The Quick 10: 9 Movies and Shows Affected by the Hays Code

igoriss/iStock via Getty Images
igoriss/iStock via Getty Images

It was this day in 1930 that the Motion Picture Production Code (AKA the Hays Code) went into effect, imposing a set of strict guidelines on Hollywood that are laughable today ("Revenge shall not be justified," "The use of liquor when not required by the plot will not be shown," "Obscenity in word, gesture, reference, song joke or by suggestion is forbidden"). We may not realize it, but most movies from 1930 to the mid-"˜60s had to make concessions for this code "“ here are nine you may recognize, and one that managed to sneak by the censors.

1. It Happened One Night. This Oscar-winner was one of the first to really adhere to the code and was richly rewarded for it. The code prohibited basically even the smallest hint of lust or passion ("Excessive and lustful kissing, lustful embraces, suggestive postures and gestures, are not to be shown," and "[Scenes of Passion] should not be introduced when not essential to the plot"). So when the script called for Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert to be stuck in a motel room together, they did it in the most chaste way possible: a blanket was hung between the two beds in the room and Claudette wore a set of pajamas that covered everything but her face. When Clark Gable gave her a "lesson" on how a man undresses, she freaked out. The movie became the first to hit the Oscar Grand Slam "“ it won Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Screenplay.

2. The Outlaw. This movie was kept out of theaters simply because the advertising featuring Jane Russell's cleavage was too racy. Director Howard Hughes threw an absolute fit and ended up cutting a total of 30 seconds from the movie that featured too much décolletage. The movie hit theaters for about seven days in 1943, two years after filming was complete. The Hays office decided it was still too risqué and the movie was yanked, not receiving a full release until 1946. It was such a controversial film by then that it was a massive success.

3. Anything featuring Betty Boop. Pre-Hays Code, Betty was a flapper who liked short skirts and low necklines. Post Hays-Code, Betty wore skirts to the knee, ditched the garter belt in favor of leg-covering stockings, and favored practically prudish necklines.
4. Casablanca. Joseph I. Breen, the head of the Production Code Administration, personally objected to any reference in Casablanca about Rick and Ilsa having possibly slept together in Paris. Although they still managed to get the point across, the original version was not so subtle.

5. I Love Lucy. It's pretty hard to have a pregnant main character without ever uttering the word, but Lucy managed to do it to appease the Hays people. They usually used the word "expecting." Lucy and Ricky maintained separate beds on the show for the same reason, which makes you wonder how they found themselves "expecting" in the first place.

6. Anything with Fatty Arbuckle. Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was involved in a scandal involving the suspicious death of a young starlet not long before the Code was implemented. In fact, this was part of the reason for the Code "“ some felt Hollywood was getting out of hand with the sex, drugs and drinking (sound familiar?) and that morals needed to be re-instilled. One of Will Hays' first acts was to ban Fatty from the movie industry entirely. Hays recanted later the same year but the damage was already done "“ Arbuckle's career never returned to the heights it had reached before his scandal and blacklisting.

7. Gone With the Wind. Ever wondered why the childbirth scene in GWTW is so tiptoed around? Now you know. The Hays Code very specifically said, "Scenes of actual child birth, in fact or in silhouette, are never to be presented." So I guess the fact that the birth was even shown in shadow was a pretty big deal. Also a big deal? That famous line, "Frankly Scarlett, I don't give a damn." It was quite the accomplishment to get that one tiny four-letter word past the Production Code Administration. It was kept in because the swearing stayed true to the original novel.

8. Monkey Business. Groucho Marx was pretty good at innuendo "“ so good, in fact, that he barely had to say anything at all to upset the Production Code Administration. There's a line in Monkey Business that should have gone, "I know, you're a misunderstood woman who's been getting nothing but dirty breaks. Well, we can clean and tighten your breaks, polish your frame and oil your joints, but you have to stay in the garage all night." The Hays Office felt this was all too much and made them chop the references to polishing the frame and oiling the joints.

9. The Bad Seed. In book about a little girl with an evil mind, the girl's mother kills herself and attempts to kill her daughter at the end. The daughter survives to (presumably) kill another day. In the movie version, however, the mom survives and the girl is killed by a bolt of lightning. This is because the Hays Code forbade the glamorization of crime or making it seem as if a life a crime paid "“ so the good mother dying and the evil daughter surviving was a big no-no. Apparently the Hays Office was willing to overlook a curse word in the name of staying true to a novel, but not murder.

10. The Gang's All Here. Sometimes the things the Production Office would overlook were pretty baffling. This film is a perfect example. Although Groucho Marx was forbidden from making references to "frames" and "oil," it was perfectly acceptable for Carmen Miranda and a bunch of scantily-clad ladies to do the "banana dance" suggestively around a bunch of five-foot-tall bananas. Talk about innuendo! The movie was even banned oversea but the Hays Office let it slide. Hmm. Giant bananas at 3:40, if you don't want to wait:

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7 Fast Facts About RollerCoaster Tycoon

Amazon
Amazon

For Windows gamers, 1999 was dominated by RollerCoaster Tycoon, a now-classic strategy and building game that tasked users with erecting an amusement park and gauging the popularity of rides while maintaining a profit margin and keeping patrons from barfing all over the landscape. For the game’s 20th anniversary, check out some facts about its origins, its association with pizza, and how it became a pinball machine.

