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Do you think you have absurd situation at some sap and some kind of a PITA salad out the right model for putting out a very serious magazine on the highest level about sexology and so on well I mean none of this is really. Bad. And yet I had no rights. Why shouldn't have to be in jail. You haven't been putting out a magazine and 20 other magazines that will write the program to begin with. You are listening to McDonald on film. During the past decade Mr MacDonald has been perhaps the senior critic among American film critics and during this past year he was distinguished visiting professor of film history and criticism at the University of Texas. These programs were drawn from that lecture series the topic for this program is
making a movie and censorship. And now once again here is Dr. MacDonald First of all on dubbing it seems that in the 70s think anyone cities where there was a more sophisticated audience. Namely New York City Los Angeles San Francisco and probably Chicago that films are not shown. But I have the idea that for all other parts of the United States that they have to dump them. Maybe there's something in this and box office times I really don't know. But anyway I did problem with dumping the crowd who has been leading the same crusade to have more dubbing trouble dubbing. It's not a question of matching the lip movements to the voice that can be done fairly easily and it's not even a question of getting fairly good actors to read the plot. Problem is that the voice never really fits. And the reason
it doesn't fit is of course because it's not the voice of the well tunes and not the voice of the actor that type in the voluntas going in and secondly it's of course in a different language. And so this one is about a different language you see. Well now you have to have some kind of an accent. One isn't so aware of this when you see an English language film. But the fact is that people in different walks of life from different parts of a country do have a different way of talking and this is probably natural in the American film that's given in English. But then when you try to put this into the Italian equivalent you see then you have a gangster who talks with an American that a Brooklyn accent. Well this simply doesn't work. Well you have a Fama who talks and I sort of a rustic. And then also then I try to also have a kind of an Italian accent which makes it even more confusing. So you not only have no matching of the voice with the act but you have the added thing that it's in a
different language and you know languages on something that can't just be transposed this way it makes the film entirely different and feeling when everybody is talking in English and it simply isn't related to what's going on the screen in fact the relationship is really like that. Donald Duck cartoon in which you say the cartoon people are puppets on the screen and then you now privately while the somebody else is making the sound that they are uttering. And the effect of dubbing is to create an emotional distance and an aesthetic distance between you and the film which really makes it almost impossible to immerse yourself in it at least it does to me I can never forget. The fact that. Some odd person is reading these lines while somebody else is going through the motions on the screen. But what I can say is that the integrate the film but the trouble is that the voices just don't fit. I've never seen a dubbed version that didn't bother me all the
time and I think that we should all protest very much against these variations. And insist that at least one of the two nights of the run of a serious film like your other spent the least one of two nights can be given over to the version with the Italian dialogue and English at the bottom of the screen. Finest of this has been done on occasion at the Texas Theater. But I think it certainly must be insisted on the manager of the Texas Theater and the audience. I mean he won one point I mean that out of the several weeks ago and I think maybe I'll try to. Make a point of talking about this you know this film that I saw last week at the Texas data namely the moment of truth. Well it's a rather good Italian film about those fighting as perhaps you know I should warn you. That this is dubbed in English. Did anybody see it. Jensen I would absolutely modeless monogamy by. The greatest photographer
in the business to die without any question I would Gianni. Who is Fellini's photographer who did the photography in Juliet and also at the half. It's a very realistic picture of both fighting and the life of a bull fighter and a hero in fact was is actually one of the leading young fighters of Spain. It had many very good qualities to win because I don't like fighting and and one can't help but be distressed by what happened. So they are to everybody in fact there's the ball. Finally the hero. But anyway it was completely ruined by the fact it was dub so much on question of dubbing. Now I thought it might be interesting if I told you a few things about the way that a movie is made about six years ago I spent an afternoon on the SAT in London when
sued in the Lita and the scene I saw took about four hours to do the garden scene in which Lolita comes up behind him but hum but who is the cost James Mason. He's in a white jacket black tie and he's drinking a highball and she puts her hands over his eyes and says Guess who. And then she dances off and that's the end of it. Now what was interesting about it was first of all the enormous difference between a class act in the movie an act in a stage. The difference is that on a stage an actor is there for two hours and he does the whole thing continuously two to three hours. He does the whole pot continuously. He does it every day of class for weeks or months sometimes. But in the movies how they act in very very small bits in fact it took them about fraud to get what finally came out as about a minute and a half. Maybe two minutes of finished film and this is actually
fairly good right. If you can do a film that fast and it took them so long is because everything has to be done over and over again I would cite this scene fences was slightly repeated at least ten times and furthermore between the times often all kinds of things have to be done I discovered something is wrong here that you have to wait while the technicians fix up the sound that a branch which hung down which looked as if it was it and I had to just that. And then the costume people come in and Potter and just the costumes and so on. So really it's not like war you know and war the thing is how the up and wait I mean you spend most you have time and writing around in the same way with making a movie and. This of course means that the actors are very reduced to puppets and the only real price and none of that is the director because the actors are like trained seals they go through these bits over and over and over again and how
