Christian Cinema as National Cinema

An excerpt from Anne Morey’s article in the Spring 2011 issue of Letters, the newsletter of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities:

Perhaps above all, the narrative of the installation of enforcement mechanism by 1934 for the Production Code (the film industry’s self-censorship organization) can be read as one in which religion was the solution to an institutional crisis in the film industry. The Production Code represented the failure of liberal Protestant attitudes toward the film industry and the triumph of Catholic approaches to textual regulation…. Religion’s utility to Hollywood continued into the 1960s, with the biblical spectacular forming a reliable product at a moment when audiences had declined by half, as they did between 1948 and 1958, making the economic penalties for misjudging public sentiment considerable. Religious filmmaking even combines with technical innovation; for example, CinemaScope, the widescreen format that was designed to lure adult audiences back into theaters in 1953 debuted in the religious blockbuster The Robe.

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