Before the Hays

A discussion of Pre-code films and why they matter now. (AKA why they are cooler than Desperate Housewives, MSNBC and why aging actresses need to grow a pair)

Just a follow up on “Wild Boys of the Road”

So I was reading the Times this morning and this caught my attention. Yesterday I wrote about The Wild Boys of the Road and thanks so much for the thoughtful comments on that posting. Leaving kids on their own to fend for themselves is terribly sad. Good lord, I’m a full grown adult and I suck at it.
I couldn’t think of many films yesterday dealing with the plight of children, I don’t know why I didn’t think of Slumdog Millionaire but that’s a good one reflecting street life of children in Mumbai.
This film obviously was very popular. I think that this film could possibly be made in every country. Isn’t that horrible. I mean think about it, they could do an 8 Mile Millionaire and a Katrina Millionaire. I don’t think it would be that difficult to find true stories of children living on the streets across America due to financial distress and broken families.

Anyway, the article in the NY Times about the problems with youth prisons in New York is barbaric. Just so terribly sad. What’s worse, is that this is an old problem.

I wrote a bit about The Godless Girl, but I think it deserves revisiting for a different reason other than religion. The Godless Girl is famous for exposing the reform school system in the United States. Just like the New York Times article, the Los Angeles Times did a report in 1927 about Queen Silver, who was a child prodigy orator that ran an Atheistic Society for whom the film was based.

The two lead character’s in the film both end up in reformatories due to an accident from a death resulting from a conflict between the Christian and Atheistic Societies. The Aetheistic Girl and the Christian Boy are both sent to a Juvenile Reformatory. The conditions depicted in the Juvenile Reformatory were based on six months of extensive research done by Cecil B. DeMille. What is particularly cool about this is that he hired a girl to go undercover and do time in the Juvenile Reform system and the conditions were reflected in the film.

“According to journalist Dorothy Donnell, director Cecil B. DeMille spent eight months and $200,000 on research before the production began. This included the enrolling of a young male informant into a boy’s reform school and a female informant into a girl’s school. Two large scrapbooks were kept in DeMille’s archive, containing sworn testimonials by many former inmates, with graphic descriptions of the brutalities they endured. Donnell later said, “I have seen these books, and read in them things so revolting that they will probably never be printed.””

Anyway, read the article Task Force Finds Crisis in New York’s Juvenile Prison System and see the films.


Filed under: The Godless Girl, The New York Times, , , , ,

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