Irish Protest Against Screen Ridicule Leads to Disturbances in Theatres
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Irish Protest Against Screen Ridicule Leads to Disturbances in Theatres

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Disturbances foretold by the “Irish World” because of resentment against the film. “The Callahans and the Murphys.” occurred Thursday night when the film was exhibited at Loew’s Orpheum Theatre. Eighty-sixth street between Lexington and Third avenues. On Wednesday night Loew’s American Theatre. Eight avenue and Forty-second street, was the scene of a denunciation of the picture as an insult to the Irish people by a man who arose in his seat while the film was being shown.

Reserves and detectives had to be summoned the previous night when a near riot broke out at Loew’s American Theatre.

The agitation against the film continues in the Irish press. Articles published in the “Irish World,” the “Gaelic American” and the “Monitor” protest against the exhibition of the film.

The “Gaelic American” carried a streamer headline. “Jewish Film Firms War on Irish Race.” The articles in these papers contained attacks on the Jewish producers.

The incident was commented upon yesterday in the Jewish press.

“We have not seen the motion picture entitled “The Callahans and the Murphys’ to which writers in the ‘Irish World’ have taken such vehment objection,” writes the “Jewish Tribune,” in an editorial entitled “Doing the Right Thing in the Wrong Way.” “but we are in sympathy with those who condemn pictures in which race is held up to ridicule and shame. We are, therefore, with the ‘Irish World’ in its request to the producers of this picture, who, we are sure, are entirely guiltless of any intentional slur, to modify it to an extent to make it unobjectionable to all but the over-sensitive.

“But we part company with the ‘Irish World’ when it comes to the manner in which it voices its objections to the film in question. We consider the language used disgraceful and uncalled for. If the film is exceptionable, it is so quite aside from the question of who its producers are. It does not make the case of the ‘Irish World’ any stronger by referring to the producing companies as Jew organizations,’ or to the personnel of these companies as ‘dirty Orientals,’ or to say: ‘If they want filth and stupidity and indecency, they needn’t go out of the Ghetto to find it.’ Such language makes one suspect that the grounds upon which the picture is objected to are weak, else why indulge in abuse? Furthermore, this sort of vilification betrays a mind as ignorant of the Jewish character, as the producers are charged with being of the Irish character, and a heart fall of venom and hatred toward Jews in general.

“We Jews, who have had long and bitter experience in combatting attacks against us can tell the ‘Irish World’ that its method of attack in this particular case does not do credit to the Irish people whom it claims to represent, and is calculated to alienate rather than enlist the sympathies of other races.”

The “Morning Journal” commenting upon the incident, classifies the Jew and the Irishman in America as “Brothers in Need” in so far as the traditional stage caricature is concerned.

“We have not seen the picture The Callahans and the Murphys, but we are assured by those who have seen it that the fun poked at the Irish goes too far. There are no single caricatures given, no peculiar comic types are here presented, but one caricature of a mass of another race and this is a dangerous exaggeration. The injustice is not perhaps as great as the ‘Irish World’ pretends to make it, but it is great enough for us who once shared with the Irish the insults in the Yankee theatre to raise a voice of protest against the light mindedness of such a production.

“However, it is true that when a moving picture producing company, whose members are Jews or mainly Jews, releases a picture which depicts the Irish in a bad light, it does not mean that Jews do this and that the Jews as a people or race are to be held responsible for it. It is, however, equally true that the company should have known how much of its work would be ascribed to its members as partners of the company and how much would be ascribed to them as members of the Jewish people. They should have applied greater tact and better taste.”

Writing in “The Day,” Dr. K. Vornberg, while agreeing essentially with the Irish, disapproves of the method employed by them. “A fight for the purity of the movie, especially against the caricaturing and insulting of any race or nation must be welcomed and encouraged by us.” he writes. “We Jews in America have for over a quarter of a century been drawn into the fight against the stage Jew who is after all not less dangerous than the movie Jew. However, with all our sympathies for the purpose of the fight undertaken for the Irish, we must draw to their attention that both the form and the means proposed by them are far from satisfactory.

“The start made by the ‘Irish World’ is very regrettable. If one protests against ridiculing one’s own race, one should at least have sufficient understanding and dignity not at the same time to attack another race. The spokesman for the Irish have, however struck an undignified, repelling, anti-Semitic, inciting tone, just as if the Jewish people had any part in the production of the film.

“The truth is that together with this vulgar caricature ‘Murphy’ picture, the same Loew’s theatres exhibited a Jewish comic which contained a repelling offense to the Jewish character. This comic portrays not one person but a whole series of persons. There the father ‘frames’ an ‘accident’ case in which the entire family participates. The future son-in-law, the lawyer, plays the worst role and if the Irish have protested, the Jews have more reason and more right to protest because of the comic.”

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