Monday, January 15, 2018

Jennifer Fronc's "Monitoring the Movies," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Monitoring the Movies: The Fight over Film Censorship in Early Twentieth-Century Urban America by Jennifer Fronc.

The entry begins:
Monitoring the Movies: The Fight over Film Censorship in Early Twentieth Century Urban America doesn’t sound like it would make the most exciting movie. But after sitting with the idea for while, I am now convinced that it could work—given a huge budget and the directorial talents of Oliver Stone. Monitoring the Movies would be a period political drama, set in the early 1920s, and the main characters would be the women hired to travel the southern United States, speaking to audiences about the danger that government censorship of motion pictures posed to democracy.

In 1915, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Ohio censorship law; because motion pictures were not considered part of the nation’s press, they were not entitled to First Amendment protections. Following that decision, dozens of state legislatures introduced motion picture censorship legislation, which was largely supported by women, who had recently won the right to vote. In response, a group of activists and organizers in New York City—the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures—set out to fight censorship of movies. W.D. McGuire headed the National Board, and he was passionate about “free speech for the movies.” Liam Neeson will star as McGuire, who was often impatient with the people he was trying to win over. For example, he once asked an audience, “Are we going to say to D.W. Griffith because little Mrs. Smith hasn’t any brains and doesn’t know how to bring up her children, you must present only fairy tales?” Thus, the National Board hired women to speak to audiences of women’s clubs, religious leaders, and local Chambers of Commerce about the wisdom of local, voluntary motion picture regulation. Mary Mason Speed was one of those organizers. She was...[read on]
Learn more about Monitoring the Movies.

My Book, The Movie: Monitoring the Movies.

--Marshal Zeringue