Skip to comments.How Did "Stagecoach" (1939) Get Past the Censors?
Posted on 09/09/2018 3:35:18 PM PDT by PJ-Comix
One question that has intrigued me for years is HOW did the John Ford movie starring John Wayne, "Stagecoach," make it past the censors in 1939. Back in those days the Hollywood Code was strictly enforced yet "Stagecoach" clearly featured a prostitute which would have been prohibited. Even worse, she was portrayed in a sympathetic light.
Yeah, I know it did not explicitly say that Dallas the Prostitute, played by Clair Trevor, was a prostitute but the movie left no doubt that was the case. Particularly revealing was the scene in Lordsville when against her objections, the naive Ringo Kid (John Wayne) walked her to her new job and even he realized that Dallas was a hooker which was made obvious by all the hookers hanging out in the section of town where she was going.
Yet somehow, the censors let this pass. Wasn't there at least some sort of objection by the censors (mainly Joseph Bream who was really strict)? Anyway, still amazed that "Stagecoach" made it to the Silver Screen back in those days complete with it's all too obvious prostitute character.
1. Like you say, they never came out and said she was a prostitute.
2. John Ford had a lot of pull as a director.
3. Claire Trevor was (along with the rest of the cast) fantastic.
The censors were too busy with GWTW....Damn.
Similar to Marlene Dietrich in “Destry Rides Again,” with James Stewart. Same year. Must have been a good one for frontier ladies of ill repute.
I think The Wizard of Oz was also released that year.
Didn’t they similarly have Belle Watling in GWTW put in a positive light despite her obvious line of work ?
From the TCM website:
“The Breen Office [aka The Hays Office], the censorship watchdog in Hollywood, rejected Dudley Nichols’ treatment because of the story’s sympathetic portrayal of the prostitute Dallas, Doc Boone’s constant drunkenness, the Ringo Kid’s thirst for revenge and the marshal’s involvement in some deaths. Nichols’ first draft script took the Breen Office suggestions to heart and the production went ahead without further objections from the censors.”
Hmm, I was just watching El Dorado with JW, James Caan and Robert Mitchum a week ago on Blu Ray and EVERY woman in that movie was outrageously hot, including the mexican cantina girls.
I read that while filming the popular series, “Gunsmoke”, in the 1950’s, they had to stop showing the “girls” going up the stairs (in the Long Branch Saloon) with guys, because of the “optics” of it.
That was about 30 years after “Stagecoach”.
Of course, I’m sure the censors were a bit more strict for TV, than for the movie theaters.
1939, the best year for movies EVA!
Maybe I'll resume watching tonight. It had a lot of good songs from the 1970s. One of them was "Driver's Seat" by Sniff 'n' The Tears and I was just posting about that song a few days ago!
“Zee vat za boys in za back room will have ...”
Censorship ended in 1968.
They never said Miss Kitty ran a whore house inside the Longbranch but everyone knew she did.
Back in 1982, I stayed at a hotel in Cedar Rapids, Iowa called the Longbranch.
On certain channels, they now skip past the scene where James Caan puts the flower pot on his head and goes “ching chong ching”
The character was called a “floozy” in the TCM summary of the 1960’s remake when Ann Margaret played the part. And “dance hall girls” was the universal description in every cowboy movie I saw while I was growing up.
It never occurred to me that the girls were prostitutes. Boys were cowboys and the girls couldn’t all be schoolmarms, you know. Not enough school houses...
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