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Mr. White said that while the 129,229 items of advertising and publicity copy handled in 1954 appear to be a tremendous volume, it is actually a relatively small amount that causes any difficulty. The great bulk of the copy was readily passable and was routine. “At the other end of the scale, some copy was readily unpassable so that caused no serious difficulty.
In between, in what Mr. White termed a "gray zone,” was copy not so large in volume that was on the line between acceptable and nonacceptable under the Advertising Code. Some of the copy in this area could be made acceptable by minor changes and could be passed upon resubmission.
In other instances, it was a matter of Mr. White's judgment and of his responsibility as director of the ('ode Administration. It was solely up to him to interpret the rules as he believed them to apply to a specific advertisement.
Much of the discussion during the hearings centered around motionpicture advertising, specifically the advertising described previously. All of the ads presented at the hearings were derived from what are known as press books, or campaign books. These press books are put out by the producer or distributor of the motion picture to present the entire promotional campaign on a particular film, including the advertising, the prepared publicity, the special exploitation ideas, illustrations of the posters in lobby displays, and so forth.
One of the press books that was discussed during the hearings was the display of ads for the motion picture Hell's Island. Mr. Y. Frank Freeman, vice president of Paramount Pictures, Inc., the producer of the film, was questioned regarding criticism of the motion picture and the ad campaign in connection with it. Mr. Freeman stated :
I think it is very bad; no excuse for it. * * * If you could see my criticism of it, I don't think it would dare to go into the record.**
When Mr. Freeman was asked why he let the objectionable advertising go through, he replied:
I don't control it. * * Advertising of all Paramount pictures is controlled out of New York, under the direction of the head of distribution and the general advertising manager. *** My problem here at the studio is in charge of production of the picture, the manufacture of the product. When I finish it, I turn it over to New York, to the distributing department. It then takes charge of the sales policy and the advertising policy and the distribution of the picture.“
When Mr. White was questioned regarding his approval of the ads on Hell's Island, he replied :
I didn't like the way they approached this campaign. I objected to it. And I was called over to the Paramount office in a conference with the advertising manager, the director of advertising policy, who is a vice president, and the executive vice president of the company.
They felt, and insisted, that what they were doing was perfectly all right My judgment can be wrong in one direction as well as another. I made the comparison with being an umpire. You try to call balls and strikes and you can be wrong either way. I suppose I am wrong as often in my judgment as any other human being is.
I didn't like this, but they insisted upon using it, and I finally allowed myself, in this case, to be pursuaded.”
23 Freeman, Y. Frank, statement in hearings before the Subcommittee To Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, Motion Pictures, U. S. Senate, held on June 16, 1953, p. 122.
* White. Gordon S., statement in hearings before the Subcommittee 'To Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, Motion Pictures, U. S. Senate, held on June 17, 1955, p. 161.
The chairman pointed out that Mr. Freeman, the head of Paramount, was not satisfied with the ad campaign on Hell's Island and insofar as Mr. White, the Advertising Code administrator, was not satisfied with it, who, then, was responsible for the final campaign on Hell's Island ? Mr. White stated :
The executive vice president in New York thought it was wonderful. Adherence to the code is a joint responsibility. I wish to give no one the slightest impression that I am not willing and eager to accept responsibility for my judg. ment. But it is a joint activity. After all, the companies are pledged to this, and they are as much responsible for applying the code, of course, as we are. I simply give it to you as an example, to show you what could happen. * * * Possibly, I was persuaded, let us say, to make a judgment which afterward as a Monday morning quarterback, I might regret.*
There is a section of the Advertising (Code that provides a penalty or a fine for violation of the code. Mr. White stated that there has been one case where an ad was turned down, and the advertising manager announced emphatically that he was going to use it anyway. The board of directors of the Motion Picture Association did assess a penalty against that company. When questioned about the advertising campaign for Hell's Island, Mr. White assured the subcommittee that no one in the studio overruled his opinion. Mr. White indicated that he was persuaded to make a decision that he did not want to make.