they ever manage to get any second into the Ottoman Sam but they kind of grew and I think switched on and off made dead out of big. Guns and in this scene when Lolita comes up and puts a hand on Mason's eyes and said guess who. He made a great number of different answers to this question and in fact they change the lines all the time during each type of thing that I just noted down there once he said you have fingers like a spout I guess like vegetables like a truck drivers like cows have some hard right like corn cobs a bunch of Winnie's bunches of celery Now these are all different answers to gag. And this also surprised me somewhat because this script and I was written by a bum cop and I wondered how he would like the idea that his script was changed by the act of a cookbook encourage this and I thought this is one why didn't the actors avoid becoming completely dried up and frozen. Give them at least something to do. But of course the directive was still the fault of the picks out the one that he liked the
most. I thought that he would have trouble with the bulk up but apparently he didn't because the fact is in the bulk of his been quite favorable to the movie as you probably know after it came out. Therefore he musta agreed to write many minor changes in his script. And I was interested in the way that makes the movie which I gather is quite different than the many other directors do. For a lenient proof on a set are supposed to be very much they get very much involved with the actors and I have a free and permissive atmosphere. They sort of create an atmosphere in fact and it's all sort of fun fun and games. Well not at all with crew but it's sort of like a surgeon and I had a feeling the whole thing was in an operating theatre. He would look into the finder of the camera and watch the actors going to their stuff with a very preoccupied air. And I expected him to Miami without looking up needles sponge and someone. Completely facing completely in price you
know very very loud voice. Not at all like you know I did you know this that'll be the middle guy with a megaphone and puttees and swaggering around and so on not that sort of thing at all. I don't imagine any directors are really like that anymore. And then finally they see this all just want to shout me in concrete times how that the director is the one that really makes a difference in a movie. Finally there's this business at the end of every day's shooting rushes from the day before and the rushes and before everything has been shot which is a nine to 10 scenes over and over again of the same scene last and usually one to three minutes. And it's sort of like a nightmare in which the same thing happens again and again and again. But anyways Obviously the director that makes the decision as to which one of these different scenes is going to be use the directive really has the control of the entire thing. Now I like to say a few
things about this really have nothing to do with it cause directly it's about the movies and I'm right about the question of censorship and the reason I bring it up now is because this question has now become quite alive and interest and that's because of the decision of the Supreme Court on the Iraq Ginsburg case. First of all a general question of censorship in the last 20 30 years. As I think I did side there's been a tendency toward liberalization on a part of the court. JUDGE Well the decision on the Ulysses around one hundred thirty two or three. And this is gone on jacked and mounting in fact since then. Extraordinary about the Ginsburg case was the fact. That the Supreme Court Two things first that they revised this tendency in fact as a thing crossed with something like this thing is this Al has consistently ruled in favor of allegedly obscene pornographic and so on material in whatever field whether
movies or literature and which been brought up to it consistently and very frightened because as you probably know by a close decision five to four Ah the power of the conviction of Ginsburg in the Philadelphia Federal Court. And secondly that they answer the completely new concept. What constitutes a legal obscenity or pornography. It's a second that is roused before we go into what the second one is and so on. I would say that I saw the justices of the Supreme Court but the fact is that many things have become type of missive and I personally have always been against any form of censorship. But I would expect most respectable people to share this kind of a view and I'm demanding that the things that publishers have gotten away with amazed and delighted by. But anyway and so therefore they really weren't
trying to put this thing in a. Well that's true but I was trying to what I thought was a flood. Now on the way in which I did that I think it was a value on Fortune one also opens up all kinds of difficulties I think they're going to be in much more trouble than they were you know just as wine and one of the more recent cases that came up the Supreme Court. He practically sat he banged the lawyer for the defense that was trying to get them to be very loud a court decision holding something was up saying that even our justice as we don't want to read all that he broke than anybody that I mean can't we get that why that we don't have to do this because it is a rather disgusting path for a Supreme Court Justice to go into these kind of things they have not I think matters and I have to read the advertising as well as the books because the main point of that it was it was because his magazine Eros and the other two things that were indicted it wasn't because they
were in the south of pornographic It was simply because of the way in which they were promoted and I know quite a lot about this case because I was one of the witnesses for the defense side in the trial in Philadelphia and my expertise was simply that I knew a lot about. Math culture and literature. And what's been going on in the field now up until the Ginsburg case decision that dominated was the Roth kase of a famous case. ROTH vs. United States 1957. Well I mean I can't say this at the library but I mean he's a been in trouble since then. That's not the kind of thing you thought a little bit on the side of things that. Happened. But they should be in a monolithic way. Now he learn this or do you know I think it was actually a put it. The court had three lines of reasoning. The first right of the dominant theme has to be taken as a must appeal
