5 Hays Code Movie Scenes That Are Definitely Not Sexual

Last week, we discussed three movies that dealt with the Motion Picture Production Code in different ways. One gleefully sidestepped it, one blanket ignored it, and the final film upheld it, more or less. In order to do this, I had to overtly mention some things that the Hays Office frowned upon. Now it’s time to restore this blog’s pure image. Here are 5 scenes from films made under the Hays code that are definitely not about sex (so get your mind out of the gutter).


5) The African Queen (1953): Missionary’s sister Katharine Hepburn is taken on a wild ride by boat captain Humphrey Bogart, literally. They take a wild ride through white rapids. Trembling and soaked, hand pressed to her brow, Katherine Hepburn exclaims “I never dreamed that any mere physical experience could be so stimulating!” She marries the man who helped stimulate her later.


4) Now, Voyager (1942): Married man Paul Henreid lights Bette Davis’s cigarette and her passion. But not too much passion because he is, after all, a married man. They do it twice. The cigarette trick, I mean.


3) North By Northwest (1959): As I mentioned before, by 1959 the Motion Picture Production Code was dwindling. Fortunately, Alfred Hitchcock remained a bastion of morality. At the end of the film, Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant kiss on a sleeper train. The train thrusts into a tunnel. End Titles.


2) The Fountainhead (1949): Patricia Neal appreciates a good drill. I mean a good driller. I mean Gary Cooper. Oh, hell. She’s staring at his drill.


1) The Phantom Lady (1949 Argentina): That’s it. I give up. It’s clearly about sex. The drums simulate sex. They’re not even trying to hide it!

For more innuendo during the Hays Code, I highly suggest the documentary, “The Celluloid Closet.” Have any favorite Hays Code Clearly-Not-Sex Scenes? List them in the comments below!

For more fun updates, or to suggest a movie, follow WRM on Facebook, or Twitter @WeRecycleMovies.

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About Anne Marie Kelly

Classic Film history & restoration nerd. Writer of A Year With Kate and Women's Pictures for The Film Experience. Follow me on Twitter @WeRecycleMovies.
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5 Responses to 5 Hays Code Movie Scenes That Are Definitely Not Sexual

  1. If I remember correctly, Paul’s favorite Hays Code sex scene was from out of the past. A hurricane passes overhead and blows open the door, blowing all the lights out. It’s kinda naughty.

  2. D Kelly says:

    I always thought the fireworks in the background between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in To Catch a Theif were part of the fun!

  3. V.E.G. says:

    Well, they should bring the Hays Code back. It is doubtful because this world is a mess today.

  4. Pingback: HMWBS: Hud | We Recycle Movies

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