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Critical Moments

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Last week was one of sheer delight to the gentlemen who guide the destinies of Broadway’s cinema palaces. Business was exceedingly brisk, so much so, that one of the Street’s favorite myths,—”too many good pictures at one time hurt attendance generally”—was knocked into the often mentioned cocked hat. The cool weather was responsible for this much needed upturn but the result is that this week practically repeats itself. “Dames” at the Strand, Harold Lloyd’s “The Cat’s Paw” at the Music Hall, “Cleopatra” at the Paramount, and “Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back” at the Rivoli will each remain for another week at least. Legitimately speaking however things continue at a snail’s pace with most of the scheduled opening holding off until after Labor Day but then the deluge will be on.


W. Ray Johnston, president of Monogram Pictures, one of the larger of the independent producing companies, protests with some vigor against the Hays organization which you should know is a sort of super-Lord over all moving picture activities. It seems that the Hays office has a monopoly on the dispensing of “purity seals,” the marks of a “clean” picture. Mr. Johnson does not wish Mr. Hays to have anything to say about his (Johnson’s) pictures; in fact he issued the following statement which should give you an idea of what is bothering some of the producers:

“The point at issue is not that we cannot get the seats, but that we should not be compelled to use the facilities of the Hays organization, even at the moderate cost they have suggested. Inasmuch as every producer is asked to contribute to the upkeep of the Code Authority, one of its duties under the code should be the enforcement of the morals code as well.

“We do not consider the Hays organization the moral guardian of the motion picture industry,” declared Johnston. “Nor do we intend to let any organization whose whole aim and interest has been at such wide variance with our own set itself up as a board of censorship for any part of the industry which has no voice in the government of the controlling body.

“The independent producers are heartily in favor of the decency campaign, but believe that the Code Authority and not the Hays office should be the final court of appeal.

“Pictures made by independents were not the ones which brought on the present national clean picture campaign, which on the contrary can be laid only to the lax enforcement of the Hays moral code. Independent producers have experienced little or no censorship difficulties.”

Johnston also declared that it was his understanding that the Hays office, in its eleventh hour decision to give a purity seal to Larry Darmour’s “Scarlet Letter,” had advised Darmour that independent producers availing themselves of the Hays office censorship service must bear a share of the cost.

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