to appropriate interest in sex. The second was that the material must be patently offensive and that is a much different contemporary community standards relating to the description of representation of sexual matters and to say it is that the material must have no redeeming social or artistic value. Now these I think are pretty sensible definitions now and I and these other two things that were also the housewives Handbook of sexual promiscuity. Well actually this is a psychiatric tract which was among the medical profession on so who is really a huckster of sex is no question of that. Back took it up and began to really get it into the big speculation I guess. Anyway the point about these things is that Rod I have not very much to the value of i did not go beyond what seemed to be the legal and community standards excepted standard of what is permissible and discussion of these not
it. Now in his decision even the majority which upheld the conviction and by the way the conviction is five years in jail for guns as well as something like. The guy did not deny that these things. I mean I didn't claim that they did go beyond these limits time decision on the grounds that the advertising and the promotion was the thing that showed that I only had an interest in that commercial appeal to me and now I think this is absolutely true. I think he was exploiting sex and so on. But I don't think what this has to do with the question because this is part of the free speech issue. In other words one of the things about the concept of free speech is that even if somebody is things that are completely foolish and also completely obnoxious he is allowed to thank them. This fellow Rockwell this crazy Nazi who now advocates who has always advocated You know
gas chambers for Jews and said this and so on. I couldn't be powered by AM but still he has a right to exist. After all if we're going to put people in jail because of that one half the trustees of this university would probably have a hard time. I don't mean about sex of course you're not but but you're right about Bobbie back Europe a good thing. But anyway so Russia plugins Bagby single out one out of took a very modest position on this and I think in future the question of taste with a question of the conventional morality of this country Brannon for instance death has been who led the majority of the times and that was who would make a business of
pandering to the rides but witness for television by pornography and the business of the thing. That's why we have a free enterprise country and I'm not just ironical either I'm just writing a fabric of free enterprise and. Compared to what we see in the East I think it's a great thing if you want to be total editor it seems to me it's a question of time you write that there were two things really that put programs back he's become a great mater and he's taken a very big and do you think you have on both sides you have absurd situation at some stop and some kind of a PITA. Putting out a very serious magazine on the highest level about sexology and so on well I mean none of this is really in. That and yet I
shouldn't have to. You haven't been putting out a magazine and 20 other magazines that the program interests are going to. But anyway there are two things really one of them is mentioned in the decision and the other is not one of them was the fact that with free enterprise something like 8 million pieces of direct mail advertising to get people to subscribe to Iraq and I must be on a number of dubious list because I got about five of them in fact most of my friends got about five in this category even gotten some. And this advertising by the right is much sexier than what you got. Well I mean I didn't subscribe but I did get to know I didn't subscribe because I don't want to pay five bucks for a magazine but I don't get the whole thing when I was a made up my mind of God. So I went through these four issues. Ironic really. But anyway I'm kind of actually. If I specially want to get rides and I was there when the postmistress
had to testify about this weather place in Pennsylvania called blue balls and you had them out in the United States. Perhaps now so I had missed the games by one of the managers from there and prosecutions that do you think that was and she said well I don't want you there because we have 600 people there we didn't have enough for therapy so that was the next witness was a postmaster in Intercourse Pennsylvania. The same thing. And finally he did say which is a big kind of guy. That was one thing and that's mentioned in the decision the other thing which is not matching which I think really is that the only issue of Iraq that was really indicted was the issue as it turns out and how the final issue and that issue
five or six or seven page business photography a very good amount of fact not a ore thing but I was right and they were not wearing any clothes and they were just think to me that it was good from an artistic point of view and I thought that any of that on the postoffice committee in the Congress that there were a lot of thought in it and internationally that they were very indignant about this and I must say if I'd been one of Ginsberg advisors I might've even seen that this might cross trouble. And I think this is the thing that has not been mentioned about. Whether reacted that way or not I don't know. But anyway I was put down in this. But now you see this raises all kinds of questions and this is what the from the point of view of movies. One of the things about advertising the movie is that the ads are almost always more sexy than the movie. Now this is going to have to change
completely. In fact there's FBM London the obscenity lawyer and these kind of cases we mocked after the vision that now of when you see some kind of announcement of something you can gather that this is going to be something really quite special. I think this is the final. The fact it will have on the movies now what effect it will have be on that. I don't know if any shot of the tidying up I was involved in another at this time on the movies and that's a movie which has not been sound and was rejected by the way. Again in this case in the rock district federal court is now being appealed to the Supreme Court and this is an honest movie which is really if anything of not having that kind of a movie.
