How the Catholic Church censored Hollywood's Golden Age

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  • Published on:  Wednesday, April 11, 2018
  • For decades Hollywood studios needed to follow a strict set of moral guidelines if they wanted their movies to get made.Subscribe to our channel! 1934 to 1954 every Hollywood movie needed to follow a strict set of guidelines laid out by the Catholic church. They included such things as barring excessive drinking, on screen nudity, and even sexual relationships between races. Enforcement was overseen by the Production Code administration, which was led by Joseph Breen. In order to ensure that the production code was followed the Catholic Church founded the Legion of Decency, a group with millions of members that threatened to boycott any movie that didn’t adhere to the guidelines. For decades every line of dialogue needed to be approved by Breen and his administration, making him one of the most powerful people in the history of is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out our full video catalog: Vox on Facebook: Twitter:


  • Vox
    Vox  a years ago +212

    The Hays Code left its mark on cinema, but the invention of technicolor revolutionized it. The Wizard of Oz was a prime example. Watch our video here:

  • AmericanNohbuddy ™
    AmericanNohbuddy ™  a years ago +202

    Weird how a country with vast anti catholic sentiment would take their guidelines

  • Ludicrous Platypus
    Ludicrous Platypus  a years ago +15

    White slavery was basically the term used back then for human trafficking or sexual slavery. I understand it is a racialised term, but I think focusing on the race aspect discredits the fact that portraying sexual slavery on screen would still be seen as morally wrong today.

  • Bioniking
    Bioniking  a years ago +54

    The good thing about the code was that it forced screenwriters to figure out creative ways to skirt around the code. People like Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges would write witty dialogue filled with innuendo that was actually funny and intelligent. Now we have fart jokes

  • Ashley S
    Ashley S  a years ago +35

    No wonder the movies of the 70's after the code days had so much sex and violence.

  • Jimmy Carter
    Jimmy Carter  a years ago +37

    So they adopted those provisional laws in order to avoid Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal regulations THEN the Great Depression hit? Learn your history Vox I mean damn.

  • Mortebianca
    Mortebianca  a years ago +507

    To be fair, the Legion was never officially recognized by the Church, and While it proclaimed to "Work" for the Church, it was in fact just a loose confederation of catholic americans promoting the "American Catholicism", which is the most conservative and puritan version of catholicism possible.
    In fact, the Church never talked about decency in movies or censoring them. It was just some catholic's opinion on those issue. See, for example, how those two believed that interracial unions were "unholy" even tho, for a Catholic, they are not evil at all.

  • Science with Katie
    Science with Katie  a years ago +763

    Fun fact: contraception only became legal in Ireland in 1980 after being banned by the Catholic Church. Before then my grandma used to smuggle loads of condoms over from England - as after 6 kids she’d had enough!

  • Justin Y.
    Justin Y.  a years ago +356

    Comment about Religion

  • Austin Newman
    Austin Newman  a years ago +324

    Love these short pieces!
    I didn’t know as much about Breen, glad to hear his story as well. I always understood that there was a variety of reason the PCA fell. One of the biggest being the defiance of Hughes’ Outlaw film in which he called independently operated theaters and asked each if they would play his film without the seal of approval.
    Awesome work on these, keep it up! 🎥🤘🏻

  • omegadan
    omegadan  a years ago +138

    So basically the Catholic Church created a rating system for movies

  • Francesco
    Francesco  a years ago +6

    Now i finally understand why old americans are so mad with modern society.
    Society when they were young was the equivalent of the life of a sheltered Lady during the XI century.

  • Parvati Nair
    Parvati Nair  a years ago +61

    The legion of decency. Lol 😂😂

  • James
    James  a years ago +237

    I'm not looking forward to seeing the comments...

  • maninredhelm
    maninredhelm  a years ago +10

    Seems like there must be more to the story, because the Catholic Church was never that influential in America. European immigration was overwhelmingly from Protestant nations up until the Irish famine, whereupon it still continued to hold the majority to a lesser degree. At this point African-Americans have won more U.S. Presidential elections than Catholics. Were the major Hollywood studios heavily Catholic back in those days?

  • giren0079
    giren0079  a years ago +9

    How did fears of Roosevelt making a censorship board scare movie makers into censoring three years before he became president?

  • Marc-André B
    Marc-André B  a years ago +118

    I'm confused. They say the studios adopted this moral code before the great depression in fear of the Roosevelt government elected five years after the great depression? If the studios adopted the code in 1929 wouldn't it be more in fear of the Hoover administration's censorship? Whereas the production code association would be put in place in fear of the Roosevelt government's censorship?

  • Samantha Branham
    Samantha Branham  a years ago +9

    “CasaBLANKa” omg noo

  • Daphnie Starr
    Daphnie Starr  a years ago +6

    Omg bring this back!!! Where is Hollywood now? Battling sex scandals because of their own doing. As a Catholic I think its so stupid an obviously immoral to have sex and violence in movies. Common Hollywood. Oh but it sells so let’s keep doing it even when it hurts our society. Sounds prudent ...

  • Five
    Five  a years ago +38

    One interesting thing to note is that because of the strict rules on sexual display, a lot of movies featuring women were forced to treat them as human characters and not sexual objects at the mercy of the slow-pan male gaze. Women were smart, competent people in movies. When the sexual revolution happened and sexuality was allowed to be seen on screen, women became bimbo objects again.
    "Once we entered the bedroom, we couldn't leave."