Record #1307

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Church and Drama League

Documents on the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (FCCCA) Commission on the Motion Picture and Drama -- all this arising out of the Church and Drama Aassociation.


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Documents on the FCCCA Commission on the Motion Picture and Drama -- all this arising out of the CDA. 25 March 1929 the Commission met for an organization meeting. It was brought into existence by the FCCCA, announced in the Federal Bulletin for March 1929 -- though there is in this material no very clear account of its genesis. Its agenda included: "1. Research Study to Determine the Moral and Social Effects of Plays and pictures on Children, Youth and Adults. Shall the Policy be to conduct its own study or to cooperate with other groups and educational institutions? "2. Commercial Motion Pictures: Reviewing Service 1. Should the Commission undertake to review pictures? 2. If so, shall the policy be to mention only the pictures which the Commission can approve, or to review all pictures and give reasons for not approving certain pictures, the number of which will be large? ... "Item 1. on the agenda was discussed at length. Mr. Andrews' judgment was sought as to the value of research study to determine the moral and social affects of plays and pictures on children, youth and adults. He stated that he felt that the question of research was one of the greatest importance. The Federal Council Research Department, he continued, was studying this phase of the work now. Twelve universities are cooperating in this enterprise. Mrs. Emrich stated that the Eastman Laboratory in Rochester and the Lincoln School in New York also have interesting activities along the line of experiments and research. Dr. Claudy states that the Presbyterian Board of Education is actively undertaking a study of the effects of Motion Pictures on the character training of children." Mrs. Emrich in favour of reviewing in Hollywood. "Mrs. Silverthorn stated that the National Commission of Protestant Women had very definitely planned activities along the line of the previewing of Motion Pictures and other phases of the motion picture problem. If the Commission of the Federal Council prepares a definite program in which the National Commission may cooperate whole-heartedly, it will be glad to do so but does not wish to postpone its activities for a rather indefinite future program."Memo from Milliken 2 May 1929, that Andrews is not to be associated with the FCCCA Commission. However, minutes of its 10-25-1929 meeting make it clear that this is not the case -- that it is to be announced as being "in cooperation with the Church and Drama League of America" -- the new name for the CDA. At the same meeting it announced it was not going to preview films, but would "refer all inquiries concerning specific commercial films to the CDLA." The main purpose of the meeting was to agree "That a Committee of Inquiry be appointed by the Commission in consultation with the Department of Research and Education of the Federal Council to make the widest practicable study of relations of the motion picture to the public welfare and that there be included an inquiry as to the progress made to date by the MPPDA in the promotion of such relations." -- and that Andrews was to be one of the people responsible for appointing the members of the Committee.At this meeting Professor Howard LeSourd presented the report "of a recent Conference on the use of motion pictures for religious education. Professor LeSourd is Chairman of the Committee appointed by the Conference to make a survey and to secure a list of available pictures for religious education. His report was further supplemented by Dr. Henry H. Meyer. It was stated that the Conference was called and the work of the Committee was to be financed by the MPPDA." It seems clear, then, that relations with this group were antagonistic from the outset, largely because of the presence of Andrews. 16 December 1929 there was a press release from the MPPDA, denying that Hays and Milliken had been "expelled" from the CDA in early 1929 -- as reported in a New York newspaper the previous week. The release lists MPPDA activities with civic groups, includes a few direct complaints against Andrews, and expresses their relief that in early 1929 the CDA decided not to have direct representatives of the theatre or motion picture industries on their Board -- as Hays and Milliken had wanted all along.17 December 1929 memo from Hess regarding a letter to be sent to members of the Board of CDLA regarding slanders against the MPPDA by Andrews: "Some of the false and misleading statements that he has made are: that we had tried to influence him by paying him surreptitiously, and without knowledge of his Board, a special salary; that we make no honest effort to improve pictures but are engaged in deceiving the public; that we try to contact with church groups merely for the purpose of inducing them to endorse unsuitable pictures; that the supposedly volunteer workers in the various clubs and religious groups who contact with this office, and particularly those who preview pictures, are in fact subsidized by us. ... You will want to emphasize I think the fact that our chief concern arises out of the implications involving the honesty and integrity of these public groups. You will of course want to make clear that we have no quarrel with the CDL at all, that we understand fully how contrary to their policy this action on the part of their representative has been, and that we assume it has been without their knowledge."

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