Record #1192

Date:
22/06/1938
Record Type:
Memo
Reel:
Reel 12
Frame Start:
12-0663
Frame End:
12-0705
Legacy ID:
1202
Legacy Year:
1938
Legacy Index:
Production Code
Comments:
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Very useful. The file does not contain a copy of the original document on which Harmon-presumably it's Harmon - is commenting-which is a great shame. Perhaps it's somewhere else. It certainly bears looking for. It seems to have been written by someone outside the MPPDA - with a relatively limited knowledge of earlier procedures - and is fairly obviously written from a left perspective, commenting critically on what it regards as the political censorship of films by the PCA. Is it possible that the original document was written by Raymond Moley? Whether this document triggered the investigation, or contributed to their being initiated, it's impossible to say without a more accurate sense of dates. Harmon's previous memo mentions The Birth of a Baby, which also crops up in 12-0506 --a listing on 14 December 1938 of recent objectionable, unapproved, ""bootleg"" films - it has had far many more showings than any other such film. Harmon's is a long document, and important as part of a group of documents concerned with this process of revisions of Code procedure, which seem to have been extensive.

Commenting on Document: "Code, Extra-Code and Industry Regulation in Motion Pictures: A Study of the Effects of the Production Code and its Administration upon the Type and Content of American Motion Pictures and Certain other Basic Industry Policies and their Current Application." Defends recent judgements of PCA but suggests re-examination and classification of matters of industry policy.

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22 June 1938 Harmon ? Memorandum Commenting Upon Document entitled 'CODE, EXTRA-CODE, AND INDUSTRY REGULATION IN MOTION PICTURES': A Study of the Production Code and its Administration upon the Type and Content of American Motion Pictures, and Certain Other Basic Industry Policies and Their Current Application. "The Evolution of Self-Regulation: ... Adoption of the Production Code in 1930 was the most important single step in this evolutionary process but it was not the first nor the last. Hence the author of the document under review fell into grave error when he assumed that the Production Code defined the limits of staff action in connection with the production of motion pictures. "1. Six days after the adoption of the Association's Articles of Incorporation, the Board of Directors at a special meeting on April 13, 1922, adopted a resolution relative to the portrayal of Mexican characters in American motion pictures ... "4. The Production Code adopted in 1930 is, in fact, an expansion of the 1927 resolution. Many of the specific prohibitions in the code were contained in this list of 11 'Don'ts' and a number of other Code sections are elaborations of the 25 items requiring special care. The Production Code therefore was a product of eight years' experience in self-regulation. It was not adopted as the result of the activities of any special pressure group,. but crystallized into a formal document certain gradually evolving principles worked out through the processes of trial and error from the beginning of the association's existence. "The Production Code does not cover the entire field of industry policy. While certain statements of industry policy are included in its provision, with a $25,000 penalty for their violation, certain other industry policies in existence years before the Code was adopted have continued in full force and effect. Still other industry policies, as for example the Association's special regulations about kidnapping stories and film portrayals of 'organized gangsters, armed and in conflict with the law,' were adopted several years after the Code. "The Evolution of Administrative Procedure: "Within six months of the creation of the Association and the adoption of its charter the Board of Directors under date of September 20, 1922 "'RESOLVED, that the members of the Association offer to an individual representing Mr. Hays' office such facilities as will insure his seeing promptly all pictures produced by the members.' "The only possible purpose which could be served by this Resolution at the time of its adoption was that the staff representative might ascertain whether of not the pictures thus reviewed accorded with general industry policies as set forth in the articles of incorporation and in the resolutions adopted subsequent thereto. "Eight years before the Production Code took form the need for thus determining whether or not pictures produced by member companies confirmed to general industry policies was recognized. "2. At the same meeting arrangements for previews by committees of cooperating organizations, were adopted. This resolution significantly provided that reviews of productions 'meeting standards approved by each of the interested organizations be made available ... to local units of the organizations concerned.' This, in effect, reflected an important industry policy, namely, that of seriously attempting to produce pictures generally conforming to standards in line with the nation's mores. It thus appears that arrangements were agreed upon for reviews of pictures by a member of the staff and representatives of cooperating organizations to determine the general suitability of the films both from the standpoint of industry policy and of the commonly accepted moral standards of the time. "... The Resolution for Uniform Interpretation of the Production Code not only makes it obligatory for the Association to give a Production Manager of a member company 'such confidential advice and suggestion as experience, research and information indicated,' and not only stipulates that such advisory opinion 'shall state wherein the script departs from the provisions of the Code,' but significantly adds that such advisory opinion shall state 'wherein from experience or knowledge it is believed