[Why people will go to see a bad movie faster than a good one]

Gilbert Seldes, circa 1962

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

Gilbert Seldes reads a 30-year-old letter to him by Arthur L. Mayer - an important figure in motion pictures. The Gold Rush was almost a flop but The Freshman was pulling in more money. Not because the Gold Rush is not a good movie, but because "the average movie audience reared on trash and tawdriness will reject the superior for the inferior." He talks about a month-old piece called "Myths, movies and maturity." Seldes believes there has been a raising of the level since that time. Also true that since there is a large amount of movies, a large amount of them of them will be trashy. There has been a large drop in audience attendance.

Television using the movies. An old saying, "nothing could keep a man home at night except a dame." Old movies are now available on television. General Sarnoff, head of RCA, had warned television that it can not become another distribution arm for the picture business. But that is what seems about to occur. Disney was getting paid relatively little. A short picture like The Three Little Pigs would draw more people than the feature did. Thought of television as away to circumvent the movie houses.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 64353
Municipal archives id: LT7527