Motion Pictures

Like any new form of media, motion pictures were quickly subject to all kinds of wild accusations. They were blamed for juvenile crime, corrupted morals, weakened minds, and ruined eyesight. Here are some of our favorite early reactions to motion pictures.

Dancing Eyes, Menace of The “Movies”

St Louis Post-Dispatch  | February 2nd, 1913

Since 1900 he has carefully watched the effects of motion pictures on the vision of New York. Some of his conclusions are: That hald, or even more, of the city’s vision has proved unequal to the strain. That the “moving picture eye” is already a well developed optical phenomenon. That, in the course of time, the eye may adapt itself to this new experience, making the influence of the motion picture an ineradical part of eye history.


Moving Picture Eye

The Weekly Messenger  | October 16th, 1909

New Disease Attacks Those Slaves to the New Habit

Dallas occultists and opticians are up against the latest. They call it “the moving-picture eye.” For days past they have been worried with applications for treatment by boys and girls, with some strange affliction of the eyes. All the patients complained that there was a “fluttering” kind of effect before their gaze, which they could not explain.


Moving Picture Eye New Flaw in Race

Delaware County Daily Times | April 11th, 1913

Have you the moving picture eye? It isn’t a kind of monocle or a fashionable stare, nor is it a new color in orbs to match lorgnettes. It’s a feeling induced by an hour’s vigil before the white sheet on which the bandit’s bride rushes through three reels of hectic adventures, or an Egyptian mummy indulges in highly colored love affairs.


Morals of Youth

The Age | October 8th, 1913

Do Moving Pictures Injure Them? 

D o moving pictures exercise a pernicious influence on the morals of the young? This is the interesting question on which the Chief Secretary recently called for reports from specially selected police officers.


Films Weaken Mind of Movie Goer

The New York Times | December 18th, 1925

Dr. Sanger Brown finds normal mental power lessened by screen impressions. Sees bad effect on young. Head of State Commission believes crimes of subnormal persons may be traced to movies.


Pictures Can Corrupt Youth

The New York Times | December 5th, 1922

Censorship of motion pictures but not of books was advocated by Dr. J. Duncan Spaeth, Professor of English at Princeton University, in a lecture before the League for Political Education at the Town Hall yesterday morning.


American Films Blamed

The New York Times | January 26th, 1932

Some of today’s newspapers laid part of the responsibility for yesterday’s riots at Dartmoor Prison to recent outbreaks in American prisons, accounts of which had been communicated to long-term prisoners by newcomers. The Daily Herald, in an article signed “By a Released Dartmoor Convict,” out some of the blame on American motion pictures which dramatized prison revolt.


Effect of Movies on Child Found Bad

The New York Times | May 27th, 1933

Motion pictures exert a profound influence on the habits and behavior of children and are in conflict with the teachings of the school, home and church. This was the conclusion of twenty psychologists and sociologists who have completed a four-year-study under the auspices of the Motion Picture Research Council.

Executives Doubt Films Hurt Youth

The New York Times | June 18th, 1955

Motion picture industry spokesmen inferentially cast doubt at a Senate inquiry today that films contributed to juvenile delinquency. They professed no detailed sociological knowledge on the question. But they said that movies had stayed far behind virtually all other media of mass communication in a trend toward relaxation of erstwhile taboos.


What’s the Point of Technicolor?

The Pittsburgh Press | August 30th, 1939

One of the favorite arguments of those who are still not converted to technicolor is the known fact that a picture’s being rendered in this lovely new medium adds not one iota to its sales value. They point with pride to the outstanding pictures of this and former years, and say, “Why go to the expense of technicolor when the box office on these others has been so satisfactory?”


Opposition to Sound Film

The New York Times  | October 21st, 1928

In my humble opinion, the motion picture, joined with the cheap novelty of the “talking film,” is about to commit suicide as a popular form of entertainment. I suppose that sounds like heterodoxy, but it is high time some one played the devil’s disciple in the interest of an art just blossoming into maturity before it was struck by this blight of sound and fury. 


Picture Shows Corrupt Children

The New York Times  | December 24th, 1908

Is a man at liberty to make money from the morals of people? Is he to profit from the corruption of the minds of children? The man who profits from such things is doomed to double damnation.


Crime Movies Assailed

The New York Times  | February 13th, 1958

Representative H. Allen Smith asked Congress today to investigate what he called “the current wave” of crime movies portraying notorious killers in a favorable light. The California Republican said such films could be largely responsible for the wave of juvenile crime and vandalism that is sweeping some areas. 


Motion Picture Problems

Lawrence Journal-World  | July 12th, 1933

The meeting held in Lawrence yesterday to discuss the problems of the motion pictures was one of a number called in various parts of the state. They were not primarily concerned with the business aspects of the film industry but with the effects of the pictures upon the “consumers”, particularly the children whose notions of the world in which they live are shaped to a great degree by what they see and hear in the theatres.


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