Record #536

Date:
20/12/1929
Record Type:
Letter
From/By:
Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
To:
Rev S. Parkes Cadman, President, Church and Drama League
Reel:
Reel 7
Frame Start:
7-0210
Frame End:
7-0244
Legacy ID:
539
Legacy Year:
1929
Legacy Index:
Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (FCCCA)

Documents on the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (FCCCA) Commission on the Motion Picture and Drama investigating the MPPDA -- all this arising out of the Church and Drama Association (CDA). Hays writes an 18 page letter to Cadman spelling out MPPDA activities -- material on origins and on SRCAttached to Hays letter to Cadman is a piece on Previewing, detailing the activities of the 7 groups previewing pictures at AMPAS, another piece on the Motion Picture Conference and the appointment of Mrs. Winter, and one on a Committee on the Use of Motion Pictures for Religious Education.

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Long Description:

A long letter from Hays to Cadman detailing the history of the industry, beginning with protestations that it is a highly organized, well stabilized business, "operating internally along lines successfully adopted by other established businesses." He claims that prior to the establishment of the MPPDA, "there were few rules of business conduct. There were constant overlappings of interest which produced unsatisfactory results. An exhibitor who bought pictures from twelve companies had twelve entirely differently worded contracts to keep in his mind. There were constantly cases of two or three companies starting out to make pictures of the same title and theme ... Since 1922 the history of motion pictures has been that of the Association ... "A stabilized industry was essential. Production had to be financed, new theatres had to be built. The money had to come from banks,. and banks demand security. They want to deal only with responsible businesses and they look with scorn on waste and extravagances. ... In the fall of 1921 leaders in the industry began to consider the possibilities of an organization which would permit them to work out their mutual problems in a mutual way, which would lead to general improvement of the product, deserve and gain the goodwill of the public, and advance the industry as a social servant. A series of conferences was held in New York and a tentative organization of producers and distributors was brought about.[pp. 3-4] ... Hays claims the Association is analogous to the Federal government in its limited powers granted by the states/companies. " The Studio Relations Committee is made up of one person in each studio appointed ... to keep in touch with all production work and to consult with the association's office as he may desire. There is no attempt to say, "You can do this" or "You can't do that". There are, however, many carefully considered suggestions which may be made to the studio officials, growing out of the years of consideration of enlightened public taste and a continued effort to interpret it as well as remembering always the industry's duty. ... This is not setting up a group of censors, but enlightened self-control. ... The Studio Relations Committee provides what may be likened to an editorial board on a newspaper. Its members, and those constructive and unprejudiced advisers who are working with us, do not constitute a body concerned primarily with what shall be cut out of pictures but what may most properly go in. .[pp. 10-12] ... Of course, the work of that committee is not yet perfect. Mistakes are made, but the refining process goes on. There are many of those who make suggestions who would take all the life out of pictures. There are others who would allow anything to go in. Both extremes are active and, of course, great and greater care must be taken to find the right medium. The public is very comprehensive and producers do well to remember the universal in the pictures because their largest usefulness lies in their service as the democracy of entertainment."(12) Claims "The introduction of sound demanded an investment of possibly an additional $600,000,000." (17) "in the last year attendance increased by 15,000,000, or approximately 15%. Earlier in the year when we began to lay plans for the 1930 expansion, it was estimated that the 1929 audience increase would be 10,000,000 weekly; the facts are 5,000,000 better than we had expected." "... careful attention is given to every film which has a foreign background or which in any way affects the nationals of any country in a desire to build friendship between the nations as well as in the desire to remove any cause for agitation against our films. The foreign problem is chiefly an economic one ..." [p.14] More and more is the motion picture being recognized as a stimulant to trade. It is advertising America to itself. It is building buying habits. While the pictures have been kept as unpurchaseable as the editorial content of America's greatest newspapers, nevertheless they have been helping sell goods for every other industry. The result is a bettering of living conditions everywhere, -- and especially in the small towns. No longer does the girl in Sullivan, Indiana, guess what styles are going to be worn in three months. She knows because she sees them on the screen. Any small town retailer can tell you of the influence of the moving pictures on his business. [p17]

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