that exception will be taken to the story or treatment.' It thus appears that when the Production Code was adopted, the accompanying resolution for its uniform interpretation specifically provided for opinions counselling the company with regard to the public reception of a story or the likelihood of exception being taken to it. "Basically the original provision for the consideration of appeals from the Association's rulings by a 'Production Committee' representing three member companies, rested upon a continuing recognition of the fact that the acts of an individual producer inevitably affected the industry as a whole and were, therefore, the concern of the entire organized industry. "It was in the light of this development in administrative processes that the Production Code Administration as now constituted, was set up by the President of the Association pursuant to general authority conferred upon him by the Board. There does not exist in the minutes of the MPPDA any specific resolution creating the Production Code Administration. It was not a separate 'entity' but rather a departmental staff group under a department head. This is significant. "The execution of all Association policies rests upon the President and such staff members as he deems necessary. The responsibilities of the Production Code Administration have never been limited solely to the enforcement of the Code. These staff members - and all others - have general responsibilities growing out of the entire legislative history of the Association and the general industry policies in effect through Board resolutions or approved Executive action. C. Existing Relationship of the Production Code Administration to Producers of Motion Pictures "It is quite easy for those whose only direct knowledge of Production Code Administration activities comes from the bound volumes of Production Code Administration opinions or the reading of current Production Code Administration letters to conclude that the function of the Production Code Administration is comparable to that of a court. As a matter of fact the members of the Production Code Administration recognize every day that they are vested with authority voluntarily delegated by the member companies to the Association and subject to termination any time member companies so decide. The relationship is actually much nearer to that confidential, sympathetic attitude which exists between a lawyer and his client than that between the judge on the bench and a litigant at the bar. "Again, it is erroneous to assume that the members of the Production Code Administration regard this function as comparable to that of a Board of Censors administering a statute adopted by a state of other governmental agency. A political censor board functions in an atmosphere of compulsion. The Production Code Administration continues to succeed because its members recognize day by day that the secret of their success depends upon the degree of voluntary cooperation which they can secure from both member and non-member companies. "... Recommended deletions of reference in scripts to Boy and Girl Scouts, the American Legion, Moose, Elk, and other fraternal orders, are definitely in the advisory category. While producers usually follow such suggestions, there is no evidence than any completed picture has been rejected because such advice was not followed and there are numerous cases where pictures have been approved containing the very items to which attention was called. "Much of the criticism leveled at the industry by members of the legal and newspaper professions would have been avoided if advisory opinions of the Production Code Administration had been followed. A study of the content of the pictures finally approved indicates, almost without exception, that the objections from these and other groups have been leveled against bits of dialogue and action, deletion of which was requested by the Production Code Administration. "Reference has been made to the fact that all Production Code Administration opinions relative to scripts close with the statement that, "'Our final opinion as to the suitability under the Code of a motion picture based upon this material will be determined when we review the finished picture.' "It is implied that the regular use of this sentence constitutes a continuing threat which gravely handicaps producers in making films of social significance. The reverse is true. This sentence is really associated in the minds, both of writers and recipients of Production Code Administration opinions with the important fact that the only conclusive opinion which the Production Code Administration is authorized to write is with reference to the suitability of the completed picture. All opinions with reference to story treatments, stage plays, books, scripts, lyrics, etc., are purely advisory and are so regarded by all concerned. "This final statement is included in each letter because the only appeal provided for, by the member companies themselves, through action of the Association's Board of Directors, is from the decisions of the Production Code Administration relative to a finished picture. There is no appeal from letters written by the Production Code Administration during the course of production."