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This Day and Age

This Day and Age(1933)

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Paramount Produced Properties lists Bartlett Cormack as the author of the original story, "Boys in Office," on which this film is based. However, in his autobiography Cecil B. DeMille credits Sam Mintz as the author of the story, from which Bartlett Cormack wrote a scenario. According to information in the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS library, the script for This Day and Age was submitted for approval by the AMPP on May 10, 1933. The AMPP responded with a letter to Paramount producer A. M. Botsford noting "three major problems": First, they questioned "the general treatment of established law and order, as represented by Judge Maguire. Censor boards lately (particularly New York State Board) have been insisting on maintaining respect for established law and order, and have stated specifically that they will not tolerate any attempt to undermine this sentiment. We suggest a certain toning down of some of the speeches. The second problem is the necessity of portraying this story in such a way that it will not be taken as a direct bid for open revolt and encouragement for high school pupils to disregard all the tenets of regularly constituted authorities, and attempt the administration of government by violent means....The third element is the use of the rat pit as a means of forcing confessions out of the gangster. This seems to us to be dangerous. It is bound to be offensive to a large part of any audience, particularly women, and unless great care is exercised, it May be so gruesome as to prove inadmissable both under the Code and to the censor boards generally."
       The AMPP also advised that "care" be taken in the scene when a bomb is thrown and when Garrett kicks Steve, recommended the deletion of the "action of the girl being patted on the posterior" and noted that "all use of the word 'lily'... should be deleted under the Code, as an inference of sex perversion." In the courtroom scenes, the AMPP recommended that "in the action of the boys walking up to the judge you take care not to inject any roughness that might be interpreted as disrespect to a representative of the law...This whole scene in the courtroom should be played in a dignified and serious manner, without any indication of contempt or disrespect...We recommend that Steve's speech, 'And you're going to try him without any bunk or hokum,' should be modified to something less rough, along the line of 'Try him according to the spirit as well as the letter of the law'...It would be advisable not to show the boys disregarding the judge's rapping for order. Also we believe further consideration should be given to the somewhat satiric tone of the opening lines of the district attorney's speech...." In July 1933, the film was previewed by the AMPP, and in a letter to Paramount, they stated that "...after reviewing the picture, it seems to us that Mr. De Mille has handled these difficult elements with skill and discretion. At the preview we noted a few minor items which might cause censorship difficulty, and have written to the studio about them in detail...we do not believe it will be interpreted in any way as an attack on constituted authority or a portrayal of lynch law, inasmuch as the studio has taken care at all times to portray the boys as under control and working in harmony with the police department, having been appointed special deputies by the sheriff; and furthermore, at the conclusion of the picture the mayor, judge and the district attorney are portrayed as being won over to the boys' actions and in sympathy with them. We believe that on this basis, the story can be defended, should occasion arise." A letter to A. M. Botsford outlines some details "with which you May have censorship trouble in various territories."
       In 1935, the film was re-released, but before issuing a certificate of approval, Joseph I. Breen, in charge of public relations for the Hays office, insisted on the removal of Toledo's line, "I like my olives green, but I never pick 'em myself." After further deletions, the film was approved for re-release in October 1933. The film was rejected in Holland because of "strong Fascist tendencies." The film was released in British Columbia with a caption in the beginning of the film and on the trailer that read, "This is a story of the supposed revolt of American youth against racketeering and the evasion of law. Dealing with a condition which must not be construed as affecting the Administration of law and order in this country." Horace Hahn, student body president of a Los Angeles high school, and other Los Angeles high school students appeared in the film. Harry Green reportedly agreed to earn $1.00/week to appear in the film after a salary dispute. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the production was completed "$40,000 under budget and four days ahead of schedule." According to Motion Picture Herald, the film was released in conjunction with Boys Week. A 1935 news item in Daily Variety reported that author James O'Hanlon sued Paramount, and Paramount writer Dave Lewis, for plagiarism, claiming that his story "Rough on Rats" was used for the film without his permission. The outcome of the lawsuit has not been determined. According to modern sources, Howard Jackson, L. Wolfe Gilbert and Abel Baer contributed to the music and John Carradine was in the cast. In his autobiography, DeMille said that he intended to expose the "evil of racketeering" in this picture, and although some critics thought the film was "fascist" in tone, due to the students' handling of the racketeer, it was not his intention that scenes such as the students' torture of the racketeer be taken as literal suggestions. DeMille noted the final day of shooting as June 21, 1933 at 9:27 a.m.