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Film writers and critics Pamela Hutchinson and Christina Newland present some of Hollywood’s most risqué films (all new 2K restorations care of Park Circus and Warner Bros) made before the 1930's Hays code was enforced in Pre-Code Hollywood: Rules Are Made to be Broken.

“Listen up, all you dirty rats and hot dames. Let us transport you back to Hollywood’s savage years, when the restrictive censorship of the Hays Code wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Before the Hollywood censors decided to enforce the rules around sexuality, violence, drugs and hard living, a group of films we now call the Pre-Codes tested the boundaries by breaking every single one of them. And just as the gangsters and golddiggers on-screen raised eyebrows by profiting from their nefarious deeds, cinema was enriched by some of the wittiest, wildest and most audaciously enjoyable movies Hollywood has ever made. If you want to see women centre-stage and expressing their own desires, or criminals so charming you’ll pray they get away with the loot, step this way…

We’re showing brand new restorations of five classic Pre-Codes, from the sparkling Jewel Robbery (1932) starring Kay Francis and William Powell in a tale of Viennese gentlemen thieves wreathed in marijuana smoke, to James Cagney and Joan Blondell in the classic crime caper Blonde Crazy (1931). Norma Shearer throws herself at bad-boy Clark Gable in A Free Soul (1931), while in Red-Headed Woman (1932) and Baby Face (1933), Jean Harlow and Barbara Stanwyck learn how to get ahead, one notch on their bedpost at a time.” 

Presented by Watershed in collaboration with Park Circus as part of Cinema Rediscovered on Tour with support from BFI awarding funds from The National Lottery and MUBI.

A Free Soul

Clarence Brown


94 mins

Baby Face

Alfred E. Green


75 mins

Blonde Crazy

Roy Del Ruth


79 mins

Jewel Robbery

William Dieterle


68 mins

Red-Headed Woman

Jack Conway


79 mins


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