Sponsors of the so-called “clean” movies drive, although sincere in their desire to free the industry of indecent and immoral influences, may unconsciously be playing directly into the hands of “dirty” business, the Jewish Daily Bulletin learned yesterday.
Strong indications were received from an unimpeachable source that powerful non-Jewish capitalistic interests are encouraging the drive, now being waged through the press and other propaganda mediums.
This clique, according to The Bulletin’s informers, may be using clergymen and lay crusaders who are innocently fostering a concerted effort to purge the movies not so much of immorality as of Jewish producers.
Credence was lent this explanation of the campaign when it was pointed out that important daily newspapers, which receive a substantial portion of their advertising incomes from the film industry, have nonetheless been willing to devote many columns of space daily to the current drive.
While the above information was received from another source Rabbi William F. Rosenblum, chairman of the civic affairs committee of the Association of Reform Rabbis and a member of the Inter-Faith Committee, which recently has waged an active fight against cinema “indecency” and “immorality,” hinted strongly that he has received similar information.
In a statement issued exclusively to the Jewish Daily Bulletin, Rabbi Rosenblum says in part:
“WEDGE” TO FORCE JEWS OUT
“There is a feeling in some quarters, based upon conferences with men who are no longer in the motion picture industry, but who remain close to the principal sources of financing and production, that the Legion of Decency Campaign is being utilized by interested parties as an opening wedge in the effort to drive Jews out of the picture field in much the same manner as the Christian bankers of New York managed to drive Jews out of key positions in banking.
“And there is warrant to believe that these interested parties are no more concerned with the ethics and codes of morals than were the Mitchels and the Harrimans, whose defalcations and misapplications made the ineptness of Marcus and Singer look like so much kindergarten technique.
“Many rabbis and laymen, therefore, already concerned with the underground campaign on the whole business and labor front to restrict the employment of Jews and Jewish capital, are insistent that it be made plain that Jews can join with Catholics and Protestants in any general drive for outward decency and wholesomeness, but cannot agree on such minutiae of moral meticulousness as the elimination of all dialogue but that which might be appropriate in the Sunday school room or that very subject which may be dogmatically objectionable to one group should be made indecent for all.”
In other portions of his statement Rabbi Rosenblum rushed to the defense of the Jewish motion picture producers, whom he feels have in many cases been subjected to unwarranted and scurrilous attacks.
“Dr. Howlett, one of the members of the Inter-Faith Committee, in a sermon preached last Sunday, attacked the producers as lacking in culture,” he says. “Rabbi Sidney E. Goldstein once issued a statement expressing special concern on the part of the rabbis because so many of the producers are said to be Jewish and because their ideals are ‘a species of national disgrace to the Jews.’
“I cannot subscribe to either of these views. I am afraid that my colleagues are subject to that myopia which overwhelms anyone who concentrates on one subject or one idea.
“The producers have undoubtedly violated our religious standards in their over-emphasis of sex and crime, but they also have given us ‘Four Sons,’ ‘The House of Rothschild,’ ‘The World Moves On,’ ‘Disraeli,’ ‘The Big Parade,’ ‘The Ten Commandments,’ ‘Little Women,’ and a host of others artistic in conception, excellent in portrayal and wholesome in effect.
SEES GOOD POINTS, ALSO
“Men who are willing to put millions into pictures like these, not knowing whether or not the public will pay to see them, cannot be wholly without an appreciation of cultural values. Besides, it has never been considered a mark of lack of culture in this country to have started life as a furrier or a tailor. The American test is never ‘What were you?’ but ‘What are you?’ and I for one am willing to put the motion picture industry as a whole on an equal level of culture with our banking fraternity, for instance.
“The motion picture producers make inferior as well as superior films, but the public, at least, is not compelled to go to pictures.
“The bankers have been proven to have palmed off worthless bonds on the investing public on the assurance that they were good. Most bankers, I presume, would be accepted as ‘cultured’ as most church leaders.”
FAVORS “WHITE LIST”
Rabbi Rosenblum stresses the fact that he, as a liberal, is vehemently opposed to any effort on the part of either the Inter-faith Committee or any other outside agency to regulate the cinema industry. He would be perfectly willing, he says, to endorse “the issuance of a ‘White List,’ indicating those (movies) which our group could agree on as generally decent and acceptable,” but he could not see his way clear to go along with the committee in any attempt to publish a “Black List.”
“It has been erroneously reported,” he says, “that the Jewish group is unanimously in favor of a board of control, which would be composed of members of the clergy, the public and representatives of the industry, to regulate the production of film plays at its source.
“I am unalterably opposed to such a board because I believe that to be a form of censorship which does not give the larger public the chance to voice its approval or disapproval.
“Moreover, the motion picture set-up, as at present constituted, has all the machinery necessary for guarding the public morals and representing the public censorship. There is a code for clean pictures, adopted in 1931, and acceptable to all religious groups. There is the association of producers in a regulative council, commonly known as the Hays organization. And there is the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, composed of public-spirited citizens and initiated by the People’s Institute a generation ago.
ASKS CODE ADHERENCE
“No other organizations are needed. All we can ask is that the code be observed, that the so-called Hays organization and the National Board of Review be implemented with representatives of clergy and laity of the principal denominations, who will bring to their councils and their executive management more of the point of view which insists on decency, as compatible with art and amusement.”
He sums up his attitude on the censorship question in the following paragraph:
“Personally I feel that if the so-called clean films campaign is permitted to lead to statements or actions whereby the church groups will appear to be dictating the kind of plays that are to be produced, the result will be unfavorable to the church, without benefitting the situation. Giving counsel is one thing. Attempting to control is another.”