Primary Sources: Hollywood, Censorship, and the Motion Picture Production Code, 1927-1968

Formed in 1934, the PCA was an agency of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (the MPPDA, after 1945, the Motion Picture Association of America) that certified films meeting the standards of the Production Code. Standard practice was for the PCA to review the scripts of the films first, identifying problem areas that had to be addressed prior to shooting the film. Only after seeing the final cut of the film would the PCA’s Code Seal be issued.

Sourced from the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Hollywood, Censorship, and the Motion Picture Production Code, 1927-1968 is a collection of Production Code Administration (PCA) files that provide insight into this process of preproduction and final review and the negotiations between the PCA and the motion picture studios over details in the films. The files also reflect Hollywood’s growing resistance to the Code after World War II when filmmakers wanted to tackle topics that had been previously discouraged by the PCA, such as anti-Semitism, racism, alcoholism, mental illness and the like.

It wasn’t until 1956, though, that the Production Code underwent a major rewrite and once some restrictions were loosened, others soon followed. What influence the PCA had quickly waned and in 1968 it was formally replaced by the Code and Rating Administration, which did not regulate the movies, but instead provided ratings that would serve as warnings for moviegoers.

These files were originally gathered together as a microfilm collection and do not include the entire PCA collection of the Margaret Herrick Library. Instead, they are a representative sampling of files on 500 films that were selected by the staff of the Library’s Special Collections Department. The files include story and script reviews, interoffice memos, studio correspondence, trade-press clippings, letters from moviegoers, and much more.


Resource: Kanopy for streaming media

The Library has recently subscribed to Kanopy, an on-demand streaming video service which provides access to more than 26,000 films, including titles from PBS, BBC, Criterion Collection, Media Education Foundation.

It is simple to make clips from these films and embed them (or the full films) in bCourses. Please contact me if you need any assistance with this.

Many films have closed captioning, and Kanopy is in the process of adding more every month. You can limit to only captioned films through Advanced Search. Let me know if you need closed captioning for a particular title, and we can request it from Kanopy.


Primary Source: British Pathé

(from their web site) “Newsreel archive British Pathé has uploaded its entire collection of 85,000 historic films, in high resolution, to its YouTube channel. This unprecedented release of vintage news reports and cinemagazines is part of a drive to make the archive more accessible to viewers all over the world….

“British Pathé was once a dominant feature of the British cinema experience, renowned for first-class reporting and an informative yet uniquely entertaining style. It is now considered to be the finest newsreel archive in existence. Spanning the years from 1896 to 1976, the collection includes footage – not only from Britain, but from around the globe – of major events, famous faces, fashion trends, travel, sport and culture. The archive is particularly strong in its coverage of the First and Second World Wars.”

A link to the British Pathe website with its content categorized by subject and type can be found under The Library’s Electronic Resources page.