... D. Producers Not Bound by Advisory Opinions: ... cites Zola, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife in which "the doubtful material was handled with a 'Lubitsch touch' and upon review was found satisfactory. ... The fact that the suggestions and recommendations of the Production Code Administration are so generally followed indicates that today the members of the Production Code Administration are regarded by producers, directors, and their staffs, as 'participants in the processes of production' whose experience is at the disposal of the producing companies from the moment a story idea begins to germinate until the picture finally leave the cutting room. "To assume from the mere reading in cold type of Production Code Administration letters that the eight members of the Board in Hollywood and the three in New York have the relationship of 'political censors' or are judges handing down court judgements is to ignore a body of facts, the existence of which accounts in large measure for the phenomenal success achieved to date by the cooperative processes of Self-Regulation. "Yet the author of the document under review asserts that "'Self-regulation ... has degenerated into political censorship which has made it difficult for the industry to respond to public demand for more vital entertainment.' "It is submitted that the actual record itself negatives the proposition that self-regulation is cramping and handicapping the industry." "E. The Record for 1936 "... The annual report for 1936 reveals the fact that 6,268 opinions were issued by the Production Code Administration during the year, of which 187 dealt with the suitability of books, plays, and synopses; 1,220 dealt with the suitability of scripts; and 621 were final opinions relative to the acceptability of completed films." - of which 3 were rejected, by non-members, for violations of crime or nudity and brutality. "Of the 1,220 scripts submitted by member and non-member companies in 1936, 58 were rejected. Of these 28 dealt with adultery or illicit sex condoned or justified or presented attractively and without compensating moral values; 4 dealt with prostitution; 3 dealt with illegal drug traffic; 4 dealt with kidnapping contrary to specific regulations adopted by the Association; 14 were gangster pictures or portrayed unpunished murders or other acts of violence which were not shown to be wrong. Thus it appears that 53 of those 58 scripts were rejected in 1936 under the specific provisions of the Production Code directly involved in moral issues. The remaining 5 scripts deserve individual treatment as follows: "1. CLOWN IN CONGRESS (Columbia) - A story obviously patterned upon the brief career of Congressman Zioncheck. The opinion of the Production Code Administration in part follows: "While the specific story is in our judgment satisfactory from the point of view of the Production Code, it is our opinion that the subject matter with which the story deals is highly dangerous form the standpoint of industry policy. We refer to the fact that this story treats national politics in a highly unfavorable light; Congress and its members are characterized as buffoons and fools subject to the authority of corrupt and self-seeking politicians. The very title CLOWN IN CONGRESS exemplifies and emphasizes this objection ... "To assert that the Association through the staff members of the Production Code Administration acted improperly in recommending to a member company the abandonment of this theme as a matter of industry policy negatives the truism that 'self preservation is the first law of nature.' "2. HIPPODROME (Columbia) - The story of the arrest, trial and conviction of an innocent man for the crime of kidnapping and murder, wherein sworn officers of the law, sheriffs, prosecutors and detectives, for the purpose of self-aggrandizement, arrest an innocent man and succeed in having him convicted. The Production Code Administration properly rejected this story under the Code provision stating that the law must not be ridiculed; the courts must not be presented as unjust and law and justice must not be made to seem ridiculous. "SOLDIER OF FORTUNE (Universal) and THE TORRID ZONE (RKO) had South American problems. "3. STEVEDORE (Universal) - A screen adaptation of the stage play of the same name was submitted to the Production Code Administration. The two-paragraph opinion follows: "'This story seems to us to be exceedingly dangerous from the standpoint of the Production Code, because it deals with such an inflammatory subject. Portraying as it does the unfair treatment of the blacks by the whites, and touching upon the subject of an alleged attack by a black man on a white woman, an attempted lynching of a negro, etc., it suggests to us the kind of story which, if made into a picture, we would have to reject, in the dispensation of our duties in connection with the Production Code. "'We regret having to report so unfavorably, but it seems to be the only thing we can do, in the light of the requirements of the Production Code.' "Surely the organized motion picture industry is performing a useful public service when spokesmen for the Association insist that screen material involving racial conflicts between whites and blacks be handled in such a way as to avoid fanning the flame of race prejudice. The film FURY proves conclusively that there is a way to handle satisfactorily and with tremendous dramatic power the heinous crime of lynching without including the racial angle." "F. The Record for 1937 Rejected 9 pictures, including The William Desmond Taylor Murder Case "'as a matter of general industry good and welfare ... It seems that ... the public exhibition of this picture might have a tendency to misrepresent the motion picture industry.' Admitting that this rejection was purely upon the grounds of industry policy, such an action appears both reasonable and proper. No respectable business is called upon to 'foul its own nest' by advertising unnecessarily the sordidness of individuals who happened unfortunately to have been connected with it. "29 scripts were rejected, 16 dealing with adultery, illegal sex, 1 with prostitution; 1 with venereal disease, 1 with kidnapping, 5 with gangster stories or unpunished crimes of violence; 2 ridiculing law. 1 was CHILD LABOR (Columbia) had scenes of public disorder. ROBERT'S WIFE (Paramount) had too much childbirth and cynicism about religion - and clearly offended Catholic sensibilities: "... there is a question whether the organized motion picture industry was called upon in 1937 to place its seal of approval upon a picture dealing in main theme with a subject certain to give grave offense to the largest single religious denominational group in the country, and dealing with an act which is illegal under numerous state statutes and with a subject matter which cannot be specifically treated in matters sent through the mails." - Birth control, presumably. "3. THE DOUBLE LAW (Republic) A story outline submitted by this nonmember company emphasized the point that there is a double law - one for the poor and another for the rich - and in the opinion of the Production Code Administration, the story outline, in the form in which it was submitted, definitely violated the Production Code provision which stipulated that 'law, natural or human, shall not be ridiculed.' ... 