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Catalog Capers

26 Mar, 2009 By: Thomas K. Arnold

I hope you saw my story in this morning's USA Today on new DVD collections of "pre-code" movies (click here to see it). Back in 1934, Hollywood passed a restrictive "Production Code" that banned such cinematic naughtiness as "lustful kissing" and other salacious behavior that's now the norm in Hollywood movies. The code fell apart with the introduction of the ratings system in the late 1960s, but for more than 30 years Hollywood's attempts to legislate morality, at least as portrayed on screen, were most successful, with Code provisions faithfully adhered to by filmmakers fearful of boycotts, legal action or blacklisting. Savvy marketers at Warner and Universal have assembled collections of films produced on the eve of the Code's introduction, an interesting concept that goes beyond the traditional star- or director-powered collections. This is the kind of stuff we need to see more of; catalog sales are down significantly and we need to rekindle public interest in old movies. Packaging them in attractive boxed sets with intriguing themes is certainly an answer.

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