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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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The Worst That Could Happen

The Worst That Could Happen

A Catholic Legion of “Decency”

(p.93) 6 The Worst That Could Happen
Reforming Hollywood

William D. Romanowski

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the effect that Hollywood’s cooperation with Catholics had on both the film industry and the Protestant establishment. In 1934 Catholic prelates announced that they were organizing a Legion of Decency to take action against immoral movies. By empowering Catholics, Hays had strategically outflanked his co-religionists and also showed that the real threat to the industry was not censorship, but the breakup of the studios’ profitable oligopoly. Federal Council leaders initially aligned themselves with their religious rivals in hope that a united front might finally lead to genuine reform, but ultimately refused to employ the bishops’ strategies and coerce producers under threat of boycott. Furthermore, persistent Protestant efforts to dismantle the studio monopoly made them Hollywood’s foes and derailed any joint Protestant-Catholic endeavors.

Keywords:   Legion of Decency, studio monopoly, co-religionists, reform

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