Record #1122

Date:
05/09/1935
Record Type:
Memo
From/By:
Joseph I. Breen
To:
Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
Reel:
Reel 11
Frame Start:
11-0283
Frame End:
11-0289
Legacy ID:
1132
Legacy Year:
1935
Legacy Index:
Production Code

Breen wants a moratorium on all pictures showing American gangsters -- specifically G-Man pictures. He has had complaints about gruesomeness -- "a number of confidential communications from most important factors, both in this country and abroad." Includes lists of gangster movies now released, in production and pre-production, also statements by Edward Short of the BBFC, and Colonel Cooper reporting that G-Men pictures will not be passed in Canada. Also included is a list of horror and G-Men pictures produced. Covering memo with file concerned primarily with gangster films. What has been released, what will be released, etc. Also, horror film cycle is looked at. file documents 10-0286

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Long Description:

On G-Men pictures, proposing a moratorium on their production and a staggering of their release -- also included a list of horror and G-Men pictures produced. 5 September 1935 Breen to Hays: "... It is the thought of our staff here that if we can declare a moratorium on films showing the activities of American gangsters, we will have done much to meet the present difficulty and lessen the worries which all the companies are certain to have if some such action is not taken. "You will have in mind, I am sure, the recent decision, on appeal, of the New York Censor Board rejecting in toto the Putter picture dealing with the details of kidnapping. You will also have in mind the confidential note to you from the Assistant Attorney General, Joseph B. Keenan, dated December 19, 1933, on two of our pictures. You will recall that at that time Mr. Keenan advised us that his department had received 'numerous complaints' against gangster pictures and that the representatives he sent to see two of our films reported that these 'were very offensive.' You will also recall that he suggested that the members of our production companies might be 'sufficiently public-spirited to agree that the production of such films hereafter shall be considered an unfair trade practice. ...' "From time to time during the past few months, we have received a number of confidential communications from most important factors, both in this country and abroad, complaining against what is generally classified as 'excessive gunplay' -- 'excessive brutality' -- 'too much shooting and killing' -- and 'a reckless disregard of human life.' "You will recall that Dr. Wingate, on a recent visit to the political censor boards, brought back the general reaction that the censor boards were 'becoming alarmed' at the increase in pictures showing gangsters in violent conflict with the police. "In September 1931 you will recall that the Board here, by formal resolution, agreed to call a halt on what was then generally referred to as 'gangster' films. The effect of this, as you know, was very satisfactory. The members of the Production Code Administration are unanimous in urging that similar action be taken now."Included is a review of The Raven from the Daily Telegraph, 08-02-1935: "Some may excuse The Raven on the plea that Lamb offered for the Restoration comedy--that intelligent people will find it at once funny and unreal. "But all film fans are not intelligent and some are very impressionable. It is easy to conceive of certain types of mentality being seriously harmed by such an orgy of sadism."

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