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forts him generously whenever he allows her to do so, are given ample allowance of footage and emphasis.
It is, in sum, a powerful melodrama in the gangster category, likely to satisfy most adults attracted by the title and the indicated billing, but in no sense a film for children.“
The following film, entitled Gang Busters, was reviewed in the April 2, 1955, edition of the Motion Picture Herald. It was produced by Visual Drama, Inc., and purportedly is the story of public enemy No. 4. A section of the review reads as follows:
This fast-paced melodrama is an exploitation natural. Having been heard on radio many years and seen on television recently, its many fans should be eager to view it on the big screen. It follows the format and style of the television program and provides a maximum of raw, lurid thrills.
Although the foreword by Gabriel Heatter specifically tells the audience that the criminal depicted is not a hero and should be thought of only as a menace, the picture's accent on violence and the working of the criminal mind makes it somewhat questionable material for impressionable youngsters.“
The following is a discussion of the motion picture They Were So Young, taken from the February 5, 1955, issue of the Motion Picture Herald. It reads as follows:
The title of the picture pertains to a shipment of girls from Paris, where they've been trained as fashion models, to Rio de Janeiro, where their employers deprive them of their passports and work permits and make it clear to thein that their basic obligation is to entertain, in whatever way may be required of them, the wealthy men who are the nonbuying nocturnal customers of the pretended women's-wear wholesaler.
Most of the unfortunate girls meet disastrous fates, including death and that which is classically alluded to as worse, before a Brazilian security-police investigator catches up with the white slavers and puts an end to their operations.
The picture, like others which dramatize materials not often presented on the American screen, has impact and contains a liberal allotment of incidents calculated to set up active, and probably profitable, word-of-mouth.
The following is further discussion of the above-mentioned motion picture: ** * She flees to the jungle, Brady rescues her again, and when they stop for the night she is again taken captive and dispatched to the “river pleasure boats” which, the dialogue and action make plain, are the final destination of all enslaved girls who have outlived their attractiveness in the swankier salons of sin. * * *
It's a drab and distressing story, and while it does not glamorize rice it is a white-slave picture and as such is questionable subject matter for theatrical exhibition. The picture has not received approval of the production code.“
Subsequently, the subcommittee found that the picture has now received a Motion Picture Production Code seal of approval. The technique used to get the film the seal of approval was similar to that used in Big House, USA, i. e., a slight change in terminology describing the story content and a prologue given by a police official which indicates that the entire theme of the film is something other than what it actually is.
A film of a sexually suggestive nature brought to the attention of the subcommittee was Son of Sinbad, released by RKO Studios. The picture allegedly exploits seminudity which the Production Code forbids coming under the heading of immoral actions. It also presents dances identifiable with sexual actions and after the fashion of burlesque is intended to excite the emotional reaction of an audience through exposure and movement: all code violations.
4 Review of The Big Combo, in Motion Picture Herald, vol. 198, No. 8, February 19, 1955, p. 329.
45 Review of Gang Busters, in Motion Picture Herald, vol. 199, No. 1, April 2, 1955, p.
48 Review of They Were So Young, in Motion Picture Herald, vol. 198, No. 6, February 5, 1955, p. 315.
Mr. Shurlock went into some detail in discussing the picture Son of Sinbad. He stated that the picture was submitted for code approval at least 16 months previous to the hearings and at that time the staff refused to approve it in the form it was in. The film then lay on the shelf until February of 1955, when the company allegedly had a change of heart and came to the Motion Picture Authority and indicated that it would do whatever it could within reason to re-edit the picture so that it would be given a seal and put into circulation. Mr. Shurlock stated that the code authority did the best it could with the picture which was quite unacceptable in its first form. Between 40 and 60 percent of the footage was clipped out of the dance sequences. One particular dance which was originally 247 feet long ended up 80 feet long which did not include all dancing scenes. It included various scenes of the audience watching. Mr. Shurlock indicated that the code staff, in addition, cut out as much of the questionable costuming as possible.
Mr. Shurlock feels that the code authority has been subjected to unfair criticism from persons who claim that the picture was not cut enough. He did express concern about the film and was worried about the public's reaction to it. In defense of the code authority, he said that Son of Sinbad was an extreme exception and that most of the pictures that come in to the code authority for final approval reasonably conform to the code. The subcommittee staff, on viewing the Production Code file on the film Son of Sinbad, was aware of many admonitions on the part of the code authority to the producer of the film for the nudity and the sexually suggestive dancing scenes portrayed in the picture. It is also aware that much discussion and much editing was done before the final version of the film was released to the public.
