Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Forbidden Hollywood by Mark A. Vieira

Forbidden Hollywood
The Pre-Code Era (1930-1934)
When Sin Ruled the Movies
by Mark A. Vieira
TCM and Running Press
Hardcover ISBN: 9780762466771
April 2019
252 pages

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"Pre-Code refers to the four-year period before the Production Code was strengthened and enforced. There had been a Code since 1930, but the studios negotiated with it, bypassed it, or just plain ignored it." - Mark A. Vieira

For true classic movie fans, it's not enough to just watch our favorite films. We need to extend the experience. We watch, research, learn, share, repeat. We relish the details. One of the reasons I love classic film books is that they provide me with context on why these films were made. They help me understand how movies were influenced by politics, culture, social mores, industry trends and the lives and careers of the key players involved.

Mark A. Vieira's new book Forbidden Hollywood does just that for the Pre-Code era. It provides the context needed to fully appreciate what made 1930-1934 a unique period in film history. Movies were an increasingly popular form of entertainment and with the threat of government regulation looming over them, Hollywood decided to self-regulate. But during the Great Depression, stakes were high and a power struggle ensued between the studios and the censors. Who were the people on both sides of the table? First who have the studio execs, the directors, the producers, the writers who were all trying to circumnavigate the system, one they had originally agreed upon but prevented them from producing the scandalous movies that Depression era audiences would put their hard earned money towards. On the other side you have the censors, Will Hays, Joseph Breen, the MPPDA, the SRC and countless state regulators who were fighting a losing battle. When the censors finally put their foot down and the production Code was finally enforced the way it was intended to be, the Pre-Code era was officially over.

Forbidden Hollywood is the ideal film book. It's the perfect marriage of information and entertainment. The text focuses on the people behind-the-scenes and the beautiful photographs showcase those in front of the camera. This coffee table style book is compact enough to read comfortably but large enough to be displayed in all its glory. The text starts with an introduction from the author and a section devoted to the 1920s, which set the stage for what was to come. Then each section is a year-by-year analysis, breaking down the escalating factors that made Hollywood filmmakers bolder and the censors weaker. Within each section are chapters based on themes that help readers tie the threads together of what exactly what was going on in the Pre-Code era. And for anyone whose studied this era, it's not an easy one to follow which makes Vieira's direction all that more helpful.


Source: Running Press

Source: Running Press

Source: Running Press


Some of the films discussed include:
Little Caesar (1931)
The Public Enemy (1931)
A Free Soul (1931)
Mata Hari (1931)
The Easiest Way (1931)
Possessed (1931)
Cock of the Air (1932)
Scarface (1932)
Red Headed Woman (1932)
Grand Hotel (1932)
The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
Freaks (1932)
Call Her Savage (1932)
Sign of the Cross (1932)
Island of Lost Souls (1932)
So This Is Africa (1933)
She Done Him Wrong (1933)
42nd Street (1933)
Gold Diggers of 1933
Footlight Parade (1933)
Baby Face (1933)
Tarzan and His Mate (1934)
and more

If you want to know more about how the book is structured, what it looks like inside and more, check out my video review of the book below!




Stay tuned as I have an interview with Mark A. Vieira coming up soon on the TCM website and Tumblr!

Thank you to Running Press for a review copy of this book!

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