The 1920s were known as the Jazz Age and Americans prospered due to the zooming of stock markets and the flourishing of the arts. At the turn of the decade, the Great Depression set in, precipitated by the biggest crash in Wall Street history. The country went into a period of great introspection. As politicians and economists were grappling with finding solutions to pull through the economic depression, similar efforts are being made to improve the standards of the film industry. The Hays Code, introduced in 1934 was one such outcome. Although the United States Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 came ahead of Hays Code, it was not taken seriously by filmmakers, making it necessary for government authorities to introduce and implement a more comprehensive set of guidelines (Friedrich, 1997). The agency given the responsibility of enforcing the code is commonly referred to as the Breen Office (after administrator Joseph Breen).
In this context, it is interesting to see how the content of popular movies such as Sunset Boulevard (1951) and North by Northwest (1959) were possibly influenced by the code. Both the movies were produced years after the introduction of the code. Hence by the time the movies were conceived and written, the story writer, screenplay writer and the director would have inherently known what is acceptable and what is unacceptable with respect to the Hays Code. There is also documented evidence that the first scripts of the two movie submitted to the Breen Office were not approved immediately. The production team had to modify a few dialogues and change certain aspects of the film that were deemed to violate the code (Harris, 2008).
To take the case of Sunset Boulevard, the story depicts an unusual relationship between a fading Hollywood writer and a former Hollywood leading lady. As the fortunes of both the former stars are fading away, they happen to develop an opportunistic