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Feb 14 '16 at 17:20 comment added Beardless1 @duskwuff: "These shall never be presented in such a way as to throw sympathy with the crime as against law and justice or to inspire others with a desire for imitation." That says pretty clearly that the wrongdoer must lose in the end--just not necessarily by getting caught. True, the Code's administrators could have interpreted it differently, but under the threat of direct government censorship, they were inclined to be very cautious.
Feb 10 '16 at 23:09 comment added user31017 While the Hays Code placed a number of restrictions on the content of films, it placed no constraints on dramatic structure; an ending which showed an antagonist victorious would have been perfectly acceptable. Reading the text of the Hays Code may be informative.
Feb 10 '16 at 22:30 comment added Eric Lippert @leftaroundabout: Right, I had forgotten about that. I most recently saw it live; the live version has the downbeat ending.
Feb 10 '16 at 22:28 comment added leftaroundabout Little Shop Of Horrors is a quite interesting example here, because the original ending was so badly received by test audiences that the 1986 film was changed to a happy ending (without the apocalyptic finale, which had certainly taken a huge chunk of the budget to shoot). Only in 2012 was the original version published, on DVD.
Feb 10 '16 at 19:37 comment added T.E.D. @NapoleonWilson ...and as such, married people no longer always sleep in twin beds. I'm thinking that entire paragraph has a tense problem.
Feb 10 '16 at 11:40 comment added Napoleon Wilson You might want to mention, though, that the Hays Code has long been officially abolished. There might be some remnants of it inofficially being adhered to, but the answer fails to adress that.
Feb 10 '16 at 9:08 comment added noobsmcgoobs Chinatown for sure. Also Election in a similar vein - the setup was that the protagonist was never in a position to "win" even though we identify with him
Feb 10 '16 at 6:42 history answered Eric Lippert CC BY-SA 3.0