Today is October 17, 2018. Two years ago, we founded the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. On the day of our founding, we published our first article. It was the research paper written by Rebekah and me on which the whole organization was based, The Production Code of 1930’s Impact on America.
We’ve come a long way in our knowledge of the Code since then. In two years, I also find that my own perspective has changed. Most of the information I had when we wrote the paper was information which Rebekah and I discovered online. I knew what the Code had done, but I knew less about the forces and the men who were behind it. Two years ago, I had never even seen a picture of Joseph Breen or Geoffrey Shurlock. I knew about their work, and I already had some definite opinions about them, which you can see from the essay. However, they were not real people to me. They were just names lying on a page, vague figures from history. You can tell that we were not personally fond of Mr. Breen yet by the way we referred to him. We called him just Breen multiple times. Now, we are sensitive about people calling him by just his last name, since it doesn’t sound friendly or respectful enough. We always call him Joseph Breen, Joe Breen, or Mr. Breen.
We also have adjusted our perspective of the whole equation of the Code in two years. In our original essay, we established the core beliefs of PEPS: that the Breen Era (1934-1954) was the greatest time in Hollywood, that Mr. Breen was responsible for its success, that the Code floundered and decayed during the Shurlock Era (1954-1968), and that Hollywood and society have declined since the replacement of the Code with the rating system in 1968. These beliefs have not changed. However, our ideas about the Code have gotten more specific.
Two years ago, we put more emphasis on societal influences which might have effected the Code’s success. We have done a lot of research through books, archives, online resources, and film-watching since PEPS’s founding, and it has made us adjust our opinions. Now, we see the PCA and its success less as a product of the times. Rather, we think the times are a product of what is happening in Hollywood. In 2016, we believed that society has steadily decayed since the replacement of the Code with the rating system. In 2018, we know a lot more about Joseph I. Breen and Geoffrey Shurlock, the two heads of the PCA. We know that their enforcement of the Code was the primary determiner of what happened with the Code. The Code thrived because Joe Breen enforced it well. The Code died because Geoff Shurlock did not.
A lot of interesting and exciting things have happened with the organization in its two years of existence. Let’s look at some of our milestones.
On March 14, 2017, we published our fourteenth article, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, Singing Sweethearts of the Code! This article, which Rebekah and I wrote together, was the first article we published on PEPS which featured images. It also was our first article to focus on artists from the Code Era instead of just the Code itself or PEPS’s goals. It was the beginning of our study of individual films and actors from the Breen era and beyond. When we realized that we got a better response to this article than to others, we started using pictures in all our articles.
On April 30, 2017, we participated in our first blogathon, The Great Villain Blogathon 2017, hosted by Speakeasy, Shadows and Satin, and Silver Screenings. I participated with an article called “Who is the real villain in ‘The Doorway to Hell’ from 1930?” I joined this blogathon on impulse near its end. Since it was extended, I was able to complete my article. Ruth of Silver Screening helped me with the details of participating in a blogathon, since I didn’t know anything about it. I was pleased by the increase of activity the website experienced because of my participation in this popular blogathon. Because I enjoyed the blogathon experience, I joined several more blogathons right away.
On May 6, 2017, we began a series of articles called “Saturdays of the Future,” which started with Saturdays of the Future: 1. The New Production Code Administration. In all, we have published seven articles in the series. They were all published between May and July 22, 2017. Although we haven’t published an article in this series in over a year, we plan to publish more Saturdays of the Future articles sometime soon.
May of 2017 was the first month in which we published more than five articles. We published twelve articles, five of which were for blogathons. Because of this, the website’s activity greatly increased, with our views triple those in April.
On June 15, 2017, I published the first article in the Breening Thursday series, in which I breened Night World from 1932. I published five of these in all between then and August 11, 2017. I plan to publish more of these articles in the future.
On August 25, I originally announced our first blogathon, then called The Great Breening Fest. On September 7, I published the official announcement, changing the name of the blogathon to The Great Breening Blogathon.
