HOLLYWOOD IN THE TWENTIES
*HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS AND THE CREATION OF MPPDA
*CECILE B. DEMILLE
*”THE CONTINETAL TOUCH” LUBITSCH AND OTHERS
*IN THE AMERICAN GRAIN
*ERICH VON STROHEIM
HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS AND THE CREATION OF MPPDA
Since the earliest days of the Nickelodeon, moralists and reformers were very much disturbed by the corrupting nature of the movies and their effects upon the American youth. Powerful pressure groups were created to protect the American audiences from the display of morally pernicious materials on screen. Eg: The film ‘The Birth of A Nation’ which was banned from being viewed in twelve states. After WWI the content of the American films became increasingly sophisticated and risqué, reflecting the ‘new morality’ of the Jazz era – A compound of materialism, cynicism and sexual license.
SCANDALS OF HOLLYWOOD:
The major scandals of Hollywood during the twenties were as follows 1. Rape and manslaughter trial of Fatty Arbuckle – Arbuckle was charged with a rape and murder of a young starlet named Virginia 2. The unsolved murder of the chief director of Famous Players – William Desmond Taylor (1877-1922) was found murdered in his Beverly Hills apartment .His murder mystery remained unsolved. 3. Death due to drug overdose- American actor Wallace Reid (1891-1923) died of drug overdose. Reid was revealed to be a long-term narcotics addict.
CREATION OF MPPDA
MPPDA – MOTION PICTURE PRODUCTION CODE
Following the example of a major-league baseball scandal which had whitewashed a national bribery scandal by appointing a conservative federal judge to oversee its operations, the frightened Hollywood producers formed a self regulatory trade organization The MPPDA in March 1922 and hired president Warren G. Harding’s postmaster general, Will Hays for $150,000 a year to head it. MPPDA is basically a set of moral censorship guidelines that grounded the production of the vast majority of the United States Motion Pictures. There was a ‘Purity Code’ known facetiously as the ‘Don’ts and the Be Carful’s’. Producers were required to submit summaries of their screenplays for approval.
CECILE B. DEMILLE
The most successful and flamboyant representative of “new morality” in all of its existence was Cecile B. DeMille (1881-1895). He began his career by directing ‘The Square Man’ (1914). It was the first feature-length western made film in Hollywood for a feature play company. Like Griffith DeMille had apprenticed in the melodrama theatrical tradition of David Belasco and their expressive “Rembrandt” or “Lasky” lighting and vivid mise-en-scène. Cleopatra, Samson and Delilah, The Greatest Show on Earth and the Ten Commandments are among his best-known films. Rembrandt- Rembrandt lighting is a lighting technique that is sometimes used in studio portrait photography. It can be achieved using one light and a reflector, or two lights, and is popular because it is capable of producing images, which appear both natural and compelling with a minimum
of equipment. Rembrandt lighting is characterized by an illuminated triangle or diamond under the eye of the subject, on the less illuminated side of the face. It is named for the Dutch painter Rembrandt, who often used this type of lighting. Mise-en-scène -The arrangement of everything that appears in the framing – actors, lighting, décor, props, costume is called mise-en-scène, a French term that means “placing on stage”.
“THE CONTINENTAL TOUCH” LUBITSCH AND OTHERS
Another director of sophisticated erotica during the 1920’s but a filmmaker of much greater taste and refinement than DeMille was Ernest Lubitsch. Lubitsch, a German Jew was the genius of the lavish postwar Kostumfilm at UFA and had come to Hollywood in late 1922 with the scenarist Hanns Kraly (1885-1950) to direct Mary Pickford in Rosita (1923). Lubitsch embarked upon a series of stylish sex comedies that made him famous for his...
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