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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pre-code Bookshelf #5: Sin In Soft Focus

SIN IN SOFT FOCUS PRE-CODE HOLLYWOOD by Mark A.Viera Prudes and the faint-of-heart shield your eyes! The stunning Sin in Soft Focus contains some of the most breathtaking black-and-white stills ever taken, all from the debaucherous decade before the Hollywood production code was established. With chapters devoted to "The Warners Grit," "The MGM Gloss," and "The Paramount Glow," and to horror films, gangster movies, and the sexy scandal of Mae West, Mark A. Vieira illustrates the story of classic Hollywood's most delightfully lascivious period--brought to a stop when Joseph Breen began enforcing the puritanical production code of 1934.
The text of this book is fascinating even for those familiar with the films of the era, but the mesmerizing photographs are what will keep readers glued to the pages. Oversized and abundant stills capture stars like Clara Bow, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, William Powell, Mae West, Joan Blondell, James Cagney, and Greta Garbo in striking clarity, dashing poses, and of course, shockingly revealing outfits. Voyeurs seeking more on this naughty era will also want to read Thomas Doherty's Pre-Code Hollywood --Raphael Shargel

From Library Journal
Emboldened by a 1930 Production Code that required only voluntary compliance, film studios lured Depression-hardened audiences with bullet-riddled gangster sagas; hot jungle tales; horror films; sexy, sophisticated dramas; and lurid depictions of drug abuse, fallen women, and "white slavery." Eventually, challenged by state film boards and decency groups, Hollywood finally agreed to a 1934 Code (with enforcement powers) that endured until finally crumbling in the late 1960s. Vieira (Hurrell's Hollywood Portraits) is good at showing how the 1934 Code was part of a general return to order; though Mae West was too flamboyant to change her image, Claudette Colbert and Myrna Loy quickly went from playing on-screen vixens to playing housewives and mothers. In the end, precode films weren't better or worse than the films that came later, just different. This timely, informative look at a little-known period in American film history covers much the same ground as Thomas Doherty's Pre-Code Hollywood (LJ 7/99)Awhose main attractions are the many creamy film stills, which may surprise readers with their frank treatment of sex, nudity, and violence. This fascinating look at an important though brief period in Hollywood history is highly recommended.AStephen Rees, Levittown Regional Lib., PA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc


Blogger Mae West NYC said...

Mae West and Texas Guinan will be back in New York in an exciting exhibition that will be open to the public and feature RARE archival images from 1915 - 1933. There is no admission charge to view the NYC exhibit. Details online:

2:30 AM  

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