I do think schlocky, cheap pictures go back well before the Code, or even the talkies -- for every great silent classic, there were dozens of driveling shopgirl romance pictures, mirthless comedies, and westerns made only because somebody was able to rent a horse for the day. But toward the end of the silent era, in the mid-twenties, there was a sense among the better directors that movies could be more than just galloping tintypes -- there were some really ambitious, thought-provoking films to come out of those years. And they weren't just dramas -- there were even comedies that offered something more than just a pie in the face. A picture like Harry Langdon's "Three's A Crowd," which is both a comedy and a strange, surreal meditation on the meaning of human isolation, could have been made *only* in that time. But in a lot of ways the coming of talkies threw the industry back twenty years in its creative ambition -- and it had only really gotten back on its feet again when the Code put the kibosh on free-thinking for a long time to come. There were fine directors in the Code Era who made some excellent pictures -- but with very few exceptions, these directors were company men making company pictures that sold the company line.