Motion Picture Herald (Nov-Dec 1946)

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MARSH OF CLEVELAND ON HERALDS DOPE STAND Price Assails Author Authority The proposed plan for an American Authors Authority which would control the sale and copyright of written material was assailed by Byron Price, vice-president of the Motion Picture Association in a 1,500-word address before the National Association of Broadcasters in Chicago last Wednesday. Discussing free speech in public media, Mr. Price said: "Recently a group of writers proposed a dictatorship of copyright, (in the) creation of an American Authors Authority which would license and control use of the written word, and of the spoken word also in the case of radio. Thus no writer could hope for acceptance of his manuscript unless he first made a deal with the Authority, precisely as German writers were required to do under Nazism, and as Russian writers must do under Communism. Of course no such ambitious plan could have succeeded without invading the right of free press, for, let it be repeated, the power to license is the power to censor." Continuing, Mr. Price said that he had been informed that other and more thoughtful writers are themselves bringing about a modification of the most vicious aspects of the original proposal. "But an alien plan of control over the art of expression," he said, "deserves the vigilant attention and uncompromising opposition of all who seek to preserve civil liberty." Following publication of the speech, Emmet Lavery, president of the Screen Writers Guild, wired Mr. Price and denied that the AAA seeks to control authors material. He invited Mr. Price to discuss the matter before an open forum. Wisconsin University School Film Plan Outlined Dr. Walter A. Wittich, director of the Bureau of Visual Instruction of the University of Wisconsin, addressed the Washington Visual Workers October 30. Dr. Wittich, who was recently elected of the Department of Visual Instruction of the National Education Association, outlined the Department's three-point program, with special cooperation with other organizations. Present plans of the university call for a close liaison with the Motion Picture Association and exhibitor organizations. Eric Johnston, president of the MPA, already has been contacted by the Wisconsin institution, which offered to assist in the MPA educational film program. McCaffery Joins MGM John K. McCaffery, fiction editor of American magazine and moderator for the 'Author Meets the Critic" radio program, has succeeded Allen Marple as head of MGM's Third Annual Book Award and as assistant to Carol Brandt, eastern story head. WRITING in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, one of the nation's leading papers, W. Ward Marsh, motion picture editor and for these many years a foremost critic and writer on matters of the screen, has presented an article in which he forcefully shares the views of Motion Picture Herald pertaining to modification of the Production Code to permit screen treatment of themes bearing on drug addiction. Mr. Marsh's article in the Plain Dealer follows: by W. WARD MARSH The Motion Picture Association, which is the entire industry, may have brewed itself a pot of trouble when it recently okayed the "treatment of drug addiction" theme for the screen. The first to blast at it has been my friend, Terry Ramsaye, editor of the Motion Picture Herald, the powerful, intelligent and far-seeing trade weekly. The Ramsaye blow is quite in the natural course of events, however, because his publisher boss, the cultured, soft-spoken, forceful Martin Quigley, practically wrote the "Code of Production Standards as Enforced by the Motion Picture Association". What law-giver would want his modern celluloid decalogue violated? Under the heading of "Particular Applications— Crimes Against the Law", there has stood, since the inception of the production code, this major thou-shalt-not commandment governing one phase of film making: "Illegal drug traffic must never be presented." There are a dozen other major "crimes" which may not be employed by the screen. 877 School Films Used in Chicago Prints of 877 • instructional pictures, valued at $650,000, are available for educational purposes to the Chicago public schools, according to a report issued this week by Colonel Gerald N. Bench, director of visual instruction. According to the announcement the Chicago Board of Education has made it possible for almost every school in the city to own at least one projector by paying half of the cost of each machine. Parents, teachers and pupils conduct benefits to pay off the remaining half. In each school equipped with a projector a visual coordinator is appointed to aid teachers in conducting courses utilizing the visual aid equipment. Colonel Bench explained that the films distributed by the Bureau of Visual Instruc Each has from one to nine subdivisions, covering just about every evil thought and deed the story writer might dream up or the film producer might view with both eyes on the box office. The amendment to the "drug" portion of the code is to the effect that "illegal drug traffic must not be portrayed in such a way as to stimulate curiosity * * * nor shall scenes * * * show the use of illegal drugs or their effects, in detail". Ramsaye, viewing the success of the actual war against the use of and traffic in drugs due to the silent ways of handling this great problem, believes that no good can come from Hollywood's desire to picture any angle of this dark and deadly business. My memory of films and their association with the drug traffic goes far back into the silent days when the screen did picture addicts and the escape-world in which they live. I cahnot report that anything in particular was gained by such sights — ever when they were tied in with social-disease pictures and with phony lecturers whc mouthed their empty and half-baked warnings to sensation-seeking crowds. Whether any good can come of such pictures today is not even problematical. With Hollywood's tendency to glamourize everything, it is not likely that the whole truth will get into a drug-addict's story. The dramatization of any theme dealing with this traffic in souls would have to be softened and prettied in this postwar world which does not want to find truth, when it hurts, in the film theatre. tion come from various sources including Encyclopedia Britannica Flms, Office of Education, March of Time, free sponsored films, and product from independent educational film producers. The bureau has provided each Chicago high school with a film library of 43 titles. In Jefferson County, Mo., an estimated $5,000 worth of instructional films are available for use in the county's public schools, according to a recent report from John E. Bryan, county superintendent of schools. The film library includes 85 different educational sound motion pictures, and 30 additional films are on order. Rosenbaum to Universal Ed Rosenbaum has been appointed by Maurice A. Bergman, Universal-International eastern advertising and publicity director, as special promotional representative for "The Dark Mirror," "Temptation" and "Magnificent Doll" in the Philadelphia territory. MOTION PICTURE HERALD, NOVEMBER 2, 1946 !9