THE EARLIEST CENSORSHIP OF FILM CONTENT IN AMERICA: FIRST EDITION OF THE NOVEMBER 1927 ISSUE OF MPAA AUTHOR WILL B. HAYS' TRADE JOURNAL, THE MOTION PICTURE
HAYS, Will H., III. The Motion Picture, Volume III, Number 11. New York: Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, 1927. Very slim quarto, staple-bound as issued, original pictorial self-wrappers; pp. 16. $1350.
First edition of this important issue of The Motion Picture, a scarce film industry trade journal, announcing Hollywood's first "Don'ts" and "Be Carefuls"—a set of censorship restrictions preceding the Hays Code (Motion Picture Production Code) by five years—edited by the president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America and author of the Hays Code, Will H. Hays III.
This issue of The Motion Picture includes the article, "Producers List 11 Themes Which Are Not Now and Won't Be Motion Pictures; 26 Careful Subjects Named." The article announces a sea change in film production: the imposition of "content standards," i.e. censorship. Set forth by the members of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America and the Association of Motion Picture Producers of California, the standards, set forth in a resolution, ban content including profanity, nudity, sex, childbirth, "ridicule of the clergy," as well as anything that may be offensive "to any nation, race or creed." The resolution further sets out 26 themes that can only be used in "good taste," including religion, the use of firearms, safe-cracking, "sympathy for criminals," a man and woman in bed together, surgical operations, law enforcement, and lustful kissing. While this list preceded the Hays Code by several years, the restrictions set forth share Will H. Hays III as an author and very much inspired the Hays Code's final form. Most of the other articles in this issue also concern the new standards. Thus, this issue of The Motion Picture serves as the origin story of film censorship in America.
Tiny marginal tear at top of first few leaves, vertical crease from folding. Near-fine condition. Scarce.