Sunday, May 8, 2005

Censorship of films

One of my areas of interest regarding Louise Brooks (and silent film) is censorship. Anyone who has read the Barry Paris biography knows that her two German films were subject to censorship in Europe. As well, Pandora's Box was heavily censored when shown in the New York City in 1929. 

What few people know is that some of Brooks' American films were also censored. The American Venus (1926) was criticized in Chicago because of "nudity." The City Gone Wild (1927) andKing of Gamblers (1937) were cut because of violence. God's Gift to Women (1931) was reproached because of its suggestive nature. During the 1920's and 1930's, some cities and states had their own censorship boards - and each ruled over the exhibition of motion pictures.

Some time ago, I came across a massive bibliography devoted to freedom of the press. This online bibliography, by Ralph E. McCoy, was published in 1967 and covered censorship of ideas in all forms - including books, newspapers, radio, television and film. I have gone through it and extracted (for my own reference)  the many citations pertaining to film censorship in the United States during the teens, twenties and thirties. Here are a few articles and books that stand out:

Abbott, Clarence M. "How They 'Censor' the Films at the National Board of Censorship." Motion Picture Magazine,  September 1917.
Ames, Hector. "Censoring the Film Kiss." Motion Picture Magazine, December 1916.
Beman, Lemar TSelected Articles on Censorship of the Theater and Motion PicturesNew York, Wilson, 1931. 

Chase, William S. The Case for the Federal Supervision of Motion PicturesWashington, D.C., International Reform Federation, 1927.
Clements, Traverse. "Censoring the Talkies." New Republic, 5 June 1929.
De Mille, William C. "Bigoted and Bettered Pictures." Scribner's Magazine, September 1924.
Ernst, Morris L., and Pare Lorentz. Censored: The Private Life of the Movies. New York, Cape & Smith, 1930.
Howe, Frederic C. "What To Do With the Motion-Picture Show; Shall It Be Censored?" Outlook,  20 June 1914.
Inglis, William. "Morals and Moving Pictures." Harper's Weekly,  30 July 1910.
Lawson, W. P. "How the Censor Works." Harper's Weekly, 9 January 1915.
MacCulloch, Campbell. "How Free Is Speech?" Motion Picture Classic, September 1920.
McGuire, W. D., Jr. "Censoring Motion Pictures." New Republic, 10 April 1915.
McKeown, E. J. "Censoring the Moving Picture." Common Cause, July 1913.
McMahon, Charles A. "Inviting Motion Picture Censorship." Child Welfare Magazine, September 1924.
Oberholtzer, Ellis P. "Censor and the 'Movie Menace.'" North American Review, November 1920.
Peet, Creighton. "Our Lady Censors." Outlook, 25 December 1929.
Poffenberger, A. T. "Motion Pictures and Crime." Scientific Monthly, April 1921.
Quirk, James R. "The Wowsers Tackle the Movies." American Mercury, July 1927.
Rorty, James. "It Ain't No Sin!" Nation, 1 August 1934.

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