Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-Code Hollywood” as Want to Read:
Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-Code Hollywood
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-Code Hollywood

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  218 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Showcasing the pre-Code Hollywood era, this is an account of the making of films between March 1930, when the film industry adopted the Production Code, and July 1934, when it became fully enforced. Mark Vieira documents the infamous power struggle between Hollywood producers and the censors, who sought to forbid profanity, excessive violence, illegal drugs, sexual pervers ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 1st 2003 by Harry N. Abrams (first published 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sin in Soft Focus, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sin in Soft Focus

Lulu in Hollywood by Louise BrooksThe Parade's Gone By... by Kevin BrownlowClara Bow by David StennHollywood by Kevin BrownlowBuster Keaton Remembered by Eleanor Keaton
Books about Silent Movies
44th out of 146 books — 59 voters
Falling Waters by Gary D. HenryMy Autobiography by Charlie ChaplinClara Bow by David StennTrue Hollywood Noir by Dina Di MambroThe Parade's Gone By... by Kevin Brownlow
Best of Old Hollywood
149th out of 295 books — 106 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,409)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 01, 2009 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cinema
One of the best books on pre-code films; those movies made in Hollywood between 1930 and 1934, which broke the rules of self-censorship which were really only lightly enforced during that period. Lots of black and white photos in this book. A great reference work that has led me to a great number of pre-code films that I would never have heard of otherwise. A lot of fun to cross reference this films mentioned in this book with the monthly TCM broadcast schedule! Set the DVR to record!
Jun 18, 2007 Avalon rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to learn about film
Ah, the Pre-Code days, where men could be effeminate, women could be promiscuous, and stories didn't always end happily.

From 1929-1934, movies reflected a very different image than the treacle most people associate with old films. They were raw, gritty, and most of all, realistic. Divorce, crime, prostitution, poverty...all these things were dealt with openly and with brutal honesty. So much was lost when the Hays Code was finally enforced with an iron fist - it took until the 1960s to see that
Mar 06, 2011 aloveiz rated it really liked it
Good design. Well written. Chronicles of pop entertainment industry tribulations aren't really of interest to me but I considered buying this. The material is addressed so lovingly. Unabashed loyalty makes this work more credible, useful, informative than the "scholarly" accounts of the 1930 production code and the moral influence of film arts.
Mar 14, 2009 Greta rated it really liked it
Another good book on pre-code movies. Oversized, with great pictures, it is arranged in chronological order and talks about negotiations and cuts in individual films. Lots of stuff on how the censorship office worked
Samantha Glasser
Dec 09, 2015 Samantha Glasser rated it it was amazing
Shelves: movies, non-fiction
Beautiful and informative, this coffee table book is the best of both worlds. It is filled with facts about specific films and censorship in general. The photographs are gorgeous and worth seeking out.
Jim Dooley
Apr 28, 2015 Jim Dooley rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book…one of the best “History of Hollywood” books it has been my pleasure to read.

The emphasis here is on a “no man’s land” period from 1930 to 1934 when sound added a new layer to the content that moviegoers might find objectionable in addition to the artistic visual displays from the silent era. With individual states setting up their own film censor boards (and enforcing cuts before a motion picture could be exhibited in their jurisdictions) and fears of the creation o
Firstly, the photo reproductions in this book are second-to-none. Just ravishing. The nitrate halo imagery of the film stills of that era can never be duplicated, but at least they're reproduced faithfully here.

Secondly, the text is pithy and to-the-point. This is a good basic primer on the relatively lax Hayes Code era of the early '20s up to 1934 when the strict Breen Office Production Code enforcement went into effect to severely curb sexual, violent and subversive content in Hollywood movies
Jul 23, 2009 Sapote3 rated it really liked it
A very satisfying survey of pre-code Hollywood, with glowing publicity photos and stills. The author does meander quite a bit - the narrative is supposed, I think, to be organized by epochs within the code but it jumps around and tries to address themes like abortion, gay people, etc at the same time - but the pictures make up for it. I did resolve to watch the movies cited in this book, and I watched exactly one, the thoroughly delightful A Free Soul, in which Norma Shearer learns society won't ...more
Apr 29, 2013 Scott rated it it was amazing
A really excellent look at the "pre-code" period from 1930 to July, 1934. The author gets into great detail about the games the studios and the "Hays Office" played during this time. The films of this period deal with themes and/or situations in a more frank manner. Some of these films were so notorious, that that were unable to get approval later from the "Breen Office" for re-release. Beautifully illustrated with some very rare production stills, this is a must for anyone wanting to know more ...more
Anna (Yoda Is My Spirit Animal)
This would get a four-star for the pictures alone, as it really is more of a coffee table book anyways (and I'm a sucker for old-Hollywood pics, especially Silent-Era or Pre-Code). That said, there was some good information in there as well, especially for those not really familiar with the concept of Pre-Code. Not much I hadn't already heard before, but once again, wasn't really in it for the words so much as the pictures. :D
Sep 25, 2011 Dfordoom rated it it was amazing
Prior to 1934, when the Production Code started to be enforced, Hollywood indulged in an orgy of cinematic sex, sin and sleaze. This was the notorious pre-code era. The highlights of this book are the stills (gorgeously reproduced) that capture the flavour of this notorious era of movie wickedness. Highly recommended.
Mar 27, 2009 Shelley rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, media
The text was very interesting and well-put together, but I kept getting distracted by all the pretty, pretty pictures.
Feb 25, 2012 Jaime rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Hubba-hubba! Now these are my kind of moving picture shows!
Coffee table book of great film stills.
Nancy L.
Aug 04, 2007 Nancy L. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great coffee-table book on pre-Code Hollywood.
Andrea Marshall
Andrea Marshall rated it really liked it
Jun 29, 2016
Dawn marked it as to-read
Jun 27, 2016
Amanda marked it as to-read
Jun 27, 2016
Tom Dailey
Tom Dailey marked it as to-read
Jun 26, 2016
Xavierie marked it as to-read
Jun 25, 2016
Suez Smith
Suez Smith marked it as to-read
Jun 25, 2016
Alastair Kemp
Alastair Kemp marked it as to-read
Jun 25, 2016
P00gz is currently reading it
Jun 24, 2016
Karen marked it as to-read
Jun 22, 2016
Rebecca marked it as to-read
Jun 22, 2016
Caroline marked it as to-read
Jun 21, 2016
Sam Novick
Sam Novick marked it as to-read
Jun 19, 2016
Robert W. Meyerholtz
Robert W. Meyerholtz marked it as to-read
Jun 19, 2016
Raquel marked it as to-read
Jun 17, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 46 47 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood
  • Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema; 1930-1934
  • The Parade's Gone By...
  • Without Lying Down: Screenwriter Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood
  • Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture
  • Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969
  • Silent Stars
  • City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940s
  • Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara
  • American Silent Film
  • From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies
  • Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild
  • Swanson on Swanson
  • Jean Arthur: The Actress Nobody Knew
  • Louise Brooks
  • Lulu in Hollywood
  • The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era
  • Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir

Share This Book