The Hays Code in Film Noir

1982 words 8 pages
The Hays Code in Film Noir
The Motion Picture Production Code, commonly known as the Hays Code, was adopted in March 1930, though it was not truly enforced until four years later in 1934. This set of rules had tremendously influenced the way Hollywood movies were made for a number of years. This code was based on the ethics and norms if that time. There were three main principals of the Hays Code. The first was no picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standard of those who see it. What was meant by this was that sympathy should not be portrayed towards crimes, wrongdoings, evil or sins. The second stated that only a correct standard of living could be presented that are only subject to the requirements of drama and
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Spade’s profanity had to be altered as well, in one scene the script originally had him say “By God” however this line had to be changed to “By Gad” since the use of the word God was forbidden unless used reverently. This little change made it compliable with the Hays code yet the viewer still could interoperate that the phrase was referring to the word God nonetheless. Spade’s attitude towards the police and lawyers had to be stifled as well. It was not accepted under the Hays Code to show sympathy towards a character that was associated with a crime against the law. The idea was if they showed Spade challenging the authorities or treated them with disrespect, views would see it and interoperate as something socially acceptable.
Watching The Maltese Falcon on film and reading the book provided a much different experience since the content was so different. People of the time were intrigued by these new and bizarre storylines of hardboiled fiction that was riveting and entertaining. In the film, it was much more difficult to do this because of the restrictive guidelines. If people wanted to get a grittier version of the story they would have to read the book since there was not such a code that controlled certain content in books at this time. An example of this could compare the difference in the portrayal of Brigid in the book and the film. Brigid plays a key role as the femme fatale in the storyline and adds