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Youth Is Blamed For Poor Movies
Crowther Sees Few With Exacting Taste
Pointing an accusing finger at juvenile audiences, Bosley Crowther, Motion Picture Editor of the New York Times, in a talk at the Columbia Institute of Arts and Sciences, decried the vast majority of American films as inadequate in quality and taste. "The greater part of a movie audience consists of people under 30 years of age, and the motion picture industry is forced to cater to their desires," explained Mr. Crowther. Contributing to this sad state of affairs are such other factors as excessive standardization on the part of the producing industry, and a near monopolistic control of theater outlets by the Big Five of Hollywood—Warner Brothers, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and R.K.O. Only a marginal group of movie devotees give any evidence of discriminating taste, maintained Mr. Crowther. However, this group is not extensive enough in size to affect the business realities of moviedom, compared with the almost fifty million weekly cifiemaT enthusiasts who will swallow any fare dished out at neighborhood showplaces. Conceding this far from salutary situation, the reviewer noted with regret the influence of the screen on the cultural life of the nation. To illustrate his point, Mr. Crowther referred to a war-time occurance which saw the War Production Board forced to counteract the dangerous influence of Veronica Lake's hair-do on girl machinists by issuing a special short to be appended to all newsreels. Movies are a bit like sports and love, continued Mr. Crowther, pointing out the essential features common to all these pastimes, mainly the derivation of entertainment without necessarily any
greater value, and the fact that no education was necessary to participate in any of these activities. A comparison of the effectiveness of the movie critic, as compared to his counterpart of the .legitimate stage, led Mr. Crowther to.the sad observation that at least in his field the proverbial -"power of the pen was a mere shadow. While a panning by a drama critic will usually suffice to confine a play to deserved oblivion, a poor review of a screen play has no such effects. The reason for this state of affairs was ascribed by the speaker to the youthfulness of the average movie audience, the less substantial price of movie admission, and the fact that the better part of Hollywood's customers' are without the benefit of an adequate movie critic. Mr. Crowther's lecture, entitled "What You Don't Know About The Movies", did not touch upon the current investigation of the industry by the House Unamerican Activities Committee.