The hold which the ‘cinema habit’ has over the nation is well illustrated by recent figures in connection with the film industry.  In 1935 British audiences totalled 957,000,000, and the average weekly attendance throughout the year was 18,500,000. These huge audiences paid the equally huge sum Of £40,950,000 at the box-office.  While the London postal area alone boasts some 400 picture palaces, the highest proportion of cinemas belongs to the Midlands, and in particular, Lancashire, which has 699 cinemas, providing one seat to every nine of the population. These figures prove if any proof were needed that the cinema is an integral part of modern life.


The estimated capital invested in the industry through out the world is the stupendous sum of £500,000,000, of which £400,000,000 is invested in the United States.  In Great Britain more than half the total population (figures which include aged, infirm and infants) go to the ‘pictures’ every week!  This probably means that at least three-quarters of the adult population see a ‘talkie’ every week of their lives.  And such is the growing popularity of the entertainment that as these words are being written more than 220 additional cinemas are being built in the United Kingdom. In April, 1931, it was calculated that there was a cinema for every ten square miles of England, and that 3,395 were wired for ‘talkies’. Many of these will hold three or four thousand people.  The largest in the world (at Paris) will provide seats for more than 6,000 persons and has two screens, thirty feet and forty feet wide respectively. Some idea of the incredible sums absorbed by the industry is provided by the following figures. The estimated production costs for one year was £40,000,000.  Hollywood’s annual wages bill is £17,000,000, and £20,000,000 is spent every year in advertising alone. It is stated that in the U.S.A. the annual gross takings of the cinemas is £312,000.000 - a return of more than seventy-five per cent. of the capital invested. 235,000 people are employed in the production of motion pictures, and 2000,000 miles of raw film are made every year. 



An analysis of the contents of the 133 feature motion pictures released between the middle of January and the middle of May, 1934 was made by Father D. A. Lord, of St. Louis, and is published by the editorial Council of the Religious Press. He reports 26 plots of episodes built on illicit love; 25 plots or main episodes on seduction; 2 on rape; 1 on incest; 25 characters who are practising, planning or attempting adultery; 3 leading and many incidental characters who are presented as prostitutes; while 35 other major scenes and situations are anti-moral in character. In these same 133 pictures, Father Lord finds 32 murders (5 justified and unpunished, though not committed in self-defence); 5 suicides (3 presented as justified); 17 gangsters or crooks in leading roles; and 27 leading roles filled by criminals other than gangsters. These 133 pictures at this moment on the nation's screens show, therefore: 81 major crimes, not to mention wholesale murders in one super-film and numerous lesser crimes.


The annual report of the Public Morality Council states that in 1934 their film critics reported on 680 films seen at trade shows. In one month out of 104 films 25 contained elements that prevented general commendation, 20 were deemed fair, and 10 were criticized adversely (Times, Dec. 9, 1935). On January 15th last an important deputation, headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, interviewed the Prime Minister, with "a request for the appointment of a government committee to inquire into the conditions of administration in respect of the censorship of entertainment films."  The Archbishop called attention to the potent influence of the cinema on the public, nearly 20,000,000 of whom went to the cinema each week.  Sir Charles Grant Robertson said that "His fundamental submission was the unsatisfactory and disquieting character of the situation with regard to recreation and entertainment films as represented by the results of the censorship.  At least 25 per cent. of those that had passed the censor were, for one reason or another, unsatisfactory and in many cases really demoralizing.  These figures were supported by the independent statement recently of the Bishop of Croydon, whose cinema censorship for Sunday films revealed that in twelve months something like 200 unsatisfactory films making a special feature of crime, cruelty, and loose morality had been eliminated for Sunday showing by that Committee, on which the trade had representation. What was happening in Croydon was what was happening in every area and particularly the densely populated industrial areas throughout Great Britain."


Mr. Adams, who claims "a greater, more all-round, and, perhaps, a more successful association with, and knowledge of, the Cinema business in all its many ramifications, than any other man," bears this testimony against the modern Cinema:- "Backed by that knowledge and experience, I maintain, without fear of serious contradiction, that the present-day type of film, with sex and crime appeal predominating, is definitely undermining the moral tone of the youth of our nation and doing irreparable harm which will take generations of effort to eliminate.  The uplifting, educative, harmlessly amusing and entertaining film of a few years ago is all but a thing of the past.  Film producers (having learnt that the nearer the knuckle the subject the greater ‘the draw’ and so the profits) expend almost their entire talent and resources on the production of film that panders to modern craving."


As Mr. G. A. Atkinson, one of the most reliable British film critics, declares:- "Talking pictures have stripped woman, not only of clothing, but of morals, decency, truth, fidelity, and every civilized quality or virtue.  Women, according to the film producer, represent nothing but the most primitive and elemental aspects of sex.  Behind the whole of current film production there is the terrific assumption that what appeals to women is the spectacle of the lowest type of woman snaring the lowest type of man.  The truth about the ‘talkies’ is that they are produced in a non-moral atmosphere which is, in the strictest and most literal sense, diabolical.  The devil is in full, spiritual control of modern film production.  Nearly all the energies of this terrific engine of propaganda are devoted to anti-Christian ends."


What strikes me about such films as I have seen is their hideous and profound vulgarity: human nature is made loathsome and degraded. The silly part of the audience titters; they have come to be amused; they do not discriminate; and they go out with their sense of the value of human nature lowered each time. Such humanity as these films depict would not be worth saving, could have no future, might as well be destroyed as the failure of Creation, the only quite ignoble thing alive on the earth.  - PROFESSOR PERCY DEARMER, D.D.


One of the greatest handicaps to mission activities to-day is the factor of motion pictures, the seriousness of which is seldom realized by Christians of the West.  The missionaries go to the Far East to preach the Gospel of Christ which brings purity, goodwill and peace; whereas the influence of most motion pictures in Asia is to spread violence, crime and vice.  The motion pictures are popular with the natives and it is not an exaggeration to say that foreign movies, within a few years in the Far East, have done more to modify the ideas and conduct of the Orientals than missionaries have done through the past century.  In China, for example, there are more than 700 foreign pictures imported annually, of which about 90 per cent are products of Hollywood.  Most missionaries agree that American movies are the great stumbling blocks hindering the advancement of the Kingdom of God. 

- SAMUEL KINGGAM in The Missionary Review of the World.


In face of the greatest peril that has ever attacked the moral and spiritual well-being of the nations the Churches seem to be indifferent. Untrustworthy sentries, they are sleeping at their posts. Parsons prate self-satisfiedly about the social benefits of the cinema, urging that pictures which sedulously preach drinking habits prevent drunkenness by keeping people out of the public-houses. - R. G. BURNETT.