Today is the second day of PEPS’s first blogathon, “The Great Breening Blogathon!” This is the most important day of our Breenathon, since it is Joseph Breen’s 129th birthday. Happy Birthday, Joseph Breen! We are celebrating his birthday with another day of marvelous articles analyzing the Code, describing the Code era, and praising Mr. Breen himself.
Our participants are giving us some interesting and diverse opinions on our subjects. We of PEPS are celebrating his life on the weekend of his birthday because we consider him to be for Hollywood what George Washington was for the United States of America. He was the first enforcer of the Code as President Washington was the first enforcer of the Constitution. Now that’s enough of my opinions about him. I will let you read what all of our wonderful participants have contributed. Here is the roster:
Part 1 – Breening Films
This article is an intelligent analysis of what makes this underrated pre-Code horror film a pre-Code film. The authoress mentioned the interesting fact that this film was released only two months before Mr. Breen began to really enforce the Code. As a matter of fact, Joseph was the head of the SRC at the time, so that means that he reviewed the film, even though he didn’t have the power to demand changes. We didn’t find this movie to be very violent or particularly disturbing, but we are sure it could be very disturbing to some people. The only real surface problems are the dead female bodies which are preserved, the fact that Boris Karloff and his wife are in the same bed, and especially the torture which Bela Lugosi begins to inflict on him. That was the only part that made us cringe. As Moody Moppet rightly pointed out, though, there are deeper, lurking elements of the plot which probably would prevent it from ever being a truly Seal-worthy film. Her excellent, intelligent analysis of this movies has earned her a PEPS Seal of Approval. (All PEPS Seals may be reproduced on the receiver’s website with our blessing.)
Breening “The Tender Trap” from 1955 by James Brannan for PEPS
In his first article for PEPS, president James Brannan breens an excellent musical from the early Shurlock era, The Tender Trap. In his analysis, he praises the film’s merits while analyzing its unnecessarily risque elements. Don’t miss this brilliant article by the Joe Breen of the twenty-first century!
Part 2 – Code Films Ideas
We don’t have any articles in this category so far.
Part 3 – Tributes to the Code Era
Joseph I. Breen: America’s Moral Guardian by Tiffany Brannan for PEPS
This is my birthday tribute to Mr. Breen. In it, I explained my personal feelings about him. I also strove to disprove the most common falsehoods which are believed about him. I hope that all the participants will read this article, since I tried to explain his real character in it.
David Cairns joined this blogathon with the agreement that he would provide a contrasting opinion about the Code and its era. In his article, he discussed the eleven “Don’ts” from the 1927 list of “Don’ts and Be Carefuls.” This list was compiled by the moguls with help from Will Hays, unlike the Code, which was written by Martin Quigley and Father Daniel Lord in 1929. Mr. Cairns partially agreed with the rule forbidding profanity, but he thought that it doesn’t hurt anyone and said that even the Bible does not clearly forbid vulgarity, only taking the Lord’s name in vain; we must correct him on this point by quoting Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.” While he is entitled to his belief that undressed forms can be pleasant to see, we feel that no motion picture is improved by the inclusion of nakedness; it merely produces lustful thoughts and limits the audience. Regarding the ban on presenting the illegal drug traffic, the idea behind this is that any reference to or depiction of drugs can produce morbid curiosity in immature minds; as proof, we refer to “The Man with the Twisted Lip,” a Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle in which a college student samples opium after reading Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater and is addicted to it for the rest of his life. Regarding perversion, the normal facts of life are not included in this; in this instance, as in the Code, perversion means any abnormal amorous relationship, not the normal biological reaction between a man and a woman, whether it is proper or not. Regarding white slavery, it is a generally filthy subject which was considered too vile to be depicted to the general masses; Mr. Cairns compared white slavery to black slavery, wondering while the former was forbidden but the latter wasn’t. While black slavery was a terrible situation, it was a dreadful reality of history; whenever slaves were depicted in Code films, they seemed basically like servants, and the horrendous acts of many slave owners were never depicted. Regarding hygiene, specific diseases, childbirth, and children’s intimate organs, they are not considered to be necessarily evil; it just is not proper to depict or show these things. While the Don’ts just said that the clergy could not be ridiculed, the Code said a film should not throw ridicule on any religious faith, that ministers should not be villains or comical characters, and that religious ceremonies should be respectfully depicted; this does not mean that individual characters in a film may not ridicule a religion. The idea is just that any religion depicted, not just Christianity, should be respectfully and fairly depicted by the general film, not the characters in it. The Dont’s forbade wilful offense to any nation, race, or creed, but the Code said that the history, institutions, prominent people, and citizenry of other nations must be represented fairly; this is more clear and better stated than the phrase in the Don’ts. I’m sure that most people will agree that it is a good idea to try to not offend others; in my opinion, Mr. Breen did a fine job of eliminating pre-Code stereotypes and jokes about nationalities and races. Of course, we want to be clear that we meant no criticism by this detailed response to Mr. Cairns’s very intellectual and detailed article. We greatly enjoyed reading his opposing view, but we felt compelled to give our response. We encourage all our participants to read his full article and consider his opinions on the Don’ts and the Code. We hope that Mr. Cairns will write articles about the Be Carefuls and the Code itself in the future, as he hinted that he might. We would be happy to link to them on our website. We thank him for his perceptive analysis and especially for participating in this blogathon even though he doesn’t agree with the Code. We would also like to thank him for refraining from insulting Mr. Breen personally. We encourage Mr. Cairns to respond to our thoughts on his article.
Rebecca Deniston wrote a very entertaining article about The More The Merrier from 1943. I have seen its Shurlock era remake, Walk Don’t Run, but I have never seen this original. It sounds very similar in its scenario despite the very different setting. We commend her for her intelligent analysis of the Code’s influence on this film. It is interesting to ponder the films which were made under the Code as well as ones which were not. This is a well-written and enjoyable article analyzing a wartime Code film.
We will continue to add articles as they come in during the rest of the day. Come back tomorrow to see more fascinating articles. By the way, it is never to late to join the fun yourself! Let’s make this celebration for Joe Breen’s birthday a huge success!
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