Variety (March 1921)

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Friday, March 4, 1921 MOTION PICTURE DEPARTMENT—PAGES 40 TO 47 PICTURES 47 ■m 0 CENSOR WANTS CONTROL OF POSTERS s. Miller Protests Proposed Screen Law. Columbus, March 2. Maude Murray Miller, chairman ef the State Board of Motion Pic- ture Censors, declares that If the McCoy bill to eliminate from the Alms anything depicting crime is Ejjfsed by the Ohio Senate, every rmotior. picture theatre in this state prould have to close. "Oh.'o has the cleanest motion pic- Ttures in the world, Mrs. Miller said jn an .\ddress before the House Ju- diciary Committee at a hearing on the bill. "There is crime depicted In the plays based on Dickens and -'ghakespeare and all other classic writers. There is crime in the old ElbPcal stories." • Mrs. Miller suggested that the Board of Censors should control mo- tion picture "paper" and "stills." Many of the posters she added sug- gested objectionable scenes which were never permitted to be shown. 8he asked that the censors b"» given a larger appropriation so they could employ inspectors and.other agents to see that their orders were en- forced. Miss Genevieve Kline, of Cleveland, representing the State Federation of Women's Clubs, urg- ing the passage of the McCoy bill, a* -rted that "the Censor Board is Be. functioning." BLUE FORCES ROUTED IN FILM CENSOR BATTLE AT THE NATIONAL CAPITAL D. W. Griffith and Other Picture Interests Backed by Leading Washingtonians in Fight to Stop Re- strictions Regarded as National in Effect—Proba- tionary Period Proposed by Advocates of Plan. Washington, D. C, March 2. Hacked by leading official and business interests here, the motion picture industry has apparently won the first skirmish with Rev. Wilbur Crafts, of Blue Law prominence, and other elements which seek to impose rigid film censorship on Dis- trict of Columbia theatres. A public hearing, attended by D. W. Griffith and other picture leaders from New York, the head's of local civic or- ganizations and representatives of church associations, was held here \ speech. The moving pictures are ulatiohs now existed in the District laws to control any over-stepping of the bounds, this power being granted under an act of Congress of March 5, 1901. Griffith quoted the late Mayor Gaynor's statement when the mayor vetoed a bill requiring censorship of films in New York. He said: "In this late civilization it seems strange that we should come to the Nation's Capitol to plead for free ILVIER SUES NATIONAL Asks Court to Take "Tar*sn" from Howelli and Rubey. Charges of non-fulfilment of con- tract were made in a suit brought in the New York Supreme Court last wefk by Harry Revier, motion picture director, against the Na- tional Film Corporation, Capt. M. Rubey, former president of the Na- tional, who was added as defendant, and David P. Howells. The case 1ras adjourned from the preceding Week into this with a motion grant- ed to the defendants to file an answer by yesterday (Thursday). "Revier alleges that the National Film induced bim to leave New York •o go to Lbs Angeles, to make the serial, "Tire Son of Tarzan." It was agreed that he was to receive a "substantial" drawing account, and, In additton.'one-elghth of the gross income of the serial, deduct- ing only the actual cost of produc- tion. Revier alleges further that the National Film refused to pay him the amount. Instead of receiv- ing the money, he says he has been met by the attitude that Mr. How- \ tils claims that the National Film Bade this picture for him on a con- tract basis of 15 per cent, above the it of production. Revier asserts that there was a private contract entered into be- tween Howells and Capt. Rubey, who was then president of the Na- tional Film, whereby they were to the serial and were to finance H equally. Revier attacks this arrangement •n the ground that it is illegal and ttat Capt. Rubey, as president of the corporation, could not have any twsonal competitive Interest against the corporation in a picture made •XH, and assorts that .Howells, •©owing Rubey's relationship to the ••rporation when he made the pri- nts agreement, forfeited any rights jot only to receive profit but in ad- dition even to recover money he •P*nt for exploitation of the pic- ***, Revier further charecs that «j>well 8 in his anxiety to sell the Picture and carry out the arrange- ment made with Rubey has sold it *t prices that are far below the ™ue of ihc serial, and that his in- «*»st8 have been prejudiced because [ "» market value of the picture was « 'east $700 000. He asks that a receiver be ap- J*J n *ed to take the picture and the jw»eys out of the hands of both Lowells and Rubey and to declare "at the agreement between them wa 8 void. *| the same time Joe Brandt. rouurh hig attorneys, attached jufr Us mon.