Hays Production Code

In 1934, Hollywood voluntarily began enforcing the Hays Motion Picture Production code in order to placate a growing movement concerned with what they viewed as the moral decay on display on the silver screen. Films with violence, prostitution, nudity, profanity, race inter-mingling, or homosexuality suddenly found themselves under instance scrutiny, and by in large rejected by film censorship board.

For decades the Hays code would seriously limit what audiences would see on the motion picture screen. However, there was a brief window before 1934, known as pre-code Hollywood, when films were more adventurous and reflected the complexities of society. In that pre-code era several promising African American actresses burst onto the screen, only to find themselves locked out of any major roles once the Hays code was enforced.