'in other words, the vast dramatic power of the screen must not be used to expose legal chicanery and to effect necessary reforms even thought the theme may provide vital entertainment.' "It is submitted that no such generalizations can be drawn from the Production Code Administration opinion read in its entirety. "While this opinion insists that "'the judge not be shown to be crooked and the senator not be shown as a United States Senator' (for obvious reasons) the opinion goes on to say: "'The foregoing is not meant to suggest that there are no dishonest lawyers, unethical bar associations or even crooked judges. We know that there are many such. At the same time we feel that the industry has an important social responsibility which makes it necessary frequently for us to approach such problems as are set forth in this very interesting story with the utmost care and thoughtfulness. "Numerous pictures approved by the Production Code Administration in which legal chicanery has been exposed and dishonest lawyers have been portrayed prove conclusively that pictures of this type with plenty of punch in them can be and are being made, but they must be brought within the Code provision which prohibits the Administration of justice from being ridiculed. It thus appears that in 1937 four PCA opinions - one dealing with THE WILLIAM DESMOND TAYLOR MURDER CASE - and three with the story outlines discussed, constitute the sum total of the important opinions relative to industry policy rendered by the PCA, yet the author of the document under discussion would have us believe that the PCA through 'far fetched interpretations,' 'misapplications of the Production Code', and the invocation of the magic phrase 'industry policy' is keeping from the American screen films of great social significance! G: The Record for 1938:mentions four cases discussed by the document under review: Godless Youth (Wanger) sexual irregularities -- revised story treatment acceptable; Three Comrades: Remarque's novel has its period moved back several years. It is now "nothing more than a love story against the background of Germany in 1920, no violation whatsoever has been done to history. ... The screenplay could just as well have been called Three Men and a Girl ... Whether or not the six men participating in this conference and arriving at the 'understanding' [to change the period and, presumably, depoliticize the film] acted wisely is quite another matter. At any rate, the completed film has no historical significance whatsoever."; Wings of Doom (Columbia): change a mention of airraids on Barcelona to 'Spain' only suggested; Idiot's Delight (MGM): no specific changes mentioned. [NB all these are objections to political content, which further indicates the extent to which the complaint in the document must have been to do with over-reaching the bounds of political censorship. H: The Record Summarized: "From the preceding discussion it appears that between January 1, 1936 and June 1, 1938, the Production Code Administration rendered between 14,000 and 15,000 opinions, approximately one tenth of which related to final approval of the completed pictures. Out of this tremendous volume of material only one rejected picture and nine rejected scripts appear to have turned upon questions of 'industry' policy.I: Recent Procedural Revisions and Further Suggestions: "Steps were taken several weeks ago to effectuate the following procedural changes with respect to Production Code Administration letters: Deal with Code matters in one opinion and render advisory opinion on important questions of industry policy in a separate communication, thus differentiating between Code prohibitions with penalty for violation and policy matters involving no penalty. "b. Rephrase references to censor cuts to bare statement of the certainty or likelihood of deletion without 'requesting deletions to avoid censor cut' (See Exhibit A.) "The following additional changes in procedure are worthy of serious study: "1. Provision for appeal to Board of Directors from Production Code Administration opinion rejecting thematically a story treatment or completed script. There were 58 such cases in 1936 and 29 in 1937. It has been pointed out that only 9 of these 87 final rejections of scripts or story treatments dealt with matters if industry policy. However, there should be opportunity for any producer who feels that he has been dealt with unjustly or that the Production Code Administration has exceeded its authority or has misinterpreted industry policy to appeal to the Board of Directors from such a thematic rejection and thus secure a final judgement form the organized industry's highest tribunal. The fact that in these 87 cases there is no recorded instance of an effort to take an appeal, indicates no real dissatisfaction with the judgements of the Production Code Administration, but it would be wholesome nevertheless for members of the Production Code Administration to know that in rejecting finally a story summary or completed script on account of this theme, there was a thoroughly regular procedure for testing the soundness of their opinion. "2. Similarly, it would promote clarification of industry policy if the Production Code Administration were given the right, subject to the approval of the President of the Association, to file appeals to the Board of Directors so as to secure definite rulings on policy matters which thereafter would constitute precedents for the guidance of the Production Code