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Author Topic: Manitoba Censor Board
snopes
Return! Return! Return!


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Comment: I've found multiple references, all online, to this rumor, and now,
darn it, it's just gone too far.

Rumor: In 1918, the Manitoba Censor Board banned all comedies because they made people "too frivolous."

Official histories that I've found of the Board don't seem to mention
this, however, and my instinct is that it's nonsense, but Canada did
perform some pretty crazy bans and disenfranchisements as a result of WWI.

Can you tell me any better?

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Brad from Georgia
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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This sounds a little like a story alleged to have been told by various great Shakespearean actors. His troupe toured Scotland, and in Glasgow they put on one of the Bard's best comedies, one that the troupe had performed to gales of laughter all over the British Isles.

The audience sat there glowering, silent as a bunch of rocks.

The dispirited cast went to a local pub after the disastrous performance. A local came up and complemented them on the fine show.

The actor blinks and asks, "Did the people really like it?"

And the local says, "Och, aye! 'Twas a bonnie fine show! Why, 'twas all we could do not to laugh out loud."

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SiKboy
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Brad from Georgia:

And the local says, "Och, aye! 'Twas a bonnie fine show! Why, 'twas all we could do not to laugh out loud."

It should be easy to prove or disprove this one, as the "local" has to either be Oor Wullie or Pa Broon, as no-one else in glasgow has talked like that for at least a century. So all we have Braw Bricht moonlight nicht, my bum. [Razz]

To continue the hijack, a few months ago I bought a stand up comedy DVD (Stewart Lee if you are interested), and the back of the DVD said "Recorded in the notoriously comedy-hostile city of glasgow", which is a stereotype I didnt even know existed.

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VeebleFetzer
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by SiKboy:
quote:
Originally posted by Brad from Georgia:

And the local says, "Och, aye! 'Twas a bonnie fine show! Why, 'twas all we could do not to laugh out loud."

It should be easy to prove or disprove this one, as the "local" has to either be Oor Wullie or Pa Broon, as no-one else in glasgow has talked like that for at least a century. So all we have Braw Bricht moonlight nicht, my bum. [Razz]

To continue the hijack, a few months ago I bought a stand up comedy DVD (Stewart Lee if you are interested), and the back of the DVD said "Recorded in the notoriously comedy-hostile city of glasgow", which is a stereotype I didnt even know existed.

Well, Brad never said it was a recent story. Theatrical tales like that have a long shelf-life – think of luvvie-bores like John Sessions or Ned Sherrin, who at the drop of a hat will regale anyone who'll listen with anecdotes that go back centuries.

Re the DVD blurb, though: in the days of variety, Glasgow certainly used to be considered the toughest gig by English comedians.

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Brad from Georgia
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Yep, the tale comes from the nineteenth century, though I've heard it told of Sir Donald Wolfitt, back in the 1930s.

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"No hard feelin's and HOPpy New Year!"--Walt Kelly
Hear what you're missing: ARTC podcasts! http://artcpodcast.org/

Posts: 7581 | From: Gainesville, Georgia | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Kathy B
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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To further hijack, There is the verified story of Scots playwirght John Home (1722-1808).
quote:
By 1749, he had written his first play, Agis, which was rejected by Garrick of Drury Lane, who also turned down Home's next work, The Douglas, declaring it "totally unfit for the stage". However, it was performed in Edinburgh in December, 1756, and took the place by storm, provoking the memorable audience cry: "Whaur's your Wullie Shakespeare noo?"
From teh official history
quote:
Film censorship started in Manitoba in 1911 when “An Act to Regulate Moving Picture Exhibitions” was passed and since Winnipeg was the only centre showing film, film censorship was delegated to the City of Winnipeg.
[snip]
The Manitoba Censor Board was established in 1916 when other centres started to show film. The board was established by the "Public Amusements Act" which was assented to on March 10, 1916. From 1916 to 1934 the Manitoba Censor Board, regulated by the Public Amusements Act and later the Amusements Act, fell under the Treasury Department. The Censor Board formed part of the section devoted to collecting the amusement taxes. Criticism developed due to the fact that the film taxing body also had the responsibility for the censorship of film.
In the early years of the board only two classifications, General and Adult, were used. All audiences could attend all films. There was no restriction on attendance because if what the board thought undesirable could not be removed by editing, the film was banned.

