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October 1992


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Bob Kosovsky <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 31 Oct 1992 19:13:56 EST
text/plain (36 lines)
>...I'd forgotten about the Hayes Office.  I
>don't, however, recall seeing a *distinct* difference between pre- and
>post-Hayes films.  What I seem to notice is a lack of certain elements in
>post-Hayes pictures, rather than a loss of these elements.  If you know of
>any good examples, I'd love to check them out.
Take a look at some Betty Boop cartoons from before and after 1934.
Not only does she loose her prominently-displayed garter, but is forced to
shed her "single" status and become entrenched in "family values" (Grampy,
Pudgy, and the smart-alec baby).
The rest of your posting expressed surprise at the sexual innuendos and
language of films from the 1930s.  From somewhere we have the notion that
many films from the 1930s were escapist.  While that may be true it did not
preclude a darker view of life.  Just think of the famous number "42nd Street"
from the film of the same name.  You see a woman being chased, and her only
escape is to jump out the window.  (We don't know if she lives 'cause Dick
Powell takes over, cynically singing the concluding verse of the song.)
Further, how can you forget when Warner Baxter, feeling depressed, asks his
male assistant to come over and cheer him up (and Una Merkel encourages the
male assistant)!  The "Lullaby of Broadway" number from GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935
has a similar "slice of life" sequence like that of 42ND STREET.
As for language, you must remember (also from 42ND STREET) the song
"Shuffle off to Buffalo" - when Una Merkel corrects herself, and rather
than make a perfect rhyme with the word "belly" changes it (with Ginger
Rodgers approvingly looking on) to "tummy."
I know I've seen other examples.  It's better to see the films, rather
than accept those blanket generalizations.
Bob Kosovsky
Graduate Center -- Ph.D. Program in Music(student)/ City University of New York
New York Public Library -- Music Division
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Disclaimer:  My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions.