Examining Our Filmic Conscience
QUESTIONS FOR FILM FANS TO ANSWER
From IRIS CONLAY, Catholic Herald Film Critic I wish I knew why readers of this column go to the cinema—or even why they read this column, then perhaps 1 should be able to understand why Catholics in this country are completely inarticulate about their feelings for cinema entertainment.. During the last few weeks France has given us the example of a Catholic film congress (vide Catholic Herald, August 13) and Ireland is agitating for a Catholic film industry (vide Catholic Herald, August 20), American Catholics have always been cinema-conscious, but England has always been dumb.
It is clear enough that such an organisation as the French Catholic Cinema League, which very nearly dictates to the industry of that country (reading scripts before production, etc.), would be quite unacceptable and superfluous over here. Equally impractical and useless in England seems such a proposition as the Irish one of setting up special Catholic production units and cinemas.
Let Us Speak
Nothing remote or expensive or difficult is needed, merely a statement of opinion is enough. Some indication of our likes and dislikes about films expressed clearly and simply so that, for the first time since films began, the producers and ourselves can get together with understanding instead of suspicion.
To date it has been a state of misunderstanding between the industry and the Catholic patron. The industry is too hasty in taking for granted that it is impossible to please any Catholics anyhow—so why bother to appeal to them at all, and the Catholic patron is inclined to regard the whole picture-making business as suspect because of a few films that stick in his mind as shady. And so in this persisting attitude of mind never the twain shall meet. All so unhelpful.
For this reason, I thought to myself that an examination of our filmic conscience might be a helpful beginning—a kind of indication of which way the land lies from our readers to the industry. So now we're off . . . a TOW of questions to be answered is appended above and any original comments on relevant questions are welcomed.
Send in your opinions to me (Iris Conlay, Catholic Herald, 110, Fleet Street, E.C.4) and the industry shall hear your voice.
By way of basis for the answering of these questions it would not be out of place to re-quote the Holy Father who took a bold line on the film question with the publication of last year's encyclical Vigilante Cura.
While he has said that " the more marvellous the progress of the motion picture . . the more pernicious and deadly has it shown itself to morality and to religion," he has also acknowledged the enormous influence of American Catholic Action (in the shape of the Legion of Decency) which has caused " the motion picture to show an improvement from the moral standpoint. Crime and vice are portrayed less frequently, sin is no longer so openly approved and acclaimed, false ideals of life are no longer presented in so flagrant a manner to the impressionable minds of youth."
Upon the necessity of being businesslike Pope Pius also discourses. Suggesting the possibility of setting up producing units which should " entirely meet the needs of education and the requirements of the Christian conscience" he implores that "full use should be made of the technical ability of experts, not permitting the waste of effort and of money by the employment of amateurs," The Holy Father's pronouncements clearly have no retrogressive influence upon the cinema.
Starring a Voice
Grace Moore is back again in an unworthy story called For You Alone, in which her voice is still the star rather than herself. Instead of For You Alone the film might more sensibly be called Opera Singer Debunked. since Grace becomes almost Gracie, wears a nice fitting pair of slacks and sings Minnie the Moocher. At the Tivoli Cinema.
The new little Berkeley, which started off its Continental picture career with the brilliant German Der Herrscher. has now changed over to another German production A Castle in Flanders, with Marta Eggerth leading. The story is thin, but, as in Grace Moore's new film, it only acts as an excuse for some lovely voice production on the part of Marta Eggerth.
Unconscious humour proceeds from the stiff heel-clicking of German actors dolled up as the English officers encamped during the war in a Dutch castle.
Its slow, sympathetic development is something to appreciate, however.