1927 December 15

Authors League, Hollywood Reach Voluntary Censorship Agreement


The Authors League, representing leading American authors, on this day reached an agreement with Hollywood producers for voluntary censorship of film scripts. Under the agreement, whenever a Hollywood film company received an offer for a book that it deemed “unsuitable for the screen,” the author would have the right to appear before an investigative committee and present his or her argument on why the book should not be rejected as a movie. If the book is still rejected, the author would have the right to prepare a new version with the objectionable material removed. If the new version was accepted, it would not be advertised as being connected with the original book, so as to not “mislead theatergoers.”

In retrospect, it is remarkable that a group representing the leading authors in the U.S. would agree to any prior censorship arrangement.

Learn more at a timeline of movie censorship: https://www.aclu.org/files/multimedia/censorshiptimeline.html

Read: Frank Walsh, Sin and Censorship: The Catholic Church and the Motion Picture Industry (1996)

Watch clips of “pre-Code” (that is, pre-1934) Hollywood films: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81DwZgieHmg

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