The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures
was founded in 1909 in New York City
, just 13 years after the birth of cinema
, to protest New York City Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr.
's revocation of moving-picture exhibition licenses on Christmas Eve
1908. The mayor (son of the famous Civil War general) believed that the new medium degraded the morals of community. To assert their constitutional freedom of expression, theatre owners led by Marcus Loew
and film distributors (Edison
) joined John Collier
of The People's Institute at Cooper Union
and established the New York Board of Motion Picture Censorship, which soon changed its name to the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures to avoid the taint of the word "censorship".
Its stated purpose was to endorse films of merit and champion the new "art of the people", which was transforming America's cultural life. In an effort to avoid government censorship of films, the National Board became the unofficial clearinghouse for new movies. From 1916 into the 1950s thousands of motion pictures carried the legend "Passed by the National Board of Review" in their main titles. However, the Board was a de facto censorship organization. Producers submitted their films to the Board before making release prints; they agreed to cut out any footage that the Board found objectionable, up to and including destroying the entire film.Robert Sklar, Movie-Made America: A......