Record #1097

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Reel 10
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National Board of Review (NBR)
EDITORIAL COMMENT: These documents deal with a proposal from the NBR to change their inscription on films to read ""classified and passed by the NBR."" But Palfreyman's sampling of company opinion was hostile -- Buckley of UA wanted to pull out of the NBR altogether, ""At Metro I was referred to Mr. William Kelly who tells me that for many years he has handled censorship matters for Metro. He was very much opposed to any of the companies discontinuing the legend"" - but wanted it changed to ""Approved by the NBR"". Columbia were opposed to the classification notice. Getting rid of the NBR may create problems in Florida, but also in Boston, where the Police Board has censorship powers and relies on the NBR endorsement. The same situation applies in Providence and Atlanta - all might establish municipal censor boards review all pictures and charge a fee for doing so.

The NBR wants to change the legend used by the studios to "classified and passed by the NBR" in view of current public concern about content -- but not suggesting that they actually classify films for adults or family. Most of the companies are opposed to the idea of a classification notice. Columbia are opposed to such a change (10-1688). Continuing value of National Board of Review (NBR) in obviating censorship noted. Note that William Kelly has been handling censorship matters at MGM "for many years."


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Barrett to studios, 1 December 1934: "The Executive Committee of the NBR has taken cognizance of the growing public sentiment for assurance that films exhibited in the theatres have been classified as to audience suitability, primarily either for the family or for adults; also we recognize the public interest in obtaining advance information as to recommended films, based on impartial review of films prior to public exhibition. "... This step [the classification proposal] has been taken with the best interests of both the public and the industry in mind, and with the further thought that the change requested is entirely in keeping with the true activity of this organization, which originated, and since 1916 has advocated and practiced, the plan of selection, recommendation and classification of motion picture films as a constructive way in which to develop film patronage and defeat the demand for censorship."

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