-vs due to the National »n in the hands of Goldwyn and "er distributors, upon his claim nJLJf rv,r,ps rendered to the cor- K «rial ,n connect,on w,th the Directors Dance i«*»ou?, M " ,,on 1>if> ture Directors As- nuai wln ho,d ^eir third an- L8t °r ballroom, April 2. by the District Commissioners Mon- day. Sc strong was the battle put up by the anti-censor faction, which in- cluded not only the picture people, but Mgr. C. F. Thomas, pastor of St. Patrick's church; Major H. L. Gess- ford, superintendent of District Po- lice; bankers, labor leaders and dis- trict officials, that the restrictionists were forced to propose, as a com- promise, that a three-months' pro- bationary period be instituted. This a leading local editor today charac- terized as "a hedge behind which the advocates of the movement,wish to save their faces." The whole matter has been taken under advisement by the Disrtict Commissioners, who have been flooded with communications pro and con, and they will .announce their decision later. Nation Watching Fight. This test of strength here has been awaited by the entire country, because the theatrical interests have regarded it . s a barometer by which may be judged the prospects of federal restrictive legislation. It was here the Prohibitionists got in their opening wedge, and, as Con- gress is the monitor of the Dis- trict's moral welfare, successful ad- vocacy of theatre censorship in any form would be regarded by the re- formers as having the support of Congress and the beginning of gen- eral federal legislation. In addition to these already men- tioned as opponents of censorship, the following made addresses de- nouncing the proposed regulations: Representative George W. Tinkham, of Massachusetts; Maurice Rosen- berg, an attorney; Charles Sebring, chief clerk of the Police Court; Col. Robert N. Harper, banker and rep- resenting the Chamber of Com- merce, and A. B. Brylawski, man- ager of the Cosmos theatre, a com- bination vaudeville and picture house. Considerable heckling took place throughout the meeting, and when John Temple Graves referred to Doris Keane's picturization of "Romance" as an example of the type of pictures in which long kisses and "clinging body" embraces were featured to the injury of the morals of youth, he brought forth a storm of protests. The hearings opened with all in- dications of a big fight ahead for those in favor of the censorship. The board room of the District Building was crowded to the limit. Dr. Lucius C. Clark, of the Wash- ington Federation of Churches, opened for the advocates of the reg- ulations by introducing Deets Pick- ett* research secretary of Methodist board of public morals; William Mclv. Clayton, of the Federation of Citizens' Associations; the Rev. Wilbur F. Crafts, superintendent of the International Reform Bureau, and John Temple Graves. Griffith Plea for Fair Play D. W. Griffith made the principal talk against the censorship, he being ably abetted by Congressman Tinkham and Charles W. Darr, a local attorney. Mr. Griffith made an Impassioned appeal for fair play for the motion picture, stating that to place such a ban as censorship on this great In- dustry would next lead to the cur- tailment of the press, and then even further inroads on our personal lib- erty. Both Mr. Griffith and Mr. Darr pointed out that sufficient reg- nothing more than a pictorial press, and If you would censor pictures it follows that you must censor the press. I admit there are some pic- tures that should never have been exhibited. But there are also many words spoken and many novels written which should never have been spoken or written. "What Is right and what is wrong? Advocates of censorship favor the elimination of murder, se- duction—crime. Yet 'David Copper- field,' a story-of seduction, is one of the most beautiful stories of the English language. 