Turner Classic Movies Explores Pre-Code Hollywood with Primetime Marathon Five Pre-Code Classics and an All-New Documentary Fill Out March 3 Marathon, Presented in Conjunction with the DVD Release of Warner Home Video’s TCM Archives: Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume 2
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is heading back in time to the heyday of pre-Production Code Hollywood, when filmmakers were able to push the boundaries of the morality of the day. In conjunction with the March 4 DVD release of TCM Archives: Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume 2 from Warner Home Video, TCM is presenting an all-night marathon of pre-Code classics, along with an all-new documentary entitled Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood.
TCM’s Forbidden Hollywood marathon kicks of Monday, March 3, at 8 p.m. (ET) with The Divorcee (1930), starring Norma Shearer in an Oscar®-winning performance. The night continues with the premiere of Thou Shalt Not, followed by Night Nurse (1931), starring Barbara Stanwyck; Three on a Match (1932), with Bette Davis; Female (1933), starring Ruth Chatterton; and A Free Soul (1931), starring Oscar-winner Lionel Barrymore. All of the films in the marathon and DVD set have been digitally re-mastered from newly restored film elements. TCM will present them uncut and commercial free.
Film industry censorship began in 1922, following a trio of scandals that rocked Hollywood: the Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle rape/murder trial, the never-solved murder of director William Desmond Taylor and the drug-related death of matinee idol Wallace Reid. In 1930, a new version of the Production Code was drafted to standardize the censorship requirements of various states, since the inception of talking films made it difficult to arbitrarily cut offending scenes.
For the first several years, the studios merely paid lip-service to the Code, since they were more interested in finding ways to lure dwindling Depression-era audiences into theatres. During this time, many films allowed for extraordinary frankness, including nudity, adultery, premarital sex and prostitution.
The Pre-Code era kicked off with the 1929 release of The Divorcee. The phenomenal critical and financial success of the picture led other studios to try topping it, and soon almost every actress in Hollywood was required to sin and repent. The sensational series of films that emerged helped Hollywood survive its economic crisis and moviegoers enjoy the vicarious thrills the films provided.
The era came to an abrupt close beginning July 1, 1934, when Catholic watchdog groups threatened boycotts of all films and the Church established the Legion of Decency to monitor movies. Studio heads bowed to the pressure and the era of censorship began, lasting until the establishment of the industry’s rating system in 1968.
Turner Classic Movies, currently seen in more than 75 million homes, is a 24-hour cable network from Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company. TCM presents the greatest motion pictures of all time from the largest film library in the world, the combined Time Warner and Turner film libraries, from the 1920s through the 1990s, uncut and commercial-free. The network also offers critically acclaimed original documentaries and specials, including the Martin Scorsese Presents: Val Lewton—The Man in the Shadows, the Emmy®-winning Stardust: The Bette Davis Story and the Emmy-nominated Brando. More information is available at tcm.com.