Record #915

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Ray Norr, Public Relations Counsel
Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
Reel 10
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Problem presented by Mae West Pictures. Mae West is an asset of Paramount's - financially - yet there are reports that someone at Paramount is attempting to create a new persona for West. Norr doubts that a new persona will be as popular, but it is the best investment Paramount can make to protect its asset.


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Long Description:

RE PROBLEM CREATED BY MAE WEST PICTURES. This memorandum is submitted in the effort to further a public relations policy directed to the following primary purposes: a. To protects Paramount's asset resulting from the extraordinary popularity of the Mae West pictures; b. To meet the serious problem that threatens the industry as a whole, unless a careful policy of followed in the production of further Mae West pictures. Investigation of church and social service criticism of the current Mae West pictures indicates the possibility of a problem before the industry somewhat analogous to the Arbuckle case. The argument runs thus: Here is a woman whose efforts to commercialize bawdy house entertainment have made her a sensational figure and finally resulted in her imprisonment. She stands legally and morally convicted for indecent performance on the stage - a vastly more selective forum than the movie house, which appeals for the patronage of men, women and children alike. Despite this record, the movies have taken up Mae West, permitted her to glorify the "street Walker" and the "madame" - so runs the argument - and secured immense popularity for a woman whose characterizations are pernicious to the youth of the country. ... Her great popularity will be cited as the crowning proof of the evil influence of the screen. The very man who will guffaw at Mae West's performance as a reminder of the ribald days of his past will resent her effect upon the young, when his daughter imitates the Mae West wiggle before her boy friends, and mouths "Come up and see me some time."... An item in a recent trade publication indicates that someone in the Paramount organization has been doing some high-class and intensive thinking on the subject, for the implication there was that Paramount was planning to introduce Mae West in an entirely new character. Assuming that her present characterization is what is standing them up at the box-office now and that a picture that featured Mae West in a different character would not be so popular, I believe that such a picture would be the best investment that Paramount could make to protect its asset in Mae West.

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