Record #1215

Record Type:
Francis Stuart Harmon
Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
Reel 12
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Production Code

Harmon first suggests to Hays the separation of the administrative and advisory functions of the PCA, in order to clarify the limits of its jurisdiction. Code. industry policy


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10 March 1938 Harmon to Hays: "For the past month I have been studying all of our current Production Code Administration opinions rather carefully from the angles discussed in yesterday's staff meeting and venture to jot down a few observations:" -- first raising the issue that "the Production Code Administration has no authority to speak for the association on matters of general industry policy unless such matter is covered by a specific provision of the Production Code OR unless the Production Code Administration is serving as the gent of the President of the Association in so doing" -- therefore wants to distinguish between "the administrative functions of the Production Code Administration in enforcing compliance with the Production Code, and the advisory functions of the Production Code Administration in counselling with producers as the agent of the President of the Association ... "Censorship: ... for example: A number of recent opinions contain language of this kind: 'Please delete the word "Sissy" to avoid cut by the British Censor Board.' This seems to imply that we want this elimination made. Would it not accomplish the same purpose to say: 'The British Censor Board will probably delete the word "Sissy"' and let it go at that. There are scores of similar instances where a change in phraseology will place the responsibility squarely upon the Censor Board rather than upon us," since no Code violation is involved. "Policy Matters: ... Unless a specific code violation is involved, the Production Code Administration should not make specific requests, thereby committing the Association on a matter of policy which the Board of Directors or the President must ultimately handle. But it is perfectly proper and quite important that the Production Code Administration should raise (but not attempt to decide) this question of policy with the producer. "For example: Suppose a script deals with such a highly controversial subject as a labor conflict -- a strike, a lockout, a row between rival unions, etc. The present practice is to write somewhat as follows: "'This theme is enormously dangerous from the standpoint of industry policy and certain to involve you in great difficulties from the standpoint of political censorship, hence we strongly urge you either to abandon plans for this production or at least drastically change your story to eliminate the dangerous elements.' "Why not accomplish the same purpose thus: "'You have here a story which deals with a strike, a lockout, and a row between rival labor unions. You recognize of course the highly controversial nature of the theme. Before completing your plans for this production, you will, of course, wish to consider very carefully the probable reaction of such a film upon your own company and the entire industry. As soon as you have had time to discuss these considerations with your associates, we should be glad to talk over various angles of the problem with you.'" -- suggests using two letters.

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