The Moving picture world (June 1921)

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486 MO\'L\G PICTURE WORLD June 4, 1921 In the Shadow of the Dome Is Condemned As Attack on Congress Natio7ial Executive Committee Calls it "False, Ludicrous and Unpatriotic" THE Motion Picture Theatre Owners of America, through its national execu- tive coniniittee, stepped into a situation in Washington during last week, and without fear or favor dealt a blow at improper pictures which should prove far-reaching in its effect. It unhesitantly condemned as unfit for public exhibition a picture called "In the Shadow of the Dome," a production which was shown at the Belasco Theatre in Washington. This production was an unwar- ranted attack upon Congressmen, intended to show that a heavy percentage of our national legislators were bribe-takers, false to their public trusts and rotten in their private conduct. The national executive committee, during its several days of meetings, arranged its plans for the annual convention in Minneapolis, which will begin .lune 27 and continue for three days, had an audience with President Harding and members of his cabinet and generally put its house in order for constructive work. The important elements of its program Avere the big outstanding stroke and the following set of resolutions passed on May 18 bv the committee: WHEREAS, the Motion Picture Theater Owners of America have learned of the existence of a motion picture film called "In the Shadow of the Dome," and \\'HEREAS, said film, a crude produc- tion, conveys a false, ludicrous, and un- patriotic impression of our National Con- gress, and WHEREAS, said film was exhibited in a theater ordinarily devoted to the spoken drama, i. e., the Shubert-Belasco Theater, in the City of Washington, D. C, and WHEREAS, the alleged producer of said film has no ap])arent pennanent place of business or studio, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we condemn the said film as unfit for jniblic exhibition by reason of its vicious, unpatriotic, and luisleading portrayal of our National Congress. FURTHER RESOLVED, that we be- lieve this film to have l)een made and to have been shown in the City of Washing- ton for the purpose of prejudicing Con- gress against motion pictures in general, and. FURTHER RESOL\'ED. that the Motion Picture Theater Owners of .Am- erica conduct a searching investigation and that in the meantime we warn all members of our organization and every motion ])icture theater owner in the United States against the showing of said picture. These resolutions were adopted unan- imously and a letter was immediately ad- dressed to every Congressman enclosing a copy of the resolutions. This letter was as follows: Dear Congressman: A film called "In the Shadow of the Dome," has recently (May 8) been shown in the Shubert-Belasco Theatre, this city. This picture, a crude and cheap produc- tion, gives a false, ludicrous, and un- patriotic portrayal of our National Con- gress, dragging in the name of the Na- tional Capitol for advertising purposes. The Motion Picture Theatre Owners of .America, comprising within their mem- bership upward of three-fourths of all motion i)icture theatre owners, have in- formed every member and everv other motion picture theatre owner to keep this offensive and misleading film out of their theatres. Please note that this jjicture was shown in a house which is ordinarily devoted to the spoken drama; that it was not made by any of the well-known and reputable ])roducers, but by an unknown director, with no api)arent jjermanent office or studio. We cannot help believing tliat this film was inspired by artifice, trickery, fraud, misrepresentation, and with the object of prejudicing Congress against all motion ])ictures. This seems doubly prob- able in view of the fact, that it has not been shown elsewhere, so far as we know, and that'every member of the House and Senate received a special in\itation by mail to attend the performance in the .Shubert-Belasco Theatre. We propose to conduct a searching investigation into the origin of this picture for purpose of discovering the sources of its financial support. SAM BULLOCK, Executive Secretary. The action was direct, unqualified and peremptory and the facts fully justified it. "In the Shadow of the Dome" had a week's run at the Belasco Theatre be- ginning on Monday, May 9. The ar- rangement is understood to have been on a percentage split between Fox-Fischer Masterpieces and the theatre owners. It was well advertised and members of Con- gress and their wives were invited to come to see it. They went, but it is re- j)orted that they didn't all stay throughout the more than six reels of show. What they saw gave them every reason for re- .sentment. The play, supposedly founded on the story "If Christ Came to Congress," proved to be a presentation of a sordid attack on Congressmen generally. One title announced that there were Congress- men who worked hard for their country, but the action of the picture included orgies in dance halls, with drunkenness rampant, unclad and unlovely dances and stomach turning exhibitions of males and females too far gone in liquor to keep their faces away from their plates. Bribery and general corruption of legis- lators was presented in such abundance that it was both stupid and ludicrous. \\'ithout its orgie features the picture would jx)ssibly be laughed off the screen because it is the dullest sort of entertain- ment. To present it in Washington and If economy is desired in the industry let the top heavy salary lists in the production units come in for a pruning. Decent pay is essential, but swollen payrolls are today our greatest waste.