The Reasons Behind the PCA

The Production Code Administration was formed in 1934 for several reasons which had been developing for almost twenty years. Since the Supreme Court ruled in 1915 that films were not governed by the First Amendment, censorship boards had been strenuously cutting and banning films all over the nation; this was very annoying and costly to the filmmakers, since film quality was often greatly compromised by the artless censors. In 1933, the Catholic Church formed the National Legion of Decency, a board which reviewed films, rated them in terms of respectability, and forbade parishioners to see films which it had condemned; Hollywood was extremely alarmed at the prospect of loosing an audience of twenty million American Catholics. That same year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began making preparations for a government censorship board, since everyone agreed that one board must edit films for the whole nation; filmmakers dreaded the idea of government censorship, which they knew was inevitable if they did not do something first. Audiences felt betrayed by the moguls who had adopted the Motion Picture Production Code in 1930 but had ignored it in their filmmaking techniques for five years; concerned citizens who had expected a change after 1930 now realized that the filmmakers had lied about their intentions of making clean films. In 1934, the Depression was at its height, and the shock tactics which Hollywood was using were offending and alienating many audience members; if the Code was effectively enforced, whole families would attend every film. When Hollywood made an amendment to the Code on June 13, 1934 requiring all films to have a seal of approval from the Production Code Administration, it quelled the censorship boards, appeased the Catholic Church, avoided government censorship, gained the audiences’ trust, and increased profits by unbelievable amounts; in short, the Production Code Administration saved Hollywood from the inevitable doom of bankruptcy and dictatorship toward which it was rapidly headed.

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