Record #1276

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Reel 9
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Warner Bros.

in Houston Chronicle editorial, "What's Wrong with the Movies?" and advertisements. Warner Bros. have been refusing to co-operate with the procedures for Uniform Interpretation of the Code, while Paramount have been a model of cooperation


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a variety of complaints against Warner Bros. not observing the Code. In late June, 1930 Trotti stopped receiving scripts from the New York office, and also stopped being invited to previews. He was told that this was on the instructions of Sam Morris, who had decided that it was unnecessary. By comparison, relations with Paramount in New York were perfectly satisfactory. 8 August 1930 Hays wrote to all 3 Warner Bros., having been informed that neither Warner Bros. nor First National were observing the Resolution for Uniform Interpretation. "This was being noted by the other companies and is a course which will make it difficult to get the other companies to carry out the agreement." --which they were at the moment. "A more serious phase of it is that a failure to take advantage of this joint machinery which the companies have developed will bring criticism and censorship losses to the company not using it. The California heads of most of the companies have gone out of their way recently to advise us of their appreciation of what the Code saves them in time and money, not only in censorship matters, but in selecting, rejecting and preparing scripts for production. The machinery is set up here just as it is on the Coast, both to examine the scripts if desired and to see the finished pictures, and it is, of course, unfortunate if any company fails to keep the agreement. If the Code had been followed, or the machinery agreed to be used for the Uniform Interpretation had been used, I think without a doubt the Vitaphone short Honolulu would not have been made." Hays discusses other titles -- particularly Ex-Mistress at length. "I cannot harmonize Ex-Mistress and The Sex-Appeal Sextette with what I know is in the hearts of the Warner Brothers and what the public thinks of them, what I know them to be and the splendid productions which have made the Warner Brothers immediately suggest pictures like Disraeli." Attached to this is an editorial from The Houston Chronicle, 07-10-1930 on the Sex-Appeal Sextette and WB's new production season: "Some of them are vicious and degrading pictures promised to that moron part of the American population which is frankly subnormal. Raw animation is rampant in them; crude sensuality which repels and disgusts the average citizen." 5 August 1930 Beetson sent Hays a telegram saying Zanuck had agreed to cooperate. But by 09-09-1930 it was evident that not much had happened: McKenzie to Hays: "In a talk with Colonel Joy about other matters, I asked regarding Warner Brothers and First National. He says they have never operated the Code. Once in a while they send scripts, he doesn't know how often they fail to send them, often when Joy has returned the script with criticisms they have replied to him that they are sorry but the production is at such a stage that it is impossible to make the changes he suggests. He has never seen any of their pictures except by going to theatre previews after hearing one was to be shown that way. They do not give any reason for failure to cooperate. Several times Darryl Zanuck and Hal Wallis have told him that from now on pictures would come to him automatically, but the matter never eventuated."24 October 1930 Hays wrote to Jack Warner, after further negotiations -- this is, like all this correspondence on Hays' part, excessively diplomatic, since Warner was claiming that he had misunderstood the Code machinery, despite being on the Committee that originated it and being told about it on several occasions since: Hays recites this history: "The fact is, my good friend, that the failure of Warner Brothers to comply with the resolution for Uniform Interpretation has caused us a good deal of worry. Complaint has been made by member companies that First National and Warner studios were not complying with it and you know what trouble that causes. Also there is going to be a bad reaction as a public matter because it is known by some very important interests that these studios have not been complying. We are fearful that it has reached some censor boards and we know that some of the social welfare groups have heard of it. All this brings a bad reaction on the industry, on the Association and on the company involved -- all of which, I know, you do not want. ... All the unreleased pictures, if any, which have been made should be shown to Joy quickly in the projection room just like the other companies have done and as you will do, I know, with the pictures from now on as you finish them. You will note the agreement provides that they will be submitted before the negative goes to the laboratory. You remember how we discussed for days last winter the development of this resolution and it was decided it was the only way we could get a uniform interpretation of the Code." Hard to decipher how much threat there is in this.

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