Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Watch us on Youtube Join the Archive Mailing List Read our Blog

UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program present

Forbidden Hollywood: When Sin Ruled the Movies

The Sign of the Cross
April 26, 2019
author Mark A. Vieira.

What do we talk about when we talk about pre-Code? Unlike the western or the musical, argues author Mark A. Vieira, pre-Code as a category is a retrospective discovery, like film noir or screwball comedy. However, unlike noir or screwball, pre-Code only lasted for four years. What was the Code? And what was “forbidden”? In his new book, Forbidden Hollywood: The Pre-Code Era (1930-1934): When Sin Ruled the Movies, Vieira chronologically charts the advent and integration of sound into motion pictures, and the titillating frankness the “talkies” inspired, through to the days just before nationwide censorship was finally enforced thanks to pressure from grassroots moralist movements countrywide.

From the “Don’ts and Be Carefuls,” a set of guidelines that was the initial, internal attempt to police moving pictures, to the frustrated rallying cries to “purify Hollywood or destroy Hollywood!” from middle America, Vieira works to shed a keen light on the best offerings of this four-year period. Witness the time in which studios packed as much sin, sex, scandal and salaciousness into the talkies as they could possibly muster, from the twilight of the Roaring Twenties, to July 1, 1934, the day the Code officially went into effect. Vieira and the Archive have selected two films from this period that best highlight the subject matter and themes most targeted by censors, including a scandalous bathtub scene in Cecil B. DeMille’s Sign of the Cross (1932), and the matter-of-fact homosexual relationships in John Stahl’s Only Yesterday (1933). The struggle for power examined in Vieira’s new book is illustrated through striking images and accompanying text that helps identify some of the lost or forgotten gems from this no-holds-barred period of moviemaking. Author Mark A. Vieira will be on hand to sign copies of his new book before the night’s double feature.

Past Programs & Events

Title Date and Time Location
The Sign of the Cross

The Sign of the Cross  /  Only Yesterday

Friday, April 26, 2019 - 7:30 pm Billy Wilder Theater