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Refocus: the Films of Preston Sturges$
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Jeff Jaeckle and Sarah Kozloff

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781474406550

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474406550.001.0001

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“The Edge of Unacceptability”: Preston Sturges and the PCA

“The Edge of Unacceptability”: Preston Sturges and the PCA

(p.83) Chapter 4 “The Edge of Unacceptability”: Preston Sturges and the PCA
Refocus: the Films of Preston Sturges

Matthew H. Bernstein

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter poses one of the most fascinating questions about Sturges’s career: how did he manage to insert so much sexual innuendo in his comedies of the 1940s, given the notorious vigilance of Joseph Breen and other members of the Production Code Administration? Part of it was in the PCA’s quixotic mandate; part of it arose from the filmmaker’s greater skill in exploiting the Code; part of it also stemmed from changing, more expansive conceptions of what met the Code’s censorship requirements. Through close examinations of script drafts and correspondence with the PCA, this chapter explores how Sturges deftly negotiated with the censors to satisfy their demands while ensuring that his satires of war and sexuality made their way to the screen, revealing that in addition to his prolific comedic imagination, Sturges was often aided by the very body that was alleged to be censoring him.

Keywords:   Production Code, Joseph Breen, innuendo, censorship, satire, sexuality

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