Post by A Friend Post by jdyoung
Those were the 'Golden Age' of the motion picture industry. The
'Legion' was a major reason why. With what's going on in Hollywood
these days, a return to morals and family values would be welcome.
The Legion of Decency was a joke. They made us, as kids, recite the
pledge at Sunday Mass on Labor Day weekend; I knew even then that a
pledge made under duress was no pledge at all. It seemed to me, even
then, that the whole thing was designed to boost the circulation of the
diocesan Catholic newspaper, which was the only place you could find
the LofD's ratings printed.
The LofD began to die in the early '60s, when it kept condemning movies
that rational people saw as unobjectionable. Life magazine printed a
story about how the Production Code had approved the Billy Wilder film
KISS ME, STUPID but the LofD had condemned it, a then-rare split of
opinion between the two organizations. (KISS ME, STUPID treated the
issue of adultery rather cheerfully.) That was 1964. By about 1970
the LofD's day was done.
In 1961, the LofD condemned a sci-fi film called THE DAY THE EARTH
CAUGHT FIRE because it featured two brief nude scenes with Janet Munro
and an affair (again, a cheerful one) between Munro and co-star Edward
Judd. It was playing at the neighborhood movie house, and we all
flocked to see it, of course. We'd probably never had gone if the LofD
hadn't condemned it, so thanks, fellas and thanks, Janet. (I believe
Janet's were my first pair of tits. I was eight.)
First, the LoD wasn't "unconstitutional." It was a private, religious
organization, making its views known. That was 4 constitutional rights
being exercised: Free Assembly, Free exercise of Religion, Freedom of
Speech, and Freedom of the Press.
The Hayes Office, which administered the Hollywood production code....
....was also the result of a a private agreement, albeit one adopted in
response to local censorship. states and cities did create film censorship regimes:
The industry code was a mostly successful attempt to stave off
more regulation, especially at the Federal level.
Our "friend" is right. If a C (Condemned) or "A-IV" rating from the
Legion didn't convince the producers to edit the film, much as modern
filmmakers might recut to avoid an X or an R from MPAA, and exhibitors
agreed to show the film without those changes, that could actually have
the "banned in Boston" effect.
You’re referring to the organization created by Catholic bishops in
1934 that told Catholics they’d go to hell if they saw certain movies.
The studios were terrified of the Legion, though they found out a few
months later that Catholics were taking the “Condemned” list as suggestions
for further viewing, and so the box office for condemned films went up
instead of down in heavily Catholic areas. The bishops should have
remembered the tendency that goes back at least as far as Genesis: If you
tell people they absolutely must not do something, that becomes the only
thing they want to do.
[/quote] - Mick Lasalle, Mar 16, 2016
It wasn't just the Catholics being prudes, either.