EXTRA: “The Great Breening Blogathon!”

 

 

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society is now making the official announcement of our very first blogathon, the Great Breening Blogathon! It is centered around October 14, which is the 129th birthday of Joseph I. Breen, the head of the Production Code Administration. We like to think of him as the man who made the Golden Era golden. To celebrate his birthday, join us in the blogathon!

The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 was a guiding light for Hollywood between 1934 and 1954, when Mr. Breen strictly enforced it. It was a strong presence in every film made during the Golden Era, yet it is infrequently mentioned by most old film lovers. Many people think it was a bottleneck in the progress of the cinema and an infringement of First Amendment rights. However, how can anyone who loves Old Hollywood criticize the very thing that made it what it was? In this blogathon, we are going to specifically focus on the Code and Joseph Breen’s enforcement of it. Variety called it breening, and that’s why we have named this blogathon “The Great Breening Blogathon!”

How can you participate? There are lots of ways! First, you can try breening a film yourself! Here is my article on how to breen. If you would like to see an example of how to breen a movie, you can read the biweekly articles in which I have breened various films. I have breened Night World from 1932 (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/breening-thursday-1-night-world-from-1932/), High Society from 1956 (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/06/29/breening-thursdays-2-high-society-from-1956/), Flying Down to Rio from 1933 (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/breening-thursdays-3-flying-down-to-rio-from-1933/), You Can’t Run Away From It from 1956 (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/breening-thursdays-4-you-cant-run-away-from-it-from-1956/), and It Happened to Jane from 1959 (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/08/11/breening-thursday-5-it-happened-to-jane-from-1959/).

If you would like to learn from the master himself, you can look at the original PCA files here: http://digitalcollections.oscars.org/cdm/search/collection/p15759coll30. Also, if you want to refer to the actual Code, here are two different versions of it: https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/the-original-motion-picture-production-code-of-1930/ and https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/the-motion-picture-production-code-with-its-revisions/.

What films are eligible for breening? Any film released before July 15, 1934, and any film released between 1955 and 1968 is eligible. We are also allowing Disney films from 1968 through the early 1970s. Choose a film and write about how it could be changed to be worthy of a seal from the Production Code Administration under Mr. Breen. Breening is an interesting endeavor, since it makes you really think about plot structure, characterization, and the importance of individual jokes or lines. Have you ever really liked a film but found that you were embarrassed to watch it with someone because of unnecessary, risque elements? Perhaps you also had the unpleasant experience of being a child and not being allowed to see a film because it contained some inappropriate material. The PCA’s self-regulation prevented the exclusion in these two circumstances. Everyone could see top-quality entertainment with no ratings, warnings, or classifications. Breening made and would make all films good for everyone!

In the second category of this blogathon, I am inviting the participants to play filmmaker! Have you ever read a book, a short story, or a poem and found yourself automatically imagining classic actors in the primary roles? Have you ever read about or seen some theatrical work which you can imagine being a marvelous film from the Golden Era? This is your chance to show what a marvelous filmmaker you would be! Write an article about an idea you have for a classic film. It can come from literature, an opera, a ballet, a play, a myth, a legend, history, or right out of your own head. I don’t care if it already has been made into one or many films. I want to hear your take on it. You may or may not mention a cast list or release year. That is not essential. It doesn’t even matter if the work was written after 1954. The important thing is that it conforms to the Code in terms of content, not dates. Just remember that this is a breening blogathon. Be sure to mention why your idea would be a good Code film or how it could be changed to be a Code film.

The third category is a tribute to anything relating to the Code, the Production Code Administration, or Joseph Breen. You could discuss Mr. Breen’s early days as a newspaperman. You could discuss his friendships with famous Hollywood folk like James Cagney and Frank Morgan. You could analyze the Code’s influence on television. You could discuss Mr. Breen’s influence on the famous ending of Casablanca from 1942. You could write about the long process of compromise regarding the production of the epic Gone With the Wind from 1939. There are endless possibilities.

For breened films and new film ideas, I would appreciate it if you could submit them to me by the early part of October. I am going to carefully read and review each one. Each successfully breened film or good new idea will be given a PEPS seal of approval! The most important thing in Code films is that audiences know throughout “that evil is wrong and good is right,” to quote the Code. Sin and wrongdoing may be depicted, but they must never be attractive, justified, or unpunished. The most important thing in breening is to include “compensating moral values.” Many a difficult film was passed by Mr. Breen because it included compensating moral values.

Regarding duplicates, I only ask that no two people breen the same film. After all, you can only breen a film so much!

Here are the banners for the blogathon. In each of the first four, we are putting a spin on the traditional CENSORED banner by spreading a BREENED banner across each picture. This is to show that breening is self-regulation, not odious censorship. Please use them to advertise for the blogathon on your column and on social media. As I said before, this is my first blogathon; I hope you will help make it a success.

If you want to breen a silent film, use the following banner, which shows Greta Garbo and Lew Ayres in The Kiss from 1929.

The Great Breening Blogathon Silent

If you want to breen a pre-Code film, use the following banner, which shows James Cagney and Mae Clarke in Lady Killer from 1933.

The Great Breening Blogathon Pre-Code

If you want to breen a Shurlock era film (between 1955 and 1968), use the following banner, which shows Doris Day and John Raitt in The Pajama Game from 1957. The Great Breening Blogathon Shurlock

If you want to breen a Disney film from the late 1960s or early 1970s, use the following banner, which shows Dick Van Dyke and Joanna Moore in Never a Dull Moment from 1968. The Great Breening Blogathon Disney

If you want to write about your own idea for a movie, which may come from an opera, a ballet, a play, literature, or your own imagination, use the following banner, which shows Barbara Stanwyck contemplating what stories would make good Code films.

The Great Breening Blogathon Ideas

If you want to write a tribute to the Code era, use the following banner, which shows Joseph I. Breen in a picture extracted from a 1934 newsreel about the Production Code Administration.

The Great Breening Blogathon 5

If you have any questions or need suggestions, please comment on this article. I will be happy to help in any way I can. PEPS needs your support. Please become a follower to participate. Thank you very much. You don’t have to have a blog to participate. If you don’t have one, you can send your article to me by email, and I will post it for you. Let the breening begin!

THE ROSTER SO FAR

Part 1- Breening Films

  1. Eric Binford for Diary of a Movie Maniac White Zombie from 1932
  2. Crystal Kalyana for In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood Flesh and the Devil from 1926 and Grand Hotel from 1932
  3. Jenni for Portraits by JenniBen-Hur: A Tale of the Christ from 1925 vs. Ben-Hur from 1959
  4. Katrina Morrison for Life’s Daily Lessons – All Quiet on the Western Front
    from 1930
  5. Promise E. PopeFootlight Parade from 1933
  6. Beth Daniels for Mildred’s FatburgersNight Nurse from 1931
  7. Moody MoppetThe Black Cat from 1934
  8. James Brannan for PEPS The Tender Trap from 1955
  9. Teresa Brannan for PEPS The Pleasure of His Company from 1961

Part 2 – Code Film Ideas

  1. Rebekah Brannan for PEPSRing of Love, original idea for 1940
  2. Tiffany Brannan for PEPS Twinkling Stars, original idea for 1937
  3. Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan for PEPS – Mean to Me, original movie idea based on Ruth Etting’s life for 1939
  4. Christina WehnerThe Lord of the Rings, If Warner Bros Made It in the 1930s-40s

Part 3 – Tributes to the Code Era

  1. Tiffany Brannan for PEPS Joseph I. Breen, America’s Moral Guardian
  2. William FerryDodsworth from 1936
  3. Katherine for In the Vintage KitchenJoseph Breen and Casablanca from 1942
  4. Amanda Garrett for Old Hollywood Films – Clergy and Religion Under the Code
  5. Rebecca Deniston for Taking Up RoomThe More the Merrier from 1943
  6. David Cairns for ShadowplayThe Don’ts and The Be Carefuls
  7. Annette Bochenek for Hometowns to HollywoodPhiladelphia, Joseph Breen’s Hometown
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52 thoughts on “EXTRA: “The Great Breening Blogathon!”

  1. Pingback: “Holiday” from 1938, The Pathway to PEPS | pure entertainment preservation society

    • Dear Beth,

      You needn’t apologize. Many authors, including myself, were unable to finish all their articles over the weekend, so I am going to do the final, complete roster later in the week. I will put you in the roster which I will publish later today. I really liked your article. It was swell! You did an extremely effective breening. I’m very impressed. I will elaborate on my thoughts in the roster for today, to which I will send you the link later.