This gang of juvenile delinquency is a set of social work tries to reclaim the money is unsuccessful in doing it and frown on anyone. The unforgivable sins are as big as the fires to a biblical passage in which somebody said that you will be forgiven your sins up to what is it seven times seventy which I think is 490. But that's all up and down in a kind of a dour Bregman right in fact this guy was a pupil of bygone and was made by the same trust that makes Bergman's movies it's a private Ethans splatters problem but it's true that it has certain other things that. But I don't go any farther than other movies that I've seen in Iraq such as the strange and I can't think of another name but there are a number of movies in which the very fact is I think that the group took the line that because the subject matter was that
this was another time of trying to stop the flood so to speak. Anyway very soon a thing and I'm not as sure that in this case that the supreme power of this decision. Now I think this would be a pity because I don't see any damage especially in having this kind of sound except that it's about a brother Browning. But I don't see any damage to Myers and I think that there's a confusion here confusion between the effect of such and their very aggressive Assad is that we might have. And I think that's the thing that should be kept apart the curious thing is that up until recently. I mean you're the guy on the other night. You're not there's something called the Legion of Decency and it's been operating for a number of years and it's hard to write and to sort of boycott them that are not considered by the Catholics to be ready to be seen
as only two films have been condemned by the Legion of Decency which in itself is an interesting example of many that have a very good market a lot of things that I need to from them and condemn one of them was if you saw that quite an interesting film as a matter of fact by cars out of a story by Tennessee Williams That was as a guy and the I don't want any of that. The little car. I don't know if you saw that but anyway which has no redeeming value that I can see I wouldn't be in favor of been surprised but certainly I can see why that it's going to suppress anything that. Recently has Chang's is again an example of this liberalization. National Catholic office for motion pictures. Not only that but also I'm sure that there's been a palace revolution in the Legion of Decency because I know that
last year had been accepted and have been out of Iraq since there's been an expression about that of human values and given special rides. These are films which normally would certainly not be as that accepted and one of them is do we have this from one of the family. Darling. I wish I was of extraordinary change yet and also the Supreme Court has been very good on this question the movie censorship. You know one of the problems in movies for many many years has been that one of them is that unlike other forms of expression in this country they have never been in the family but as a player under the rubric of things that are protected by the bent of Rights and other rights they have been put in this category as circuses fences you know a secular doesn't really come out of the Bill of Rights on the other hand a newspaper does a book does apply. So on now for some reason other than. Robin when you write the thing about the movie there's prodded up and out on to the back to the better right
and PADI that path of this movement that in some states they have what I call censorship which of the rest kind of Thatcherism and which actually you sent. So they are the rag and the further that it's shown. Now this is a very important point because you see it's one thing if after the publication on the production or the performance if the police come around and say I don't want to graphic and arrest you and so on that's one thing but it's another thing to have to go to bed before I can be shown at all. And a member of the owner you are not the only odd in this country that in some states including oddly enough New York State which you would think would be much the other way in which this is the case in the Supreme Court has upset this system in the last few here is. So therefore this is another odd thing about this goes back to Thursday and that seemed to be going the other right wing crowd has never actually admitted that the movies are an art form or a serious means of communication as the cheapest kind of newspaper a
Dwight Macdonald on film
Making a Movie; Dubbing; Censorship
Producing Organization
University of Texas
KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series of lectures by Dwight Macdonald on film: its makers, its history, its future.
Film and Television
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Announcer: Miller, Phil
Producer: Jordan, Bill
Producing Organization: University of Texas
Producing Organization: KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
Speaker: Macdonald, Dwight
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-16-14 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:11
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Chicago: “Dwight Macdonald on film; Making a Movie; Dubbing; Censorship,” 1967-06-27, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 28, 2023,
MLA: “Dwight Macdonald on film; Making a Movie; Dubbing; Censorship.” 1967-06-27. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 28, 2023. <>.
APA: Dwight Macdonald on film; Making a Movie; Dubbing; Censorship. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from