Administration. "3. The suggestion in 'the document' that the Annotations of Production Code Administration decisions be revised so as to distinguish more carefully between Code questions, policy questions, and advice on probable censorship reactions, is sound. A committee could well afford to rework this valuable material during the next few months. Such a suggestion in no wise disparages from the stupendous effort expended in the laborious task already performed single-handed by a member of the Production Code Administration staff. "4. The major question in connection with issuance or non-issuance of the Association's certificate of approval by the Production Code Administration, does not have to do with the matter of the Production Code Administration exceeding its authority. The real issue is whether the organized motion picture industry can continue to make effective self-regulation in 'the area of morals' if the same restrictions now existing are to be applied also to matters outside 'the area of morals.' In the realm of morals, self-regulation under the Administration has been successful because the vast majority of the American people stand for the principles laid down in the Code. "2. A. The Function of the Entertainment Screen: Quotes, and then analyses, statement by Hays in 1938 MPPDA Report, Section on Entertainment vs. Propaganda: "... there is room, much of which is still unused, for the presentation and treatment of the greatest theses of life, literature, music and drama. But there is no place in motion pictures for self-serving propaganda." Questions the meaning of "common sense," "wholesome," ... "Again, it is said that 'entertainment is the commodity for which the public pays at the box office. Propaganda disguised as entertainment would be neither honest salesmanship or honest showmanship.' The first sentence of this quotation implies that that for which the public is willing to pay is 'entertainment' but suppose the public is willing to pay for 'propaganda' honestly presented, and finds it entertaining? Suppose that millions of people who are in accord with the point of view expressed in a given film rush to the box office to see it because it pleases them, and suppose that other millions, who are not in accord with the particular point of view expressed in the film, likewise go to it because their opposition has intensified their interest in that special field of life with which the film attempts to deal. Is such a film 'entertaining.'" B. Screen 'Entertainment'. What are 'Wholesome Themes? "... The 'greatest theses of life and of literature' deal with the relationships between man and man ... [etc.] Hence it would seem to follow that a film story, decently and honestly presented, would come within this definition of entertainment if somewhat along the lines of The Good Earth, it dealt with Russian peasant life along the Volga River before during and after the Russian revolution, culminating in the organization of a collective farm along communist lines with attendant physical, intellectual, and spiritual struggles of the most fundamental kind taking place in the lives of the characters portrayed. Probably a number of exhibitors would decide not to play such a films, as each exhibitor would have a perfect right to do, for any reason or no reason. But if this is a correct appraisal of the meaning of the above quotation, then the tests of decency and honesty in presentation recognized as the prerequisites to approval, regardless of the economic, social, political or religious predilections of the directors, officer or staff of the association. "The literary works of Charles Dickens afford a splendid illustration. Virtually every one of his novels was written as 'propaganda for a cause.' But certainly the pertinent social problems of his day were among 'the greatest theses of life and of literature.' Imprisonment for debt, child labor, the apprentice system, cruelty and mismanagement of orphans - these were the glaring evils of the time and under the above definition of screen entertainment, Dickens with the modern cinema in operation, could have used this medium for dramatizing his message rather than that of the novel. This definition would permit the Charles Dickens of today, through screen stories, to deal in comparable fashion with such existing social problems as slum clearance, land tenancy, share-cropping, unemployment, the 'dole,' etc. All of these seem to come within the meaning of 'the greatest theses of life.' "A 'wholesome' theme appears therefore to mean one which is decent within the meaning of the moral principles enunciated in the Code, rather than 'wholesome' in the sense of conforming to the particular slant on government, economics, social structure, or religion which one or more members of the Production Code Administration happen to favor personally. If this is an incorrect definition of the area of permissible (not necessarily desirable) screen entertainment, then it is respectfully suggested that clarification of terminology is important. "D. A Suggested Definition [of Propaganda] "When reference is made to the fact that 'There is no place in motion pictures for self-serving propaganda,' it is suggested that we really mean that type of propaganda which is: "A DELIBERATE DISTORTION OR MANIPULATION OF FACTS OR REALITIES "Certainly it is important for the future of this industry that a careful distinction be drawn between that kind of propaganda which is deliberately deceitful in order the better to accomplish a desired end, and propaganda - preachment, message - whatever we choose to call it, which deals honestly with a theme that we may not happen to like. "Of course, the organized motion picture industry should refuse to approve any film which deliberately distorts facts or manipulates realities. This is simply common honesty whether applied to advertising, labels, or what not and finds its counterpart in the pure food and drug acts, the fair trade practices promulgated by the FTC, and a host of other daily business and social practices