During the past couple of years, and since before the war, Hollywood movies have been getting worse and worse. Very few pictures are receiving the unequivocal praise which, at the beginning of the thirties, used to flow regularly from the pens of the critics, and box office receipts have fallen off decidedly. There can be no doubt about it. Hollywood is in a bad way.
Different people have different hates about the movies. Some say the great old actors are vanishing from the scene, and in their stead are appearing a group of highly publicized, incompetent "starlets"; the John Barrymores are giving way to the Ann Sheridans. Home blame the script writers, some the directors. But though each of these arguments may be perfectly valid in regard to specific faults of the movies, they do not arrive at the basic cause for Hollywood's declining standards. This fundamental cause is the belief shared by practically everyone in Holywood, that the movie-going public has an I.Q. a little lower than that of a mentally retarded twelve-year-old.
Of course, not all pictures are made on this theory. But the success of those few intelligent movies which Hollywood produces only strengthens the case of the advocates of a more advanced I.Q. for the persecuted moviegoing public, and perhaps some day it will persuade Hollywood that movies can be an uplifting rather than a degrading force in American life. There are innumerable fields of cultural entertainment as yet untapped by the movie moguls. All the great literature from Homer to Galsworthy lies open; the copyrights are for the most part non-existent; the entertainment value is unquestioned. The only debatable factor is the American intelligence; and America, by its cold reception of a great many of the flowers of the latest crop of Holywood output, has pretty well proved that it is past the stage of adolescence.