Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Will Hays, 1879-1954

Today marks the birth anniversary of Will Hays, the former Postmaster General of the US who was picked to head the Motion Picture Producers and Distribuotrs of America (later the MPAA) that would bring more morality to the movies. Of course, during his tenure the attempts to have completely clean movies failed, at least in the eyes of the people who wanted their stricter definition of clean. The Production Code itself actually only came about in 1930, and it wouldn't be unfair to say that some of Hays' duties as MPPDA and code enforcer conflicted with one another. So in 1934 we got Joe Breen as head of a separate Production Code enforcement office, and the Hays era is known as the pre-Code era even though there was a Production Code.

I've mentioned one or two times that as head of the office enforcing the Production Code, Hays had the opportunity to speak on one of Hollywood's earliest talking movies, giving a short speech to movie goers in one of the shorts that accompanied the 1926 version of Don Juan. That short has made it to Youtube:

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