resting upon established ethical concepts, recognized by law. "But it does not follow that the Association should refuse to approve a film for exhibition in affiliated theatres simply because members of the Board of Directors, or the officers of the Association, or the members of the Production Code Administration staff, do not happen to find themselves in accord with the underlying social or economic philosophy which such an entertainment film may have as its background, provided there is no deception or manipulation of the facts. ... "If the entertainment is 'decent' and the presentation 'honest', a seal, or statement certifying to this effect, should be issued, leaving to each exhibitor the determination of whether it is the kind of entertainment his patrons will pay good money to see.... TO SUMMARIZE "1. The 'greatest theses of life, literature, music and drama; are the 'wholesome' themes, along with sheer 'recreation for the millions' which define the broad functions of the entertainment screen. "2. Within this broad definition of 'entertainment,' the Association should approve any film: "a. If it is decent - that is, conforms to the commonly accepted moral standards, embodied in pertinent sections of the Production Code; "b. It the presentation of any point of view is honestly done -- that is, without deliberate distortion or manipulation of facts or realities. "3. The social desirability of a particular film, and the probable public reaction at home and abroad to its exhibition are appropriate subjects upon which to advise member companies, but should not enter into the final decision as to whether a definite application for a seal for a completed film, by either a member or non-member company, should be granted or rejected." 3. Basic Industry Policies Affecting Directly or Indirectly the Type and Content of Films Produced by Member Companies. Do Not Some of These Need Reexamination? "Unquestionably the type of picture produced by member companies and the content of these productions are affected by certain basic industry policies in force today. Some of these policies are fundamental, cannot and should not be changed; while there are some which should be re-examined periodically in the light of Thomas Jefferson's recommendation that once every nineteen years a new generation of opinion formers comes upon the world's stage and previously established policies should be re-examined and re-affirmed, rejected, or modified as existing factors may warrant. "1. Operating for Profit "Under the American capitalistic system the producers and distributors belonging to this Association are in business for profit. Each year's total output is produced therefore with the admitted objective of enabling the companies to remain in business and earn a reasonable profit for the stockholders. Of course films which tend to enhance prestige and build good will, fit into this general scheme, although individual films in this category may show a loss. "Some of the screen's outspoken critics, either secretly or publicly, desire a different economic organization of American society than capitalism. They wish to substitute 'Production for Use' for the existing 'production for profit.' Much of their criticism is therefore colored by their wishful thinking, and must be discounted accordingly. "The 'profit motive' will continue to be the mainspring of the motion picture business in the United States, as it is of other businesses, unless the entire capitalistic system goes overboard. However, the attacks upon the capitalistic system have unquestionably increased the social awareness of all business to its pubic responsibilities. It was a recognition of the important stake which the public has in motion pictures which brought about the organization of this Association and Article Two of the Charter voices effectively this sense of obligation to the public on the part of those who are producing and distributing entertainment for the millions. "2. Self-Regulation Rather than Political Censorship "A fundamental policy of the organized industry is to regulate its activities through this Association so effectively that there will exist no really valid reason for governmental interference through state censor boards, federal commission, etc. Such a course seems to the industry's leaders thoroughly in accord with the best American traditions and to the best interests of the American people as well as the industry itself. "It is felt that freedom of speech and of the press go to the root of the democratic process and that the freedom of all films from political control is necessary for the same reason. Use of motion pictures by totalitarian regimes abroad for the attainment of the goals sought by their propaganda ministries gives special point to existing determination here to avoid further governmental encroachments in this field. "It naturally follows that responsible executives of member companies frequently ask officers of the Association whether production of a certain type of picture will tend to jeopardize industry self-regulation by affording pressure groups which may not be pleased with a specific film a further opportunity to call for governmental interference. By the same token, officers of the Association on their own initiative, and with perfect propriety, occasionally caution producers that a proposed course of action, while it may prove financially profitable, may bring in its train results which are not felt to be for the best interest of the organized industry. "There is nothing 'sinister' about this. People engaged in every line of endeavor are constantly forced to choose between immediate advantage and the attainment or maintenance of fundamental objectives. The reconciliation of this inevitable conflict is one of the chief functions of this or any other worthwhile trade association. It has already been pointed out, however, that 'advice' to a member not to proceed with a proposed picture or not to handle it in a certain way is entirely permissible while refusal to approve a film