A large ad for the motion picture The Prodigal was discussed at length during the hearings. The ad portrayed the female and male leads in what might be interpreted as an extremely suggestive position. In fact, in retouching, the ad had assumed a double meaning because of changes in color and of positions of the bodies of the stars. Mr. White admitted that this was an extreme case and said that in the stills originally submitted to him, there were only a few strings of beads over the hips of the female lead. He required the distributor to retouch the ad so that it appeared as if she were clothed. The subcommittee counsel indicated that in the retouching of that particular ad, the costume variation on the two different legs of the girl offered much more of a suggestive pose than was actually intended. The subcommittee feels that this ad is in extreme violation of that section of the code which reads:
Nudity with meretricious purposes and salacious postures shall not be used: the clothed figures shall not be represented in such manner as to be offensive or contrary to good taste or morals.2
Mr. White could not determine what percentage of the displayed ads were actual scenes in the motion picture and what percentage of them were pictures especially made for exploitation and not taken from the motion picture. He did say that the majority of pieces of artwork that go into the press books are scenes or are approximate reproductions of scenes in the motion picture they represent.
Mr. White stated that the advertising of a film is frequently started while the film is in production and has not yet been finally completed. The "stills" are being made beginning with the day the picture goes into production. There is usually a “still" man around taking pictures every day. There has been a great growth in the last few years of the use of the high-speed small-size camera where a cameraman can simply stand on the set and photograph a scene while it is being enacted. Those “stills" are printed and they go through the process of the Advertising Code operations usually submitted in Los Angeles and then then come back to New York and the Advertising (ode staff begins to work on them there. The motion picture, meanwhile, will not be finished, completed, and available for viewing until sometime after the last day's shooting on it. There might be a gap of a month to 2 months het ween the date of the last day of the making of the picture and the time the motion picture is viewed in New York.
26 Ibid., p. 162. 27 See appendix.
The chairman questioned Mr. White about the part of his statement which read:
What it (motion-picture advertising] does seek to do, and what it should do, is to convey the spirit, the atmosphere, the feeling, the general impression of the photoplay. This is fair. This is proper. This is accepted advertising practice. It is neither misleading nor misrepresenting.”
This statement was compared to those of the producers who told the subcommittee that in all of the crime and sex films there is some moral they are trying to prove. Mr. White was then referred to the ad campaign for the film, Kiss Me Deadly. The advertising claimed that the film contained "white-hot thrills," "blood-red kisses." The point being made, of course, was that the ad did not adequately reflect the general theme or the content of the motion picture. If there is a moral theme in the picture, then this should also be reflected in the ads. However, the ads did not reflect any moral; therefore, they either (1) were fraudulent in that they did not reflect the general theme of the picture; or (2) the pictures were a violation of the Motion Picture Production ('ode if they were properly represented by the ad.
Mr. White felt that ads, such as those presented at the hearing, had : very definite point of honesty. That is, if they do not go overboard in their gruesomeness which the Advertising ("ode provides against, and which he tries to avoid, but they still tell the story of the motion picture, that it is a picture of crime and violence; he then feels it is the fairest possible representation that can be given to the film. His conclusion was that if mothers do not want their children to see this type of motion picture, they are warned and have been given fair and Tonest indications of what is presented in the motion picture.
After studying the press books given to the subcommittee by the Motion Picture Association of America, and after viewing the films advertised in the press books, the subcommittee believes that the following provisions of the Advertising Code for Motion Pictures have, in some degree, been violated actually by the letter of the code or the spirit of the code.
Provision 1 of the code which reads: We subscribe to a code of ethics based upon truth, honesty, and integrity. All motion-picture advertising shall (a) conform to fact, (b) scrupulously avoid all misrepresentation.
The subcommittee feels that the ad campaign for Woman's Prison, The Prodigal, East of Eden, and Blackboard Jungle are violations of this provision of the code.
Provision 2 of the code which reads:
» White, Gordon S., op. cit., p. 158.
Although the subcommittee does not want to enter into a controversy over what constitutes good taste or what constitutes bad taste, it feels there is room for discussion over the ad campaigns for Woman's Prison, The Prodigal, East of Eden, Shotgun, Hell's Island, Blackboard Jungle, and Kiss Me Deadly, and that they are all subject to criticism in terms of this provision of the code.
Provision 3 of the code which reads:
Illustrations in text and advertising shall faithfully represent the pictures themselves.
Again, the subcommittee wishes to cite Woman's Prison, The Prodigal, East of Eden, and Unchained as ad campaigns containing either illustrations or text which do not faithfully represent the pictures themselves. As was mentioned earlier, the text accompanying the ad campaign for Woman's Prison was entirely out of congruity with the content of the film.
Provision + of the code which reads: No false or misleading statements shall be used directly, or implied by type arrangements or by distorted quotations.
