Why Be Good? Sexuality & Censorship in Early Cinema (2007)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 5.7/10 from 95 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 1 critic

An overview of the portrayal and influence of sexuality on film, from the silent era until the administration of the Hayes Code in 1934.


0Check in
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Why Be Good? (1929)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A flapper with a dubious reputation enjoys a vivacious night of dancing and finds herself romantically linked to her boss.

Director: William A. Seiter
Stars: Colleen Moore, Neil Hamilton, Bodil Rosing
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The assistant stage manager of a small-time theatrical company (Polly Browne) is forced to understudy for the leading lady (Rita) at a matinée performance at which an illustrious Hollywood ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Twiggy, Christopher Gable, Max Adrian
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Various film historians, film makers, and cultural commentators discuss the cultural, political, economic and religious reasons for what is known as the pre-code era of Hollywood movie ... See full summary »

Stars: Valerie Spencer, John Landis, Jonathan Kuntz
Complicated Women (TV Movie 2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A look at actresses who starred in films with thought-provoking subjects made between 1929-1934 - before the Hollywood Production Code was enforced.

Director: Hugh Munro Neely
Stars: Jane Fonda, Frances Dee, Kitty Carlisle
Parole Girl (1933)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A young woman released on parole vows to ruin the life of the man who insisted on sending her to jail.

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: Mae Clarke, Ralph Bellamy, Marie Prevost


Cast overview, first billed only:
Herself / Narrator
Chris Basinger ...
Jeanine Basinger ...
Cari Beauchamp ...
Leatrice Joy Gilbert ...
Herself (as Leatrice Gilbert Fountain)
Bob Mitchell ...
Barry Paris ...
Maria Riva ...
Michael Schlesinger ...
Kevin Thomas ...
Marc Wanamaker ...
William Wellman Jr. ...


An overview of the portrayal and influence of sexuality on film, from the silent era until the administration of the Hayes Code in 1934.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

23 May 2007 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

See  »

Did You Know?


Features The Son of the Sheik (1926) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Adequate As History.
15 October 2014 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

I don't know that you couldn't find this sort of material and the values it projects in a half dozen other documentaries, yet it's not bad. It rolls along with excerpts from early films through 1934 and show us clips of sex bombs and beauties (all women except for Valentino) who came and went during Hollywood's heyday.

Some of the stills are unusual. Those of us used to seeing Marlene Dietrich in her later American movies may be surprised, as I was, at her fresh, youthful beauty, of which there was only a glimpse in "Der Blaue Engel." Extended treatment is given to Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, and Mae West. Jean Harlow bobs through a scene or two.

Half a dozen talking heads describe the evolution of censorship in Hollywood movies, but most of it will be familiar to buffs. There are a few topless scenes but they're brief. It's not a very sexy movie. Pushing the envelope is represented by somebody like Joan Crawford or Barbara Stanwyck shouting, "Men made me what I am!" (Gasp.) The narration by Diane Lane is informative but clumsy. It gets it point across almost despite itself. "Some queens faded into the shadows; others continued to wear the mask of stardom." Something like that; I wasn't taking notes.

The social background -- the liberation of women and the relaxation of Edwardian norms -- during and after the war (Kids, that's World War I) are briefly limned it. "Vamps" like Theda Bara ("Arab Death") didn't last long. "Flappers" like Clara Bow lasted into the sound period.

The dialectic between the gods of Hollywood movies and the agencies of Breen and Hayes are described. My God, I'm glad I don't look like Will Hayes, ex Postmaster, who was a censor. He looks like some kind of chimera, as if one of his parents had been a comic book character. His agency would simply take a pair of scissors, snip out any parts of a film they found offensive, and throw the pieces away -- gone to hell, I suppose.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: