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The Thief of smooches

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In 1934, the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association (precursor to the Motion Picture Association of America) started enforcing censorship guidelines proposed by former U.S. Postmaster General Will H. Hays. Trouble in Paradise, released in 1932, is exactly the type of film Hays aimed to suppress. Its hero, Gaston Monescu, is a master thief. The Hays Code maintained that criminals should never be shown in a favorable light. Gaston plots with his pickpocket girlfriend, Lily, to burgle perfume magnate Mariette Colet. But he becomes smitten with his intended target ("I came here to rob you, but unfortunately I fell in love with you") after the two bond with ribald banter. In the movie's most quoted line, Colet calls marriage a "beautiful mistake," the kind of quip banned by Hays' "sanctity of marriage" clause. Director Ernst Lubitsch revels in the film's amusing amorality, as if aware that the early era of cinematic freedom is about to come to a close. The Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library (625 Minnesota Ave­nue, 913-551-3280) hosts a free screening of Trouble in Paradise at 6 p.m.
Thu., May 1, 6 p.m., 2008

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