Title: Ready to Attack the Picture Shows

Periodical: The New York Times

Date: January 28, 1911

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Board of Censorship Has a Plan of Action to Follow a Report from Mr. Fosdick.


Woman at Child Welfare Meeting Suggests that Ibsen Instead of Buffalo Bill Should Be Hero of the Films.

Public amusements of New York, especially those which cater to the patronage of the young, were overhauled in a general discussion before a large audience at the child's welfare exhibit in the Seventy-first Regiment Armory last night.

When the speakers had concluded their arraignment of the Legislature, the Board of Alderman, and the Health Department for allowing moving picture shows in small, foully ventilated, and unkempt buildings, it was announced that questions would be permitted from the audience.

A woman school teacher wanted to know why a law could not be passed making Ibsen rather than Buffalo Bill a standard moving picture hero. Another immediately arose to dissent on the ground that it would be infinitely cheaper for Ibsen to have his immortal dramas "canned" into moving picture films, just as it cheapens the great heroes of the opera to sing into the phonograph.

John Collier, Secretary of the National Board of Censorship of Motion Pictures, who acted as interlocutor for those with questions to ask, explained that such famous tenors as Caruso did a public service when they sang for the rubher disks of the phonograph, as it carried the inspiration of their voices to thousands that otherwise they never could reach. He also explained that a rebel hero type for the moving pictures lay somewhere between the wild Western bravado and Ibsen characters, and that a little of both elements he thought would go best as a mixture for young people's entertainment.

Mr. Collier took his audience into his confidence concerning a campaign which has not yet made itself felt publicly, but which, he said, would burst in a few weeks simultaneously from all the larger churches, the office of Commissioner Fosdick, and the larger associations having to do with social problems.

"The moving picture men," said Mr. Collier, "have played a pretty trick upon the public and the law. We said something about it over a year ago, but we found the Alderman very loath to act.

"Now we are going about it in another way. We placed our data in the hands of the Commissioner of Accounts Fosdick, and what we are waiting for now is his report. The instant it is made public the rest of our programme will come into action, and we do not think the Alderman will be as slow to consider the matter as they were before when they could have acted with credit to themselves rather than under the goading of public sentiment that is sure to force them along as soon as the facts become known.

"After the Iroquois fire in Chicago the law makers at Albany framed up a law really intended to make theaters safe and sanitary. But they hadn't taken the moving picture theatre into special consideration, so they made a definition of a theatre which barred those having a seating capacity of less than 300.

"If you were to go through the moving-picture theatres of this town you would find that in almost every case they have managed to keep just within that legal limit. To keep within the limit, in fact, is why there is a moving-picture show house to every block, in some sections, rather than one big show house.

"At Albany, at the City Hall, and throughout the churches of the State, our campaign for more restrictions will open very shortly and will be conducted publicly until things are all that they should be. There are 700 motion picture shows furnishing amusement to 250,000 people a day in New York City."

Elizabeth Williams, head worker of the College Settlement, protested against allowing the "further unscrupulous exploitation by private individuals of the perfectly natural desire of young boys and girls to indulge in dancing." She said that the lack of control over dance halls by any city department was responsible for the sale of liquor in the halls and frequent presence among the dancers of women of the streets.

Title: Ready to Attack the Picture Shows

Periodical: The New York Times

Date: January 28, 1911

Topic: Buffalo Bill on Film

People: Collier, John

Place: New York (N.Y.)

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