I'd contact these folks ot get the scoop Manitoba Historical Society

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TwoGuyswithaHat
Happy Holly Days


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I wouldn't be overly surprised if this was the case, as the Manitoba Film Board has made some pretty harsh pronouncements of late. I was working in Northern Manitoba in 2002 when Sum 41 released their album "Does this Look Infected?" The CD came with a bonus DVD that the Manitoba Film Board had declared to be indecent and rated it NC-17, for in their words "bums and boobies."

Of course being the 21 year old I was, this made me want to buy the CD just for that X rated feature. Sadly, the DVD contained nothing of the sort.

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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Rumor: In 1918, the Manitoba Censor Board banned all comedies because they made people "too frivolous."
I haven't found in Manitoba newspapers of the period any particular condemnations of comedies for frivolousness specifically and no mention exactly of wholesale banning of comedies, but the Manitoba censor board certainly was in the news in 1918 and 1919 for perhaps overzealous interpretation of local standards, especially –- it appears -- with regard to slap stick.

On 21 January 1918 The Manitoba Free Press (Winnipeg) reported:

quote:
"Funny" Stuff Banned by Censors -- The Manitoba censor board, during the past fortnight, has condemned outright 18 reels of pictures, all but one or two being comedies. On account of this action of the board, it is stated, the exchange men here, who bring all pictures to Manitoba and Saskatchewan, have announced that they will bring no comedies after March 1. (Pg. 13)
(I see that this page holds that on 22 January 1918 "[t]he Manitoba movie censor board bans comedies, claiming they make audiences too frivolous." I haven't been able to find reference to the grounds on which these films were banned.)

On 23 February 1918 the Free Press further reported on the reaction of the Canadian Film Exchange Managers' Association to the Censor Board's seemingly constant rejection of comedies [1]. The organization threatened to send not a single comedy into Manitoba after 4 March; this action, the newspaper speculated, could cause the closing of all 80 movie houses in the province since these businesses were entirely dependent on the CFEMA for the distribution of films into the province.

The association demanded that the provincial censor board, which then consisted of two women and one man, be composed of a one-man board (whether that's literally one man, I don't know). Moreover, the association sought the formation of an appeal board composed of volunteers from various Winnipeg civic organizations. Should the Provincial Treasurer, whose office was in charge of the Manitoba's "amusements department," reject this proposal the association threatened -- "acting under orders from the producers of their brand of pictures" -- to withdraw its office from Manitoba.

The article closes with this (emphasis mine),

quote:
The present status of the motion picture business in the province has been brought about through the feeling among the exchange men that the provincial censor board has been for a long time unreasonable as regards to films which have been brought, especially as regards the comedies. The film men assert that the majority of comedies submitted to the censors have been rejected in their entirety and that always the reason given on the rejection slip as "Vulgar and suggestive." They hold that the pictures are neither vulgar nor suggestive, at least in the majority of cases where they have been condemned.
On 4 October 1919, the writer of the paper's "Heard around Picture Houses" column further complained that,

quote:
The Manitoba Moving Picture Censor board members are accepting their work very seriously these days. Many pictures are being condemned, many cut so that the interest in them is largely lost, while there seems to be a determined attempt to cut out practically all of what is termed "slap stick" comedy. Charles Chaplin, the greatest comedian from a popular audience standpoint on the screen today, is a past master of slap stick.

Things are getting into such a state that the time has about arrived for a conference between the censor board and the powers over them, and the exhibitors and exchange men. A talk with the latter this week indicated that the censor board has no friends amongst exhibitors or exchange men. A year ago they had. Severity of treatment is the cause. Men who have large investments in theatres and film exchanges, after a long period of slow business are worthy of sympathetic treatment, and should not be the victims of too autocratic rulings. [Pg. 31]

Maybe there was an underlying complaint about comedies, particular slap stick films, and their seeming frivolity, especially in comparison with movies about the war, which the Censor Board during this same period had also been reviewing and, in contrast, approving for display before audiences in Manitoba. But I haven't found that frivolousness was given as a cause for denial.

It'll obviously be interesting to see what Kathy hears from the Manitoba Historical Society.

-- Bonnie

[1] "Crisis in Movie World in Manitoba; Film Exchanges, Annoyed at Censoring, Are Threatening to Quit the Province," Pg. 32.

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Jenn
Layaway in a Manger


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I sent an email to the Manitoba Film Classifications Board (formerly the Manitoba Censor Board) asking about this one and I just received a reply. The man who replied could not confirm the rumour because:

quote:
All of the old files pertaining to the board are currently found in the Manitoba Archives. They are not indexed but some of the kind of information you are looking for might be available if you are willing to spend the time looking through the old Manitoba Censor Board files.
Which actually does sounds like fun, but I'm not in Winnipeg.

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