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Michael CurtizA Life in Film$
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Alan K. Rode

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813173917

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813173917.001.0001

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Pre-Code in Synthetic Flesh

Pre-Code in Synthetic Flesh

(p.114) 14 Pre-Code in Synthetic Flesh
Michael Curtiz

Alan K. Rode

University Press of Kentucky

Curtiz’s career is summarized during the pre-Code era of Hollywood films. The evolution of the Production Code from the 1922 appointment of Will Hays as the czar of the MPPDA to the lack of enforcement of the Code is contextually chronicled as a key driver of the nature of Warner Bros. pictures during the early years of the Depression. Zanuck pioneered the “ripped from the headlines” gangster dramas that struck a chord with audiences. After he directed The Mad Genius, with John Barrymore, Curtiz’s pay was cut as Warners lost $8 million in 1931.Following The Woman from Monte Carlo and the visually creative Alias the Doctor, Curtiz was assigned the contemporary Strange Love of Molly Louvain, starring Ann Dvorak.He hit box-office gold with Doctor X (1932), a gruesome pre-Code horror film starring Fay Wray, who recounted Curtiz’s cold, sometimes cruel behavior on the set. Curtiz’s production of The Cabin in the Cotton included his racial faux pas and his alienation of Bette Davis during their first film together.His masterly direction of 20,000 Years in Sing Sing concluded a year of worsening economic conditions for the country.

Keywords:   pre-Code, The Mad Genius, Ann Dvorak, The Strange Love of Molly Louvain, Lil Dagover, Richard Barthelmess, Curtiz and race, Dr. X, Fay Wray, 20,000 Years in Sing Sing

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