In the brief window between the announcement of the Hays Code censorship guidelines in 1930 and the creation of a body with sufficient resources to implement them in 1934, Hollywood studios were able to portray America with a realism previously unseen in its history. Here, Mike Mashon explores the history of demands for a system of moral oversight and shows how conservatives lobbied to enforce it, while James Bell examines the new-found freedoms filmmakers enjoyed in their depiction of taboo subjects from adultery and poverty to crime.
Plus: Changing of the guard
A new roster of stars shot to fame in the pre-Code era, but some soon started to flounder in the clampdown that followed. By Dan Callahan.
God’s lonely man
John Michael McDonagh’s follow-up to The Guard tells the blackly comic tale of a rural Irish priest who is threatened with death by a vengeful parishioner. Here, the director outlines his influences, including Hitchcock, Melville, Bresson… and Home and Away. By Trevor Johnston.
Forbidden fruit: the wild alchemy of Walerian Borowczyk
The late Polish director may have alienated some critics with his idiosyncratic career trajectory – travelling from masterful short animations and the visual poetry of his early features Goto, Isle of Love and Blanche to the dismal softcore travesty of Emmanuelle 5 – but his perverse, confrontational narratives are now ripe for reappraisal. By David Thompson.
Punk’s not dead
After more than a decade of dark, difficult work from Lukas Moodysson, the director has returned to the observant, upbeat charm of his earliest ﬁlms with We Are the Best!, a tale of a trio of young female misﬁts in Sweden in the early 1980s who decide to form a band. By Ashley Clark.
The Sight & Sound Interview: Jeremy Thomas part 2
The making of a super-producer In the concluding part of our career overview, the veteran producer outlines his rapidly developing profile following his return from Australia where his feature debut, Mad Dog Morgan, was shot in 1975. He discusses his longstanding creative relationships with Nicolas Roeg, Bernardo Bertolucci and David Cronenberg, laments the passing of a wild era of maverick filmmaking led by ‘extremists’ such as Sam Peckinpah, and explains why he has had to ‘mutate or die’ in order to continue working successfully in an increasingly conformist modern industry. Interview by Nick James.
Films of the month
Blue Ruin / Exhibition / Ilo Ilo / The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears/L’Etrange Couleur des larmes de ton corps
plus reviews of After the Night / Até ver a luz / Après la nuit; Almost Married; Calvary; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Cupcakes; Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus; Divergent; An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker / Epizoda u zivotu beraca zeljeza; Escape from Planet Earth;The Informant/Gibraltar; The Invisible War; Ironclad 2 Battle for Blood; Khumba; The Last Day on Mars; Locke; Looking for Light Jane Bown; The Love Punch; The Lunchbox; Magic Magic; The Motel Life; Muppets Most Wanted; Non-stop; Omar; Pioneer/Pionér; The Quiet Ones; The Raid 2 Berandal; The Sea; 300 Rise of an Empire; Tracks; 20 Feet from Stardom; Veronica Mars; We Are the Best!/Vi är bäst!; We Are the Freaks; Wrinkles/Arrugas; You & Me Forever; Yves Saint Laurent