      Yours Hopefully,

      Tiffany Brannan

      Like

  2. Tiffany, thank you for the reminder about the blogathon, but I had forgotten to make note of it and didn’t write a piece! I would have liked to have written about the code’s effect on television in the 1950s, comparing it to the immorality that was pretty widespread in films in the 1920s. Shucks. I’m sorry to back out. But please keep my sister and me in mind for any future blogathons!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Constance,

      I didn’t know your first name before. Constance Rose is lovely! I understand about getting busy. If you should decide that want to write the article for which you had an idea in the future, I would be more than happy to link to it from my website. Good luck!

      Yours Hopefully,

      Tiffany Brannan

      Like

  3. Pingback: The Sunday Intertitle: The Be Carefuls | shadowplay

  4. Pingback: The Don’ts | shadowplay

    • Dear Annette,

      Thank you so much for joining! This is indeed an unexpected pleasure. I read your article, and it is very interesting and informative. I appreciate the excellent writing and the time which you dedicated to this event. You will be featured on the roster today.

      By the way, where did you find the information about his residences? I have studied a lot about his life, and I have never encountered this information. Of course, I understand if you want to protect your “trade secrets.” If you would be willing to share your references, however, I would be very grateful.

      Yours Hopefully,

      Tiffany Brannan

      Like

  5. Pingback: Joseph Breen | Hometowns to Hollywood

  6. This is a really fun and creative idea! I’d like to write about what the code means to me as a Catholic and a fan of classic movies, looking at it from both sides, if that makes sense. And I might have a topic for breening a film.

    Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Simoa,

      That sounds wonderful! I was hoping you would write something about the Code’s Catholic background. I’ll put you on the roster. Thank you for becoming a follower and supporting me. I really appreciate it. I know that if you decide to breen a film, you will choose an interesting film.

      A few months ago, I nominated you for a Liebster award, but I never heard from you. You must not have received my comment. In that article, I also invited you to co-host a blogathon with me in September. Obviously, I didn’t hold that blogathon, since I decided to just focus on the Great Breening Blogathon. However, if you are interested in co-hosting a blogathon with me in the future, I would still love to. Here is the article: https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/awards-and-blogathons/.

      Thank you again for joining. I know we are going to be great friends!

      Yours Hopefully,

      Tiffany Brannan

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: June Allyson as Ellie Andrews in “You Can’t Run Away from It” from 1956 | pure entertainment preservation society

  8. Pingback: “Texas, Brooklyn, and Heaven:” A Charming Snippet of 1948 | pure entertainment preservation society

  9. Dear Fanny,

    I received your email. I love your suggestion of me breening “Footlight Parade!” You know that that’s one of my favorite pre-Code films. Please put me on the roster for that. I may write something else too if I am seized my sudden inspiration. Good luck with the blogathon, dear!

    Yours for Glamour,

    Pep

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: In Old San Francisco – Taking Up Room

  11. Pingback: James Cagney and Doris Day, The Perfect Couple That Never Got Together | pure entertainment preservation society

  12. Pingback: How to Breen! | pure entertainment preservation society

  13. My Dear Fanny,

    I have been busy promoting the Breenathon, but I haven’t mentioned my own participation! I haven’t decided what I want to do yet, but I will think of something marvelous very soon. Please put me on the roster as to be announced. I will have to email you my articles, which you can post on your column.

    Good luck with the blogathon, dear! I will keep promoting on social media. And dear readers, why are you being so shy? Join the Breenathon, for pity’s sake! You will adore the challenge. Tiffany’s topic is simply too unique for words!

    Yours for Glamour,

    Promise E. Pope

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Pep,

      Thank you for joining! I was hoping you would join, but I never actually invited you, did I? I suppose it wasn’t necessary, since you are a member of the PEPS team. I will put you on the roster. If you need any suggestions, although I doubt you do, I would be happy to give you some.

      Yours Hopefully,

      Fanny (Tiffany Brannan)

      Like

  14. Pingback: Ice Cream Sodas and Soda Jerks at the Egyptian Theatre | pure entertainment preservation society

    • Dear Amanda,

      Thank you so much for your interest in the blogathon. You have chosen a marvelous topic. I look forward to reading what you write about it. I always have been fascinated with this topic, since Joseph Breen, as a devout Catholic, was very careful about not offending religious people. Also, priests often provided “compensating moral values” in films like “Angels with Dirty Faces.” In conclusion, I am thrilled with your choice. Thank you so much for joining. I will put you on the roster.

