Record #831

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Dr Daniel A. Lord, Head of Drama, University of St Louis
Col. Jason S. Joy
Reel 10
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Production Code
Additional text in Transcription. EDITORIAL COMMENT: A very depressed letter in which Lord concludes that the producers are ""tricky and unwilling to regard their own best interest."" Profanity is the least of the industry's worries.

Changes in profanity clause of Production Code not particularly important by comparison to other violations but probably shouldn't be changed - sex stuff not good box office - "the unspeakable Constance Bennett" "you are dealing with men who are tricky and unwilling to regard their best interest."Letter is forwarded by Jack Hutchings to McKenzie.


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DECEMBER 15, 1931. LORD to JOY. "So many important violations of the code have been going on that a little thing like a "hell" now and then seems too me a distinctly unimportant matter. I never was at all excited over "damn" or "hell" when it was needed for the context, but I would not be at all enthusiastic about putting that into writing in the Code. If you do, I am afraid "The Front Page" language and "What Price Glory" talk is going to come in under the head of "essential to the realistic presentation of the subject". If they will cut out some of the defense of the prostitution that has been coming out lately, I shall not mind if the villain says "doggon" instead of merely "damn". I hope you are telling your very intelligent group of producers to take a look at the fifteen box office champions of the present year. Marie Dressler gets three places among them and Greta Garbo and the unspeakable Constance Bennett get none ... I am beginning to be pretty confident of the fact that the empty theatres, the double features trying to attract a fair sized crowd, and the deplorable financial condition of the industry at present can be attributed to precisely the same element that made Earl Carroll's "Vanities" leave Broadway after a short run at a three-dollar top while the absolutely clean Ed Wynn has settled down for a grand run. You can remind them that the same smut which has choked Broadway to death is at the present minute going to choke their cinema if they don't give us more pictures like "Cimarron" and "The Connecticut Yankee" and stars like Janet Gaynor instead of sex and murder and the type of motion picture actress whose private life is a public scandal. It may interest you to know that I wrote a letter to Louis B. Mayer protesting Ramon Novarro's picture which was based on illicit sex relations. We had written up Navarro [sic] and praised Metro-Goldwyn for his type of picture. Mr. Mayer did not answer my letter and I am still undecided whether or not to write up the whole episode for our paper which reaches about one hundred and fifty thousand young people in America. We all know the terribly hard job that you are doing, and we know that you have made decided impressions in hundred places and have done fine constructive work, but I think you are dealing again and again with men who are tricky and unwilling to regard their own best interest.

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