THE PUBLIC themselves are responsible for the poor type of story which is seen at the average movie show, in the opinion of Rex Beach, author and writer of scenarios. At a recent “Meeting of Criticism” in New York attended by fifty nationally federated civic, business and welfare organizations. Mr. Beach declared:—
“The pictures are sick because there are too many doctors. This is a meddlesome age, and we have got to the point where meddling is a paid profession. People are not content to let motion pictures remain what they should be, entertainment, but must make of them soul-saving devices, toys for children
“And here’s another angle. The author goes to the producer with a great idea. ‘Attaboy,’ says the producer, and then he asks: ‘Where is the cabaret and where are the evening clothes?’ One producer allowed me to write a drama in which I put a good, clean love story, and all that was left of it after the censors got through were the title and the license number.”
At the same meeting, W. H. Hayes, President of the Motion Picture Producer and Distributors of America avowed his determination to “establish and maintain the highest possible moral standards” in screen entertainments.
“I have at heart,” he said, “the welfare of the corporations that have millions of dollars at stake in the motion-picture industry, but I also equally respect the rights of the fathers ad mothers who have millions of children. I will assist these committees and work with them to the limit, so that there will be no complaint that the motion-picture industry is not doing its fullest.”
“Most criticisms ofthe movie specify the excessive portrayal of crime and violence, unwholesome treatment of sex themes, of marriage and divorce, and of family life.
It should be recognized at the outset, however,” says a report of Commission on Social Service of the Federal Council, headed by Dean Charles N. Lathrop, that “the screen is not the worst offender” in this respect. “In many theatres the pictures are fine and wholesome by comparison with the vaudeville performances that accompany them. In the nature of the case motion pictures, because they emanate from a few centers of production, lend themselves more readily to control than does the action stage. Also the greater influence of the screen upon the young gives greater importance to its quality. Members of the trade often declare that films of a risqué character are very much in demand and that the public is therefore responsible for their use. There is, unfortunately, evidence to support this contention, and experience seems to indicate that the response of the public is equally pronounced whether the performance is of artistic quality and high moral tone, or of a subtly salacious character: if it kindles the imagination and conveys a thrill, little else matters.
Some American films give terrible impressions of America abroad, according to report, and we are told that the pictures excluded from American communities on account of their coarseness and immorality are being exported to Japan, China .Brazil and other foreign markets. At a luncheon given by the Associated Motion Picture Advertisers in New York, recently Sir Charles Higham, a noted British advertising expert, said of American films sent to England, “some of the pictures are vile.” As the New York World quotes him further:
“Others merely have vile titles and are vilely exploited. Millions of people in all parts of the world believe that if America is as bad as the pictures paint her she must be a pretty bad place.”
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