Condemned by The Catholic Legion of Decency

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by scotrace, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    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.
     
  2. Yes, schlock goes way back, but my point is that the rise and demand of "B" films as part of the lower bill, contributed much to the presence of Z-quality films that proliferated the '30s and '40s. The demand for drive-in movies had a similar effect on film quality in the '50s and '60s.
     
  3. Benproof

    Benproof A-List Customer

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    That's a good point.

    I noticed that most of the enduring films of my life which I watched in cinema, were rated 15.

    Not 18. The difference in age banding is significant: I'm not interested in big name actors or actresses so obscure films which aren't terribly conceived are important to me. Reygedas, one of my favourite producers uses local people or ethnic minorities with no acting skills and his heros classically are human, 80 years old, or Mennonite derived characters. Do viewers judge these films as successful as reflections of human life with an incredible analogue photography or as entertainment only?

    The catholic Legion of Defence certainly filtered out much rubbish unfit for human eyes i. The USA and for children, parents could then refer to an acceptable range of films without necessarily having to research the films themselves.

    What would happen today then, without such a guide for the nation's children? Do they just watch any and everything by bypassing parental controls on their iPads?

    The other point you make indirectly reminds of Baudelaire's famous words: art is never pure sentiment. The artlessness of people who go around wearing f*k this and F*k that is a dime a dozen. It takes more effort than baseness to express oneself humanely.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2016
  4. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    True, but my point is also that even many of the "A" pictures were nothing more than chewing gum for the eyes and mind. Every name star of the Era made their share of these generic films that depended more for their appeal on star power than on anything substantive in the script or the direction. Pictures that were adapted from plays or novels were usually gelded by Hollywood to fit the Code's idea of what was acceptable, and original stories had to stay within a very narrow vision of what Joseph Ignatius Breen considered acceptable in order to make their way to the screen. The result was a body of work that was all too often slick, glossy, focused on "stars" at the expense of substance, and an hour after you'd watched it you couldn't remember much of anything about it.

    There were exceptions, of course, and those are the pictures we remember today. But when you look back at what moviegoers and exhibitors' trade publications were actually saying at the time, you get a sense that most people weren't all that satisfied with what they were getting, and that Hollywood itself was very cynical about the Code and how it was enforced.
     
  5. Yes, there were a lot of "fluff" "A" movies being peddled then (what the Italians called "white telephone" movies during the '30s and early '40s). Yet there were many exceptions ("A" and "B" films), especially after WWII (particularly what we refer to now as Films Noir). It is quite an eye-opener, though, to contrast films released (for instance) between 1930 and 1934, with those produced between 1935 and 1939, particularly horror films. (As a horror example, even the big-budgeted, well-acted Son of Frankenstein [1939] doesn't pack half the shock of Island of Lost Souls [1932] or Murders in the Zoo [1933]).
     
  6. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Nor did the BBFC, bless 'em.... it was decades before they allowed it to be relesed on home video. Of course, as with all the so-called 'video nasties'. it's really incredibly tame in its depictions. Great film, though - one of the real classics of the "good triumphs over evil" narrative of horror films (the only other trope in horror being "here's what happens when you poke where you shouldn't / they had it coming", which of course has its own charm too).

    Fortunately the BBFC these days - and, indeed, the Video Standards Council, which helps enforce / oversee its decisions - is a lot more enlightened, and sees itself more in an advisory rather than a censorial role. There's definitely a place for 'adults only' restriction in cinema, but beyon that for the most part I'd rather be sufficiently informed to make up my own mind than have the BBFC do it for me.
     
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  7. Benproof

    Benproof A-List Customer

    Messages:
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    Location:
    England

    Well that would explain why I was always several years behind the latest in film releases. I can't remember ever seeing a movie in cinema before I was 16. Video nasties were something one of the local delinquents, who quickly befriended me (errr..like breeds like? Even though we were not genetically related) was really upz on technology and brought a video nasty over when I was still in school. He told us this new movie was exciting and brilliant and it hadn't been released yet. I had no idea what this meant since I was still busy trying to watch all of Hitchcocks half hour funnies (ok..they weren't always funny but I found them amusing and rich with the sardonic humour like your trope about the you get what you deserve when you stick your finger in it) and we had school the next day (it wasn't even the weekend!) and he brought a film around called "The realm of the senses".

    I had no idea what it was since I was only 12 at the time but to his dismay, he discovered that I was not only clueless, but that my family and I were hopelessly and completely out of touch. We owned only a VHS video recorder/player and his new fangled Betamax video wouldn't work. Lol. He cursed and swore a bit and then decided that we would be better off, going out to puncture a few car tyres with some nails.

    I never got to watch it but I heard from another friend years later, that it was really disturbing so he thought he should go back to pornography.

    It's a real shame. We lost contact and I never got to ask him how he was doing with his Betamax collection :D

    Anyway the moral of this screed is, um, I don't think there is one. My small brain was saved by not having Betamax before puberty to allow snuff films and video nasties to warp me through premature exposure. LoD no more, and paternalism neither, Thank God the UsA had the catholic LOD to support their moral standards however that was the age of paternalism. Now, the modern rampant atheism declares that God the father is dead and we have to fudge through the succeeding moral relativism: moral nihilism and crappy film making when they opt out of censorship, in psychological denial, protest, anger or eternal separation or whatever means of spiritual emptiness excites us (like buying a new leather jacket or winding up random strangers by insisting tweed jackets and jeans go hey ho). The alternative - the fundamentalist nut jobs who censor and proclaim death, boycott or custard pies at offending movies is not much better. Welcome us to our brave new world and its hegemony : /
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2016

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