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The Religious Affiliation of Film Production Code Chief
Joseph Breen


From: Patrick McGilligan, Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast, St. Martin's Press: New York (1997), pages 324-325:
In his letter the writer succinctly stated the moralistic theme of Scarlet Street [directed by Fritz Lang]: "It asserts that there are higher moral laws which cannot be violated by any man. It says even if you fool the police you are caught by the judgment of your own conscience, that no one can escape it, and that it is far less terrifying to be punished by police courts and the executioner. It says the real juge, jury, and executioner lie within themselves.

[footnote] Lang told Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg that he personally devated the morality of Scarlet Street with Production Office official Joseph Breen, using his Catholicism as a wedge in the argument. "Look," the director told Breen (according to Lang), "we're both Catholics. By being permitted to live, the Robinson character in Scarlet Street goes through hell. That's a much greater punishment than being imprisoned for homicide. After all, it was not a premeditated murder, it was a crime of passion. What if he does spend the rest of his life in jail--so what? The greater punishment is surely to have him go legally free, his soul burdened by the knowledge of his deed, his mind constantly echoing with the words of the woman he loved proclaiming her love for the man he'd wrongly send to death in in his place . . ."

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