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The economic downturns of the Great Depression contributed to the countys fascination with gangster genres As Americans lost their jobs or saw their farms foreclosed on by the once admired establishment or banking system with public endorsement gangsters descended in spirit from Americas frontier outlaws such as the James Gang and led by desperadoes like Pretty Boy Floyd Baby Face Nelson and Machine Gun Kelly--rose up to assault the system Because of Prohibition the Great Depression and World War II gangsters became the modern gunslingers and outlaws The gangster saga replaced the Western as the American myth It told the story of modern America Young Americans enjoyed watching gangster films during the 1930s Before President Roosevelts New Deal gangsters were without doubt the American cinemas most striking heroes The film industrys love affair with members of criminal gangs was only natural they were colorful violent and charismatic men and women whose law-breaking activities were followed by millions of law abiding Americans But when brought to the screen gangster films more than any other Hollywood genre created problems not only for the usual censorship lobbies but also for judges lawyers teachers policemen mayors newspapers and local councilors Many respectable citizens believed that gangster films based on the lives and activities of Prohibition-era criminals led to an increase in juvenile delinquency and accused Hollywood of delivering impressionable youth into a career of crime The harmful effects of fast-moving and exciting gangster films on young cinema patrons thus became a prominent concern of those eager to control and censor this pervasive new mass medium After a series of sex scandals rocked the American film industry in 1922 Hollywoods Jewish moguls hired a midwestern Presbyterian gentleman and influential Republican William Harrison Hays former Postmaster General in President Warren Hardings cabinet as their front man to clean up the image of the movies The industrys self-monitoring Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America Inc MPPDA or Hays office in Los
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