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Academy Film Scholars Lecture


Monday, March 17th at 7:30pm at the Linwood Dunn Theatre

The Academy Film Scholars featuring Thomas Doherty

HOLLYWOOD CENSOR: Joseph I. Breen & The Production Code Administration

In the third in a series of lectures spotlighting recipients of Academy Film Scholars grants, Thomas Doherty, professor of American studies at Brandeis University, will present highlights from and discuss his research for his newly published scholars grant book, Hollywood’s Censor: Joseph I. Breen & The Production Code Administration.

Doherty’s book tells the absorbing yet little-known story of one of the most powerful men in motion picture industry history. Joseph I. Breen was a media-savvy former journalist and public relations agent who reigned over the Production Code Administration, the Hollywood office tasked with censoring the American screen, from 1934 to 1954. Breen dictated “final cut” over thousands of movies – more than any other individual in American cinema, before or since. His editorial decisions had a profound effect on the images and values projected by Hollywood during the Great Depression, World War II and the Cold War.

Breen vetted story lines, blue-penciled dialogue, and excised footage (a process that came to be known as “Breening”) to fit within his strict moral framework. Empowered by industry insiders and millions of like-minded Catholics who supported his missionary zeal, Breen strove to protect “innocent souls” from the temptations beckoning from the motion picture screen. There were few elements of cinematic production beyond Breen’s reach – he oversaw the editing of A-list feature films, low-budget B-movies, short subjects, previews of coming attractions, and even cartoons. Populated by a colorful cast of characters, Doherty’s insightful, behind-the-scenes account brings a tumultuous era – and an individual both feared and admired – to vivid life.

Thomas Doherty serves on the editorial board of Cineaste and is the author of Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture; Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930–1934; Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II; and Teenagers and Teenpics: The Juvenilization of American Movies in the 1950s.

Established in 1999, the Academy Film Scholars program is designed to stimulate and support the creation of new and significant works of film scholarship about aesthetic, cultural, educational, historical, theoretical or scientific aspects of theatrical motion pictures.

Official Academy Website

Admission is free, but tickets are required. Tickets available March 3. The Linwood Dunn Theater is located at the Academy's Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, 1313 Vine Street, Hollywood. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. All seating is unreserved. For additional information, please call the Academy at (310) 247-3600.

Tickets may be obtained online, by mail (HTML or PDF format) or at the Academy during regular business hours.



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