Hayes Code

I was recently watching a terrible, yet entertaining Z-Movie from 1961 called The Choppers. In it there was a depiction of police officers being shot, and presumably killed. I had always understood that this was a violation of The Hayes Code (although it is not specifically referred to in that text). So, I’m curious, would anybody know what was the first post-Hayes Code depiction of the killing of a police officer?
How about other firsts? I know Otto Preminger had a lot to do with undermining the Hayes Code.

I don’t believe it was a violation of the Code to depict a policeman being murdered. The Code required that the murderer be punished and the crime not be glorified or depicted in such a way as to inspire imitation (although how difficult it would be for an audience to figure out that the gun the thug was holding led somehow to the bullet hole in the cop’s chest is an open question).

I think “to inspire imitation” in this case means, “to make other people want to do it.”

And, to confirm my geek status, I came into this thread expecting to comment on the AT command set… :smack:

In part, but the Code also specified that crimes couldn’t be shown in a way as to let the viewer figure out how they were done. That’s what I was refering to.

My immediate impression of the answer here is that The Hayes Code was not a legal requirement, it was a movie-industry self-censorship agreement.

Instead of relying on my impressions, however, I figured I’d do a bit of searching. Here’s a quote from the first ond only site I clicked on from the Google list, that seems like an informative site giving A Brief History of Movie Ratings:

Among three major issues the site points out as affecting this in the 60’s, is the fact that

So this was a voluntary system (much like the ratings are today. You don’t have to have your movie rated, although you will suffer economic consequences as some theaters will not play unrated movies and some newspapers will not advertize them.)

The movie you mention just may not have been done by “a major studio,” and independent studios and producers were essentially free to distribute movies containing whatever they wanted, provided they could find theaters willing to play them, and providing they did not “violate community standards” enough that some local DA would file obsenity charges against them.

It reminds me of that “comic code seal” that used to be on comic books, until Marvel ventured beyond the accepted standards once or twice, and found they could sell plenty of copies even without the seal of approval. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve looked at a comic book cover; they don’t have those comic authority seals any more, do they?

It’s still around, but Marvel doesn’t follow it at all anymore. They use their own rating system.

I think DC uses it, more or less. I don’t think it’s a big deal for them if they want to publish something without it, these days.

DC still submits most of their core universe titles to the Comics Code Authority, but they’re just about the only ones still doing so. The CCA has, however, lost nearly all of it’s power to regulate content in any meaningful way. Marvel stopped submitting books years ago, replacing it with their own rating system. DC and Marvel both have special imprints for books intended for mature audiences, and there is a DC imprint book or two (Outsiders and JLA Elite, for example) that don’t carry the CCA symbol.

Other companies pretty much ignore the CCA. Crossgen, Image, and Dark Horse all ignore it completely.

And somewhere Fredric Wertham is rolling in his grave…

Accepting was part of the Hayes CodeI don’t think it could possibly have meant not letting the viewer “figure out” that a gun shot can be fatal. I think that referred to showing people a detailed plan of how to rob a bank, or instructions on picking locks, for instance. There were plenty of films during the 40s and 50s where someone picks a lock, but you don’t see a close-up of what the tools look like or how it’s done.

You’re not the only one. :smack:

As pointed out above, the Hayes code was not a law. There were independents that accepted pariah status and made unapproved movies all through the Hayes period. I guess the question would be “what was the first movie released by a mainstream studio without the Hayes seal of approval?”. richardb covered that pretty well.

Actually, I remember reading that Wertham didn’t approve of the Comics Code. He didn’t want to see comics stripped of violence or sexuality…he just didn’t want violent or sexual comics sold or marketed to children.

And here’s a copy of the Hays Code:


Fredric Wertham - Anti-Comics Crusader Who Turned Advocate. And the comics code itself.

Some highlights…

:eek: :rolleyes:

From the Comic Code

This is probably what I was thinking of.

Ah, but the point was that Blowup was not released by a mainstream studio: MGM delegated it to a subsidiary that was not an MPAA member.

Earlier features released by major studios without the MPAA Production Code Administration’s seal of approval:

The Outlaw (1943), one of only two pictures directed by Howard Hughes, whose own flim company initially distributed it in 1943 after 20th Century-Fox backed out of distribution rather than face a $25,000 fine from the PCA; distributed in 1946 by United Artists, which was a major studio but at the time was not a member of the MPAA. PCA chief Joseph Breen wrote in 1941 about The Outlaw: “…in my more than ten years of critical examination of motion pictures, I have never seen anything quite so unacceptable as the shots of the breasts of the character of Rio [played by Jane Russell] …Throughout almost half the picture the girl’s breasts, which are quite large and prominent, are shockingly emphasized…”

The Moon Is Blue (1953), in which playboys William Holden and David Niven compete to claim a young woman’s virginity. The PCA’s Breen concluded in 1953 that the film script was “unapprovable,” and added that it reflected an “unacceptably light attitude towards seduction, illicit sex, chastity and virginity,” among other things. The PCA later changed its mind, and The Moon Is Blue received a PCA seal of approval in 1961.

The Man With the Golden Arm (1955), with Frank Sinatra as a jazz musician turned heroin addict. Like the previous two movies, it was distributed by United Artists without the PCA’s approval; and like The Moon Is Blue, the PCA later approved it in 1961.

P.S. It’s spelled Hays, without an “e”.