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Frances Marion: Censorship and the Screenwriter in Hollywood, 1929-1931

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The careful study of the screenplay - including archival study - can clarify our view of film history. While some film historians argue studios and studio bosses disregarded censors in the early 1930s before the Production Code Administration (PCA) was formed, archival research reveals screenwriter Frances Marion faced escalating censorship pressure at MGM in 1929 and 1930 as she moved through several drafts for Anna Christie (1930), The Big House (1930) and The Secret Six (1931). This research provides insight into the nature of the problems Marion faced and exposes the day-to-day frustrations and complications in the life of one screenwriter struggling to create art within a convoluted matrix of censorship negotiations as the Production Code was being drafted and ratified.
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Keywords: Anna Christie; Frances Marion; MGM; The Big House; The Secret Six; censorship; screenwriting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Pepperdine University

Publication date: February 9, 2012

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Screenwriting aims to explore the nature of writing for the moving image in the broadest sense, highlighting current academic thinking around scriptwriting whilst also reflecting on this with a truly international perspective and outlook. The journal will encourage the investigation of a broad range of possible methodologies and approaches to studying the scriptwriting form, in particular: the history of the form, contextual analysis, the process of writing for the moving image, the relationship of scriptwriting to the production process and how the form can be considered in terms of culture and society. The journal also aims to encourage research in the field of screenwriting, the linking of scriptwriting practice to academic theory, and to support and promote conferences and networking events on this subject.
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