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Reforming HollywoodHow American Protestants Fought for Freedom at the Movies$
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William D. Romanowski

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195387841

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195387841.001.0001

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Reforming the Movies

Reforming the Movies

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

(p.13) 1 Reforming the Movies
Reforming Hollywood

William D. Romanowski

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes Protestant movie reform as an effort to counteract any negative influence and turn the cinema into an ally of home, school, and church. To both fend off legal censorship and expand its prospects with middle-class audiences, in 1909 the film industry empowered the National Board of Censorship (later Review) of Motion Pictures to enlist a group of New York’s cultural custodians to sign off on movies for general consumption. Though ecumenical, the National Board’s membership was heavily Protestant. The Board was eventually stymied by its conflicting purposes. In effect censoring movies to protect the industry from legal censorship, the Board was unable to maintain a broad enough consensus on standards to adequately reflect diverse public opinion.

Keywords:   legal censorship, public opinion, Protestant movie reform, middle-class audiences

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