William Harrison Hays, Sr. (/heɪz/; November 5, 1879 – March 7,
1954) was a United States politician, chairman of the Republican
National Committee (1918–21),
U.S. Postmaster General
1 Biography 2 Teapot Dome scandal 3 Head of MPPDA 4 Death 5 Production Code 6 See also 7 References 8 Bibliography 9 External links
Hays was born in Sullivan, Indiana, on November 5, 1879, and attended
1922 editorial cartoon by Cy Hungerford illustrating the perception that Hays was coming to rescue the movie industry.
Hays attempted to reduce studio costs (and improve the industry's
image in general) by advising individual studios on how to produce
movies to reduce the likelihood that the film would be cut. Each board
kept its "standards" secret (if, indeed, they had any standardization
at all), so Hays was forced to intuit what would or would not be
permitted by each board. At first he applied what he called "The
Formula" but it was not particularly successful; from that he
developed a set of guidelines he called "The Don'ts and Be Carefuls".
In general his efforts at pre-release self-censorship were
unsuccessful in quieting calls for federal censorship.
Catholic bishops and lay people tended to be leery of federal
censorship and favored the Hays approach of self-censorship; these
included the outspoken Catholic layman Martin J. Quigley, publisher of
Exhibitors Herald-World (a trade magazine for independent exhibitors).
For several months in 1929, Martin Quigley, Joseph Breen, Father
Daniel A. Lord
No picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin. Correct standards of life, subject only to the requirements of drama and entertainment, shall be presented. Law, natural or human, shall not be ridiculed, nor shall sympathy be created for its violation.
Specific restrictions were spelled out as "Particular Applications" of these principles:
Nudity and suggestive dances were prohibited. The ridicule of religion was forbidden, and ministers of religion were not to be represented as comic characters or villains. The depiction of illegal drug use was forbidden, as well as the use of liquor, "when not required by the plot or for proper characterization." Methods of crime (e.g. safe-cracking, arson, smuggling) were not to be explicitly presented. References to sex perversions such as homosexuality and venereal disease were forbidden, as were depictions of childbirth. The language section banned various words and phrases that were considered to be offensive. Murder scenes had to be filmed in a way that would discourage imitations in real life, and brutal killings could not be shown in detail. "Revenge in modern times" was not to be justified. The sanctity of marriage and the home had to be upheld. "Pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing." Adultery and illicit sex, although recognized as sometimes necessary to the plot, could not be explicit or justified and were not supposed to be presented as an attractive option. Portrayals of miscegenation were forbidden. "Scenes of Passion" were not to be introduced when not essential to the plot. "Excessive and lustful kissing" was to be avoided, along with any other treatment that might "stimulate the lower and baser element." The flag of the United States was to be treated respectfully, and the people and history of other nations were to be presented "fairly." "Vulgarity", defined as "low, disgusting, unpleasant, though not necessarily evil, subjects" must be "subject to the dictates of good taste." Capital punishment, "third-degree methods", cruelty to children and animals, prostitution and surgical operations were to be handled with similar sensitivity.
List of people on the cover of Time Magazine: 1920s – September 13, 1926
^ a b "Will Hays, First Film Czar, Dies. Former G.O.P. Leader Was 74.
Arbiter of Hollywood's Morals 23 Years Was Postmaster General Under
Harding". New York Times. March 8, 1954. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
Will H. Hays, who left President Warren G. Harding's Cabinet to clean
up movie morals in the Nineteen Twenties, died today of heart ailment
at his home here. He was 74 years old.
^ Frederick Lewis Allen (1959). Only Yesterday: An Informal History of
the 1920's, New York: Harper & Row.
^ "Hays to Be Mogul in Silver Screen Realm", San Antonio Express,
January 15, 1922, p 4
^ "Will Hays, Who Is to Get $17 Hourly, to Make the Movies Behave
Hereafter", Syracuse Herald, March 5, 1922, p33
Will H. Hays
Black, Gregory D. Hollywood Censored: Morality Codes, Catholics, and the Movies. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994; ISBN 0-521-45299-6. Hays, Will H. The Memoirs of Will H. Hays. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1955. Jarvie, Ian. Hollywood's Overseas Campaign: The North Atlantic Movie Trade, 1920–1950. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Trumpbour, John. Selling Hollywood to the World: U.S. and European Struggles for Mastery of the Global Film Industry, 1920–1950. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Will H. Hays.
Time magazine cover:
Will H. Hays
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First Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America 1922–1945 Succeeded by Eric Johnston
Preceded by Albert S. Burleson United States Postmaster General Served under: Warren G. Harding March 5, 1921 – March 3, 1922 Succeeded by Hubert Work
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