The Filmmuseum presents the heady days before censorship
Tinseltown ran wild for a few short years between the advent of “talkies” and the implementation of a self-imposed censorship code in 1934. Taking advantage of the new possibilities of dialogue, movies showed realistic criminals getting away clean, promiscuity, substance abuse, and lewd-yet-witty blondes spouting suggestive one-liners, all to titillate a jaded and cynical depression-era audience. But the party was over all too soon as pressure groups like The Catholic League of Decency instigated a moral panic, compelling the industry to rein itself in, fearing imminent government interference. It would be decades before American movies would approach edgy topics so candidly again.
Partnering with the Library of Congress and Warner Bros., then at the forefront with “stories snatched from today’s headlines!” (their slogan at the time), the Filmmuseum will screen 38 pre-code gems, including classics like the original gangster epics Little Caesar starring Edward G. Robinson and The Public Enemy with James Cagney, and several Busby Berkeley musicals including Gold Diggers of 1933.