1. The first RollerCoaster Tycoon sold 4 million copies.

RollerCoaster Tycoon was the brainchild of Scottish programmer Chris Sawyer, who had enjoyed success with his line of Transport Tycoon games in the 1990s that allowed players to build and operate their own railroad, truck, and ship lines. Sawyer decided to marry that concept with his love of roller coasters. An independent effort—Sawyer enlisted only two collaborators, artist Simon Foster and musician Allister Brimble—the first Tycoon game that was released in 1999 sold a staggering 4 million copies.

2. RollerCoaster Tycoon came free with frozen pizza.

In the early 2000s, packaged food companies offered products that came with promotional offers for CD-ROMs. In 2003, Pillsbury offered a free copy of RollerCoaster Tycoon to anyone who sent in proof of purchase barcodes from specially-marked boxes of Totino’s Pizza Rolls or Pillsbury Toaster Strudel.

3. There’s a RollerCoaster Tycoon pinball machine.

A pinball machine released to coincide with 2002’s RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 took the spiraling coasters of the game and put them under glass. Players could try and direct the pinball—a substitute for the park guest—around and through coasters like The Flying Ghost and The Rocket.

4. RollerCoaster Tycoon helped inspire Minecraft.

If you or a loved one has spent countless hours absorbed in the popular world-building game Minecraft, you have RollerCoaster Tycoon to thank. Minecraft creator Markus Persson was a fan of Tycoon for the way it allowed players to construct elaborate designs. He also enjoyed Dungeon Keeper, which had a fantasy element. Together, the two games encouraged him to develop Minecraft. The game debuted in 2009 and went on to become one of the biggest interactive success stories of all time.

5. RollerCoaster Tycoon inspired real roller coaster designers.

The laborious construction undertaken by players of RollerCoaster Tycoon weaned a number of players on the excitement of the amusement industry. Park designers hoping to break into the industry have used screen shots from the game as examples of their design prowess at trade shows.

6. You can get a spooky update of RollerCoaster Tycoon in time for Halloween.

Atari distributes an Android and iOS version of RollerCoaster Tycoon for mobile phone users. For 2019, the company is offering a Six Flags Fright Fest update to the game that adds a Halloween component. Players can add Skull Mountain, an actual Six Flags coaster, as well as a Demon Rock statue.

7. A RollerCoaster Tycoon fan spent 10 years building a park.

In 2017, a Reddit user declared he was finished building out his own custom park on RollerCoaster Tycoon 2. The 34 coasters and 255 attractions were all minutely detailed, offering a sprawling virtual park with themed areas covering everything from Egyptian attractions to a forest. In comparison, it took only four years to build the actual Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

10 Wild Scooby-Doo Fan Theories

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

For 50 years, the hard-working teens (and dog) of Mystery, Inc. have been investigating the paranormal. What began as a single Hanna-Barbera cartoon series—Scooby Doo, Where Are You!—in the 1960s quickly morphed into a franchise with multiple spin-off shows, comic books, and a few questionable movies. That adds up to a lot of spooky stories, which have inspired fans to come up with their own creepy (or just plain crazed) tales about Scooby and the gang. Here are some of their best theories, including one that somehow connects to Patrick Stewart.

1. Scooby is a Soviet space dog.

For all the cases that Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy solved, they never got to the bottom of the show’s most enduring mystery: How and why does Scooby Doo talk? Some fans think he can’t really speak—that it’s just something his buddy Shaggy imagines while he’s high. But one Redditor has a much more complicated and compelling theory based on the show’s 1960s setting. At that time, America and the USSR were locked in the so-called “Space Race,” competing to see who could claim the first achievements in spaceflight. The Russians famously shot Yuri Gagarin into the stratosphere in 1961, but he wasn’t the first Soviet in space. Canine cosmonauts like Laika beat him by several years, and if the USSR was willing to put a dog in a rocket, who’s to say they didn’t experiment on him first?

According to this fan theory, Scooby is a runaway from the Soviets’ classified space dog program, designed to breed pups capable of operating satellites and understanding radio commands. Scooby was the best of the bunch, the rare test subject who could understand and imitate human speech. Naturally, one of the scientists got attached and defected with Scooby to the USA. When that scientist died, Scooby found a new family with a group of friendly teenagers. But the CIA never stopped searching for this Soviet wunderpup, which is why Mystery, Inc. is constantly traveling by van—and why the original show is called Scooby Doo, Where Are You!

