Filled with rare images and untold stories from filmmakers, exhibitors, and moviegoers, Forbidden Hollywood is the ultimate guide to a gloriously entertaining era when a lax code of censorship let sin rule the movies.
Forbidden Hollywood is a history of "pre-Code" like none other: you will eavesdrop on production conferences, read nervous telegrams from executives to censors, and hear Americans argue about "immoral" movies. You will see decisions artfully wrought, so as to fool some of the people long enough to get films into theaters. You will read what theater managers thought of such craftiness, and hear from fans as they applauded creativity or condemned crassness. You will see how these films caused a grass-roots movement to gain control of Hollywood-and why they were "forbidden" for fifty years.
The book spotlights the twenty-two films that led to the strict new Code of 1934, including Red-Headed Woman, Call Her Savage, and She Done Him Wrong. You'll see Paul Muni shoot a path to power in the original Scarface; Barbara Stanwyck climb the corporate ladder on her own terms in Baby Face; and misfits seek revenge in Freaks.
More than 200 newly restored (and some never-before-published) photographs illustrate pivotal moments in the careers of Clara Bow, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, and Greta Garbo; and the pre-Code stardom of Claudette Colbert, Cary Grant, Marlene Dietrich, James Cagney, and Mae West. This is the definitive portrait of an unforgettable era in filmmaking.
In this informative, intelligent, and delightfully scandal-filled account, film historian Vieira takes as his topic the era between 1927 when the film industry created the production code, a self-censorship standard and the summer of 1934, when it came into full force. From the stratospheric body count of1932's Scarface to the overt sexuality of 1933's She Done Him Wrong, Vieira reveals a wide range of then-shocking material in early Depression-era cinema. He puts the lie to the most common misconception about the so-called pre-code era: that there was no film censorship at all during this time. Instead, he reveals an era of weak and ineffective code enforcement, with the studios raking in profits from risqu hits like 1929's The Cock-Eyed World, until a religious backlash forced the studio heads to practically beg for the code to be enforced. Vieira further illuminates this story through hundreds of pristinely reproduced photographs, including of Boris Karloff conducting a Black Mass in The Black Cat, a cross-dressing Marlene Dietrich in Morocco, and Busby Berkeley's "vista of showgirls" in Footlight Parade. Illuminating an integral part of movie history often seen through soft-focus and murky lighting, this clearly written survey deserves a spot both on film scholars' book shelves and movie buffs' coffee tables.