Originally Posted by gwsat
I suggest that there have been films with adult themes throughout history, although the Hayes Office's draconian censorship of films from the mid '30s until the late '60s did have a chilling effect on filmmakers. Whether one views that as a good thing or a bad one is strictly in the eye of the beholder.
It may be in the eye of the beholder (what isn't?) but now that you mention it, the Hayes Office was probably the reason a kid could see so many great adult-themed films in the 50s and 60s. I don't think that was a bad thing, however inconsistent and imperfect the Hayes Office was.
Reminds me of a remark I heard at a lecture about Hollywood's Golden Age. It was noted how ironic it was that the greatest era in Hollywood was also an era of greatest restraint. That this restraint was sometimes imposed by censors is beside the point. The ingredients of subtlety and implication that resulted raised the level of the art.
I might offer a comparision of the original CAPE FEAR with the excesses of the remake. The director of the original, J. Lee Thompson, says in the DVD's supplementary material that although he was originally frustrated by the Haye's Office tempering Robert Mitchum's actions on screen, he now thinks that leaving some things to the audiences's imagination made the film more powerful. (Indeed, the character created by Mitchum may be the most disturbing in films.)
Showing everything and implying nothing does not make a better movie. Too many movies today become "about" how much sex and/or violence and/or "realism" the director can get up on the screen. The characters and story often seem to take a back seat, or if not, the "R" rating prevents more people---especially young people---from seeing them. That in itself is ironic, because PG-13 movies make more money than "R" movies.