Verbal Sex: Hollywood Censorship and the Birth of the Screwball Comedy

By Cathleen Londino.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The various attempts at imposing censorship on the American film industry, ultimately became effective, when screen image successfully combined with sound. Hollywood left behind explicit images and revealing clothing, and found new ways to illustrate sexual tension. Verbal repartee, best portrayed in “screwball” comedies, replaced “forbidden” sexual content with witty dialogue. The screen depicted strong women, successful in the workplace, who sought to replace sexual conquest with sexual equality. The 1930’s gave rise to a roster of strong female actors, starring in a plethora of strong female roles. This paper examines the effects of Hollywood censorship through the image of screwball comedy.

Keywords: Hollywood, Censorship, Production Code, Screwball Comedy, Witty Dialogue, Verbal Repartee, 30’s Hollywood, Female Actors, Hay’s Office, Joseph Breen

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.25-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 775.619KB).

Dr. Cathleen Londino

Professor, Media & Film, Kean University, Union, NJ, USA

Dr. Cathleen Londino, Professor of Media & Film, earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Radio-TV-Film. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and taught media and film, at Kean University for more than 25 years. She recently returned to faculty after serving as Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences and Chair of the Media & Film Department. Combining teaching with professional activity, Londino served as producer, director, writer and talent for a number of video and film projects, including the award-winnning, “A Place for Us,” a documentary about the first African-American golf professional. Her international scholarship includes visiting scholar at the University of East Anglia, England, and invited presentations to South Korea and India. Londino has led university Travel Learn groups to China, Spain, Italy, France and the UK.