The Hays Code: Hollywood's Golden Age's Hard Rules, Explained

If you pull up most American movies from the 1930s and '40s, you'll find that they're sweet to the point of cavity-inducing, with a hardened spine of morality that seems to be made of steel. That's because the films of the day were policed by a production code that required films to be "wholesome" and "moral" to keep the innocence of the American viewing public intact. The Motion Picture Production Code, known as the "Hays Code" after Will Hays but decided upon by a collective of studio heads, shaped filmmaking more than anything else between the 1930s and 1960s.