for a non-member because of the presence of the same elements may well be unwarranted restraint upon the non-member's freedom of action, and hence unauthorized. And refusal of a member to follow such advice may not prevent affiliated theatres from exhibiting a film in question unless it contains violations of the Production Code, since the $25,000 penalty applies only to Code violations and not to policy questions omitted from the Code. ... The following industry policies might well be re-examined in order to test their continuing validity: "a. Absence of Age Classification "It is assumed that all pictures produced by member companies and approved by the Association, are 'fit' for exhibition before audiences containing men, women, and children of all ages. What is the effect of this policy upon the intellectual quality of motion pictures? Does it or does it not result in establishing and maintaining a lower intellectual common denominator than would be the case if producers deliberately planned to make certain pictures for children, certain others definitely for adult audiences and the rest, as now, for universal consumption? Would it or would it not be to the profit of the 'box office' to bid for the more frequent attendance of the 28,000,000 Americans who seldom go to movies by ascertaining the kind of pictures they do see occasionally and then deliberately and intelligently going about the job of making them regular customers, even though it might mean changing certain existing attitudes toward audience classification? "Even if audience classification is entirely impracticable, then the companion question still remains as to whether too large a percentage of the total output of American films falls into too few categories. For example, a very rough approximation seems to indicate that about 30% of all features produced in this country are 'Westerns'; another 23% at present are 'crime' or 'horror' pictures, while another 18% are the stereotyped 'boy meets girl' stories, many of which are second rate in plot and none too good from the standpoint of acting. Is it possible that these three types of film consume so much of the total playing time of the nation's theatres as to discourage the attendance of the 28m. potential customers who seldom visit motion picture theatres? "It is true that the remaining 28% of films runs the scale from 'The Follies' to 'Fury', and from the Marx Brothers to Muni. Should the total percentage of films outside the three classifications above, be increased or is the existing need to improve the quality of the second rate films within these three main classifications? Would more films of 'social significance' add to or subtract from box office grosses? Would a greater range of selectivity, or more films of higher quality in the present categories be the more likely to attract additional customers? b. Absence of Theatre Classification "At present pictures are made with the idea that theoretically all pictures are for exhibition in all theatres. The Motion Picture Herald in a recent editorial predicted that one of the more significant developments lying immediately ahead of the industry is a greater degree of theatre specialization, resulting in certain theatres featuring certain types of pictures in the same way that certain book stores, certain magazines, and certain radio programs are designed to appeal to children, to women, to men, or to all. In the larger cities, is it true or not that such specialization in the exhibition of product would increase the total percentage of the population attending the movies each week? The special news reel theatres in New York are examples in point. Many people prefer to see a full hour of news reels than to see the average feature. "Suppose a chain of modest theatres in the larger cities catered definitely to customers interested in films of 'social significance,' during the midweek, to children's films on Friday nights and Saturday and to genuine 'family' films on Saturday night and Sunday? Is it true or not that today virtually the entire 17,000 theatres in the United States are using virtually the same kind of advertising and playing the same type of films? Isn't this comparable to offering everybody a chance to subscribe to the New York Daily News when many prefer the New York Times, the Boston Transcript, The Christian Science Monitor or The New York American? Similarly in the magazine field, admittedly The Saturday Evening Post has an enormous circulation but such diverse periodicals as Harper's, The Ladies Home Journal, Asia, Fortune, and The Nation do their bit to swell the nation's total list of magazine readers. "It should prove possible to make a survey which would arm member companies with reasonably dependable data, upon which to plan ahead, or to assemble existing data for general use. "c. Local Programming Left to Chance. "At present very few exhibitors appear to work out well balanced entertainment programs for a given day. Last week a New York theatre in the Broadway district played Crime School and The Hardy Family on a dual bill! A number of neighborhood theatres played Tom Sawyer with a crime mystery story Arsene Lupin Returns. The writer personally knows of one mother who permitted a ten year old daughter to go to see Tom Sawyer and seeing the effects upon the child's nervous system of the other picture, solemnly resolved never to let her child go alone again. ..." "d. All Pictures for 'World' Audience "... So long as individual films are produced for world consumption, it is assumed that the governmental, economic, and social attitudes and prejudices of various nations and peoples must be taken into account. Is it true or not that efforts to escape reprisals at the hands of the dictatorships cost American producers more in loss of domestic patronage through dissatisfaction with 'pulled punches' in pictures than the net profit from our exports to the totalitarian nations and their diplomatic satellites? Is it true, as the other document alleges, that only 4% of the net profit of