Censorship has been an ongoing issue from the early days of filmmaking. One hundred years of film censorship, encompassing the entire 20th century, are chronicled in this work. The freewheeling nature of films in the early decades was profoundly affected by Prohibition, the Depression and the formation of the Legion of Decency—culminating in a new age of restrictiveness in the movies.
Such powerful arbiters of public taste as Will H. Hays of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America and Joseph Breen of the Production Code Association fomented an era whereby films with contentious material were severely censored or even condemned. This held sway until rebellious filmmakers like Otto Preminger challenged the system in the 1950s, eventually resulting in the abandonment of the old regime in favor of the contemporary “G” through “NC–17” ratings system.