Classical Film Violence: Designing and Regulating Brutality in Hollywood Cinema, 1930-1968
Stephen Prince has written the first book to examine the interplay between the aesthetics and the censorship of violence in classic Hollywood films from 1930 to 1968, the era of the Production Code, when filmmakers were required to have their scripts approved before they could start production. He explains how Hollywood's filmmakers designed violence in response to the regulations of the Production Code and regional censors. Graphic violence in today's movies actually has its roots in these early films. Hollywood's filmmakers were drawn to violent scenes and "pushed the envelope" of what they could depict by manipulating the Production Code Administration (PCA).
Prince shows that many choices about camera position, editing, and blocking of the action and sound were functional responses by filmmakers to regulatory constraints, necessary for approval from the PCA and then in surviving scrutiny by state and municipal censor boards.
This book is the first stylistic history of American screen violence that is grounded in industry documentation. Using PCA files, Prince traces the negotiations over violence carried out by filmmakers and officials and shows how the outcome left its traces on picture and sound in the films.
Almost everything revealed by this research is contrary to what most have believed about Hollywood and film violence. With chapters such as "Throwing the Extra Punch" and "Cruelty, Sadism, and the Horror Film," this book will become the defining work on classical film violence and its connection to the graphic mayhem of today's movies.
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Censorship and Screen Violence before 1930
Cruelty Sadism and the Horror Film
Elaborating Gun Violence
Throwing the Extra Punch
The Poetics of Screen Violence
After the Deluge
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agency agency's American cinema American film audience audio Barbara HalL beating behavior body Bonnie and Clyde brutality camera Camonte CARA censor action censor boards censorship characters classical Hollywood close-up clutch-and-fall crime films criminals cutaway cuts death deleted editing effects Eliminations Bulletins example face film violence film's filmmakers fire frame Frankenstein gang gangster films genre Geoffrey Shurlock Glass Key gruesome gun violence hand Hollywood film horror films ibid imagery industry Jason Joy Joseph Breen killer killing Kubrick lence Letter Little Caesar machine-gun memo metonymic monster moral Motion Picture movie violence MPAA murder narrative negotiations off-camera off-screen on-camera on-screen PCA's police Production Code Public Enemy regional censors regulation sadistic Sam Peckinpah Scarface scene Schmus screen violence script shooting shot slasher films sound spatial displacement story studio stylistic amplitude suggest television tion torture victim viewer visual weapons Wild Bunch