From IRIS CONLAY, Catholic' Herald Film Critic The fare for film goers has been a little meagre this week. The Empire runs a comedy, The Man in Possession, and the London Pavilion, Jump for Glory, a melodrama with a happy ending. Neither of these reaches any high levels in spite of the star names of Jean Harlow and Robert Taylor in the Empire show and Douglas Fairbanks, junior. at the London Pavilion— personally I preferred the busman's holiday I took at the Forum to see an old Marx Brothers' film of early vintage.
Meanwhile two of our correspondents abroad have mailed me of the cinema situations in the parts of the world from which they write.
Our German correspondent first:—
Cinema Enthusiasm Up
If the frequency of cinema visits expresses, to a certain extent, the degree of material well-being, it may be interesting to learn that the German statistics quoted 305 millions of cinema visits last year, That is considerably more than in 1933, when the figure was 247 millions only, considerably less, however, than in 1928, when it was 353 millions.
That means almost 4+ cinema visits a year per head of the population, while, according to the Volkischcr Beobachter, the Frenchman goes on an average 9 times a year to the cinema, and the Eng lishman as often as 22. The English, therefore, are five times as fond of pictures as the Germans.
There are 5.302 cinema theatres in Germany, and they have together 1,943,049 seats. That means that Germany has more cinemas than Great Britain or France, but that they are smaller and less well attended.
As to the number of radio licences. Germany continues to hold the European record_ In January, 1937, a new increase of 213,000 sets was registered, so that on February 1 the Reich counted 8,381,139 licences.
Censorship Not Enough
Our Dublin correspondent deals with constructive uses of the cinema in Ireland and complains that censorship is not enough. His is a plea for the cultural cinema. He writes :— Father Richard Devane, S.J,. one of the most highly expert of our writers on social problems, especially those connected with moral evils, has published art important letter on the cinema question.
The National Teachers and the Gaelic League in conference have called for action to check juvenile attendance at debasing and denationalising shows, but Fr. Devanc points out that juvenile cinemas cannot be established in the small towns, where attendances arc not on city scale, He appeals for a thorough investigation by the State, and says; "If a committee representative of the Church, the language, art, education (primary, secondary and university), drama, medicine, agriculture, industry, labour, the cinema and such like, together with representatives of some of the Ministries, were appointed to study the Cinema in its relation to the life of the nation, their first duty would be to send out a carefully-drafted questionnaire to various foreign governments asking for detailed information as to how they dealt with certain specified film problems. The Cinema Institute under the League of Nations could give very valuable subsidiary help.
Producers Could Co-operate
" The next step would be to ask the producers in several European countries to give information as to how and under what conditions they would be prepared to supply us with suitable films. The importation of such films might be, in some cases or to some extent, counterbalanced by the export of Irish goods or produce.
"As regards the utilisation of the cinema as an instrument of education, the makers of school machines or travelling cinema outfits would naturally be
only too glad to send representatives to demonstrate their use. In this proposal I envisage not only the ordinary schools, but also, and especially, the technical and vocational schools; I also include adult education as regards agriculture, public health, child-welfare, housing, etc. — the operators using the rural schools or village halls as exhibition centres.
Early Investigation Needed
" The sooner the enquiry is set up the sooner shall we advance towards the position of regarding the cinema, not as something suspect or as an enemy, but as a powerful instrument in the cultural development of our Ieople.
"I think that I do not err when I say that we are one of the very few European nations who regard the cinema as a mere plaything or as a gift from the powers of evil. and as a consequence we have done nothing positively and constructively to use it as we should. Censorship, though necessary, is Ina a negative attitude, the enquiry which I suggest is absolutely necessary if constructive action on wide national lines is to take place."
This is a practical letter which corrects some common errors.
Enemies of the cinema in Ireland judge it as they find it—shoddy, vulgar and base.
We do not see it at its best. Who is to blame? Is it the chain of owners in a byno-means native industry?—or is it the city public. which simply does not attend a good show, but crowds the houses for risky films?