Movies: When Bare Breasts Are Decent

The Hays Office, and the Hollywood Production Code it used to administer, are institutions as quaint and dated as Busby Berkeley musicals and brown-and-white shoes. Yet their demise and the present attempt to replace them tell a good deal about American show business—and therefore about American mores.

The code was designed in 1930 to keep actors and actresses out of bed—on the screen. It seemed like a good idea at the time, for movies were as sex-conscious as the films coming out of Sweden today. But the production code launched an era of...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!