Sin and Censorship by Frank Walsh
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Sin and Censorship
By Frank Walsh

Sin and Censorship

The Catholic Church and the Motion Picture Industry

By (author) See other recent books by Frank Walsh
Format: Hardback

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Sin and Censorship by Frank Walsh

Book Description

During World War I, the Catholic church blocked the distribution of government-sponsored V.D. prevention films, initiating an era of attempts by the church to censor the movie industry. This book is an entertaining and engrossing account of those efforts-how they evolved, what effect they had on the movie industry, and why they were eventually abandoned.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780300063738
ISBN-10: 0300063733
Format: Hardback
(234mm x 156mm x 23mm)
Pages: 424
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publish Date: 27-Mar-1996
Country of Publication: United States


US Kirkus Review » A humorous but critical portrayal of the Catholic Church's censorship of Hollywood movies from WW I to the present. Walsh (History/Univ. of Mass., Lowell) traces the formation and activities of the Legion of Decency, the powerful film review board that rose within American Catholic ranks in the 1930s. One of Walsh's primary contributions is to demonstrate that the Legion did not, as it seemed at the time, burst out of nowhere in 1931 to become a prime mover in Hollywood. American Catholics had been flexing their censorship muscles ever since WW I, when two public health shorts about venereal disease sparked serious controversy. From the 1930s to the 1960s, the Legion of Decency reigned as the studios' most influential censor, seeking to eliminate nearly all film references to pregnancy, childbirth, abortion, and even divorce. Walsh tells this story in an engaging, often sardonic fashion, a kind of behind-the-scenes romp through the cutting floors of Hollywood history. He paints vivid portraits of the legendary studio executives, directors, and producers, as well as the lesser-known censors of the Legion and other review boards. But the book's most obvious fault lies with its subjectivity: Walsh admits that he is very reluctant to endorse any ecclesiastically motivated censorship. This honesty is refreshing, but it does little to mitigate the sometimes harsh tone of the narrative. Walsh has a tendency to see the Catholic Church as a monolithic and institutionally static entity during the decades in question, although he quite ably documents Catholic demographic changes that led to the Legion's demise in the 1960s. Walsh dramatically highlights tensions between Catholic dogma and Hollywood glitter, but greater insight into the Church would have given this study more weight. (Kirkus Reviews)

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