Showing posts with label Breaking the Code Boxed Set. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Breaking the Code Boxed Set. Show all posts

Friday, January 30, 2009

Breaking the Code Boxed Set

If you haven't already, please check out my Breaking the Code Boxed Set project I did for Graduate school back '07. I mapped out the whole process from conception to creation. I picked out the movies, designed and created the slipcase for the boxed set, a booklet, naughty promotional postcards and web banner advertisement. I even wrote all the articles for the booklet. A lot of time, effort and love went into the project and although it was a while back, it still holds a very special place in my heart and it hurts me to see it collect dust back in the recesses of my archives. So please check it out!

If you haven't already noticed, the boxed set is not really for sale! It's just a school project. It's not real!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Breaking the Code Boxed Set: Final Grade

I got an A- in my desktop pub. class. This grade include my class participation, my mid-term project and my final project. I'm happy that I'm in the "A" range (which is only "A" and "A-", no "A+"), although I really wish my grade didn't have that pesky minus sign. This new grade brought down my GPA by about .03 points (boo!). I think that minus is because I didn't proactively seek help or assistance in my project from the professor. I'm sure he probably had ways he would have liked to advise me to improve my various pieces, but I'm sure they would have been changes that I would have just rejected anyways. I guess in the end, what really counts is that I'm really proud of my project and that it is all my own independent work.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Breaking the Code Boxed Set: Final!

Yay! It's so pretty. When I printed it out, pasted it together and assembled it I did a special happy dance of joy! I presented it last night to the class, with awesome results. Let's hope I get an A!

Check out my slideshow to your right. It contains an album of all the pieces of my project.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Breaking the Code Boxed Set: Web Banner

The web banner is complete. And I have to say, I'm really happy with it. The whole concept is Christmas/Winter and that the boxed set is the perfect gift if you've run out of ideas of what to get someone. I love it. I ashamedly stole the snowflakes off a particular website. Eek! I hope they don't find out.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Breaking the Code Boxed Set: Booklet

The booklet is complete! Since this is probably the most complex out of the 4 parts of the project, I'm very happy that its done. My project due date is Tuesday the 18th, so I'll be working on the boxed set slipcase and web banner until then!

I couldn't include the last spread because its an advertisement for a particular channel's website. On that last spread I suggest 6 other controversial classics from the 1960's. These include: A Patch of Blue (1965), The Children's Hour (1961), The Americanization of Emily (1964), Blow-Up (1966) , Lolita (1962) and Pressure Point (1962).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Breaking the Code Boxed Set: Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Are you sick of my boxed set? Too bad. Because I'm not. The postcards are final. What you've seen is what it is. I'm not fussing with it anymore.
Also I decided not to post an article about Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) mainly because the one I used in the booklet is a re-hashing of this previous post.
So here is my embarassingly crude and brazen article on Anatomy of a Murder (1959). This is the last of the five movies. Woohoo!

Broken Code: Rape should never be more than suggested.
Otto Premminger’s Anatomy of a Murder is arguably one of the most outspoken film of the late ‘50s. "Outspoken" being the operative word here as the controversy behind this movie was the language it so brazenly used. Terms like "rape", "slut", "climax", "intercourse", "sperm", "penetration", "contraception" and most notably "panties" were bandied about in the movie. These words were not just highly suggestive, they were downright specific going against the Production Code’s careful restrictions on the use of language. Initially the film is as coy as the main protagonist, James Stewart’s character, defense lawyer Paul Biegler. There is a sense of being cautious. It tip-toes around the story’s central plot which involves a rape that incites a murder. Yet, later in the movie, there is this great scene with Lee Remick’s character, Laura Manion, the rape victim, as she is describing more details of the incident to Biegler. The one key evidence is a pair of ripped underwear. Biegler is cautious about referring to the item specifically. Sexy Manion beckons him to just say it. Say "panties". In James Stewart’s special brand of aw-shucks self-consciousness, he is mesmerized by her seductive charm and brazen sexuality and manages to mouth the word.

