Millennium Countdown: 1937

Paper: Carson City Daily Appeal and Carson City News - 62 days to the millennium - Tuesday, Nov. 30, 1937

Publisher: Ida B. Mighels

Editor: Elbert T. Clyde

Address: 102 E. Second St.

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Movie goers of the 1920s and '30s saw shocking scenes

By Kelli Du Fresne

This 1937 ad for "A Bride for Henry" promises audiences a shock.

Though after the scenes of nudity, violence and vast array of language which we have experienced since the late 1960s, the scandal of a man jilting his wife-to-be at the altar then her taking him along for company after marrying the next guy she saw is nothing sensational.

"A Bride for Henry" staring Anne Nagel and Warren Hull was released Sept. 29, 1937. It was written by Josephine Bentham and Dean Spencer and directed by William Nye. Nye directed 116 movies, but isn't well known and little information on him is available through the Internet Movie Data Base.

Under the information on "A Bride for Henry" it says if you like "A Bride for Henry" you might like "Men Are Such Fools."

Both are Nye films though only one of his 116 "Stage Struck" received much note.

"It's interesting that somebody could have done that much and be so unknown," said Robin Holabird, deputy director of the Nevada Film Office.

Holabird said talkies - films with audible dialogue instead of subtitles - came into being in 1929.

Talkies began with the film "Jazz Singer," staring Al Jolsen which had subtitles for the dialogue and sound for the musical performances, Holabird said.

"The public took to sound so well that for a while the advertisements said 'all talking, all singing and all dancing.' Makes me wonder how they could do all talking, all singing and all dancing all at the same time.

"Movies were far more violent and a lot more sexier than we think of them today," she said. "What you find are that movies of the early 20s and 30s are a bit more risque than we expect.

"In the original "King Kong" he squishes natives between his toes and then uses one of the native's spears to pick out the natives."

Holabird said in "Public Enemy" with James Cagney, Cagney is shown shoving a grapefruit into an actress' face. This is then followed by a shoot out at the end.

"With machine guns, they were able to get a little bit gory," Holabird said.

In "Angles with Dirty Faces" an early Bowery Boy Movie from 1938, Cagney is headed for the electric chair.

"He knows he's going to be fried, but he wants to discourage others from following his footsteps so he purposely acts as a coward at his death. By doing this the ending became moral. He knew he was wrong and was doing it to discourage others from doing what he did. In these early movies they got to do a lot of horrible and nasty things. As long as they died at the end it was considered OK," Holabird said.

In 1931, Massachusetts banned gangster movies.

Under the headline "FORBID GANGSTER MOVIES" the Appeal wrote: WORCHESTER, Mass., May 25-(UP)-Talkies with plots involving gangsters, racketeer and the like have been banned permanently by police from the screens of local movie houses. Such films are demoralizing, authorities have decided.

The industry phrase "Banned in Boston" originated because of the strong influence of the Catholic Church.

Movies that would offend the church were often banned. The movie "The Moon is Blue" was banned in the 1950s because it used the word "virgin."

In another movie Cagney had a wife and a girlfriend and was banned because the loose women offended the church.

"Way after other communities opened up to movies, Boston was an area that would tend to bad the film," Holabird said.

Gangster films were bred in the Depression and began with the 1927 silent film "Underworld."

Movies began to be based on the gangsters as the real-world gangsters made their way into the news.

"Scar Face: Shame of a Nation" from 1931 suggested that it was based on the story of Al Capone, but it wasn't. It was later remade staring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfiefer showed a shower scene in which they started hacking away at their enemies with a chain saw, Holabird said.

Humphrey Bogart started becoming known as a gangster in a mid 1936 movie the "Petrified Forest" as Duke Mantee.

The Hayes Code passed in about 1932 tamed the sex and violence of the early talking movies until the late 1960s.

The 1968 production of "Bonnie and Clyde" returned violence to the silver screen.

Though the violence of the film shocked audiences, the movie was so successful that violence was brought back on a big scale.

Prior to "Bonnie and Clyde" the Hays Code came into effect in about 1932 or 1933 and by 1967 movie images had tamed down.

Couples could sleep in the same bed as long as they kept one foot on the floor, open-mouth kissing was not allowed and bad guys could do bad things, but they had to die at the end.


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