Record #1153

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Press summary
Reel 11
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Production Code

Complaint that the current Code enforcement is keeping reissues and revivals from the screen. Breen and Boettiger assert that the author, Don Craig, represents a Washington revival house.


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Press release, 20 October 1936, on revivals: "At the height of the [Legion of Decency] campaign any picture that included a clandestine love affair, an unwed mother, a pair of unclad legs, a gruesome death-house scene, a succession of cocktails was automatically stamped as trash. In the heat of battle that was not only excusable but necessary. To maintain the same attitude after the fight is won, however, is silly -- and dangerous. "Oddly enough, it is the newest craze among moviegoers -- revivals -- that will make such persistence dangerous. The notion that a movie must die with its first showing is becoming as absurd as that a novel should be forgotten after the first reading. ... If it can get Dinner at Eight, the public wants to know why it can't get Back Street, Only Yesterday, Anna Christie, Bad Girl, Farewell to Arms. And the revival theatres are having to answer, "Because Hollywood won't give them code seals." "To put it bluntly, the public is being told that Back Street, one of the most highly praised movie romances of all time, really was unfit to be shown. That Anna Christie, in which Garbo and Dressler achieved their finest characterizations, was all wrong. That Bad Girl, which had a nation laughing and crying with Sally Eilers and Jimmie Dunn, was naughty nonsense. That anyone who sincerely enjoyed Margaret Sullavan in Only Yesterday or Helen Hayes in Farewell to Arms ought to be ashamed of himself. "However it may be dressed up, that's the situation. And however long it may take to happen, there is going to be an explosion. Popular opinion, which supported the reformation in its initial campaign, is going to crack. And Hollywood, which lives on popular opinion, is going to crack right along with it."26 October 1936 Breen to Hays about this: "It looks to me as though the persons back of the so-called 'revival house' in Washington, have inspired this particular criticism. Incidentally, I cannot resist the temptation to suggest that the document is filled with considerable bad reasoning. "For your information, Dinner at Eight and Bad Girl were approved by us, with certain eliminations. Back Street and Only Yesterday were rejected, and Anna Christie has not been presented, formally, for our approval.30 October 1936 Boettiger to Hays : "Mr. Breen is quite right ... in establishing responsibility for this article to the operators of the Rialto Theatre. "The management of this theatre has been brought to this office and has received a thorough calling down for inspiring such publicity. He confessed the error of his ways and gave voluble promises that he will not again offend. I, for one, have little confidence in his judgment both as a theatre operator and as a publicity man and all I can say is that we will watch him. The best that can be said for him is that at least the Rialto, which is in about the worst section of Washington and which has been playing sex hygiene and similar pictures, is now playing pictures of a much higher calibre, pictures which for the most part have been approved by the Production Code Administration."

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