'Hamlet' ha*s in it five murders. With censorship a modern Shakespeare who wrote a drama having five murders would be condemned." Wilbur Crafts Denounced At the conclusion of Griffith's re- marks, which were greeted with prolonged applause, Wilbur C. Crafts, sponsor of the movement, left the board room and did not hear the lacing he got from Darr. In his summing up for the anti-forces, Mr. Darr went after the reverend Mr. Crafts with hammer and tongs, both in reference to the man himself and his r^eord. He said: "Crafts read a written statement in presenting his case which we quote in part as follows: 'I do not ask autocratic exclusion of films, but only such supervision as the Government gives to all other great financial interests. As we do not leave it to the packers to inspect their bad beef with no outside pres- sure except patronage and public opinion, we tl.ould not allow the film producers, with no supervision save their own National Board of Review, to handle the bad pictures that poison not the body only, but the minds and souls of our' dear youth.'" Although not appearing at the hearing Major Harry L. Gessford, Superintendent of the District Po- lice, issued a statement to the press yesterday that film censorship was not needed here. The major pointed out that section 15 of article 16 of the police regulations provided ample censorship, he further stated: "No raw pictures are being shown here. The theatre and moving pic- ture managers are good judges of what is proper and improper. In- stances when the police require them to omit something are very rare. We never have to go to the extreme of revoking their license, which authority we have by virtue of the same act of Congress. "There are some people who will always find fault with everything and see evil where none is intended. It depends all together on the mind of the spectator, except on rare oc- casions, as to whether or not they think a show is naughty. You know the old saying 'evil to him who evil thinks.' The law is in full force and effect, and has stood the test of 20 years. Under it we are ready to investigate any complaint now, just as we always have in the past." Public Against Censorship Major Gessford, it would seem from the many protests against the movement, h.xs struck the popular feeling. The meeting brought out representatives of practically every citizens' association in the District. These associations arc the bodies composed of neighboring business men, who gather together and pre- sent the needs of their various com- munities to the Board of Commis- sioners. They are the recognized bodies of the District and their recommendations are, as a general rule, acted Upon favorably by the commissioners. These associations have practically all como out against the proposed regulations. One body did vote in favor of it and ten of its members resigned. At the hearing the names of Harry Crandall, Marcus Loew and Tom Moore, owners of the ■ local theatre circuits and their respective house managers, Robert L. Long, Lawrence Beatus and K. J. Stutz, were referred to and received praise. The American Legion .has gone on record a being opposed to the movement. Col. James A. Drain, com- mander of the Legion yesterday in- formed the Commissioners that the executive committee a few days ago passed a resolution denouncing the fact that "certain self-styled re- formers are apparently determined to force a so-called blue Sunday' upon the unwilling people. We be- lieve the vast majority of the peo- ple of the District of Columbia are bitterly opposed to any legislation that bears the marks of fanatic- ism." Col. Drain in transmitting this re- solution from the Legion added on his own part: "Our local depart- ment consists of 9,000 men and women. We feel that there are aL- ready too many laws intended to correct the morals and preserve the virtues of a people who should be free, but who are being deprived to a very considerable degree of their just rights." The probationary plan was sub- mitted Jointly by Dr. Lucius Clark and Charles- A. McMahon, of the National Catholic Welfare Council. They asked that during this proba- tionary period that the rules that govern under the Pennsylvania cen- sorship board be in force here. Burlington, Vt., March 2. The bill for State censorship of pictures did not pass. It was re- ported unfavorably from the general committee