Why Be Good? Sexuality & Censorship in Early Cinema (2007)
*** (out of 4)
Pretty good documentary covering the early period of cinema and how sexuality brought forth the Hays Code and then the Production Code, as well as others, who tried to act for everyone by pushing their morals. The documentary covers shorts from as early as the 1890s all the way up to the Hays Code being put into place. If you're unfamiliar with this era then this documentary is a must see as it pretty much goes into all the basic information someone would need to know. We learn about the earliest days when films were censored from state to state and how scandals like Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle caused Hollywood to try and shape up and keep negative news out of the media. We hear the fate of stars such as Pickford, Dietrich, Bow, Brooks and Mae West. We learn how directors like Cecil B. DeMille would push limits with his star Gloria Swanson. The documentary does a nice job at giving us this basic information and it's strongest points is when it discusses how certain stars got fed up by Hollywood trying to control their private lives. The bad reputations of Bow and Brooks are discussed and we learn about the likes of John Gilbert who would crash and burn while trying to fight the system. The documentary does jump over certain underground films that were fighting the system, which is a shame since the exploitation genre, even more adult and pornographic materials, were being released underground. TENDER HEARTS, INTOLERANCE, THE CHEAT, WHY CHANGE YOUR WIFE, THE SHEIK, THE LADY, IT, BABY FACE, THE WILD PARTY and SHE DONE HIM WRONG are just a few of the clips shown.
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