Record #910

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Emanuel Cohen, Paramount
Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
Reel 10
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MPPDA - Reaffirmation
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Cohen suggests that the Production Code problem lies with stories they buy - 60% of them contain something dubious. MPPDA should inform them about suspect ones - only 2 or 3 of Paramount motion pictures cause problems in a year, and that is what public taste wants.Suggesting gaining approval of source material before the purchasing of rights. Includes a letter to Hays from Zukor, wholeheartedly supporting Cohen's suggestions, dated 21 March 1933.


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Long Description:

"On behalf of Paramount Productions, Inc., I desire to assure you that we have not swerved in intent or desire from the broad policies which have governed Paramount's productions these many years. If you will review the sixty-odd pictures that we are producing on this season's schedule you will find only two or three of this whole number that give you any cause for concern, which, I believe you will agree, is a very small percentage indeed. All of us in this business have to face the fact that entertainment, in order to be produced and shown to the public successfully from a financial standpoint, must attempt to follow the apparent tastes of the majority of the public at any given time. At the present time it is obvious that pictures, exclusive of comedies with outstanding starring names, which have bold, unusual themes have the best chance of being successful at the box office and a producer must face and meet this situation, without of course violating the spirit or letter of the Code, if he is to be successful. That Paramount is meeting the situation and doing it within the Code is proven by the fact that we have had less trouble with censors than we have had in may years past. Working in the studio as I have this past year, I can well understand how certain pictures are produced which prove embarrassing to you without there being the slightest intention on the part of the studio to violate the Code. This can come about in the following way: In our studio, for instance, we review anywhere from thirty to fifty stories per week. Modern literary material being what it is, it is probable that 60% of these stories contain some material which somebody might consider objectionable. We might pick a story out of this 60% for production and believe we could make it under the Code for these reasons: 1. It is not on the Association's banned list. 2. We do not ourselves honestly consider it at all objectionable. 3. Granting that it had some objectionable features, we believe that we can alter such features so that they can be perfectly within the Code, as well as within censorship requirements. It is conceivable that such a picture might be made with all honest intentions, as outlined above, and still be considered objectionable by the Association. ... During the year there may be published one or two books that receive such unfavorable publicity as to make it unwise to picturize them because of their effect on the industry as a whole, even granting that they can be cleaned up by the studio that buys them so as to keep within the Code. This also refers to a play that may be produced. Would it not be advisable when such books are written or plays produced for your office immediately to contact all studios and devise them that if they have any interest in such material, they should discuss with you first the merits of such books or plays from and industry standpoint, so that the matter can be analyzed before a studio makes an investment in such property or spends any time and money in preparing it for the screen.

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