Record #749

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Record of meeting
Reel 9
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Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (FCCCA)

'Meeting of a Committee of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (FCCCA)." 115-page document. Milliken addresses the FCCCA on the subject of movies. Catholic cooperation, in contrast to the resistance of the Protestants, is noted. He outlines the general public relations approach of the industry, and discusses the Catholic hierarchy's attitude to International Federation of Catholic Alumni (IFCA); a proposed Protestant reviewing group; industry and MPPDA attitudes to censorship -- Milliken argues that the MPPDA's objections to censroship are different from those of the studios. Attendance trebled in 10 years.


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21 February 1931 Transcript of FCCCA committee meeting with Milliken, in which he comments on what he has seen of the report so far. There is more of this that has not yet been Xeroxed, and should be looked at on microfilm.Milliken claims that the MPPDA would define 15,000 of the 22,000 theatres in the country as neighborhood theatres: "We in public relations call a neighborhood theatre one regardless of its location where families habitually go together or where children go in considerable numbers. That means the uptown theatre in the city or the theatre, if there is only one, in a small town."Now you have two distinct audiences to face with your product of motion pictures: the Broadway audience, such as the first run, the downtown theatre, and your main street or neighborhood audience. And the precise problem involved is that the tendency in the business is toward a mechanical regularity of distribution, I mean a regularity of distribution which does not take into account this distinction." Because sales managers want to sell their pictures everywhere and exhibitors claim their audiences only know about well-advertised pictures. "In practice it is only by social pressure from socially minded groups upon the neighborhood theatre that proper education can be promoted ..." Milliken also distinguishes between the Protestant church attitude and that of the Catholics.Milliken [p20]: The Production Code is "an advance upon the preceding code of 1927 in three respects: first, because it includes a great deal more than that code did in the way of prohibitions, particularly in the field of vulgarity. Secondly, because it deals definitely with the question of treatment, which is the important thing in a picture. And third, because it has the definite means of enforcement, or as they put it, to insure uniform interpretation." ... "The hierarchy's attitude [to IFCA] was, I think it is fair to say, in the beginning one of amused tolerance; gradually one of increasing interest and at the present time -- well, I may be talking out of turn, but I am going to answer your question frankly -- at the present time in my opinion the hierarchy has determined that two things have to be done by the Catholic Church: first, that the Code has to be supported ... by every possible means as the best and most practicable method of assuring what we call the minimum base line; and second, that they have to train their people to select pictures, that it is not enough to keep out this and that; they must learn to appreciate the best. And it would not be fair to quote it publicly, but it is the fact that a very pretentious plan is now on foot and will be in effect I believe before the end of this school year and put definitely into Catholic schools all over this country, the grammar school and high school years more particularly, some kind of training in appreciation of motion pictures; that is, in learning what are good pictures and why. They have determined in other words not only to help maintain the base line but they have to train the generation of their own children to know good pictures and insist on having them. ... The Catholics [IFCA] ... try to furnish a complete guide, particularly to the Sisters in the schools, as to which pictures are suitable either for children or adults' -- circulated to c9,000 persons "for the most part group leaders "[29-31] and a dozen countries abroad. Milliken proposes the Protestant Churches establish 1. a reviewing group which will also give advice during production 2. a system for securing films for missionaries 3. production by missions boards of films of their work 4. advice to the industry on native customs and habits and a community program[pp. 36-37] ... They pay 3 kinds of honoraria: 1. for professional services or expert advice; 2. fees to professional speakers for speeches; 3. expenses incurred by individuals representing or standing in for MPPDA -- total payments in 1930 were under $4000, 1929 $6000 + expenses for the conference [52] In connection with these activities "you have a situation where just one person [Andrews] has insistently and steadily accused all of us so far as I know of an ulterior purpose." [while none of the other people of good reputation involved with this work have] [55] ... in December 1929 Andrew went to at least 3 NY newspapers to tell them Milliken and Hays had been expelled from Church and Drama League, with the stipulation they not disclose their source [63] -- then offers an account of MPPDA relation with Church and Drama League ... before MPPDA ... "There had been interest in the Federal Council in this matter ... [and] discussions a a so-called liaison officer between the Church and the Industry, after Mr. Hays took his position. That discussion resulted eventually in the selection of Colonel Joy for the Public Relations Committee." [72] -- and Andrews may have been offered such a job. ... There were problems with Andrews' appointment to KING OF KINGS because he was the inevitable FCCCA choice but also had an interest of his own in making a Christ picture and laid down unreasonable conditions prior to his working ... "Censorship is opposed by the industry ... because they regard it as an unwarranted intrusion upon their business; because it costs them a terrific amount of money; because the variety of judgement in different jurisdictions involves an endless perplexity and expense; because the loss of business from a mutilated picture, because it becomes less attractive when it is chopped up, is a greater element of cost even than the physical situation. ... I am opposed personally to censorship just as definitely as the industry is, but for an entirely different set of reasons ... I think censorship or reliance solely upon that type of control is not in the public interest. First because it is not effective ... The medium we are dealing with is too subtle to be effectively handled from the viewpoint of the public by chopping something or trying to elide something. ... the next reason I have is a very practical one. That is, the moment you start relying upon control from the outside, censorship, or any other form of control from the outside, the industry in the studio and the public elsewhere pass the buck with one accord to the Government of whatever the agency is. I say to you with all honesty, that the most serious element in the situation since Mr. Hays began his work has been what we call the censorship complex in the studio, which is precisely this: leave everything in and let them pick out whatever they like in such and such jurisdictions, and an utter abandonment of the sense of responsibility. That negatives at every point everything that we are trying to do "...[98-100] ... opposition to censorship "is an element in the situation which is useful in dealing with the people in the studios and has been useful, but the reasons for which they oppose censorship are entirely different from those from which we oppose censorship."[101]"The attendance at pictures as nearly as we can estimate it has practically trebled in ten years. The whole public relations budget that we have for all the public relations contact and education of the public and publicity and what not is less than one tenth of one per cent of that the Industry spends in advertising its product to the public." [103] "I could not consistently stay in the industry nor could Mr. Hays even as missionaries representing the public as we think we do if we idd not feel that their eventual selfish business interest is precisely in accord with the things we are trying to get them to do." [109]

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