A DECEPTION OF POWER AND FREEDOM: THE FALLEN WOMEN OF PRE-CODE ERA

Keywords: Pre-Code, MPPDA, Production Code, Fallen Woman Films, Will Hays

Abstract

This study examines the Pre-Code era (between the years of 1930 and 1934) which

empowers the sanctions of Production Code that determines the moral stand of the

most glorious age of Hollywood. This four years period is the era that uncovered

the war between film industry and the church and is identified with the accusation of

fictitious immorality against Hollywood by manipulations of the church. The sexual

themes (specifically feminine sexual power) of fallen woman films which became popular

just after the Great Depression led the conservative pressure groups to go into action

against movies. On the other hand, according to more liberal film historians,

fallen woman films are marked as a historical moment that women afflicted male

authority, became independent and gained right to speak for their life. This article

puts this conflict in the center to demonstrate that the films are not so immoral, as

conservative wing branded them and, furthermore, detects that the women in Hollywood

films between 1930 and 1934 were not more independent than any other period in

film history. In these narratives it is seen that a narrative strategy and plot is chosen

that secures the man’s phallocentric dominance and legitimates the woman’s subjection

by naturalizing it - the woman in the film, quite seemingly, questions the male

power, ends his dominance upon herself but, at the end, concedes to go under

the male dominance again, with her own consent. This article, while considering many

different plots of fallen woman films, challenges these assertions.

Published
2022-07-22