Hollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle Over Censorship Created the Modern Film Industry

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9780814751435: Hollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle Over Censorship Created the Modern Film Industry
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In 1972, The Godfather and Deep Throat were the two most popular films in the country. One, a major Hollywood studio production, the other an independently made "skin flick." At that moment, Jon Lewis asserts, the fate of the American film industry hung in the balance.
Spanning the 20th century, Hollywood v. Hard Core weaves a gripping tale of censorship and regulation. Since the industry's infancy, film producers and distributors have publicly regarded ratings codes as a necessary evil. Hollywood regulates itself, we have been told, to prevent the government from doing it for them. But Lewis argues that the studios self-regulate because they are convinced it is good for business, and that censorship codes and regulations are a crucial part of what binds the various competing agencies in the film business together.
Yet between 1968 and 1973 Hollywood films were faltering at the box office, and the major studios were in deep trouble. Hollywood's principal competition came from a body of independently produced and distributed films--from foreign art house film Last Tango in Paris to hard-core pornography like Behind the Green Door--that were at once disreputable and, for a moment at least, irresistible, even chic. In response, Hollywood imposed the industry-wide MPAA film rating system (the origins of the G, PG, and R designations we have today) that pushed sexually explicit films outside the mainstream, and a series of Supreme Court decisions all but outlawed the theatrical exhibition of hard core pornographic films. Together, these events allowed Hollywood to consolidate its iron grip over what films got made and where they were shown, thus saving it from financial ruin.

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An intriguing look at how the American film industry imposed the rating system upon itself to control competition from films independently produced and distributed.

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"Content regulation of films, Lewis argues, is less about upholding moral standards than about maximizing studio profits. At the heart of Lewis's study are events that took place in 1968--when the MPAA's film-rating system was created by its president, Jack Valenti--and 1973, when the Supreme Court made several landmark decisions that refused Federal protection to pornography, effectively eliminating its wide-scale theatrical distribution...This book offers a detailed investigation into the history behind these events; along the way, Lewis profiles key films that either challenged content regulation--such films as 'The Moon is Blue,' 'Les Amants,' 'Blow-Up,' 'Easy Rider,' and 'Pink Flamingos'--or that collapsed under its constraints--like 'Tea and Sympathy.' What sets this book apart from other recent, similar studies is its fine focus on legal history and its blow-by-blow accounts o fmajor court cases which have affected the film industry."
--Jeffrey Geiger, London Times Literary Supplement, June 15, 2001

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9780814751428: Hollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle Over Censorship Created the Modern Film Industry

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ISBN 10:  0814751423 ISBN 13:  9780814751428
Publisher: NYU Press, 2000
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