Mostly, this film is a being unto itself, not afraid to say what it needs to say and not afraid with how people will react or how they will interpret it. The storyline and its climax go against the very nature of the Code. The concept that a defense lawyer in his right mind can defend someone who’s intent was ambigiously justifiable, is probably a concept radical for its day. The normal chain effect of crime equals punishment does not necessarily apply here. The boundary between good and evil is blurred by the uncertainty of intention when brief insanity comes to play. Sexual tension is the root of the drama with all the film’s central character. Sex here has been used for not only just violence but also a method of manipulation for personal gain. Both Laura and Frederick Manion realize that Laura’s sexuality is what got them into this mess, so that is exactly what will be used to get them out. And the final outcome, is a film that has to be one of the greatest courtroom dramas in film history.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Breaking the Code Boxed Set: The Hays Code

Hays, or Hayes? I've been spelling it both ways lately. Its definitely Hays, so I don't know why I have a penchant from throwing in the extra "e".
I've been very sick the past few days (although the hospital tests have shown I do not have an ulcer, woohoo!) so I've gotten little to nothing done. Today I broke out of my misery fog, and managed a poor re-hashing of a history of the Hays Code. As listed below. Its meant to be boring I guess and the lay-out will be boring too. It will contrast with the fun-flashiness and literary quality of the following spreads. This article will appear on the first page or the first spread of the booklet.

The History of the Hays Production Code

After being rocked by many sex, murder and drug scandals in the 20’s, the movie industry took steps to clean up its image. William H. Hays, President Warren G. Harding’s campaign manager, wrote a set of strict guideliness for movies to follow in 1927. He spent the next several years trying to get it enforced. The newly formed Motion Picture Associate of America (MPAA) adopted the Hays Code in 1930. The Code was also backed up by the newly formed Catholic Legion of Decency which felt there was a moral obligation to the members of their church. In June of 1934, a Production Code Administration was created and the Code began to be enforced. Filmmakers had to preview their films to the administration, the result of which was either a certificate of approval that allowed for public viewing of said film or the call to the filmmaker to reshoot or edit their films for content.

The details of the codes were specific, denouncing many particulars of violence, sex and morality that would forbidden to be shown on screen. It functioned off of three basic principles. The first was the prevention of lowering the moral standards of any potential audience members. The second was to have films show "correct" standards of living in good light. The third was that law and authority were not to be ridiculed and thus encourage law-breaking of any sort.

In the late ‘50s, Hollywood filmmakers were under increasing competition from television and foreign movies for their audiences. Televisions were convenient and foreign movies were not under the Production Code’s regulations and the government could not prevent these films from being shown in American theaters. Because of this filmmakers, felt the pressure to give their films an edge, which often meant exploring subject matter that was controversial. In 1952, a US Supreme Court ruling under Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson overruled the 1915 decision that claimed motion pictures were not viable under First Amendment protection. This weakened the now dying power of the Code. The most outspoken director of them all was Otto Preminger, whose films such as The Moon is Blue (1953), The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) and Anatomy of a Murder (1959) seemed to give the middle finger to the Code.

At the turn of the decade, from the ‘50s to the ‘60s, films started to release even without the Code’s certificate of approval, weakening its authority. By the ‘60s, filmmakers started blatantly ignoring the code and exploring all sorts of themes including sex, race, culture, gender and violence. The reign of the code ended with the seminal film Blowup in 1967. It was released by MGM, who had been abiding by the Code for many years, without a certificate. After that, enforcement became impossible and the MPAA abandoned the Code in favor of the tiered rating system we have today (i.e. G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, etc).

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Breaking the Code Boxed Set: Preliminary Booklet Cover

Here is the preliminary cover (both the front and back) of my 12-16 page booklet. I think I have to change the color scheme to match the interior but this is the basic look.

