Censorship, Film Noir, and Double Indemnity

Biesen, Sheri Chinen
February 1995
Film & History (03603695);Feb-May1995, Vol. 25 Issue 1/2, p40
Academic Journal
The article reports that the motion picture industry trade publications and archival records indicate that "Double Indemnity" was a pivotal film in the evolution of Production Code Administration (PCA) censorship and wartime production restrictions providing the necessary conditions for the dark style and paranoid thematics of film noir. As Fred Stanley noted in 1944, this renewed interest in certain types of storied sordidness and ultra-sophistication in response to "Double Indemnity" has not prompted any easing of Hays office or State censorship regulations. There have been none and none is expected. It is just that Hollywood is learning to use finesse in dealing with a variety of different plot situations which, if treated obviously, would be unsuitable. Indeed, "Double Indemnity" was both influenced by the Production Code, and influenced how the Code was applied (or not applied) to later films. In a sense it opened the censorial floodgates for a darker cinema. This gradual easing of the Code to accommodate what industry censor Joseph Breen termed "low tone and sordid flavor" would enable an abundant proliferation of films noir to be produced in Hollywood with the Code's Seal of approval.


Related Articles

  • The Catholic Movie Censorship. Yeaman, Elizabeth // New Republic;10/5/38, Vol. 96 Issue 1244, p233 

    Focuses on Joseph I. Breen, a Catholic of Irish descent who censors movies in the U.S. Information that the pictures of producers who do not heed his dicta are denied a Purity Seal, without which the pictures are not shown in the hundreds of theatres where they must be sold to earn back the cost...

  • Verbal Sex: Hollywood Censorship and the Birth of the Screwball Comedy. Londino, Cathleen // International Journal of the Image;2012, Vol. 2 Issue 1, p25 

    The various attempts at imposing censorship on the American film industry, ultimately became effective, when screen image successfully combined with sound. Hollywood left behind explicit images and revealing clothing, and found new ways to illustrate sexual tension. Verbal repartee, best...

  • THE BACK OF ME HAND TO YOU. McEvoy, J. P. // Saturday Evening Post;12/24/1938, Vol. 211 Issue 26, p8 

    The article discusses the contributions of Joseph Ignatius Breen as head censor of movies in the U.S. It also provides some ideas on the law that Breen has imposed, the Production Code. With the emergence of the code, movies are properly screened and banned it they convey immoral stories. He...

  • Censorship still an issue. Sumarno, Marselli // Variety;7/17/95, Vol. 359 Issue 11, p48 

    Reports on the censorship of motion pictures and television programs in Indonesia. Censorship bodies; Examples of films that were the victims of censorship in Indonesia.

  • Censoring film in Britain. Barratt, A.J.B.; Matthews, Tom Dewe // Sight & Sound;Jun95 Forbidden Cinema Supplement, Vol. 5 Issue 6, p2 

    Chronicles the history of film censorship in Great Britain. British Board of Film Censors' (BBFC) film categories; Cinematograph Act's requirement for cinemas to be licensed by local authorities; Video Recordings Act (VRA) of 1984; Increase in BBFC's functions.

  • Possible return to movie censorship.  // Christian Century;3/18/87 - 3/25/87, Vol. 104 Issue 9, p277 

    With the institution of a classification system in 1968, the film industry voluntarily practiced restraint in order to prevent local censorship boards from imposing restrictions on moviemaking. Though the system served that purpose, it also provided an excuse for trivializing sexuality in the...

  • Celluloid zeros. Williams, Alex; Dubner, Stephen J. // New York;2/14/94, Vol. 27 Issue 7, p18 

    Reminisces on the film industry during the time of the Hollywood Production Code. Banning of all tongue-kissing, dope-smoking and rye-swilling scenes; Thriving of 1930s romantic comedies; State of the film industry in the 1990s; Comparison of how passion is portrayed in the old and modern cinema.

  • Stuff a Gag in the V-Chip. Hilgart, Art // Humanist;Sep/Oct97, Vol. 57 Issue 5, p3 

    Opinion. Presents the author's view on movie censorship. Problem with ratings and censorship; Violence allowed by censors; Conflict between censorship and the right to freedom of speech.

  • Moral crusade post 1960.  // Sight & Sound;Jun95 Forbidden Cinema Supplement, Vol. 5 Issue 6, p22 

    Chronicles the history of film censorship related to moral crusade in Great Britain. Mary Whitehouse's launching of the Clean Up TV Campaign (CUTC) at Birmingham Town Hall; Establishment of the National Viewers and Listeners Association (NVALA); Launching of the Nationwide Festival of Light (NFOL).


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics