Motion Picture News (Sept-Oct 1916)

Record Details:

Something wrong or inaccurate about this page? Let us Know!

Thanks for helping us continually improve the quality of the Lantern search engine for all of our users! We have millions of scanned pages, so user reports are incredibly helpful for us to identify places where we can improve and update the metadata.

Please describe the issue below, and click "Submit" to send your comments to our team! If you'd prefer, you can also send us an email to with your comments.

We use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) during our scanning and processing workflow to make the content of each page searchable. You can view the automatically generated text below as well as copy and paste individual pieces of text to quote in your own work.

Text recognition is never 100% accurate. Many parts of the scanned page may not be reflected in the OCR text output, including: images, page layout, certain fonts or handwriting.

October 21, 1916 MOTION PICTURE NEWS 2509 President Wilson Against Principle of Censorship Attitude of Chief Magistrate When He Received Committee Representing the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry, at Shadow Lawn, Indicates His Belief in Freedom of the Screen — Brady Introduces Irwin, Who Presents Briefly Strong Arguments Against Legislative Efforts to Handicap Business PRESIDENT WILSON, at Shadow Lawn, October 3, received a special committee representing the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry and heard many interesting facts regarding the growth and operation of the industry and something of the obstacles which it is combating for a free and uncensored expression. His expression, given with certain reservations, sent away the motion picture men entirely satisfied with the conference. He met his visitors in the billiard room of the white mansion, and William A. Brady, President of the Association, introduced Walter W. Irwin, of the Greater Vitagraph, Chairman of the Executive Committee, who briefly presented the case of the motion picture industry. "In behalf of the motion picture industry, permit me to express our appreciation of your consideration and courtesy in granting to us this privilege," said he. " The picture in motion has become one of the most, if not the most, important mediums of thought transmission. " Twenty millions of people in the United States daily view the motion picture. To them it has become the chief means of entertainment and education. Five hundred millions of dollars are invested in this industry, and our employees number nearly a milUion. And yet the very existence of the industry, together .with the fundamental principles of our democratic institutions are threatened by the un-American principle of censorship. To Protect the People " As a result the industry has at last organized for its own protection and for the protection of the American people. It now possesses a National Association comprising representatives of every branch of the industry, and many of those who do business with one or more of the branches. " Today the industry, through this Association, stands as a unit against the principle of censorship. In Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas and Maryland, censorship statutes exist, by which we are compelled to submit our product, prior to publication, for the approval or disapproval of a political board. " Next winter, 38 state legislatures meet, and it is our information that this industry is to be the chief target of various small minorities who seek to determine what their brothers shall see or think. " Last Winter a similar censorship bill, known as the Hughes Bill, was introduced into Congress and approved by a majority of the Educational Committee. It is our understanding that this bill will be reintroduced at the next session of Congress. If the Hughes Bill is passed and signed, and if similar procedure is taken in a number of the various states, we will virtually be legislated out of existence. " We do not seek privilege. We desire only the same liberty enjoyed in this country by the press, the drama, art and other mediums of thought transmission; but with full responsibility for our acts. We seek to obtain our day in court — equal rights under the law. " Last Winter we had introduced in Congress an amendment to the Federal Penal Code, which would impose heavy penalties for the transportation in Interstate Commerce of any improper film. This amendment failed of passage. , " We recognize our full responsibility to the people, and we want to be held strictly accountable. What we ask, Mr. President, is an expressroh from the President, of his views upon the principle of censorship which we deem so important, not only to ourselves, but , to the people. " We know that with your love for American freedom, you cannot countenance censorship in this country, and we likewise know that an expression from the President will go a long way towards preventing the reintroduction of the Hughes Bill and of similar bills in the 38 states whose legislatures meet next winter." Wilson Against Principle of Consorship The attitude and utterances of President Wilson plainly indicated that to his way of thinking the presumption was against the principle of censorship, and that an overwhelmingly strong case would have to be made out in favor of censorship before his support could be enlisted for it. The motion picture delegation felt from the President's manner and his informal observation on the subject in the event of future legislative action in relation to moving pictures that he would extend a guiding hand — a hand of entire justice to the industry. It was also manifest that the President fully recognized the danger of serious abuses consequent upon the arbitrary exercise of private judgment, where public judgment alone ought to sway the matter. The President's words indicated that he believed if you have a friend whom you think is a fool you should let him hire a hall and permit the public to be the judge. Throughout the impression gained by the delegation was that President Wilson could not see how censorship could be considered safe since it is so largely a matter of taste, environment and prejudice. The President intimated that he found himself frequently shocked by things which others were able to digest with ease and vice versa. In brief, that it is all a matter of personal equation. The delegation was composed of William Brady, W. W. Irwin, P. A. Powers, Carl Laemmle, J. H. Hallberg, William L. Sherrill, W. Stephen Bush, William A. Johnston, Fred Hawley, " Wid " Gunning, Frederick H. Elliott, L. P. Rogers, B. N. Busch, Adam Hull Shirk and W. K. Whipple of the Animated Weekly, Samuel Trigger of the Tremont Theatre, New York, and Henry Branson Varner, Secretary of the North Carolina Motion Picture Exhibitors' League. After the conference the President and the delegation were caught by the news camera on the broad porch, Mr. Wilson meanwhile keeping up a running talk regarding the mysteries of the motion picture, and at one interrogation caused a general laugh in which he heartily joined. The news picture expert, who has taken previous " shots " at the President, declared that he had secured the best animated, merry-mooded picture of the Democratic candidate that has ever been filmed. This film, together with sub-titles, will be issued immediately by all the news weeklies and it is believed will enjoy a large circulation throughout the country. Exhibitors everywhere should book it. Delegation of Picture Men See Hughes Presidential Candidate Receives a Large Number of Film Men in New Jersey and Expresses His Views on the Question of Censorship PRESIDENTIAL Candidate Hughes received a large delegation of motion picture representatives on the lawn of the Essex County Country Club, New Jersey, last Saturday, October 7. In response to the presentation by W. W. Irwin of the censorship situation, Mr. Hughes made a thoughtful, well-rounded address which clearly evidenced not only his full appreciation of the motion picture and its sphere and also his clear insight into the principle of censorship and the proposition of a Federal censorship law. On certain major points of the censorship controversy Mr. Hughes was definite and illuminative. His hearers would like to quote him word for word, and it seems unfortunate that his concise and conclusive utterances cannot go forth and clear up the cloudy situation favoring government censorship. Only the following statement was given out to the press : '.' Mr. • Hughes drew the distinction between reasonable regulation in the interest of health and morals and the broad prin ciple of censorship in advance of publication, which was open to serious abuses. The impression gained by members of the national association from the remarks of Mr. Hughes was that while he thoroughly believed in protecting public morals by proper regulations he was not inclined to favor the principle of such censorship ; that such censorship must necessarily be viewed with misgivings as history has proved that it leads to arbitrary action. " Mr. Hughes impressed all with the idea that Federal censorship would in no way affect or control state or local censorship as to local productions and that he was opposed to any Federal action which could not be justified by Federal exigency. He added that, of course, he could not properly foreclose himself upon questions of this nature." The motion picture representatives .were guests at luncheon of Everett Colby, former State Senator in New Jersey, and all expressed great appreciation of his hospital(Continued on page 2511)