The background text is actual language from the Hayes Production Code. I've made a layer on top highlighting particular words of importance to make them stand out.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Breaking the Code Boxed Set: Sexy Promotional Postcards

Here are my postcards. They are a bit naughty, for that I apologize for anyone who might think they are in bad taste. A few of them are actual quotes from the movies. My whole goal here was to give the postcards a young/hip/feminine/sexy vibe. The theme is "Spend the night with [insert channel name here]". I blacked out the actual channel's name so as not to have any copyright issues. I wanted a departure from that channel's regular style which is usually an older, gentleman-bachelor sort of feel. And I really believe they need to mix it up to broaden their audience scope. Hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed making them!

Breaking the Code Boxed Set: Project Details

Just to reiterate, this is what my whole desktop publishing project will consist of.

1) Boxed Set slipcase
2) 12-16 page Booklet
3) 5 Promotional Postcards
4) Web Advertising Banner

Because all of the films are in black and white, and I love love love to use color, I'm turning my pictures into duotones (black and one other color). I will give a select few photos a sepia-like tint as well. I have a color scheme for each of the films so they are consistent.

The Three Faces of Eve (1957) - Orange
Baby Doll (1956) - Purple
The Night of the Hunter (1955) -Red
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) - Green
Anatomy of a Murder (1959) - Blue

Friday, December 7, 2007

Breaking the Code: The Night of the Hunter (1955) Article

I don't like my article very much, but I do really like how it looks in my spread. This is the preliminary lay out for each of the 5 articles. I like it so much that I don't know if I'll change it at all, unless my professor has some really good insight on how to improve it. Once I've finalized them I'll post them here for viewing.

Broken Code: Ministers of religion in their character as ministers of religion should be used as comic characters or as villains.

The only film the legendary actor Charles Laughton ever directed, The Night of the Hunter is an allegorical tale of good versus evil with a creepy twist. Robert Mitchum plays Reverend Powell, an antinomian and religious fanatic who is a growling evil monster that feigns to hear commands of violence and crime from the voice of God. He’s hell-bent on recovering the money his prisonmate had hidden before being arrested for robbery. His history of manipulation and corruption make him a force to be reckoned with but he is no match for innocence in its purest form: children. Its the only thing that stands in his way and he finds himself outmatched when angelic Lilian Gish as Rachel Cooper comes to the children’s rescue. Beautifully directed and stylized, the film’s creepiness stems from its characters, night time settings, tall vertical and wide horizontal shots, sharp shadows, eery silences and religious singing. The film is best known for its main character who sports the letters "L-O-V-E" and "H-A-T-E" tattooed on his knuckles. Spike Lee fans will recognize a reference to this in his film Do the Right Thing (1989).

Highly underestimated at the time of its release, this film is a classic example of allegory told and shown throw realism. This film also demonstrates the growing need for realism in film. Audiences were being wooed away from movie theatres by TV and Hollywood was in direct competition of European cinema. Filmmakers needed an edge to survive and the Hays Code seemed like a needless obstacle in their way. The Night of the Hunter approaches gritty realism in two significant ways. The first is how its not afraid to show the hideous side of death. Refusing to follow the path of many bloodless death shots of previous films, The Night of the Hunter has a truly grotesque underwater shot of a corpse that is only preceded by the a similar, but much less horrifying in Sunset Bld (1950). However, the second and arguably most defiant way it approaches realism is through its focus of the use and abuse of religion. The Reverend Powell uses his own spirtuality to do evil and in his mania believes his actions are sanctioned by God. The idea of religious authority using faith for evildoing is revolutionary for film history.


1) Robert Mitchum once said this was his favorite film to make and Laughton was his favorite director.

2) Director Charles Laughton had a difficult time with children and was helped by Mitchum to direct the child actors.

