1. The Hollywood Code in 1934 banned any reference to a long list of subjects, including homosexuality.
The enforcer of the code, Will Hays, stated that that no picture should ever “lower the moral standards of those who see it” and that “the sympathy of the audience shall never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin.”
2. Filmmakers got around the code by marketing their work as ‘public service’ films. One example is the cheap exploitation film, Sex Madness, produced in 1938.
3. The film includes plenty of creepy guys at burlesque shows making faces like this:
4. And of course, warned us all about the horror that is Syphilis.
5. In one scene Peggy attempts to seduce her innocent coworker Betty:
You have to admit, Peggy has smooth moves.
6. Watch the whole scene:
Will Hays’ sudden retirement in 1945 was another blow to the faltering authority of the Production Code Administration. By 1956 the Production Code was revised and weakened, it approved such formerly controversial subjects as miscegenation, abortion, childbirth, and drug addiction. By 1959 any subject except homosexuality could be presented in PCA–approved films.
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