American producers comes from film exports to continental Europe? Would not a factual study reveal, country by country, the actual net profit of member companies during the past five years? Would not such a study also indicate what percentage of this amount would be unaffected by threats from the dictators? Would it then be practicable or not to weigh the respective advantages and disadvantages, financial and otherwise, of catering to the tastes of the American people, and/or the British Empire, the dictators, the rest of the world. "Is it true or not that the organization of an export corporation by member companies under the Webb-Pomerene Act, creating an exception to the antitrust laws for certain purposes, would place member companies in a stronger position in the foreign market and enable American producers to resist unreasonable demands more effectively that under the present set-up where one company can be played off against another? Since virtually all countries have 'quotas' and since no country admits all American films, would it not be possible through such a corporation to promote the classification of films as 'primarily for domestic distribution' or 'for world market,' thus enabling producers of films intended chiefly for domestic exhibition to increase audience appeal and therefore 'box office' by including material which would be regarded as objectionable by the dictators if exported? "Conclusion "The Production Code Administration is not exceeding its authority. It is interpreting the Code and other industry policies as they are today. Industry policy with regard to 'entertainment' and 'self-serving propaganda' needs to be more clearly defined. Certain other basic assumptions should be re-examined in order to ascertain their effect upon production and hence upon domestic and foreign theatre attendance. It should be possible to secure accurate facts in the light of which to re-affirm or modify these basic industry policies. A subcommittee of the Board with members of the Association's staff collaborating, should be able to secure reliable data of genuine importance. "The Association necessarily has been concerned with preventing objectionable material from appearing on the screen. Its efforts have been unusually successful. With today's box office recession, the Association has an excellent opportunity to emphasize certain affirmative policies designed to increase domestic and foreign theatre attendance and thereby react to the financial benefit of the organized industry." Exhibit A record of Production Code Administration activities June 1-10, 1938 - notes "1 case in which studio was cautioned that 'the characterization of this colored maid may be found objectionable in the South, where the showing of negroes on terms of familiarity and social equality is resented." Exhibit B Attempt at a definition of "propaganda" and "self-serving propaganda" - by giving 12 of the New York staff a collection of documents, stage plays and films and asking them to determine Whether they were propaganda on their release, and self-serving. Personnel involved were Hess, McKenzie, Palfreyman, Trumbull, Clark, Norr, Swenson, Dickinson, Pettijohn, Thompson, Hart and Wingate. Results "revealed clearly the extent of confusion as to the meaning of this terminology and still greater diversity when applied to specific cases." Exhibit C a letter from Mrs. H.C. Buck, of Madras YMCA, unsolicited comment on current motion pictures during a visit to US. "... The depression has not been acute in India and cannot account for the decline in film popularity. Part of the decreasing interest is due to the frequent appearance of Mae West and Jean Harlow and their type of picture. "India still innocently believes that photographs and the printed word do not lie. They accept West and Harlow, therefore, as typical American girls, and have been horrified. "... in India people will, just now, spend money to see films that: "1. Are pure comedy. "2. Tell the story of someone who had a hard time and made good, or had a new idea and succeeded with it, against difficulties. "3. A story of family life such as ordinary people might experience. Family problems are much the same the world over. "To illustrate: "1. The Marx and Ritz brothers draw crowds, no matter what their film. Their insane hilarity makes people feel good. "2. The Great Ziegfeld, Zola, Pasteur, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, The Good Earth, Wells Fargo, had big runs. They told stories of struggles the average person can understand, through action they can appreciate. "3. Judge Hardy's Children is a deeply appreciated story of family life."Claims that while in US they have only been invited to movies twice, both times to Snow White: "It seems, therefore, that the situation all over the world, where movies are shown is the same. People are in general, discouraged about the world in which they live. At one time our people believed that things were on the upgrade, and everyone had hopes, if a man, of being a millionaire, or President, if not of the US, at least of a company; and if a woman, of being married to one. Then they enjoyed exotic movies that fed their dreams of the life they might someday know. "But these are hard days. Harder ones are before us. It is annoying, therefore, to see films of a rich and easy life that obeys few laws and has few moral or financial restrictions. "Today the average person badly needs encouragement. It can apparently be found in our recent past and in our present. ... I am certain that the industry suffers a slump because the majority of its pictures are still based on the psychology of 1920-29. Its leaders seem to have cast about desperately for new appeals while still clinging hopefully to the once profitable sex motif." Then suggests pictures dealing with everyday life, like the photographic magazines, comedy and music like the radio, and "the drama of American life," like truck drivers, a film about growing wheat, and films.

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