HOW DID THE ‘HAYS CODE’ CHANGE HOLLYWOOD?

In the early days of the film industry, an atmosphere of intolerable moral corruption reigned in Hollywood. The films displayed a degree of depravity that would have flushed the Marquis de Sade. The natural separation between actresses and actors began to relax and towards the end of the 1910s, mixed films began to be shot: actors and actresses shared the same set, appeared in the same sequences and even spoke to each other without even blushing. Actresses like Theda Bara, Clara Bow, and Gloria Swanson appeared in makeup and holding huge Gruyère cheeses on their heads. Actors like Rodolfo Valentino, John Gilbert and Ronald Colman allowed themselves to put a flower in their buttonholes, look in the mirrors and smooth their hair while smiling at the portrait of his fiancée. Most of the spectators went to the movie theaters blindfolded so as not to see so much ignominy. In spontaneous attacks of hysteria, some of them rolled around on the floor like possessed persons. Others tore their hair or set themselves in fire in protest. In the Roxy cinema in Cleveland, a revolt began when the actress Marion Davies dared to kiss the portrait that her boyfriend had sent her from the front. The situation was becoming unsustainable and the top leaders of the studios were forced to take action. In 1922 they founded an association to ensure morality in the movies and put in charge a man of integrity, Will H. Hays, who gave his name to a code of good manners that every movie should respect from now on. Under the ‘Hays Code’, Hollywood gradually left behind its nefarious era of debauchery, to become the paradigm of modesty and decency that it’s nowadays.

THE MAN WHO SAVED HOLLYWOOD:

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