What is often forgotten about the Hollywood movie business in its early days, is its absolute excess on every level. Cecil B De Mille was noted for his flagrant behaviour and he was best known for his biblical epics, such as King of Kings and The Ten Commandments. Because of the biblical subject matter, De Mille got away with murder. He filmed orgy scenes, nude women, women kissing women, and unspeakable violence.
If a critic objected to one of his films, De mille would reply “if you condemn my Bible pictures, you condemn the Bible.” At that time, movie publicists of the Harry Reichenbach school, who promoted the risqué could get away with virtually anything they pleased, which resulted in some of the most inspired stunts. Gradually, as the general lifestyle of movie stars and producers had become so debauched, there was fear of a political lobby which could restrain their creativity. Someone had to come and clear the mess up and a PR gesture to “clean up” the screen was initiated in 1926.
Postmaster General Will Hays authored what was informally called, the Hays Code, which resulted from attempts by primarily religious interests to control what was shown on the screen. It was formally adopted in 1934 by The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. The Code went far beyond simply prohibiting nudity and swearing in films; it basically attempted to impose an entire fabric of principles on movie-makers. Audiences were known to boo whenever the Hays code logo appeared on screen before the movie was shown.