Record #1264

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Reel 8
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National Board of Review (NBR)
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Given that Cochrane was one of the people in the industry closest to Hays, this line of thought is interesting, and certainly leads in the direction of the imposition of an internal - and thus predictable, controllable - system of what Cochrane at least would call censorship.

Hays seeks the opinions of member companies as to whether to adopt Joy's suggestion to sever links with the National Board of Review (NBR) (see 08-1863). Reactions vary -- there is concern over the situation in Florida, which legally requires films to be censored by the NBR. Note especially letter by Bob Cochrane, 14 March 1930, who wants the NBR retained because "I seriously doubt that the new Code will be adhered to."


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Evidence of Cochrane's attitude to the Code and censorship: 14 March 1930 to Hays: "I suggest we think carefully before dropping the NBR. I say this in spite of the fact that I am most anxious to cut off every possible cent of unnecessary expense, whether in my own company or in the Association. "In the first place, there is not only Florida to consider, but I am informed we cannot run pictures in Boston and that vicinity unless they bear the approval of the National Board. In the second place, I believe that dropping this Board would be the signal for censorship bills in many states which are now dormant in the matter. "But more important than either of these reasons is the fact that I seriously doubt that the new code will be adhered to. We have no reason to think it will and every reason to think it will not. Every pledge and agreement made in the past has been violated by one or more companies. I believe that the discontinuance of the NBR would encourage violations of the Code, because all of the studios seem to have greater respect for an outside check than they put on their own code. "Furthermore, just between you and me and in spite of all the arguments I have made against censorship in the past 20 years, I know in my own heart that our industry needs a careful check by outsiders whose perspective is good. The stuff that has been used in pictures in spite of censorship is not a drop in the bucket compared with the filth and vulgarity which would permeate the pictures if there were no such check as censorship. "I understand certain companies have got things passed by state censor boards through questionable means, but I have never heard a breath of scandal about the NBR."

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