romantic interlude

Indicative here is the conversation between Josef von Sternberg and Joseph Breen reported by Maltby:

When Sternberg said, “At this point, the two principals have a brief romantic interlude,” Breen interrupted him: “What you’re trying to say is that the two of them hopped into the hay. They fucked.” The indignant Sternberg answered, “Mr. Breen, you offend me.” Breen: “Oh, for Christ’s sake, will you stop the horseshit and face the issue? We can help you make a story about adultery, if you want, but not if you keep calling a good screwing match a ‘romantic interlude.’ Now, what do these two people do? Kiss and go home?” “No,” said Sternberg, “they fuck.” “Good,” yelped Breen, pounding the desk,“now I can understand your story.” The director completed his outline, and Breen told him how he could handle it in such a way as to pass the code. So, the very prohibition, in order to function properly, has to rely on a clear awareness about what really did happen at the level of the prohibited narrative line: the Production Code did not simply prohibit some contents, it rather codified their cyphered articulation.


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