Record #849

Date:
29/08/1932
Record Type:
Letter
Reel:
Reel 10
Frame Start:
10-0035
Frame End:
10-0037
Legacy ID:
857
Legacy Year:
1932
Legacy Index:
Production Code
Comments:
Additional text in Transcription.

Reply to 20 August 1932 Hays report [10-0044] on Production Code: The Code is unenforceable, and although it has done some good, too much pressure on the studios will make them abandon it.- it "cannot be honestly enforced ... when the Code was passed I strictly objected to it and only agreed because it was plainly pointed out to me that it was a political expediency ... As a friend, I just want to caution you not to drive too far, as far as the Code is concerned, and consider the Code a restraint but not a law ..."

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Long Description:

August 29, 1932. JOE SCHENCK response to HAYS report, in letter to HAYS ...I believe that Colonel Joy and his associates have done all that they possibly could do towards the enforcement of the Production Code. The Production Code, in my opinion, cannot be honestly enforced, and if it were honestly enforced the producers could not continue to produce pictures, as there is too great a scarcity of material for the number of pictures that the industry has to turn out. The public is not interested in namby-pamby subjects - and any dramatic subject of forceful entertainment generally deals with a phase of life that would be very hard to present in a play or a picture and still remain within the bounds of the Production Code. Should Colonel Joy and his associates attempt to strictly enforce the spirit and the letter of it, the producers will have to do away with the Code, even at the expense of having censorship in every State in the Union. Originally, when the Code was passed I strictly objected to it and only agreed because it was plainly pointed out to me that it was a political expediency. The reason for my objection to it was not because of the character of pictures I produce, - but because I knew that the producers generally could not and would not live up to the Code. I did not want to stultify myself by agreeing to it. Nevertheless, I am glad at this time to be able to honestly say that the Code has been of some benefit and restraint for producers as Colonel Joy and his associates have accomplished a great deal in endeavoring to keep the producers as much as possible within the bounds of the Code. Probably without the existence of the Code the pictures would have been of a character more subject to criticism from the standpoint of censorship. I am not finding fault with your urging greater care and more earnest effort to bring about a stricter compliance with the terms of the Production Code. I only want to caution you against creating a thought in the minds of Colonel Joy and his associates, - that if they think a picture or certain portions of it do not strictly comply with the spirit and the letter of the Production Code they must either reject the picture or cut out important sequences, and by the latter method destroy the value of a picture form the box office point of view. The producers have a tough enough time as it is to entertain and please the public with the entertainment they serve, without having serious obstacles put in their path by our own reviewers. I agree with you, and I am confident that you are right in your judgment about some of the mistakes made which created a bad impression within and without the industry; and they should have been avoided and probably can be avoided in the future. My only fear of the efficacy of your memorandum to Colonel Joy and his associates, is that it may prove too efficacious and they may reject or demand too many changes of a harmful nature to the entertainment of pictures through their desire to live up to and carry out your instructions as embodied in the memorandum of August 20th. I know your problem and am very sympathetic with it. You know I have generally supported you on every stand you have taken because I fully agreed with you and your constructive ideas, and I know you have accomplished a tremendous lot for the motion picture industry. As a friend, I just want to caution you not to drive too far, as far as the Code is concerned, and consider the Code a restraint but not a law. Your system of self-regulation is right but your reference to "no lapse in Code enforcement shall be allowed" is all wrong because you address these lines to our internal censors and if they interpret you literally they will make too much trouble for the producers and will destroy the value of the Code as everybody will drop away from it and disregard it, regardless of any commitment they have made, as the first and most important commitment they have is to produce pictures that the public will come in to see. Please accept this letter in the spirit it has been written, as a caution and advice to you not to go too far in driving Joy and his associates to make the producers live up to the letter and spirit of the Code.

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