Pre-Code Hollywood refers to the era in the American film industry between the introduction of sound in the late 1920s and the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code (usually labeled, albeit inaccurately after 1934, as the “Hays Code”) censorship guidelines. Although the Code was adopted in 1930, oversight was poor and it did not become rigorously enforced until July 1, 1934. Before that date, movie content was restricted more by local laws, negotiations between the Studio Relations Committee (SRC) and the major studios, and popular opinion than strict adherence to the Hays Code, which was often ignored by Hollywood filmmakers.
As a result, films in the late 1920s and early 1930s included sexual innuendo, miscegenation, profanity, illegal drug use, promiscuity, prostitution, infidelity, abortion, intense violence and homosexuality.
Perhaps it was because I was so unhappy that you saw the real me. Please forgive for that too? But I’m home now, Home where I can run away from everyone and hide till I want to come out of my shell, Home where I’m able to relax. Home where the dear walls know my every secret. Well, after all Dan, don’t you understand, it’s just my Home, the only place where I am able to hide, the only place in all the world I can run to and as I walk in my front gate and close it it seems as if I’m closing the gate to all activities, all human beings and deeds, I’m in my world, to do as I will. Now do you know? My walls do not expect me to act, to be a woman or to be a lady. They expect only the child, who plays with her toys, or they expect my tears.
Excerpt from a letter written by Joan Crawford and addressed to longtime corresponding fan Dan Mahony, 1927