Here, the subcommittee feels there is room for criticism concerning the ad campaign for the motion picture, East of Eden. The major ad displayed throughout the country on this film depicted the young male lead and the female lead in what may be interpreted as a highly suggestive position, standing beneath a tree with low-hanging branches. The statement accompanying the scene reads: "Of what a girl did-of what a boy did-of ecstasy and revenge.. In another ad which was approximately the same as the one just described, the accompanying text read: "The most shocking revenge a girl ever let one brother take on another.”
The ad campaign for the motion picture Woman's Prison, mentioned earlier, included statements which read: "Real raw truth about man-smuggling inside the big house for women.” Other ads included such statements as “prison revels exposed," "shocking prison love nests exposed," "shocking revelations; man-smuggling exposed." Next to the statement claiming “man-smuggling exposed,” kreveal shocking prison love nest," individual female inmates are pictured with the accompanying dialogue: "A dame who uses her curves can always find an angle-even in jail," "If you've got money, you can buy anything in here--anything," and "What's all the excitement? All we want is a little fun." Beside the statement, “Real raw truth about man-smuggling inside the big house for women" pictures of inmates are quoted as follows: "I couldn't get off this rock pile, so I got my
"I had the guards where I wanted them and everybody was happy." "So I got caught, but it was worth it." The viewing of these films would leave no doubt that the statements printed on the advertising campaigns for these two films are definitely misleading.
Provision 8 of the Advertising (Code which reads:
Pictorial and copy treatment of all pictures of the law shall not be of such a nature as to undermine their authority.
The subcommittee felt that this section of the code was violated by the ad campaign for the film Shield for Murder. The text of one of the ads reads, “So savage ... So stark ... So vicious . it'll make your skin crawl."; another reads, "Dame-hungry killer-cop rms berserk. A wild trigger finger a lust for big money .. and a weak spot for fast blondes hurled him from the straight and narrow to a crooked one-way road.” Another ad read, “A trigger-crazed cop turned killer, and the dough and the dames he murdered for." Throughout the ads the film was advertised as "The story of a killercop who used his shield for murder.” Another ad campaign that came to the subcommittee's attention was that of Rogue Cop. The ads picture the male lead who portrays an officer in the film with a revolver in his hand and the quotation, "Temptation's a thing called money and a red-lipped blonde." Mr. Gordon White felt that these ads were justified in that they portrayed not the police force in general, but always referred to an individual. He said that at no time was the police force in general ever portrayed in a derogatory manner. HowEver, one of the larger ads for Rogue Cop reads, “Bob Taylor back in action, in a blazing melodrama of crooked cope and curvy dames."
Provision 9 of the code which reads:
While it would be difficult to portray the specific details of a crime in a single-page ad, the ad campaign for the motion picture, Five Against the House, was brought to the attention of the subcommittee. Many of the ads representing this film indicated that this motion picture was the story of a perfect crime. Upon viewing the film, the subcommittee found that indeed the film did portray the story of a perfect crime; i. e., the successful holdup of a gambling house, Harold's Club, in Reno, Nevada.
It is fair to say that the correspondence and complaints received by the subcommittee, and literally hundreds of letters from individuals, organizations, clinical psychologists, and psychiatrists, have been received with samples of their protests, indicate that these people are frequently more concerned about the advertising of many motion pictures than they are about the films themselves.
There is a rising tide of public resentment against some of the ads that have passed through the Advertising ('ode. The subcommittee is by no means unduly critical of the administration of the Advertising Code. The aim of the investigation is to cooperate with the Motion Picture Association, because it is realized that the task of self-regulation is hard and at times very difficult. It is apparent that the majority of motion-picture advertising is not represented in the ads that were discussed at the hearings. These ad campaigns represent but a portion of the one-hundred-and-thirty-thousand-odd pieces of advertising material that passed through the Motion Picture Association during 1954. However, it is not a healthy situation to be the focus of criticism by so many organizations and interested individuals as some of these ads have been.
The subcommittee does not wish to be unfair in its criticism; however, it would like to bring to the attention of the Motion Picture Association the type of complaints that have been received. This does not mean that a great number of people are not satisfied with the majority of motion-picture advertising. It does mean, however, that a few of the mistakes that are made cause criticism of the entire industry. Mr. White was well aware of this when he stated: Criticism of 2 or 3 ads usually winds up in a blanket of criticism, that they are all wrong.
29 White, Gordon, S., op. cit., p. 176.