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Why Be Good? Sexuality & Censorship in Early Cinema (2007)

An overview of the portrayal and influence of sexuality on film, from the silent era until the administration of the Hays Code in 1934.


Elaina Archer


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Diane Lane ... Herself - Narrator
Chris Basinger Chris Basinger ... Himself
Jeanine Basinger Jeanine Basinger ... Herself
Cari Beauchamp ... Herself
Leatrice Joy Gilbert ... Herself (as Leatrice Gilbert Fountain)
A.C. Lyles ... Himself
Bob Mitchell Bob Mitchell ... Himself
Barry Paris Barry Paris ... Himself
Maria Riva ... Herself
Michael Schlesinger Michael Schlesinger ... Himself
Budd Schulberg ... Himself
Kevin Thomas Kevin Thomas ... Himself
Mark Viera ... Himself
Marc Wanamaker Marc Wanamaker ... Himself
William Wellman Jr. ... Himself


An overview of the portrayal and influence of sexuality on film, from the silent era until the administration of the Hays Code in 1934.

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Release Date:

23 May 2007 (USA) See more »

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User Reviews

Liked this feature ( great theme song, vocals especially!)
30 March 2015 | by best_value_vacsSee all my reviews

Sometimes documentaries on Hollywood don't seem like documentaries at all. This is a good example. Maybe it's because of the familiarity of what is being shown and the stars ability to captivate your attention. Still,the pleasant narration by actress Diane Lane immediately draws you in to the world of the golden age of cinema, telling us the hows and whys without reason Hollywood was basically forced to conform to ridiculous codes obviously steered by the church. It was censorship. Something that was needed to keep America holy. But all at once?

Removing partying and nudity from the screen ( and radio too) was only a vehicle by which the censors began their agenda into brainwashing America into a false sense of reality. They forced Hollywood to always make the bad guy lose, the loose woman die or reform, and the American patriot concur in the name of God. Meanwhile in our own government much worse was going on behind the scenes, but having the censored Hollywood serve as a barometer as to what the average sheepish American will buy as the truth, Hollywood censorship ultimately became a powerful agent in distracting Americans ( and maybe Western Civilization in general) into fighting among themselves and holding each other accountable for upholding these bogus unspoken laws.

Today we face the very same subtle tactics. We know what they are, and if we are wise we know how incessant and paradoxically evil something as simple as a Hays Code can become. And become it has! Never mind the rating system introduced 50 years ago. The people currently running our nation operate on the platforms that were set up by those who were around during the Hays Code.

Perhaps I am way off here, but I don't think so. Slowly Americans are waking up when they aren't being sucked into a video game or...a movie. I'm guilty of that, but am awake. So many in the 20's and 30's were awake too. Thank God!

Also enjoyed very much, the very infectious little theme song, sang by a little known ( at least on Google) vocalist, Irene Liberatore. What a voice!

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