Silent Serials Subject to Censorship?
Posted August 15, 2016on:
I’m researching the 1928 Weiss Brothers-Artclass Pictures serial, “The Mysterious Airman.” It’s the only silent Artclass serial that survives in its complete form – complete except for Chapter 9, Reel 1.
All I had on the missing reel are records from New York Motion Picture Commission (then part of the State of New York Education Dept.), which was little more than a censor board.
A number of states had movie censor boards. As late as 1970 I recall seeing “Airport” (1970) in Baltimore, complete with a spliced on 1950s-looking black and white (spread out to Cinemascope) censor seal.
Between 1921 and 1965, distributors were required to submit all feature films, serials (each chapter had to be applied for separately), shorts, cartoons and newsreels to the Commission for screening. Objectionable scenes had to be cut from the prints before a license to exhibit in New York would be granted.
As you’ll see, the censors demanded “views of a machine gun” cut before a license would be granted, Reason? “…they will tend to ‘incite crime!’”