Ladies and gentlemen, I promised you a new blogathon announcement this week, so now is the time to make good. Keeping with our planned schedule of hosting one blogathon each month, allow us to announce our April blogathon, The Faith in Film Blogathon!
As regular readers of PEPS know, the Motion Picture Production Code was Hollywood law from 1934 to 1954, when Joseph I. Breen was head of the Production Code Administration. The Code forbade the inclusion of profanity, amorous immorality, excessive violence, comedy at the expense of others’ feelings, and blasphemy. At first, filmmakers asked themselves, “What’s left?” They quickly found the answer: wholesome, morally uplifting films which everyone could enjoy. That discovery and its wonderful products are why we love Hollywood’s Golden Age!
Eager to prove their moral regeneration to a reproachful audience as well as the religious Mr. Breen, filmmakers began including faith in their films. What better way to show that they had turned from their sins to righteousness? Priests, nuns, church services, and faithful laymen became common characters in the later 1930s. Just including them wasn’t enough, however. Religion of any kind had to be respected under the Code, and no clergyman could be depicted as a villain or a comedic character. This respect extended beyond Judeo-Christian religion to all other faiths.
Since America was primarily Christian in the early to mid-20th century, most religious moments in Code films are Christian; filmmakers were eager to keep the concentration of Jews behind Hollywood production a secret. When choosing a Christian denomination, they usually chose Catholicism in an attempt to please Mr. Breen, a staunch Catholic, as well as the Catholic Legion of Decency, a powerful body behind the formation of the PCA. Nevertheless, you don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the sincere, simple faith in movies like Going My Way (1945), Boys Town (1938), Angels in the Outfield (1951), San Francisco (1936), and so many more.
I’ve been contemplating this blogathon for a few years. This year, I decided that April was the perfect opportunity to host it, in honor of Easter and Passover. We are hosting it the weekend of Easter, from Good Friday to Easter, April 2-4. For those who are celebrating religious holidays during that weekend, feel free to publish your posts earlier in the week, as I plan to.
The range of possible topics is very broad. Basically, we are allowing any film which has a religious theme, character, or moment. The character doesn’t have to be a member of the cloth; anyone who mentions or shows faith in a higher power is eligible. You don’t have to write about a film which focuses on religion, like Going My Way (1944) or The Song of Bernadette (1943). You can write about an otherwise secular film which features a moving sermon, like Orson Welles’s performance in Moby Dick (1955), or a touching prayer, like Andy Hardy’s tearful plea for his mother’s life in Judge Hardy and Son (1940). The religion doesn’t have to be Christian, either. We included a poster of Al Jolson in rabbi garb from The Jazz Singer (1927) to show that any religion is welcome in this celebration of faith on film.
If you would like to join this celebration of sacred cinema, please scroll down to review the rules:
- There is no limit on duplicates, since we are interested in different opinions.
- Writers can contribute as many articles as they choose.
- If you are interested in joining, please leave a comment below and specify your topic.
- If you want to join this blogathon but don’t have a website, you can still join! Email us your article, and we will publish it here on PEPS for you.
- Please use the beautiful banners below, which Rebekah made, to help us promote this blogathon!
- Don’t forget to include a poster and the link to the roster in your posts!
The Roster so Far:
- Tiffany Brannan of PEPS – Mr. Lucky (1943) and Keys of the Kingdom (1944)
- Neil “The Musical Man” Powell of Thoughts From The Music(al) Man – Ben-Hur (1959)
More Coming Soon!
Keep the faith until April!
Follow us to bring back the Code and save the arts in America!