Entertainment Weekly

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Hollywood's Censor

Posted on

Hollywood's Censor

Hollywood's Censor

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
Thomas Doherty
publisher:
Columbia University Press
genre:
Movies, Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

In an era of onscreen gore (Saw IV) and hardcore sex (Shortbus), it’s hard to fathom that hell and bastard were once verboten. Ditto homosexuality, ”lustful” kissing, and unpunished adultery. As Hollywood’s Production Code honcho from 1934 to ’54, robust Catholic Joseph Breen almost single-handedly shaped the moral tone of thousands of movies. Sly directors like Ernst Lubitsch snuck by the rules with under-the-radar naughtiness. As Thomas Doherty’s spry history, Hollywood’s Censor, points out, the repressive Breen era ironically produced a golden age of films rich in ”exotic charm and exquisite brinksmanship.” B+