Motion Picture News (Sept-Oct 1916)

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2510 MOTION PICTURE NEWS Vol. 14. No. 16 National Board Strong Against Censorship In a Lengthy Statement Sent to President Wilson and Charles E. Hughes Prove by Actual Census That Federal Censorship Would Not Do Away with Local or State Censorship — Ardent Plea for the Motion Picture as a Free Form of Expression THE following statement regarding Federal censorship has been sent to President Wilson and Hon. Charles E. Hughes by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures : " The censorship question is a vital one. The problem is to provide something that will satisfy the tastes of individuals in all parts of the country. In the effort to do this more than one device for establishing standards has been suggested. The latest is a Federal censorship board or commission controlling through the transportation of films in inter-state and foreign commerce. What effect will this device, if adopted by Congress, have upon the activity of local groups, official and otherwise, attempting to censor for a given community? Would it be as good as a body of volunteers such as The National Board of Review, which controls through its broad point of contact and its advisory character? "With the object of securing a definite expression of opinion from those most directly concerned officially with the point of view of the public in the question of Federal censorship of motion pictures, The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures recently sent a questionaire to the mayors of a number of cities in different parts of the country. " The replies represent the views of the chief executives of cities as far apart as Portland, Me., and Pasadena, Cal., and St. Paul and Minneapolis and Baton Rouge. " Only one replied that he would be willing to eliminate the responsibility from local officials, while four-fifths of the total number said they would not. Opinion was more divided regarding the extent to which a Federal Board of Censorship would satisfy the various elements of a given community. There was strong objection to the idea of limiting the right of each locality to take action for itself should public opinion be against the decision of the proposed Federal Board. With the exception of two mayors, who gave no direct answer, all said they would not permit a film objectionable to their communities to be shown, even if it had been passed by the proposed Federal Board. " Fighting as it, is for the improvement of films along refining and artistic lines, The National Bt)ard of Review of Motion Pictures naturally is interested in the question of Federal censorship. There are two angles from which the motion picture industry should be viewed. One is commercial, the other relates to the film as a medium of expression. It is the latter, of course, in which The National Board is primarily interested. " The film may be classed with the press, free speech and the drama. No one thinks for a moment of attempting to control these mediums of expression by means of legally established commissions. It would be dangerous in a democracy to do so, not only because of the possibility of corrupt use by politicians, but also because the public has a right to determine for itself what it desires within the bounds of decency and the social welfare. " The experience of The National Board of Review, covering several years, is that it is not practicable to meet the peculiar tastes of all parts of the country from one point. It is obvious that there are pictures which could not be shown in the Southern States, to which there would be no objection in the Northern States, and that what New York City wants may not be such as would suit the taste of the market center of the agricultural district in the Middle West. " Those who seek Federal censorship do so in the hope that it will eliminate once for all local censorship. The questionaire sent to the mayors of cities throughout the country by The National Board of Review indicates that they would almost unanimously continue to feel a responsibility for the character of pictures shown in their communities and act accordingly, even if there were Federal censorship. Governors of several states have declared that they would not feel bound by Federal regulation. " Moreover, every one acquainted with the operation of Federal bureaus knows the tendency is to standardize functions. This would be fatal in the case of motion pictures, for if a serious effort were made to censor films the result in the long run would be that films would become standardized and no longer interesting. We have great faith in the possibilities of the motion picture as a medium of expression. It would be almost impossible to secure the repeal of the censorship law once it got on the statute books." " The Voice of Love " and " J in the Week THE regular release of Mutual Star Productions for the week of October 16 will consist of " The Voice of Love," a drama featuring Winnifred Greenwood and Edward Coxen, and " Bluff," the third of the five-part drama releases of Kolb and Dill, the famous partners. In " The Voice of Love," Winnifred Greenwood essays a new type of role, which is extremely becoming and well suited to the talents of the American favorite. She is a fortune teller — a fair and dashing vi'idow, who, through the death of her husband, an officer in the army (whom she believes she had unintentionally murdered), is forced to earn her living and support her young daughter to the best of her ability. The lady becomes enamored of a client, a wealthy young man, who, in turn, falls in love with her own daughter at a fete given in New York, where the charming girl is being educated. The mother, unconscious of the fact that she is being thwarted in her love by her own child, gives way to bitter hatred, and plots the wreck and ruin of her rival's happiness. The discovery of the true state of affairs in the nick of time averts the tragedy and awakens the mother to the realization that she really loves another man. In the role of Violet, the boarding school teacher is Laura Sears. Edward Coxen plays the role of the woman's true friend. In the supporting cast are George Field and Harvey Clark. The plot hinges on the discovery, alleged to have been made by Louie, janitor of the thirty-second floor of the highest building in New York, of the process for the transmutation of " base metals into gold." Louie suddenly leaves town with the formula and becomes a respected partner of Mike, a small-time confectioner in Solemn town. Then a wealthy young luff " Will Come from Mutual •/ October 16 New Yorker comes to town in his racer. His mad dash down the main street is stopped by the front wall of Mike's store, and when he wakes up he finds his head in the lap of the fair Claire, school teacher to the town, and the special protege of the old meddlers, Mike and Louie. The setting then changes to Wall street, whither the wealthy young adventurer, Harold, takes Max and Louie with the latter's formula for making gold. What if the formula proves in the end to be nothing more than the recipe for the finest rubber cement on the market. Mike and Louie and Harold clean up an even five million, and Claire becomes the wife of the young millionaire for life. On Tuesday, Winnifred Greenwood, Edward Coxen and George Field will appear in " The Franchise," a story of intrigue and underhanded dealings, both in love and in politics, which almost sends to ruin an honest man. In the roles of two young lawyers, are Edward Coxen as the honest one, and George Field as the villain. Winnifred Greenwood takes the part of the sweetheart for whose favor the two young lawyers vie. The name of Edwin August is added to the list of stars in the drama output of the Mutual Film Corporation for the week of October 16. Mr. August will appear in "The Law of Nature," a two-part drama, which will go to the public on Tuesdav, October 18. In the role of the sophisticated, cold woman of the world, who prefers society to his childless home, is Iva Shepard. Ruth Blair plays the role of the simple maiden, who wins the husband's affections after his desertion by his wnfe has cut him free from his marriage vows. William Bailey appears in the role of the villain. The remaining drama for the week is " Looking Westward."