Record #1206

Record Type:
Gabriel Hess
Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
Reel 12
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Production Code

Several lawsuits testing the legality of PCA enforcement are pending. Hess wants to clarify the status of nudity in travelogues or ethnographic films with a new resolution.


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25 October 1939 Hess to Hays: "As you may know, I have become increasingly aware of certain acute problems presenting themselves in connection with the administration of the Production Code because of the fact that there are several lawsuits threatened and one particularly which it appears will be filed shortly. "In connection with such problems I had occasion to examine the legal basis for the justification which could be pressed in a legal proceeding for that portion of the Production Code which prohibits nudity in its application to authentic travel pictures which authentically, although realistically portray natives of foreign countries in their native garbs and thereby perhaps show more of the human person than would be considered proper in feature pictures of Western civilization. I have been forced reluctantly to the conclusion that it would be rather difficult to be able to work out such a defense. I confess that I could not have unimpaired confidence that the Code and its application in such instances would judicially be found to have legal justification. "Under the circumstances I have sought to see what could be done by way of strengthening the legal basis for the Production Code in such instances and herewith I attach a proposed interpretation which I have drafted. I believe this interpretation in its broad language provides all the safeguards that need to be provided against abuse by those who might be quick to take advantage of any relaxation for their own purposes. I know that you will be appreciative of the problem and that this interpretation will have very careful consideration. I strongly recommend that it be presented to the Board for adoption. "RESOLVED that the provisions of Paragraph 1, 3 and 4 of Sub-division VI of the Production Code in their application to costumes, nudity, indecent or undue exposure, and dancing costumes shall not be interpreted to exclude authentically photographed scenes photographed in a foreign land of natives of such foreign land showing native life if such scenes are a necessary and integral part a motion picture depicting exclusively such land and native life, provided that no such scenes shall be intrinsically objectionable nor made a part of any motion picture produced in any studio and provided further that no emphasis shall be made in any scenes of the customs or garb of such natives or in the exploitation thereof." -- passed, October 25, 1939.

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