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Breaking the Code

Sturges thus shows social yearnings in the common man and also downgrades the idea that high culture is completely closed to such a person--it is not closed to Sweeney, even if sir Alfred, in a fit of class consciousness, might wish it were.

What Sturges does here is develop a certain rapport with Sir Alfred in spite of his flaws, and he leaves the issue of justification open at this point, not revealing whether Daphne and Anthony are having an affair or not. There is an important reason for this--Sturges does not reveal anything to the audience except what Sir Alfred believes so that during the first half of the film, everything seen is assumed to be true. A viewer accustomed to the way films avoided certain kinds of material has to be surprised at what he or she thinks is happening. An appealing character in a comedy simply cannot commit a murder and get away with it, or even seem to get away with it. Indeed, an actual murder of this sort in a comedy is unheard of in this era. The hero cannot be depicted as murdering his wife and getting away with it. Poking fun at crime was not unheard of, but the same rules concerning punishment for crime had to be observed. The intent of the Code on one level was to avoid anything that seemed to promote crime, criminal activity, or disaffection with the social order, meaning that poking fun at officials, police, or judges had its limits and that criminals always received their comeuppance. In the first portion of this film, however, which is more than half the film in terms of running time, the "criminal" murders his wife (also an appealing character, making his crime all the worse), frames her supposed lover, destroys any evidence otherwise, and laughs as the "lover" is convicted an taken away to be executed.

Sturges undercuts all of this by revealing that it was only the mind of Sir Alfred we have been watching as it hatches this plan (an involved but not impossible plan, and so t...

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Breaking the Code. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:50, September 19, 2017, from
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