July is drawing near its end, and with it, #CleanMovieMonth2020. This annual celebration of the American Breen Era (1934-1954) is always followed by its opposite month, #AMonthWithoutTheCode. This is the third August in a row during which we are hosting this month-long event. While we dedicate July to exclusively watching, studying, and reviewing American Breen Era (1934-1954) films, in August we do the opposite by avoiding Code films. During this month, we forbid ourselves to watch any Code films, instead immersing ourselves in un-Code films, the movies made in different eras and foreign countries. While a real challenge to us Code-lovers here at PEPS, it is a very enlightening and informative experiment which makes us appreciate the Code years even more through missing them.
We chose August as our month for abstinence from Code films for two reasons. Firstly, it conveniently follows July, #CleanMovieMonth, so there is a dramatic contrast between the two months for faithful participants. In July, one becomes completely immersed in Code films, and in August, one is completely separated from the era of clean movies, instead plunged into the polar opposite of un-Code films. It is like the blanching process of boiling something before plunging it into ice water. The second reason we chose August is that it is Geoffrey Shurlock‘s birth month. While we have identified five different un-Code Eras in filmmaking, the Shurlock Era (1955-1968) is the most fascinating. It is so named because those fourteen years were the time when the Production Code Administration enforced the Code under the direction of Geoffrey Shurlock after Joseph Breen’s retirement. Under the former second-in-command’s feeble leadership, the Code decayed and died, eventually being replaced with the Rating System. For the third year in a row, we invite other writers to join our study of films which lacked the benefit of self-regulation.
Like #CleanMovieMonth, we celebrate #AMonthWithoutTheCode a little differently every year. Since this July was #CleanMovieMonth2020, August is going to be #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020. I usually publish very few articles during August, unlike July, in which I try to publish every day. This August is going to be different. As I published twenty reviews of new Code films during July, I am going to publish twenty reviews of un-Code films during August. These will be very short reviews, similar to the twelve extra articles I am writing for #CleanMovieMonth2020. They may or may not be reviews of films I am seeing for the first time. Although some will be “new” film reviews, the others will be reviews of films I have seen before but never reviewed on PEPS. These articles will focus on how the movies in question relate to the Code. I will list how they are Code-compliant and how they are not to show how films were different during different non-Code eras.
During August, we are suspending our Film Fashion Friday articles. However, the Breening Thursday series, which we replaced with Code Concepts articles during July, will be back with a vengeance! I will be publishing a new Breening Thursday article each week in August. These articles will count toward the twenty films I review in all. Any other articles published will relate to un-Code films. The only exception to this rule will be my customary 100 New Code Films articles. I will still be publishing two reviews of new Code films per week in that series, which is necessary to stay on my schedule of reviewing 100 new Code films in all. Last year, I had to make a few exceptions to my ban on Code films to watch four new Code films to review in 52 Code Films. This year, however, I decided to watch extra new Code films in July so that I would already have seen all my topics for August. Thus, I will just review these films when the time comes, but I will stick to my vow to avoid watching any Breen Era films.
If you want to participate in #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020, please join us! We would love if you could join us in reviewing twenty un-Code films, but you can participate as much or as little as you want. Even one themed article would be a wonderful contribution to this experiment about avoiding Code cinema. All contributing articles will be republished on our website. To find out how you can join this celebration, read the following guidelines:
- Try to avoid watching any Code films. Remember, these are only American films which were released between July of 1934 and 1954. Foreign films, such as British films, from this time period do not count as Code films, even if they were later released in America with a PCA Seal of Approval; thus, they count as un-Code films and qualify for this event.
- Just to clarify, there are five un-Code eras, the Silent Era (silent films from any country, usually made before 1930), the Pre-Code Era (sound films originally released before July, 1934, which don’t have PCA Seals of Approval), the Foreign Era (movies released during the Breen Era [July 1934-1954] which were not made in America), the Shurlock Era (films released 1955-November 1968, during the waning days of the PCA but before the Rating System was formed), and the Rating System Era (films originally released during the Classification and Rating Administration’s existence [November 1968-present]).
- If you can’t completely avoid Code films, that’s alright! You can venture into those twenty years if you have previous commitments to review Breen Era movies or if you have a simple hankering for your Code favorites! The purpose of this series is just to focus on un-Code films in their state of being un-Code.
- Even if you don’t stay completely outside the Breen Era, watch un-Code films mindfully. When you are watching an un-Code movie, whether for the first time or the tenth, notice how it is different from movies self-regulated by the Breen PCA. Ask yourself how it violates the Code’s standard of decency, as we do in our Breening Thursday articles. You may enjoy a little breening yourself! (See our How to Breen article for more instructions.)
- Review the un-Code films you watch during the month, including links to this page and using the #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020 banner. We will republish all participating articles here on PEPS!
- Try to reach our goal of reviewing twenty un-Code films during the month! They don’t all have to be new movies. You can rewatch your old favorites with a self-regulating perspective for this event. You can combine reviews of multiple films in one articles. By doing overviews, you could review twenty un-Code films in only five articles.
- Use the hashtag #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020 and our banner to spread the word about this event. It is very important to study and understand what makes Code films special by noticing how different other films are.
Please join #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020 today!
Follow us to bring back the Code and save the arts in America!