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Clean with Breen Picking up a Man on a Park bench: Breen or not breen?

I watched two films made during the Code-enforcement years, when Mr. Breen administered the Production Code in Hollywood. In these Production-code-approved films, a woman meets a man on a park bench and in less than 5 minutes, she invites him to pose as her husband or goes out on the town with him. It's a good thing it was during the Code-enforcement years, because if these films were made during the pre-Code years, something horrible would happen to the women--they'd be murdered, they'd murder, or worse, become prostitutes. But during the Breen years, the men are honorable and it's safe for a woman to pick up a man on a park bench.

She can cook! And he slept on the porch

In If You Could Only Cook, the man on the bench in Herbert Marshall and the woman inviting him is Jean Arthur. The funny thing too is that Jean Arthur thinks Herbert Marshall is poor. Somehow she doesn't notice that he's wearing an impeccably well tailored and pressed suit. Perhaps she's too busy looking for a job. If she doesn't notice that, it makes you wonder if she wouldn't notice a serial killer. Actually, because we're in the Breen years, he's a CEO of a car company.

Ginger's a bit smarter than Jean--she got the $ first

In the second film, Fifth Avenue Girl, Ginger Rogers is the girl on the park bench and she's a bit more jaded than Jean--snarky even as only Ginger can be. Before she goes off with Walter Connolly to celebrate his birthday, she insists on seeing the money, which he entrusts to her. I guess she could always take a cab home if things get iffy. And, like Herbert Marshall, Walter Connolly's a CEO, but this time of a pump manufacturing company--Amalgamated--if you've ever heard of it, Ginger hadn't.

Breen or Not Breen, my mother would not approve of this behavior. Women, do not go off with men you meet on park benches. To be serious, it's as though the Production Code cleaned up the world so much that it provided a false view that could be harmful.

Read more artlcles about the Breen years, including articles imagining how a film could be cleaned up to be Breen-approved at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2018/10/12/the-second-annual-great-breening-blogathon/

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