VII. OPINIONS OF MEMBERS OF THE MOVIE INDUSTRY Mr. Lou Greenspan, the executive secretary of the Motion Picture Industry Council, is concerned with the good public relations of the motion-picture industry. This organization is one wherein the representatives of management and the representatives of the labor unions and guilds meet to discuss common problems for the benefit of the motion-picture industry. This includes the writers, the actors, the art directors, the A. F. of L. film unions, all the technical unions, cameramen, and sound_men, as well as the Producers' Association and the Independent Producers' Association. There are some 26 actual locals of the various crafts in the A. F. of L. film studio union organization. Altogether there are between twenty and twenty-five thousand people employed in the motion-picture industry.
In terms of the subject under discussion, the purpose of the Motion Picture Industry Council is not to engage in film content to the extent of telling producers what they may or may not make, or what they should or should not make. The council can only bring to the producers the reactions of the public and also the reactions of the people in the industry. As to any decisions regarding film content, however, the individual studios themselves must decide that.
Mr. Greenspan stated that the studio heads agree that the public must share the responsibility as well as the credit for the content that motion pictures reflect. He said:
* Don't forget, it is the same public, the same people that pay their money to see Blackboard Jungle, that also pay their money to see A Man Called Peter, or a Davy Crockett, or a Disney picture. It is the same people.**
The subcommittee would like to point out at this time that Mr. Greenspan may be slightly in error in this observation. Present studies indicate that people are selective in the type of motion picture or any other type of media that they see. This means that the people who see A Man Called Peter may not see Blackboard Jungle and vice versa. To carry this thought a step further, the type of child who should not see Blackboard Jungle may be the type of individual who, in the final analysis, is the very person that seeks out this type of motion picture.
Mr. Greenspan gave an example of an earlier motion picture. Angels With Dirty Faces, in which James Cagney, the star, is led to the electric chair. He was shown as a cringing cowardly hysterical character in order to cause the children who had made an idol of him to change their minds about being gangsters. While admitting that this picture may have been a force for good, Mr. Greenspan would not go to the other end of the continuum and admit that scenes of brutality, crime, and sadism or of an absence of respect for law and order may have a completely adverse effect on children. He stated that:
I don't happen to be one who believes that you can change a child's mind or his personality or his character to that extent.
I believe that if a boy is wrong, or even a girl, he comes in wrong to see that movie. I don't think that any movie can that much change any child."
When asked whether television, radio, and the movies are not a contributing factor to the development of attitudes on the part of children to the point where they become immune to human suffering, Mr. Greenspan stated :
If we are becoming immune to human suffering, crime, and violence, I wouldn't lay it at the door of the movies alone. I wouldn't lay it at the door of comic books alone. I wouldn't lay it at the door of television alone. I would lay it at the door of civilization.
I think we become immune because of the 3 wars we have gone through in the last 50 years, because a new generation of children have grown up who have become hardened. They have become immune to things because that has become a sort of way of life, a sort of an expectancy, that we are sitting on a powder keg waiting to be blown up. That in itself has created more emotional upsets and disturbances in children as they grow up than any other factor that I know of.
This was a valid observation (for reasons other than those Mr. Greenspan gave); however, this crime, violence, and brutality which exists in our society is also being reflected in our art forms and as stated earlier these art forms are, in turn, molding the attitudinal development of the young children in our society. The point to be made is that these media are furthering or aiding and abetting as it were the development of these attitudes.
17 Greenspan. Lou, statement in hearings before the Subcommittee To Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, Motion Pictures, U. S. Senate, held on June 17, 1955, p. 150.
48 Ibid., p. 151. 40 Ibid., p. 152.
Mr. Ronald Reagan, a frequent spokesman for Hollywood, was asked to give his opinion on the relationship between movies and juvenile behavior.
Mr. Reagan stated that he is a free-lance actor and that this is the status of most of the actors in the motion-picture business. There is very little continued employment; only a few hundred out of 8,000 actors are under contract with any major studio. The majority of the actors work when they and the producer of a film can decide on a script. Mr. Reagan is presently serving as an officer of the Screen Actors Guild which is the actors' union.
