Record #5

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MPPDA - Civic Committee

Addresses delivered at the get-together meeting of the MPPDA at the Waldorf-Astoria, prior to the formation of the Committee on public relations.


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Transcription 5 (2): [EXCERPTED NOTES] CIVIC COMMITTEE. 1922. ADDRESSES DELIVERED AT THE GET TOGETHER MEETING OF THE MPPDA, WALDORF-ASTORIA, JUNE 22, 1922 [There is a list of those in attendance, but it appears to be incomplete. The following notes do not include every speaker.] Mr H.T. Jones (Southern Enterprises Motion Picture Corporation): He claims that there are presently 625 Better Films committees in the U.S., and cites examples where endorsement by such a committee led to increased box-office.Mr Howard Broker (Community Services): Calls for a mechanism to convey opinions to Hays.Mr James E. West (Boy Scouts): Wants films to be reviewed prior to release; also seems to want "suggestions and criticisms made of pictures from the standpoint of their moral influence upon the youth of America" to be made during the making of the film.Mr James (American Civic Assn.): Also wants "an opportunity to confer early in the production of pictures."Mr McMahon: "The exhibitors' problems would be greatly aided, the problem of cooperating with the exhibitor locally would be helped, if we could have some central organization that would attempt to correct the key negative, so that the key negative and prints would be satisfactory before being sent out to the public ... There are a lot of people of very radical ideas as to what ought or ought not go into motion pictures, but there can be no dispute as to what constitutes wholesome entertainment."Mr Crandall: He points out that as far as children are concerned, "the matter of chief concern is not oftenest the picture itself, but other physical or moral conditions in the houses; the admission of children unaccompanied in dark places, incidents that occur there that would not bear public repetition and particularly offensive posters (often more offensive than the play)." He seeks more cooperation with exhibitors, and more active interest from the Board of Education. Mr Coleman (Safety Institute): He believes that "there would be sources of income from the outstanding citizens of the community to the motion picture producer to raise the standards of their own industry and be ranked as educators and not simply as amusers . . . " Miss Davis (YWCA): "I have recently been in the Orient and because of my interest in social conditions, I have visited American motion picture shows in China, Japan and India. The social workers in the Orient agree that it is only the discarded film that finds its way there, and from my observations I should believe that it was true. "In Central India, I went one evening to see an American film, a serial film. There was only one other American in the audience. There were women in that audience whose lives were spent behind curtains and who never saw the light of their own city. That night they were treated to a film. At our recent convention in Hot Springs, two thousand women commended the good plays. We discussed briefly the moving picture's educational value. In the last clause in the recommendation they are sending to you, Mr. Hays, they recommended that better films be sent to the Orient. When I was there, I was told of a little girl who refused to accept a scholarship to this country, because of what they had seen in the moving pictures. She was afraid of the wild animals she might see on our streets. So I wish while we are talking about educational films, we might think of the films for the world.Miss Nicholson (National Council of Catholic Women): She is convinced that for some reason "the plays that are being produced are below the average of appreciation of the audience that is listening to them."Mr Kleinsmith (National Health Council): Points out that "we have in the motion picture one of the greatest instruments of education, disseminating knowledge to the people." He wants more care and attention to be given to educational films, to make them more viable commercially. (The next speaker concurs).Mr Frayne: He wants the abolition of censorship wherever it now exists, because "that compulsory law has done more to break down the morality of the industry and the public who are opposed to it, than anything I know." This would leave the ground clear for action by the MPPDA itself: "I might say that they have done more work in the short time they have gotten together, because they have created in the minds of the public, a feeling that this is the medium, a voluntary movement upon the part of those who are interested. ... Pictures and plays are all educational, whether they are good or bad they will educate in that direction, and it will be a simple matter for us when the industry is organized, to understand what pictures to go to. Those that are worthy of patronage will be mentioned; those that are not will not be mentioned. I think that the public is not the one to censor those things. The public is not the one to expect that this industry is going to go on and do all the educational work and solve the problems of every group that is here." He wants the Committee to campaign for more money for extras and technicians, and wants to see films that will "bring pleasure, joy and happiness into the lives of our people. And most of all that which will stand for America, America and its institutions and the things that we stand for as citizens, individually and collectively."Senator Walker (representing Theatre Owners' Chamber of Commerce): Talks about the way movies bring together immigrants "not long since from Ellis Island": the movies "were able to bring to them a realization of what Americanization meant and what good citizenship meant." He wants relaxation for rules of admission for children under 16; mentions proposals for segregating boys and girls, and providing "a matron or matrons" to watch them.Mr Rogers (Fox): He talks the meeting through the problems confronting filmmakers in the production of a film. "It is all right for a lady to get up and tell you that we must approach the motion picture problem not as an industry but as an institution. That is a wonderful point of view; it is the altruistic point of view, but I wonder how many of you would put billions of dollars back of that point of view?" Existing censorship boards are a problem, as their standards conflict. "We can produce puerile, senseless, beautiful, sweet, little fairy tales, but who is going to see them? Where are we going to get the amortization of cost and production regardless of any profit? And we are entitled to a profit." He speaks in favour of much broader guidelines as to what constitutes appropriate entertainment for the general public.

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