Record #1281

Date:
20/12/1929
Record Type:
Miscellaneous
From/By:
Carl E. Milliken
To:
Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
Reel:
Reel 8
Frame Start:
8-0910
Frame End:
8-0931
Legacy ID:
1292
Legacy Year:
1930
Legacy Index:
Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (FCCCA)

Anticipating the forthcoming Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (FCCCA) report on motion pictures, Milliken marshals arguments to convince Cadman that the church should continue to co-operate with the industry. Examples of co-operation cited; plus list of participating organizationsFederal Council of Churches of Christ in America (FCCCA) Report

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20 December 1929, Memo, Milliken to Hays on the forthcoming FCCCA report: "From the public relations standpoint, of course, the basic trouble with the reliance upon force in the form of legislative control, is that both parties are inclined to 'pass the buck.' In the studio it would develop a censorship complex, namely, 'in case of doubt, leave everything in and depend on the censors to take it out.' This is still after eight years one of the greatest obstacles to real progress. With the public, as in the case of prohibition, if force comes to be relied upon, the tendency is to overlook the importance of education and leadership. "... The vital necessity of public cooperation in the selection of suitable motion picture product and especially in the development of plans for the entertainment of children, can be understood better if church leaders like Dr. Cadman will realize the peculiar distribution problem of the motion picture industry. Not only must our product be pointed at the mass mind, because of the fact that for the first time in the world's history drama has become of interest to the masses, but the tendency of the industry is toward undiscriminating, 100% distribution of all pictures to all theatres. ... The vital problem is the selection of entertainment for children. The children are in the audiences of neighborhood and small town theatres, and not to any appreciable degree in the first run houses, from which probably 70% of the picture revenue is obtained. "Therefore, artificial assistance from socially minded groups is essential in neighborhoods and small towns in order that the normal indiscriminate distribution of all productions may be modified to the extent of making certain that suitable motion picture entertainment for children is furnished at a time in the program understood by the community. "... In the interest of frankness, it may be wise to point out that four embarrassments now exist: "a. Recent publicity has created the danger that the public will regard such an inquiry by the Federal Council at this time as in the nature of a grand jury proceeding regarding a suggested indictment. Such an impression, of course, would be very unfortunate and would preclude full cooperation by the industry. "b. The FCCCA at the moment is in the ridiculous position of having sponsored a subsidiary organization, namely the Editorial Council of the Religious Press, which appointed a Committee on Motion Pictures last June for a proposed 'inquiry' that has never been made. The chairman of this Committee, since June 29, has continually published every week insulting and libelous articles. Dr. Cavert, one of the general secretaries of the Federal Council, is a member of the committee, yet the Federal Council has not effectively disavowed responsibility. "c. The persistent attacks by Andrews, of which Dr. Cadman has been informed, are a distinct embarrassment because Andrews frequently poses as a direct representative of the Federal Council ... and furthermore the CDL was actually a creation of the Federal Council and is associated with it in the public mind. "d. A further embarrassment is the fact that Canon Chase is frequently bursting into print with attacks upon the industry, as general secretary of the organization he sees fit to call the Federal Motion Picture Council in America, Inc. It seems strange to us who know the facts, but it actually is the case that many people do not discriminate between this organization and the FCCCA, or the Motion Picture Commission of the FCCCA. "In considering effective means for mobilizing church opinion in behalf of better pictures, leaders like Dr. Cadman should bear in mind that the managers of motion picture theatres too often feel that denunciation on the part of the clergy is more helpful to them in box office returns than the commendation of pictures. The sorry fact invariably is that public denunciation of a specific picture by clergymen of other well-meaning people always does increase receipts at the box office." Very hard-hitting for Milliken, especially the confessions of facts of life at the end, but also suggesting that they take a hard line with the FCCCA, whose position Milliken clearly regards as unreasonable in that the weight of evidence against Andrews is so substantial and the unreasonableness of the charges brought by The Churchman so obvious.

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