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Essay #1: The Production Code Administration The Academy of Motion Picture Arts

Essay #1: The
Production Code Administration
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Margaret
Herrick Library houses the archival records of the Production Code Administration,
many of which have been digitized. For this essay, you will go to:
Using these papers as your primary source material, you will
trace the censorship history of one of the following films:
· Top Hat (RKO, 1935)
· Fury (MGM, 1936)
· My Man Godfrey (Universal, 1936)
· The Plainsman (Paramount, 1937)
· The Philadelphia Story (MGM, 1940)
· High Sierra (Warner Bros., 1941)
· Cabin in the Sky (MGM, 1943)
· The Razor’s Edge (20th Century Fox,
· Raw Deal (Eagle-Lion, 1948)
· On Dangerous Ground (RKO, 1952)
In reading these Production Code files, pay close attention
to the correspondence between the Breen Office and the studio. What seem to be
the PCA’s main causes for concern? What types of changes does the PCA request?
How does the Studio address the PCA’s concerns? How do the PCA’s comments
relate to the historical and/or social context of the film’s production? What
conclusions can you draw about the role of the PCA in the film production
As part of this assignment, you will also need to watch the
film under consideration. How were the PCA’s suggestions ultimately realized in
the final film?
Finally, you will read at least one review of the film,
written contemporaneous to its release. To what extent does the review of the
film address any of the matters that were of concern to the Breen Office? How
does the critic’s approach to reading the film differ from the censor’s?
This paper should reflect both primary source research and original analysis. Engage critically with the film and
these archival materials. A strong essay will do more than just recount facts
discovered in the Production Code files; a strong essay will synthesize and
analyze the information located in the files, and it will make an argument
about censorship and cinema during the Production Code era based on this
material evidence.
Final essays should be 7-8 pages in length and should
include proper citation of your sources.

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