On October 13-16, 2017, we posted daily rosters for The Great Breening Blogathon, celebrating Code cinema and Joseph I. Breen 129th birthday. The four days are Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4. We had a lot of talented participants. We had our all-time high for views on October 14 with 149 views from 31 visitors. Our first blogathon was a great success!
On December 19, 2017, we published the complete roster for The Great Breening Blogathon. At the end of the roster, we made the first announcement of our second blogathon, The Singing Sweethearts Blogathon. The official announcement was published the next day. This blogathon, which was Rebekah’s first, was scheduled for February 12-14, 2018. It was around Valentine’s Day because it was about the famous movie sweethearts, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.
On Christmas Day of 2017, I began my celebration of Code Christmas classics, The Twelve Days of Christmas with the Code. Every day throughout the twelve days of Christmas, I published an article about a Christmas film from the Breen Era. The finale was the Epiphany on the thirteenth day. The fourteenth day was the encore, Russian Christmas, for which I wrote an article about Balalaika from 1939, which was published on January 7, 2018.
On January 19, 2018, we published an announcement about the Joseph Breen Appreciation Society. This is a Facebook club to celebrate the Code and its enforcer. It is run by our Director of Social Media, Promise E. Pope.
On February 12-15, 2018, we hosted The Singing Sweethearts Blogathon. It was a very successful celebration of a talented screen couple. We received a lot of lovely articles from talented writers as part of it.
On May 15, 2018, we founded the sister organization to PEPS, the L. A. (Lost Art) Soprani Sisters. We announced it on PEPS here. It is a singing duo comprised of Rebekah and me. We sing classical songs which represent themes and films from the Golden Age of Hollywood to spread the word about our cause of pure entertainment. Our motto is, “We are raising our voices in classical song to help the sun rise on a new day of pure entertainment!”
The next day, we announced our debut concert as the L. A. Soprani Sisters, The Story of the Code Through Classical Song at Hollywood and Western. This concert, which took place on July 15, celebrated the 84th anniversary of the enforcement of the Production Code. It took place on the fourth floor of the Hollywood and Western Building, in Mr. Breen’s office. Through twenty-one classical songs, we told the story of the Code in its diverse history that spans over ninety years. We accompanied the program with costumes, slides, and my narratives between songs to complete the presentation. We hope to perform the program, which is our signature program, again in the near future.
On June 2, 2018, we announced our appearance on the Bonnie Gilgallon Culture Corner the next day. On June 3, we were guests on this iHub Radio show, on which we sang and talked about PEPS, our endeavors, and our upcoming concert.
On June 18, 2018, I republished an article by Ruth of Silver Screenings. In her original article, Bloggers, Here’s Looking at You, Ruth nominated PEPS for the Film Advocacy Award: “For the Sunshine Blogger Award nomination, and for being passionate about noble qualities in film. (See details of their upcoming concert in Hollywood on July 15!)” We were so grateful for this generous and kind comment and plug for our website and concert. Thank you again, Ruth!
On June 27, 2018, I announced #CleanMovieMonth, our month-long celebration of Code films. We dedicated July to Breen Era films because the initial idea for the Code was suggested by Martin Quigley in July of 1929 and the Code went into effect in July of 1934. To celebrate this, we watched only Breen Era films (1934-1954) and challenged others to do the same. I reviewed a different Breen era film every day in July. I published a recap of all my articles on the last day. Because of #CleanMovieMonth, July of 2018 had the highest views for our website of any month so far, with a total of 1062 views from 506 visitors.
On August 1, 2018, we announced that August was #AMonthWithoutTheCode. As a contrast to July’s #CleanMovieMonth, we abstained from watching any Breen Era films during that month. It really made us appreciate the Breen Era even more, if possible. It was a struggle to not watch Code films for a whole month. I reviewed a few films during that month, and several other writers published articles about their thoughts on #CleanMovieMonth and #AMonthWithoutTheCode during that month. I republished all participating articles on our website.
