Censorship of Motion Pictures

April 12, 1950

Report Outline
Puplic Concern Over Morals of the Movies
Private Pressures and Public Censorship
Free Speech vs. Censorship for Films

Puplic Concern Over Morals of the Movies

The affair of Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman and Italian director Roberto Rossellini, following by only a few months the premarital vagabonding of Rita Hayworth with Aly Khan and the jailing of actor Robert Mitchum on narcotic charges, has provoked demands that the motion picture industry either clean house voluntarily or be subjected to federal regulation. The content of film dramas is governed by a self-imposed production code, but motion picture companies profess reluctance to interfere with the private lives of screen personalities by requiring conformance to a code of personal behavior. Critics of the industry express concern over the influence on public morals of scan-dais involving movie stars and the exploitation of those scandals to bring business to the box office.

Current Criticism of Morals of the Movies

Leadership in current attacks on morals of the movies has been taken by Sen. Johnson (D., Col.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, He has voiced particular outrage over the extravagant publicity which accompanied the premiere of Stromboli on Feb. 15, two weeks after the birth in Rome of the baby fathered by Rossellini. In a speech on the Senate floor, Mar. 14, Johnson raised the question:

Now that the stupid film about a pregnant woman and a volcano has exploited America with the usual finesse, to the mutual delight of RKO and the debased Rossellini, are we merely to yawn wearily, greatly relieved that this hideous thing is finished, and then forget it? I hope not. A way must be found to protect the people in the future against that kind of gyp.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Apr. 16, 2004  Broadcast Indecency
Mar. 28, 2003  Movie Ratings
Nov. 17, 1995  Sex, Violence and the Media
Feb. 19, 1993  School Censorship
Dec. 20, 1991  The Obscenity Debate
Dec. 07, 1990  Does Cable TV Need More Regulation?
May 16, 1986  Pornography
Jan. 04, 1985  The Modern First Amendment
Oct. 19, 1979  Pornography Business Upsurge
Mar. 09, 1979  Broadcasting's Deregulated Future
Mar. 21, 1973  Pornography Control
May 17, 1972  Violence in the Media
Jan. 21, 1970  First Amendment and Mass Media
Jul. 05, 1967  Prosecution and the Press
Jun. 28, 1961  Peacetime Censorship
Apr. 12, 1961  Censorship of Movies and TV
Dec. 23, 1959  Regulation of Television
Jul. 29, 1959  Control of Obscenity
Jul. 27, 1955  Bad Influences on Youth
Mar. 21, 1952  Policing the Comics
Apr. 12, 1950  Censorship of Motion Pictures
Sep. 20, 1939  Censorship of Press and Radio
Movies and Entertainment
Regulation and Legal Issues