Re: RARA-AVIS: Themes of the Months & Gangsters

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 28 Jun 2001


Someone already mentioned Frank Miller's Censored Hollywood. It's a very good, very readable, but pretty general history of movies and censorship and/or regulation, as are Murray Shumach's The Face on the Cutting Room Floor and Richard S. Randall's Censorship of the Movies.

However, it sounds like you are interested in something more tightly focused on the Hays Office. For that, there are Gregory D. Black's Hollywood Censored: Morality Codes, Catholics, and the Movies and Leonard J. Leff's and Jerold L. Simmons's The Dame in the Kimono: Hollywood, Censorship, & the Production Code from the 1920s to the 1960s. Both draw extensively on Hays Office memos. I have both, but I've only read the latter. Very good and, as might be expected when one of the co-authors has written a book about Hitchcock, deals a lot with crime movies (judging by only a glance, the former seems to focus more on sex, as that seemed to be a bigger concern of the Legion of Decency).

There is also Gerald Gardner's The Censorship Papers: Movie Censorship Letters from the Hays Office 1934 to 1968. This is broken down into 17 categories: Adventures, Musicals, Westerns, etc. Under each heading are 2 to 5 movies, each of which gets a brief paragraph of context before a couple of pages of excerpts from actual Hays Office memos. The movies in the Crime category are: The Maltese Falcon, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity and Angels with Dirty Faces; Thrillers: Rebecca, Notorious, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window and The Birds -- what no one but Hitchcock made thrillers?


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