On September 7, 2018, we began a new series about which we are very excited, The Breen Letters. Of all our recent endeavors with PEPS, this is my favorite. This is a series of articles written by real descendants of Joseph I. Breen. I began to seriously plan it once I heard that Promise Pope had connected with his descendants on Facebook. Ever since then, I have been eager to get into contact with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren myself so that I could talk to them and hear their personal stories and memories. I have spoken with five of Mr. Breen’s grandsons and have exchanged emails with a great-granddaughter. On September 7, the first and, so far, only Breen Letter, Cordially Yours, Jack Benton, was published on our website. Two other descendants have graciously agreed to write letters for me in the near future, and I have leads on two other possible letter authors. Keep checking back for more articles in this fascinating series!
That same day, I announced our membership in The Large Association of Movie Blogs. We are very proud to be member #1933 of this large, exciting group. Since becoming members, we have appeared on two LAMB podcasts. Since I suggested Mickey Rooney for Actor of the Month in September, I was on the Acting School 101 podcast hosted by MovieRob. This was my first podcast, and it was very exciting. You can listen to it here. Then, Rebekah and I were both on a game of Lambpardy, which was hosted by the charming president of the LAMB, Jay Cluitt. We enjoyed being defeated by the reigning champion, “Tank.” You can hear this show here.
On September 27, 2018, I announced our current blogathon, The Second Annual Great Breening Blogathon. This blogathon is very similar to our first blogathon, which we hosted last year. This blogathon is in honor of Joseph Breen’s 130th birthday. We announced it a little late, but we are still enjoying the experience. We just couldn’t let Mr. Breen’s birthday go by without a blogathon to celebrate it! We are hoping that the Great Breening Blogathon is an event which will occur annually for many years!
On October 1, 2018, we launched a new home page for PEPS, which we celebrated with an article. Instead of a list of our recent articles, our homepage is now the home of the Clean Movie Movement. Now, when you type in our URL, you arrive at a home page which discusses who we are and what our organization is an mentions our endeavors and current activities. To see our recent articles, you now go to a separate page entitled Our Articles.
On October 2, 2018, Rebekah announced her second blogathon for PEPS, The Claude Rains Blogathon. This blogathon is scheduled for November 9-11 in honor of Claude Rains’s 129th birthday, which would have been on November 10. This blogathon promises to be very successful, since many people have already signed up. We attribute this to Mr. Rains’s undying charm and enduring popularity. We are excited about this opportunity to honor one of the finest actors of the Breen Era. There is still a lot of time to join. We would love to have more fine writers participate in the blogathon!
On October 12, 2018, The Second Annual Great Breening Blogathon began. On that day, we had our record high of likes for one day with twelve post likes. The blogathon was originally slated to run from October 12-17. However, due to technical difficulties and a few other setbacks, we have extended it through Sunday, October 21. It’s not too late to join! We’ve had some talented participants, and we look forward to receiving more wonderful articles. We have enjoyed writing our articles for this event, too.
Now we are back to the present. During PEPS’s two years of existence, we have had a total of 11,071 views from 5131 visitors. We have published 190 articles. We have 311 followers. Our official Facebook page and Twitter page are managed well by Promise Pope. We are members of the Large Association of Movie Blogs, and we are being considered for membership in the Classic Movie Blog Association. I am looking forward to participating in the many blogathons which I have joined for the next few months, which I mentioned here.
I want to thank all our readers and followers. I have really enjoyed the two years of PEPS’s existence. I have learned a lot, written a lot, participated in many enjoyable events, and met many nice people. I look forward to participating in more events and making even more friends in the future. Rebekah and I are always excited to participate in other people’s events, so please invite us to any upcoming activities you are hosting!
Here’s to another great year for the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Thank you to all my devoted readers who have made the website a success. I hope that this year will bring even greater success for PEPS. We won’t stop until Joseph I. Breen and the Code are known, understood, and appreciated by film fans everywhere!
Follow us to bring back the Code and save the arts in America!
Only the Code can make the sun rise on a new day of pure entertainment!