Menace(s) to Society
October 15, 2012 2:27 PM Subscribe
posted by zarq (30 comments total)
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During the Golden Age of Hollywood and until 1967, mainstream movie studios were banned by the Production Code
from depicting taboo topics like drug addiction, explicit murder and venereal disease, or even showing explicit nudity. But in the 1930's and 1940's, films marketed as "educational" could and did fly under the radar, and three of the best known 'educational' propaganda exploitation films are: Sex Madness
(1935), Reefer Madness
(1936) and The Cocaine Fiends
Each is a morality tale:
warns teens of the dangers of syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases. Among the forms of "madness" it warns against: wild parties, lesbianism, and premarital sex. Directed by Dwain Esper, whose other exploitation movies include: Narcotic
(1934), Marihuana: The Devil's Weed!
) (1936) and How to Undress in Front of your Husband
(1938). (Some of these may be NSFW.)
dramatizes the dangers of marijuana use, depicting it leading to car accidents, manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, etc. (Wikipedia
) Directed by Louis J. Gasnier, who also directed non-exploitation films such as The Perils of Pauline
(1914), The Gold Racket
(1937), The Sunset Murder Case
(1938) and Stolen Paradise
The Cocaine Fiends
has the grandest headache medicine in the world, which will also destroy your life and soul.
Like most of the exploitation movies of that era The Cocaine Fiends sheds interesting light on the anxieties engendered by the modern world. Modern life is seen as threatening and dangerous. And like most such films it faces the fascinating contradiction of condemning the very things on which it relies for its chance of commercial success, which for such movies depended entirely on the thrill of the forbidden and the illicit.
* Reviews of all three movies
, Joe Bob Briggs-style.
* NPR: Remembering Hollywood's Hays Code, 40 years on
A year after Some Like It Hot was released, the head of the MPA began suggesting that some sort of classification system might work better than a censorship system that no one was paying attention to. In 1968, his organization finally shifted from restricting filmmakers to alerting audiences, using the film-ratings system we know today.