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Boxoffice-December.20.1952

I 44 LEGISLATURES MEET

I 44 LEGISLATURES MEET IN '53; TAXES. CENSORSHIP TO FORB^ Industry May Take Up Fight to Repeal All State Censoring NEW YORK—What will happen In connection with censorship and taxes are current topics of speculation among exhibitors as opening dates for 44 legislatures approach. Forty-two are scheduled to open in January; one—Florida—in April and two—Alabama and Louisiana—in May. The states that wUl not meet in 1953. unless special sessions are called, are Kentucky, Louisiana. Mississippi and Virginia. Only one of these—Virginia—has state censorship. The cerisoring states are Pennsylvania, Massachu.setls (Sunday only), Kansas, Ohio and New York. Reports have circulated that censorship repeal bills will be introduced in Maryland, Ohio, Kansas, Pennsylvania and New York with indirect MPAA support, but official confirmation is lacking. DIFFER IN MARYLAND Since the Supreme Court decisions in the Gelling and Miracle cases, the attorney general of Maryland has expressed the opinion that present censorship laws there are void, but the chief censor, Sydney Traub, has indicated that he will fight for continuance. Some action by the legislatures is expected. In Massachusetts, where the department of public safety censors films for Sunday showings—which is equivalent to seven-day-aweek censorship—there has been practically no discussion of the po.ssibility of seeking repeal among exhibitors. In Ohio an analogous situation prevails. The chief censor. Dr. Clyde Hissong, is definitely on the defensive. A test case started by the Motion Picture Ass'n of America some months ago resulted in a stalemate. The Ohio law requires that failure to comply with the censors ruling is a misdemeanor to be handled by magistrates courts which have only local jurl.sdiction. A battery of lawyers challenged the censors Theatre TV Wrestling May Get Colorado Tax DENVER—Plans are being laid to present a bin to the Colorado legislature, meeting next month, to tax closed circuit large-screen television of wrestling matches and prize fights. At present only the Paramount In Denver Ls equipped to show .such events. Eddie Bohn, chairman of the state boxing and wrestling commission, wants the state tax to be 5 per cent, the same as now levied on live events. Bohn is afraid that with television of those sporting events in any number, the actual events might pa.ss out of the picture, at lea.st locally, and If such should be the case, the boiird would have no funds to keep Itself going. Chicago Censorship Taken Into Court CHICAGO—The Chicago Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit in circuit court December 23, asking that Chicago's motion picture censorship ordinance be held unconstitutional. The suit results from a ban on the showing in Chicago of "The Miracle," an Italian film. Police Commissioner O'Connor, on recommendation of the police censor board, banned the film on the ground it was immoral and held religion up to ridicule. Mayor Martin Kennelly, on an appeal, upheld O'Connor, but on the ground the film was immoral and obscene. The plaintiffs contended city authorities have the right to act after an improper motion picture has been shown, but that censorship prior to public showing is a violation of constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and of the press. Signers of the complaint were Dean Arthur Cushman McGiffert, head of the Chicago Theological Seminary, as chairman of the Chicago division of the ACLU, and Attorney Charles Liebman. acting as an individual. Liebman holds the rights to exhibit and distribute the film in Chicago territory. power to regulate the content of newsreels on the ground that the reels were entitled to freedom of the press. Martin G. Smith consented to be the central figure in the test case. He showed a newsreel without the censors license and was arrested. Smith won when the local coiu-t ruled the censors were acting beyond their powers, and it was thought that the groundwork for higher court rulings had been laid. After some delay the attorney general refused to take an appeal and this left the ruling applicable only to Toledo. There was some talk among Ohio exhibitors of refusing to pay the censors fees and thus precipitating t6sts in other municipalities, but nothing came of it. They have been paying under protest since then, a technicality that may enable them to collect if some other court nues on the problem. Dr. Hissong has been voluble in defense of censorship since the Toledo incident, but both the MPAA and the Independent Exhibitors Ass'n of Ohio have been silent since that time. There would be no surprise if the problem should reach the legislature in the form of an amendment to the present cen- .sorship law. Some exhibitors favor it, and some don't, the latter basing their objection on the theory that if the $3,000,000 annual income from censorship which is now used for school purposes Is cut off, the legislature might think of some other way for making up the lost revenue. In New York the chief defender of censorship is Charles A. Brind jr., counsel to thl New York state education department, whic has jurisdiction over censorship. He has mad a number of speeches declaring that if stat statutes governing censorship are outlawet he would advocate the licensing of theatre Under his plan, theatres would be licensed i a manner similar to pharmacies and liquc stores, and any theatre showing a film ths violated the state code would have its licens revoked. Some of the exhibitor groups are in favc of staying away from the legislatiu'e excepi as it may become necessary to battle any nc tax plans. New York City is making desperate effoii to increase its revenues and some upstati cities are in the same predicament. This also is the situation in many oth« cities in many other states where exhibit*' groups are watching the development closely without being able to predict what wi happen. Spyros Skouras Back From His World Tour NEW YORK—Spyros P. Skouras, presider of 20th Century-Fox, ended a three-mont round-the-world film survey Wednesday (24 when he returned from Europe by plane. H had left here early in October, going first t the far east, where he visited Honolulu, Ms nila, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Djakarta I jiibitoi Hi :Enili Liiiciissio In and cent in Ik sat tie I Bur Sm( local business situation and met with Indus laliiytesta tryites on coming 20th Century-Fox produc sliediiledft: He also promoted better relationships be tween the U.S. and foreign film industries infe ;ci poii Sintt tnce. ate arefiHiiilr m Mfli liiiu. USEJlSI MdEi t ilites, and hav |M-a bo tlie Natii rmd i M by dii •ii it M Australia, New Zealand and India. He £JsBi4iiteven visited the Korean fighting front. aoD. Ort In Europe, Skouras visited Greece, Ki to ckai native country, Italy, Germany, England Switzerland. At all stopovers he surveyed thKiitiJlieii Plans Congressional Bill To Cut Theatre Taxes WASHINGTON—A bUl to reduce admissio iion i^ly in fi j renials- over IK OS TBI Mceshve tyWd taxes to 10 per cent, to exempt admissioi *tot circle under 60 cents and to bring excise taxe.'^ ger isfd to arbjt erally down to 1939 rate levels will be intn duced m Congress shortly after opening i the 1953 session by Rep. John D. Dingell (I Mich.), it was learned on Friday (19K Dingell said that under the terms of h bill some excises would be repealed entire.| and some reduced. He predicted strong COI gressional support for his bill. U.S. Industry Investments Abroad Total 111 Million WASHINGTON—American investments overseas motion pictiu-es reached $111,600,01 in 1950, according to the Department of Con merce on Tuesday (23t. Slightly over ha $56,400,000, was invested in western Europ $22,900,000 was invested in Canada; $16,400,0' in Latin-America; and $15,500,000 in oth nations around the world. ilie -'Sbiitorsari * to an i iw special n »d to liav "special "' rental rifeiJbcKly !'»' of He e ""or itii. f'Wtivebiii '•aent 5 dea %:tliati ^teinsar. BOXOFFICE :: December 27, 19." lOfFJCE

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