3) Director Charles Laughton was horrified by the poor reception of the film to the point where he never directed a film again.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Breaking the Code Boxed Set: Preliminary Cover

Here is the preliminary cover. I was aiming for horizontal shots, but unfortunately all except two, involve people sleeping. I may switch images and change the font but this will be the drift and the color scheme.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Breaking the Code: Baby Doll (1956) Article

Here is my entry in the booklet for Elia Kazan's Baby Doll. This one was by far the easiest to write.

Broken Code: Impure love must not be presented in such a way to arouse passion or morbid curiosity on the part of the audience.

Stories that take place in the deep South are wonderful exaggerated studies of the human condition, especially when its character's lives seem to fester in the sweltering heat. And nothing festers better than a good Tennessee William's story. Controversial to its very core, Elia Kazan's adaptaion of Baby Doll is true resistance against the code. The repressed and expressed passions in this film are as hot as the exposed light bulbs that hang from the ceilings. And when those two opposing passions collide the results are explosive. Nothing is hidden, nothing is coy, its all exposed and has either the effect of arousal or discomfort. Baby Doll is a woman-child, married too young to Archie Lee, whose frustration with his unconsummated marriage affects his cotton-gin business. Rival, the hot-blooded Mr. Vacero (literally Mr. Cowboy), sweeps into town stealing away Archie's business. In retaliation, Archie burns down Mr. Vacero's gin. But what he doesn't expect, is the hit below the belt when Mr. Vacero manages to seduce his previously frigid young wife.

The swing scene is by far the most infamous and passionate. It is difficult to watch it without experience a quickening of the heart and shortness of breath. With every touch and caress, Mr. Vacero brings out the hidden lust in Baby Doll and brings about her transition from child to woman on the eve of her 20th birthday. Such power that sizzled from the screen, terrified audiences and censors alike leading to a national boycott. Raw sexual energy like that had never been seen before in a film and people immediately resisted it. In 1956, a primary figure in the Catholic church, Cardinal Spellman , spoke out about the film telling all Catholics that if they dared watch this movie, they would commit a sin against God. It eventually got pulled from theatres. Yet, this low-budget film stood out as an legitimately amazing film and received 4 Academy Award nominations. It marked a turning point in how sexuality could be expressed on film and paved the way for the expression of passion in cinema.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Breaking the Code: The Three Faces of Eve Article

Here is the first of six articles that will go in the booklet inside the DVD boxed set. I'm writing one on each of the films plus an introduction to the history of the Hays Code and censorship. I have no idea how long they should be, so this may expand or shrink, but its the general idea. And since the professor won't read the text, he's only looking at design, I can write whatever I want.

Broken Code - Repellent Subject - Apparent cruelty to children or animals

The Three Faces of Eve (1957) is less an example of Hollywood's rebellion against the Hays Code and more a specimen of how restrictive it was to storytelling and how it could not stop the wheels of social change from turning. The film starts with an opening narration in which a psychologist introduces the case of Eve White, a woman who has multiple personality disorder. Based on a true story and provided to the audience as educational rather than entertainment, was one of the ways this film worked around the codes restrictions. Educational material, presented as such, had more leeway than a regular film which only had a story to tell. Three Faces of Eve did something great for film history. It explored the societal and emotional dynamics of mental illness in a new and interesting way. In so many films in the years before, characters were either inherently good or bad or in the case of film noir, ambigously both. It was stepping into murky waters when a character did bad things yet also captured audience's sympathy. Case in point, in Three Faces of Eve, we have Eve White, a quiet unassuming woman. She is a simple housewife and in submission to her backwardly stubborn and aggressive husband. Eve gets these terrible headaches in which her alter-ego Eve Black manifests. This personality is the polar-opposite of Eve White. She's single, flirtatious and manipulative. She even proves herself capable of great violence when tries unsuccessfully to strangle her own daughter to death.