2. The show takes place during an economic depression.

A still from 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You!'
Warner Home Video

A classic Scooby-Doo mystery might take place at a theme park, museum, or mine—so long as it’s grimy and deserted. That’s a weird coincidence when you think about it: why are all these places so rundown? Well, that tends to happen when you’re weathering a financial collapse, and many clues indicate that’s just what’s happening in the world of Scooby-Doo. The towns he and his friends visit never seem to be doing well. No one has any money: Not the many scientists posing as monsters for cash, not the operators of every haunted attraction the gang investigates, and certainly not Shaggy and Scooby, who gorge on dog treats and lose their minds whenever they so much as smell a burger.

3. Mystery, Inc. is actually a cult.

Let’s break down the core members of the gang: You have Fred, the handsome and friendly frontman of the group. Then there’s Daphne, the fashionable and pretty one who mostly follows Fred around. Velma has the brains and Shaggy has full-blown conversations with a dog. When you really think about, doesn’t this all sound a bit like a cult? Fred would obviously be the cult leader, who recruits groupies like Daphne to obey his every command. Velma’s intelligence makes her a useful addition, and she could also be seeking acceptance from the “cool” kids. As for Shaggy, well, men who claim dogs can talk to them have a famously disturbing history—much like cult members.

4. They’re all draft dodgers.

Scooby Doo, Where Are You! premiered in 1969. Also happening that year? The Vietnam War. As able-bodied men (seemingly) over 18, Fred and Shaggy would both be eligible for the draft, which begs the obvious question: is Mystery, Inc. just a bunch of draft dodgers? The boys could be driving that van straight to Canada to avoid deployment, along with Fred’s fiancée Daphne and their antiwar activist friend Velma. Scooby’s stance on the war remains unclear, but he’s along for the ride.

5. Scooby Snacks alter your genes.

What if Scooby’s preferred treat is really a steroid capable of editing genetic code? It would explain why Scooby—and other members of his canine family, like Scrappy-Doo and Scooby-Dum—can talk, as well as their ability to perform “completely ridiculous stunts.” (Also, if Scrappy-Doo is on steroids, it would explain why he’s always trying to fight.) But what about its effect on humans? As far as we know, Shaggy is the only person who eats Scooby Snacks, and he seems to have a freakishly high metabolism, considering the mile-high sandwiches he eats and his super skinny frame.

6. Fred drives the Mystery Machine because the real owner is too high.

Whenever the gang piles into the Mystery Machine, there’s only one person behind the wheel: Fred. Mystery, Inc.’s de facto leader is constantly driving his friends from one haunted house to the next, which would imply that the Mystery Machine is his car. But why would a clean-shaven, preppy kid like Fred own a lime green van with flowers plastered over the doors? That car obviously belongs to a hippie, and in this group, that’s Shaggy. His hippie lifestyle, however, may be the reason Shaggy never drives. He’s either lost his license from driving under the influence, or Fred is worried he will, so someone else serves as his designated driver.

7. Shaggy is Captain America’s son.

This theory starts with small coincidences, like the fact that Norville “Shaggy” Rogers and Steve Rogers share a last name. Then it builds to something bigger when you factor in a detail from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While out on a morning run, Sam Wilson (a.k.a. Falcon) claims that Steve can run 13 miles in half an hour, a rate that breaks down to 26 mph. Shaggy, meanwhile, frequently keeps pace with Scooby, a Great Dane. Those dogs run up to 30 mph. Ergo, Shaggy is Steve’s son.

8. Monsters really do exist in the Scooby-Doo universe.

A still from 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You!'
Warner Home Video

Each time the gang catches a new “monster,” it always turns out to be a human in disguise, grumbling about how they “would’ve gotten away with it, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.” Monsters, the show tells us over and over again, are not real. But this Reddit theory poses an important question: If monsters don’t exist, why is there a business dedicated to catching the fake ones? The fact that Mystery, Inc. keeps getting calls implies that “supernatural fraud” is an entire category of crime, one that wouldn’t make sense or work if people didn’t believe in monsters. Everyone in the Scooby-Doo universe also seems to accept monsters as a normal and everyday occurrence, suggesting that monsters are real—the gang has just never caught one.

9. Shaggy and Scooby are actors.

When danger calls, Shaggy and Scooby tend to run the other way. But what if the group’s most cowardly members were actually actors pretending to be scared of ghosts, monsters, and other paranormal entities? According to this fan theory, Shaggy and Scooby are faking their over-the-top fear in order to draw the monsters out. By posing as easy targets, they know they’ll get spooked first, and thus make it easier for Mystery, Inc. to trap the ghost/witch/pirate. That’s why Fred always pairs Shaggy with Scooby when they split up to investigate, and it’s why after many years of investigating the supernatural, the two of them still don’t seem remotely used to it.

10. Green Room is just a gritty Scooby-Doo reboot.

The 2015 horror movie Green Room is about a band with a van that squares off against an evil old Nazi. The Scooby-Doo franchise is about a team (that was supposed to be a band) with a van that squares off against evil old men (who could also, theoretically, be Nazis). You do the math.

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