and did not even get a its favor. Not a vote was heard for it. Among those who spoke against It were: J. J. Whalen, manager of the Strong in Burlington; \. W. Mc- Kay, manager of the Grand and the Strand in Rutland, and A. S. Black of Boston, head of the Black Circuit of theatres. Many other Vermont movie men made speeches of opposition. $61,000 WEEK FOR THE KID Cut First National Sharing Plan Into Strand Profits. One of the stockholders in the Strand Theatre is authority for the statement that Charles Chaplin in "The Kid" played to $61,000 in one week of the fortnight's engagement at that house. He bewailed the fact that the house had to share on all over a certain amount with the First National, and complained that pic- ture rentals are altogether too high. He added that the. first feature playing the house, "The Spoilers," cost the management $800 for the week and played to capacity. MONOPOLY FOR PERU Los Angeles, March 2. Mar.uel L. Ojela returned here from Peril last week, having been granteu a paiem giving lunrTlie sow^ right to import motion picture equipment into that country. The importations are to be duty free and in addition the grar.t calls for making pictures in the South American country. Ojeda was formerly a picture actor here. He states that he has an airange- mrnt with Empresa de Teatros Cinemas, Ltd, to show pictures i.» their 122 theatres. "JEKYLL AND HYDE" ON ROAD Tho "Je yll and Hyde" produc- tion by Kamous Players, with John Barrymore starred, is not turning out ho well oh the road. Exhibitors throughout the country fail to see it in the light that New York did and It Is understood to have only grossed thus far in the neighbor* hood of $300,Ot<> INDUSTRY'S HOOVER FUND IS $660,000 Half Million Goes to Relief of Europe's Needy Tho total cum collected by the picture interests throughout the United States to date was made known Tuesday in conjunction with ceremonial exercises consisting of photographing two checks repre- senting a total of $060,000 as their "bit" contributed to the European Relief Council and the Hoover drive. The occasion was marked with a battery of cameras being focused on the two checks In the offices of S. L. Hothapfel in the Capitol Thea- tre. The first payment from greater New York represents $160,000. The .nationally, i< pre- sents $500,000. The following list of New York theatres contributed the following sums: Capitol, $10,405.17; Plata, $1,146.75; Rivotl, |1,049.40J Strand, $1,006.7S; Itialto. $7l"J.05; 44th Street, $576.5S; City HaU, $411.; Olympic. $40K.L'U; Auddbon and Washington theatres, $1,101.57; Adelphl and Sym- phony res, $920.15* L. .T. Dittmar, prcsid< nt of the Mo- tion Picture Theatre Owners of Ken- tucky, and chairman of the Hoover drive Jn that state, forwarded to the European Relief Council checks for $0,012.2 raised by Kentucky tix.i- tre*. The sum of $3,016.90 was col- lected In Louisville on Motion Pic- ture Day. The Mutual Theatre Company, operating the Palace, Colonial and Lyceum in Orange, x. J., forwarded « ch< ck for $i. :> 93. ' H0UDINIS $500,000 CO. Escape King to Make 4 Films a Year Harry Houdini has formed the Houdini Film Corp., with a capital!- zation of $500,000. He will be presi- dent and general manager, as well as tho principal stockholder. Houdini plans to make four pictures a year and has not yet fixed on the method of release. N. H. CENSOR BILLS DEAD Senator C. II. liean, of New Hampshire, president of the Motion Picture Theatre Owners of New Hampshire, sent the following wire to the New York olflcies of the organizations: "Bath censorship bills killed in noUac today (^nui'i.'it i.) >•••><n»moUoiy. Vermont killed censorship last w-cek. SEMON TO MARRY? Lot Ar.geles, March 2. Larry Semon won't confirm the report that he is to marry his lead- ing lady, Lucille Carlisle, who lately returned from New York, but it is generally believed here that the two are to wed in about ten da>l at tho Mission inn, Riverside. Studio for Church Films Los Angeles, March 2. The Super Feature Film Corp* organised for the purpose ol pro- ducing screen subjects suitable for Chun Ins, is to make' its head- <iii;nt< rs lii Pomona, Cal., where a studio will be located for the shoot- ing of its productions. The officers of the corporation -ire C, C. Craig, president; L. J. Burred, vice presidi nt, and it. w. Reed ( sec* rctary. - V -