      Yours Hopefully,

      Tiffany Brannan

      Like

  15. Pingback: The Unpopular Opinion Film Tag: Three Films Which Make Me Tired | pure entertainment preservation society

  16. Hi Tiffany. I’m thinking of doing three posts for the blogathon, but I’m still deciding what topics. I know it will be a film with Greta Garbo. I also want to do a silent film too. I’m just not sure on the exact topics yet.

    Also, my friend and I are co-hosting a blogathon. I’d love to invite you to participate. Here is the link below with more details.

    https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2017/09/11/announcing-the-joan-fontaine-centenary-blogathon/

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi, James. I appreciate the fact that you liked my post on The Desert Song, but a further look at my blog would show that one of mu heroes is Mae West, so I’m not really a supporter of Mr. Breen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Am I wrong to take this site as playing with the Code ideas and not truly championing Breen? He was a dastardly antisemite with many offensive other prejudices and a little caesar complex. I’m assuming no one here actually things Breen was a good man, more that his efforts unintentionally resulted in some great films and delightful double-entendres. If I’m wrong, please let me know, as I don’t ever want to suggest that I respect Breen or his office’s efforts!

      Like

      • Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment and read my articles. I am sorry that I did not make my organization’s position clear. We take the Code very seriously; our goal is not only to praise the Code era but to bring the Code back to current Hollywood. As for Joseph Breen, we revere him as a fine man. Of course, you have every right to hold any opinion about films and filmmakers you choose. However, I feel that I must defend Joseph Breen’s character, since there is so much false information about him.

        Firstly, Joseph Breen was not anti-Semitic. In the 1930s, he wrote a few personal letters to very close friends in which he angrily denounced the greedy, immoral techniques the Hollywood moguls used to make profits. In these letters, he referred to filmmakers as “these Jews.” However, this was standard practice for the day. I don’t deny the fact that he was very angry when he wrote these few letters. He did not intend to insult the entire Jewish race, however. He only was angry with the filmmakers, who happened to be Jews. I admit that he was unwisely harsh in his wording toward the moguls. That was not his usual manner. He was not a hateful man. He was usually patient, compassionate, and diplomatic. These letters were written in 1932. I implore you to consider his situation at the time. He had been hired to work as Will Hays’s assistant in Hollywood in 1931. He had moved out to California with his wife and six children, hoping to make great change and help enforce the Code, which had been ineffectually in place for a year. After a year in Hollywood, films were worse than ever, and victory seemed impossible. He became discouraged, frustrated, and angry with the filmmakers who had promised to enforce the Code but didn’t even try to do so. I think his feelings were normal and understandable. In the 1920s, he wrote some pieces for a Catholic paper in which he praised the Jews for their care for their own and for the education which they enable their children to have. He spoke of them in a complimentary way. In the late 1930s, he lent his support and financial assistant to leagues which were against antisemitism and Nazism. He was not usually involved in politics, but he made some public statements against antisemitism. Although he was aware of public relations, he would never have supported something with which he didn’t agree. I know that he never hated the Jewish race. After the Code began to be enforced in 1934, Mr. Breen became friendly toward the moguls. Contrary to popular belief, most filmmakers liked him a lot and considered him to be their friend, which he really was. He did not just enjoy exercising control over films. He wanted to protect American audiences from obscene content and to protect filmmakers from censorship.

        You wrote that Mr. Breen had “a little caesar complex;” I am not sure exactly what you mean by this. I assume that you mean he wanted to conquer the world like Julius Caesar, not that he had epilepsy. Did you perhaps mean that he was like Edward G. Robinson’s character in “Little Caesar?”

        If you would still like to participate in the blogathon, knowing what it really represents, you are more than welcome. If you no longer want to participate, I understand, and I respect your wishes. If you also want to unfollow PEPS, I understand that as well. I hope that you will find it in your heart to give Joseph Breen another chance. He really wasn’t the villain people imagine him to be. Even if you don’t participate, I hope you will read the articles which are written during “The Great Breening Blogathon.” Perhaps you would change your mind about Mr. Breen if you knew a little bit more about him. Whatever your decisions on this subject, I thank you for taking the trouble to respond and for reading my articles. I hope to hear from you soon.

        Yours Hopefully,

        Tiffany Brannan

        Like

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