Mr. Reagan vehemently defended the movies' right to portray scenes of violence in order to get over the dramatic point or highlight of a story. He referred to several recent motion pictures in which he appeared wherein brutal or violent scenes are depicted. He defended the scenes in these films by stating:
In all of our crime-and-violence pictures, there is one thing that I believe is true, has to be true, and is true of every picture that has ever been made in Hollywood; crime never pays; right always triumphs.co
Carrying this point to its logical conclusion, any type of scene should be allowed to be portrayed on the motion-picture screen as long as law and order prevail in the last few seconds.
In defending the Motion Picture Production Code, Mr. Reagan stated :
We have a voluntary Production Code. I don't care what other witnesses have said, I believe that in all the years I have been connected with the picture business, by and large, 99 percent of the time we subscribe to that code, and I believe it is a voluntary censorship. It is a program of self-restraint that is unequaled in any other form of communications in our land or in the world. I know of no publishing industry, I know of no records firm, I know of no radio or television station, no other form of a communications industry, that has the same self-restraint as does the motion-picture industry.
Mr. Reagan several times emphasized the fact that the average moviegoer can make the choice of either seeing the picture or not seeing the picture. However, we must appreciate the fact that certain children will seek out a certain type of film that in all probability will coincide with their predispositions. In answer to this point, Mr. Reagan said:
I think as a parent that my obligation at home is to bring my children up in such a way that when they are exposed to vulgarity and obscenity and brutality, they will be able to properly evaluate it and make a decision and put it in its right place."
The subcommittee wholeheartedly agrees that one of the functions of the parent is to develop within their children a frame of reference against which they can critically evaluate events that they read about and see in the mass media. However, that 3 to 5 percent of the juvenile population about which the Nation is concerned does not receive this parental attention that Mr. Reagan speaks of and there has not been developed within them the ability to determine what is right and what is wrong and what is socially acceptable and what is socially unacceptable in terms of events viewed in the mass media. It is this
50 Reagan, Ronald, statement in hearings before the Subcommittee To Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, Motion Pictures, U. S. Senate, held on June 16, 1955, p. 93.
51 Ibid., pp. 93-94, * Ibid., p. 95.
group of children that are the potential delinquents, and it is this group of children also who seek out films such as the Blackboard Jungle, and who tend to identify with the brutal aggressive elements in the film.
Mr. Reagan felt that if he can develop the proper frame of reference in his children, there is no need for outside controls, i. e., censorship. The subcommittee, concerned as it is with this 3 to 5 percent delinquent group, however, does not advocate censorship in any form or manner. The motion-picture industry does have the standards and machinery for producing motion pictures that would not be harmful to this type of adolescent. All the subcommittee has attempted to do is to determine if there have been deviations from the code, and the reasons for such deviations. It is believed that this will aid the Production Code Administration in its redirection of certain producers to a more strict adherence to the Motion Picture Production Code. In other words, the parents of these potential delinquents will not assume the responsibility of directing their children's emotional intake so this must be done by some outside agency, preferably the movie industry itself which is in a position to see that emotional output for children maintains as high a value level as possible. As has been stated many times, the subcommittee is not concerned directly with that group of the juvenile population that receives the parental attention such as Mr. Reagan describes, but with that small percentage that is most in need of direction and guidance.
The subcommittee in no way wants, as Mr. Reagan puts it, todevelop an entire generation that is going to grow up taking it for granted that it is all right for someone to tell them what they can see and hear from a motion-picture screen. The sole aim of our investigation is to remove some of the environmental supports of delinquency.
The vice president in charge of production and head of studio operations at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Mr. Dore Schary, outlined briefly the steps a motion picture goes through from the beginning to the end of its production. There are some 30,000 story ideas submitted during the course of an average year in a major studio. Those 30,000 ideas are usually sifted down to 1,000 which are considered the best by the reading department and/or the producer who may find the story, or the writer who may come in to discuss it with the head of the studio, or the director, or the executive himself. Mr. Schary has to cover the thousand stories personally. Out of the thousand, 30 or 32 are picked that will be the core of the studio's production for a fiscal year. Many of these 30 or 32 stories are picked on the basis of balance of program and on the hoped-for artistic and commercial success of the picture. Many of the original 30,000 are sent in by agents who cover television shows and short stories in magazines. There are also original ideas that are brought in by people and discussed with Mr. Schary, first by oral form and later in script form. In other words, they come in from a variety of sources.
Of the 30 that are finished each year, no more than 5 come from within any studio organization. The other 25 usually come from without the organization, from sources other than the people within
63 Schary, Dore, statement in hearings before the Subcommittee To Inrestigate Juvenile Delinquency, Motion Pictures, U. S. Senate, held on June 16, 1955, pp. 106-118.