Record #1294

Reel 5
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Pathé - King of Kings

King of Kings protests. After Jewish reaction against King of Kings MPPDA appoints "distinguished committee of Jewish leaders" to recommend specific eliminations, title changes and new titles -- all adopted. Film recalled and modified, distribution in Europe limited. This causes problems with Andrews and McGoldrick who has mobilized large direct mailing campaign in support of film. She tries to counter Jews by creating a positive demand for the long version. Publicity, eliminations, etc. included.


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Long Description:

King of Kings -- the problems continue into 1928. 08 December 1927 Letter from Rabbi Wise to Milliken detailing his objections, and proposing that the film not be screened in Austria, Hungary, Russia, Poland, Lithuania and Roumania -- but that in any case, no alterations, or none that he can expect, will make the picture acceptable to him. The negotiations with Cohen continue, and there are protests from the St. Louis branch of the American Jewish Congress at the film. 01-09-1928 Milliken requests details of changes from Flinn -- now in LA discussing them with DeMille, so that he can get them accepted by the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (FCCCA), since they have already endorsed the picture -- at this stage it's all getting nightmarishly complicated.13 January 1928 Milliken to St. Louis AJC: "It is fair to say that, though the picture in its present form has been running since April, 1927, we have not the slightest evidence of a single instance where a non-Jew has received an anti-Jewish impression from the picture. On the contrary, we have direct evidence indicating that hundreds and probably thousands of non-Jewish people have realized for the first time on seeing the picture that the responsibility for the tragedy rests, not upon any race as such, but upon a small group of selfish individuals headed by Ciaphas."List of alterations, and 14 January 1928 Charles Macfarland's (FCCCA) comments on them -- suggesting a few further changes, which were, presumably, ignored.Then a censorship issue with the film, when the Memphis censor board decided to make eliminations, "on the grounds that it might offend somebody's religion" -- doesn't make clear whose. The exhibitor refused to make the cuts, the case went to court, with the city attorney arguing that the censor board's "decision is binding and cannot be reviewed or criticized by a court of law unless it is shown that it has exceeded its authority. This was initially upheld by the Chancellor, overturned by the circuit court, and then taken to the State Supreme Court, which upheld the action of the censor board, and the decision that no court could substitute its judgment for that of the censor board. There is then a telegram from Flinn, 10 March1928, referring to this? : "the court, in the most remarkable decision in the history of picture business, reversed every point of the censors, and we won a wonderful victory. The effect of this decision will be felt in the whole future of the industry." Not clear which case he's referring to.There is also a case in Portland, Oregon, where the censor board had cut material, apparently so as to minimize the film's emphasis on Ciaphas' personal responsibility -- overruled by a city ordinance 25 January 1928, which reinstated all the material. Indicative of the dangers involved in the project, and of the fragility of the consensus around which the MPPDA was trying to group its forces.

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