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Censure of the film Blackboard Jungle at the Venice Film Festival

Sunday, October 02, 1955

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

Gilbert Seldes discusses the censure of "Blackboard Jungle." He speaks of Ambassador Clare Booth Luce's role in the film being withdrawn from the Venice Film Festival. It was reported that Luce disagreed with the screening of the film because it showed the United States in an unfavorable light, he reports on conflicting accounts of whether Luce asked for the film to be withdrawn or simply refused to view the film at the festival.


Seldes goes on to discuss the film studio's response that they take pride in showing films that expose America's shortcomings; Seldes believes that this is not the role of the studios and that they are not capable of exhibiting the subtlety of these types of situations.


Seldes then goes on to discuss term "lively arts" - filmed opera, he refuses to call one of the "lively arts."


Seldes then announces the Museum of Modern Art's drive to preserve it's film library. He mentions their announcement of tri-acetate film, which will "allow film to be preserved indefinitely." They will raise money by showing recently acquired films. He speaks also of some very early films he recently viewed.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 70352
Municipal archives id: LT6375

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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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