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Other titles in the Landmark Law Cases & American Society series:

The Miracle Case: Film Censorship and the Supreme Court (Landmark Law Cases & American Society)

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The Miracle Case: Film Censorship and the Supreme Court (Landmark Law Cases & American Society) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

It was only a forty-minute foreign film, but it sparked a legal confrontation that has left its mark on America for more than half a century. Roberto Rossellini's Il Miracolo (The Miracle) is deceptively simple: a demented peasant woman is seduced by a stranger she believes to be Saint Joseph, is socially ostracized for becoming pregnant out of wedlock, but is finally redeemed through motherhood.

Although initially approved by state censors for screening in New York, the film was attacked as sacrilegious by the Catholic establishment, which convinced state officials to revoke distributor Joseph Burstyn's license. In response, Burstyn fought back through the courts and won.

Laura Wittern-Keller and Raymond Haberski show how the Supreme Court's unanimous 1952 ruling in Burstyn's favor sparked a chain of litigation that eventually brought filmmaking under the protective umbrella of the First Amendment, overturning its long-outdated decision in Mutual v. Ohio (1915). Their story features a more formidable cast than did the film itself, with the charismatic Francis Cardinal Spellman decrying the film as a Communist plot, while outspoken film critic Bosley Crowther vigorously advocated "freedom of the screen." Meanwhile, movie producers stood by silently for fear of alienating the Church and its large movie-going membership, leaving Burstyn to muster his own defense.

More than the inside story of one case, this book explores the unique place that the movies occupy in American culture and the way that culture continues to be shaped by anxiety over the social power of movies. The Burstyn decision weakened the ability of state censorship boards and the Catholic Church to influence the types of films Americans were allowed to see. Consequently, the case signaled the rise of a new era in which films would be more mature and more controversial than ever before.

Focusing on this single most important case in the jurisprudence surrounding motion picture expression, Wittern-Keller and Haberski add a significant new dimension to the story of cinema, censorship, and the history of First Amendment protections.

Synopsis:

Examines the Supreme Court's unanimous 1952 decision in favor of a film exhibitor who had been denied a license to show the controversial Italian film, Il Miracolo. The ruling was a watershed event in the history of film censorship, ushering in a new era of mature—and sophisticated—American filmmaking.

Table of Contents

Editors' Preface

Preface

Introduction

1. Movie Censorship: Origins and Early Challengers

2. Origins of Movies as Art

3. The Miracle on West 58th Street

4. The Supreme Court and The Miracle

5. Burstyn's Progeny

6. The Legion of Decency after Burstyn

7. Film Freedom and Sexual Content

8. The Era of Ratings and Violence

Relevant Cases

Chronology

Bibliographical Essay

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780700616190
Subtitle:
Film Censorship and the Supreme Court
Author:
Wittern-keller, Laura
Author:
Wittern-Keller, Laura
Author:
Haberski Jr, Raymond J.
Author:
Haberski, Raymond J., Jr.
Publisher:
University Press of Kansas
Subject:
Legal History
Subject:
Censorship
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Motion pictures
Subject:
History
Subject:
Media & the Law
Subject:
Film & Video - History & Criticism
Subject:
Motion pictures -- Censorship.
Subject:
Joseph Burstyn, Inc - Trials, litigation, etc
Subject:
Law : General
Edition Description:
Paperback
Series:
Landmark Law Cases & American Society
Publication Date:
20081021
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
248
Dimensions:
8.40x5.50x.70 in. .70 lbs.

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » History and Criticism
History and Social Science » Law » General
History and Social Science » Law » Legal Guides and Reference
History and Social Science » Politics » General

The Miracle Case: Film Censorship and the Supreme Court (Landmark Law Cases & American Society) New Trade Paper
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Product details 248 pages University Press of Kansas - English 9780700616190 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Examines the Supreme Court's unanimous 1952 decision in favor of a film exhibitor who had been denied a license to show the controversial Italian film, Il Miracolo. The ruling was a watershed event in the history of film censorship, ushering in a new era of mature—and sophisticated—American filmmaking.
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