STIR IN HOLLYWOOD
ATTACK OX/ THE FILMS
FEAR OF CENSORSHIP
In this tabernacle of the sun, where 70 per cent, of the motion pictures are produced and the standards of taste, dress, and possibly the morals of the world are correspondingly affected, the wave qf criticism, rolling upfrom the churches, women's clubs, and reform organisations of the- United States in the last few weeks has produced various reactions among.the iilm'f oik, writes the Hollywood correspondent of 'the "New York Times" in' that journal. In matters of "good taste," which may be taken to cover a multitude of sins, there is general, agreement that a house-cleaning must be. undertaken at once, and. that ;the two or three studios which have...most consistently offended in this regard, must be brought into line. ..'. . ". , -■ . ■ ' •
In fact,' this, effort .began, early 'tins year, when rumours 'of. impending, boycotts and a new drive against, indecent films led by the. Catholic Church reached the ears of the- Hollywood producers This effort has .taken the form of a new self censorship over pictures, undertaken through ,the California office of the Will .H. Hays.organisation of producers. Joseph Breen, , Number One man of this organisation on the Coast, and three assistants are labouring through miles,of 'films and tons of script to cut out words and scenes which seem objectionable.
Millions of dollars are -tied up in books and plays .which have 'been bought, bi^t with:■ their presentation barred by efforts of the Hays censors
But having set up a censorship and signed a code, many- of the producers and directors are engaged in seeing how much they can get by with, sparring with the Hays group.- : Will Hays is no Tsar of tho; movies, tie and his men. have no final power, for a committee1 of producers'may overrule their bans and decisions/This has been done in numerous instances. As .to the, "art" of the motion pictures, there appears to -be an, irreconcilable ; conflict between; the',producers and their outside critics. . ■ DIVIDED CAMP. . There is an honest' difference ' of opinion here,.reflected in the views of producers and dircetors,who have never dealt in smut, men who would rather look at the stars than the mud in the gutter. There are many such in Hollywood. . '..'\ I This is a divided camp, fiercely' competitive in -business, 'bound on the wheels of mass production. . A minority of bad pictures, estimated at florn 15 to 25 per cent, of the;soo produced yearly in this immense fac.tory, has brought dQW,a the present condemnation indiscriminately, upon, the., heads of; all. The issue is. not', only. that*.of good taste in pictures,'but motion picture art, has the' freedom. of, litera-' ture, the stage,.pain ting or sculpture iii depicting "life in'the raw.'J Here the producers and directors 'are.a,unit in demanding their freedom,, although they yielded under the pressure^ against gangster pictures, a pressure'whichwas put on at one. point, at; 4.east :by;the Federal Department of .fustiee. '
They .are now - concerned ; with' the threat of Federal censorship, niore .than' with the • threat, of. boyco.tf.by, Church' and- club organisations. • They profess not to feel: greatly worried■; about the matter, as they think the people-will refuse to obey the Church, leaders: Federal censorship, however, is com-' ing in for vigorous battle by the: major
producers. Hollywood feels' that,it is sitting over v volcano,: but it-does, not know just what to do about it. The" situation is generally regarded-as "the most serious the industry has ever faced. It all may, result'iii complete reorganisation, with 'fewer and. b.etter picture's and-longer'runs.'.' This/however, will not solve the conflict as to i how much of "life" may be presented' in the name of art. - • . ' "A LIE.".. ' , . ■ Much of "life" as portrayed in the pictures depicts seduction, kidnapping, gangster psychology, ■ easy divorce, flouting of the ancient standards of right and wring a'nd.difyogard for law;. "This kind of life isiv lie,''■-de-Clare the critics. ...... ........... ■_. i-.The answer of''-Hollywood', picture Ts;i ; rs to this whole- situation is that' the American people can have'any kind of pictures they want .if -they 'wilt only indicate what they wish bysupportinoit. ■ : '.■-.-.:■.•
The head of one big film company has sailed for Europe. Just before lie left here he said: - • ''Through mail and contacts, through ' advertising and twenty-five years;"uiak-!; ing- pictures, I kiiow>foetter, thakVany ; ojie else what the public'wants—clean ' pictures, but they must .have red blood in them. If the producers are wise, they will heed this protest. They can not afforU s to antagonise the' best ; people of the United States. lam sure, they are heeding.-it.J-. The pictures today are better thaii.they were: a few months ago. Tlus'pio^esfris.the' result, of pictures-.now .off., , There isi danger' of Federal .censorship if .we. do'j riot clean this up." ■:■ : . .■-.. ... ; ;
; The-head of. .another'company-said) there"was.no excuse for some pictures,' including some of his" own studio's mak-; ing.-- • Ho-has now -taken-.command of production. .....; "I am not 'alarmed, at the. situation," he said. "I hope it, will come to^a flame and die out. The way to. cure "it is'to
make good There is no. us© in telling the 'people pictures "arer'-bad- if they are "good. " "' -^ ■ : "The "trouble has been duel' to about 15 per cent, of the ■ pictures. IS ever before in the history 'o£ the industry has there been such a,n effort to clean house from withia' ■ as now."' •■■'■■; -' ■ ■-. • -.. ■'" -.. *.-'