before the production code came into effect. The films in this specific era of Hollywood were considered sexually scandalous, immoral, blasphemous and controversial at the time. Vierira spotlights 24 films in this time period including classics like “Dracula,” “She Done Him Wrong,” and 1932’s “Scarface.” Expect a plethora of glossy films stills, a bibliography, index and acknowledgments as well.

Unlike other Turner Classic Movie book releases, this is not so much a list book but rather a thoroughly researched and detailed book about the pre-code era of cinema. Truth be told, it could be used as a text book for film classes it’s that good. Anyway, there’s so much to absorb here as the book explores film and studio trends and styles, censors, the MPAA, William Hays (a politician who monitored Hollywood content), Joseph Breen (the head of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America), and the legacy of the pre-code era.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this book is that it causes you to reflect on societal changes from then and now. Nowadays, the “indecency” of “Tarzan and His Mate” or the depiction of gangsters and violence in a film like “Little Caesar) may seem rather tame and or nothing new. It’s also rather disheartening that the production code changed the industry for several decades and violated artistic expression until the tide began to change in the 60s. 

Overall Thoughts: For anyone with an interest in cinema history, “Forbidden Hollywood” has much to offer. Recommended.

March 7, 2020 - Posted by | Book review | , ,

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