The two "Black" and the "White" personalities into yet another personality deconstructs the ultimate binary of character that has been created by the mental illness. In turn, it deconstructs the social stereotypes of good housewife and it's opposite, cheap floozy to a more grounded image of woman. The two Eves, biblical in their shifts from good to bad, become Jane, symbolic of Janus the two-headed good. Jane is the medium who encapsulates the history of both Eves into one sensible woman. She is independent and has the clarity of mind reconciliate the deep-seated trouble that is festering in the two other personalities. This represents the underlying message of the film, which is a warning against the repression of the female and that individuality and the freedom to be oneself is what balances the person. One could argue that Three Faces of Eve could be one of the minor and quite early germinations in the complex web of the feminist movement. Whether it had been intended that way or not, there is no denying the power of this film.

1) June Allyson was talked out of starring in this film by her husband Dick Powell who thought that she would be a miscast.
2) Joanne Woodward won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Eve White/Eve Black/Jane.
3) Orson Welles was considered for the roll of Dr. Luther, played by Lee J. Cobb, but instead decided to devote his time to directing Touch of Evil (1958).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Breaking the Code: Boxed Set Update

After re-watching The Three Faces of Eve (1957), I realize its not a suitable option for my boxed set. But I have to work with what I've got nontheless. Its too late to find a new film selection and I'm already knee-deep in image research and my proposal is due on Thursday, so I cannot back out now. However, the film has been very inspiring visually for the project, so I'm glad of that at least. The design of the two menu screens of the DVD have inspired me to do something similar with the boxed set cover. It is tres cool! See below.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Breaking the Code: Boxed Set Directors

I've been playing around with images and doing some image research. I decided that in the booklet that goes with the boxed set, that the directors would appear in profile as a sort of stamp. Their presence is kind of vague but its also like they gave their seal of approval of sorts. Anyways, I just like how they look.

Joseph L. Mankiewicz ~ Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Nunnally Johnson ~ The Three Faces of Eve (1957)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Breaking the Code: Updates

I just read some amazing news at Pre-Coded Messages about the second volume of the The Forbidden Hollywood DVD boxed set collection. It'll have 2, count 'em 2, Norma Shearer movies, a blonde Bette Davis film and another crazy Stanwyck flick. I was particularly surprised by the Davis film, Three on a Match (1932) being a selection. This is a lesser-known work and may only have been chosen because of the big-wig stars that have supporting roles in the film (Davis, Bogart, Blondell). I highly recommend watching it as its a very interesting story involving many of the classic Pre-Code elements including infidelity, drug-abuse, mob activity and child-neglect.

In other news, I've finally selected my 5 films to go in my mock "Breaking the Code" boxed set. I will hold A Face in the Crowd (1957) as a back-up selection in case I find one of these doesn't quite work.

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Baby Doll (1956)
The Night of the Hunter (1955)

Three Faces of Eve (1957)

Now I'm wishing I could do a Pre-Code boxed set too! Shucks!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Exciting New Project!

For the Desktop Publishing course I am taking, I have to work on a final project using Adobe InDesign to develop something new in print. I was inspired by the DVD boxed set of the 7th Season of Road to Avonlea which came with a booklet with notes "written" by one of the characters. I decided to do something similar.

I'm developing a "Breaking the Code" special edition boxed set. It will have 5 DVDs, all of which are from the late 1950's and represent Hollywood's rebellion against the Hayes Code. I'm going to pretend that its sponsored by Turner Classic Movies and possibly be inspired by some of their designs. The booklet itself will have a different article, written by myself, on each of the 5 movies. My goal is to make the complete package, the DVD boxed set cover as well an 8-page booklet and present it to the class as my final project.

The reason I'm so excited about this is that I have finally found a way to incorporate my love of classic films into my school work! And I can simultaneously post my progress on this blog! I will be, of course, careful about what I will post because I'm probably stealing lots of copyrighted material (granted this project will never be distributed into the real world).

For now, I have to come up with the 5 movies I want to be in the boxed set. I know definitely that Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) will be one of the films. Please feel free to send in your suggestions for the other four DVDs and let me know what you think about my project.

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