[Censorship in the movies]

Saturday, December 24, 1955

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Starts with the saying, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Thinks that is very sound. Talks about vigilantes. Romantic and necessary in the life in the west, San Francisco. Not the same as watchfully observing and drawing attention to it, which is vigilance. Vigilantes got out of hand and replaced with law and order. Talks about most notable case of Arthur Miller and New York City Youth Board. Drop plans to make a motion picture about the Youth Board's work with street gangs. Withholds the playwright's name - says he is Pulitzer Prizer winner and accused of being disloyal to the republic. No proof of this. Protest was made. AWARE Inc., an anticommunist organization, also protested. Youth Board dropped plans. Usefulness of film would be destroyed. Youth Board's purpose is to undermine street gangs, not determine the loyalty of any individual writer. Merely being accused of something, that person becomes unacceptable. Youth Board denied that they made any accusation. In the process of proving himself innocent, he becomes controversial. The moment he becomes controversial, he becomes unacceptable. No validity but yet it has its due effect. Compares it to what Hitler did. Putting a rival out of business by painting the word "Jew" on their window. Death of a Salesman. Radio and television - if there is no room for an opposing voice then there is not communication in its most fundamental sense. Organizations that attacked Miller: American Legion, Catholic War Veterans, and AWARE. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Will protect the rights of a man considered a Fascist, so long as the issue was civil liberty, not saying that what this man is saying is right. Talks about the book The Man With the Golden Arm being turned into a motion picture. Refused the seal of the MPA. Deals with drug addiction - prohibited under the production code.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70378
Municipal archives id: LT6658

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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