Capp, Faye Emerson Spark Forum on 'Better Movies'
Laughs and looks marked the Law School Forum on "Are Movies Better Than Ever?" at the Cambridge High and Latin School last night. A capacity crowd of over 1,500 saw and heard Al Capp, creator of L'il Abner, Bosley Crowther, New York Times movie editor, Faye Emerson, TV and movie star, and Spros Skouras, president of 20th Century Fox, alternately insult and kiss one another as they scored and praised the motion picture industry.
Capp and Miss Emerson maintained the negative. The brains behind L'il Abner took greatest offence at the advertising which comes out of Hollywood. He claimed that even A pictures, which differ from B pictures merely because they cost more money, can count on drawing a maximum audience of only 13 to 15 million.
"This leaves 40 million of us intellectually mature people, all fans of L'il Abner, who don't go to movies." Capp said the reason was that movies "seek the low level" of this small audience. He explained that he "wrote up" to his audience.
The Times movie editor proceeded to "prove" that movies are better than ever, if only by "the magnificence of the proportions of movie actresses. While Theda Bara could boast "but a scant 31 inch bust measurement, even a starlet today must top 35."
Miss Emerson "was shocked to hear this from the 'New York Times," and spent her few minutes suggesting that the superior technical skill in Hollywood be used to make TV the "finest entertaining medium ever conceived."
Finally, the sweating president of one of the largest studios in the country stepped to the mike and tried to read a speech "written by my boys," (Skouras cannot write English), gave up and asked Miss Emerson that, if movies are so bad, why had she criticized Hollywood for not letting TV show new pictures? At this point, Miss Emerson kissed her "old friend," and Skouras proclaimed, "in these hollow (sic) halls," that movies are better than ever. It seems that he had made up the slogan.