Hollywood Censors and Johnny Weissmuller’s Films
The principal objection to the film was the nude swimming sequences with a double for Maureen O’Sullivan. When Breen saw the film at MGM on April 5, 1934, he rejected it. Mayer applied for a jury trial, but the verdict by Breen was upheld. To placate the censors, MGM put some clothes on Jane, certain shots were cut or darkened to obscure the view. Three versions of the film were sent out to various states. This too was a violation of the code, and MGM eventually eliminated the offending scenes and had them edited out of the negative, although the scenes were restored in the 1980s.
This marked a turning point in attitude towards what was deemed blatant exhibitionism, and Jane’s costume became G-rated by the next film.
One of the censor states, Maryland, allowed views of the skimpy costume Jane wore, but snipped the scene showing Jane swimming as well as the remark: “Can’t you see I have nothing on?”
Three considerations were routine when Breen and Company were dealing with jungle films: the appearance and costuming of the women, the handling of animals, and the degree of violence or gruesomeness in the depiction of jungle life. In fact, whether it was Tarzan, Jungle Jim or Bomba the Jungle Boy, the following were typical of the letters sent to the respective studios upon receiving their scripts.
“We direct your particular attention to the need for the greatest possible care in the selection and photographing of the dresses and costumes of your women. The Production Code makes it mandatory that the intimate parts of the body — specifically, the breasts of women — be fully covered at all times. Any compromise with this regulation will compel us to withhold approval of your picture.”
“In accordance with Code requirements, it will be essential that you work very carefully with Mr. Mel Morse of the American Humance Asociaton, as to all scenes in which animals are used.” [Over the years, others who held Morse’s position include Dr. Wesley Young and Richard C. Craven.]
“Kindly avoid scenes of excessive violence and brutality, as well as of kneeing, kicking and gouging in all fights throughout.”
“It is presumed that the natives, wherever registered, will be properly costumed, and the intimate parts of their bodies covered at all times.” … (read more)
via The Censors