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The Breening of America

Leonard J. Leff
PMLA
Vol. 106, No. 3 (May, 1991), pp. 432-445
DOI: 10.2307/462777
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/462777
Page Count: 14
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The Breening of America
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Abstract

In 1930, to blunt attacks from legislators, social reformers, and investors, the American movie companies adopted the Production Code, a skein of dos and don'ts that regulated, among other things, the screen treatment of sex and crime and that, by 1934, had its own executive apparatus. Though Joseph I. Breen, the director of the Production Code Administration, was called "the Hitler of Hollywood," Production Code censorship operated through negotiation and compromise; even Breen himself was less repressive or moralistic than reporters or historians imagined. From 1934 to 1941, the Production Code Administration, the West Coast studios, and the East Coast corporate offices formed a machinelike network whose power Breen used not only to license but to facilitate the production of controversial films, including those presumed most harmed by the code-sex comedies and social-problem pictures.

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