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The Miracle Case

Author: Laura Wittern-Keller
Publisher: Univ Pr of Kansas
ISBN:
Size: 33.68 MB
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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 II 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that eventually brought filmmaking under the protective umbrella of the First Amendment, overturning its long-outdated decision in Mutual v. Ohio (1915).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 offilms 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.

Obscenity Rules

Author: Whitney Strub
Publisher:
ISBN: 9780700619368
Size: 74.35 MB
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An examination of the landmark 1957 Supreme Court case "Roth v. United States," which for the first time attempted to define what constitutes obscenity in American life and law. Explores this problematic ruling within the broad sweep of American social and legal history.

The Writers

Author: Miranda J. Banks
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
ISBN: 0813571405
Size: 11.40 MB
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Screenwriters are storytellers and dream builders. They forge new worlds and beings, bringing them to life through storylines and idiosyncratic details. Yet up until now, no one has told the story of these creative and indispensable artists. The Writers is the only comprehensive qualitative analysis of the history of writers and writing in the film, television, and streaming media industries in America. Featuring in-depth interviews with over fifty writers—including Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, and Frank Pierson—The Writers delivers a compelling, behind-the-scenes look at the role and rights of writers in Hollywood and New York over the past century. Granted unprecedented access to the archives of the Writers Guild Foundation, Miranda J. Banks also mines over 100 never-before-published oral histories with legends such as Nora Ephron and Ring Lardner Jr., whose insight and humor provide a window onto the enduring priorities, policies, and practices of the Writers Guild. With an ear for the language of storytellers, Banks deftly analyzes watershed moments in the industry: the advent of sound, World War II, the blacklist, ascension of television, the American New Wave, the rise and fall of VHS and DVD, and the boom of streaming media. The Writers spans historical and contemporary moments, and draws upon American cultural history, film and television scholarship and the passionate politics of labor and management. Published on the sixtieth anniversary of the formation of the Writers Guild of America, this book tells the story of the triumphs and struggles of these vociferous and contentious hero-makers.

Freedom Of The Screen

Author: Laura Wittern-Keller
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
ISBN: 081313840X
Size: 14.91 MB
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At the turn of the twentieth century, the proliferation of movies attracted not only the attention of audiences across America but also the apprehensive eyes of government officials and special interest groups concerned about the messages disseminated by the silver screen. Between 1907 and 1926, seven states -- New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Kansas, Maryland, and Massachusetts -- and more than one hundred cities authorized censors to suppress all images and messages considered inappropriate for American audiences. Movie studios, hoping to avoid problems with state censors, worrying that censorship might be extended to the federal level, and facing increased pressure from religious groups, also jumped into the censoring business, restraining content through the adoption of the self-censoring Production Code, also known as the Hays code.But some industry outsiders, independent distributors who believed that movies deserved the free speech protections of the First Amendment, brought legal challenges to censorship at the state and local levels. Freedom of the Screen chronicles both the evolution of judicial attitudes toward film restriction and the plight of the individuals who fought for the right to deliver provocative and relevant movies to American audiences. The path to cinematic freedom was marked with both achievements and roadblocks, from the establishment of the Production Code Administration, which effectively eradicated political films after 1934, to the landmark cases over films such as The Miracle (1948), La ronde (1950), and Lady Chatterley's Lover (1955) that paved the way for increased freedom of expression. As the fight against censorship progressed case by case through state courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, legal authorities and the public responded, growing increasingly sympathetic toward artistic freedom. Because a small, unorganized group of independent film distributors and exhibitors in mid-twentieth-century America fought back against what they believed was the unconstitutional prior restraint of motion pictures, film after 1965 was able to follow a new path, maturing into an artistic medium for the communication of ideas, however controversial. Government censors would no longer control the content of America's movie screens. Laura Wittern-Keller's use of previously unexplored archival material and interviews with key figures earned her the researcher of the year award from the New York State Board of Regents and the New York State Archives Partnership Trust. Her exhaustive work is the first to discuss more than five decades of film censorship battles that rose from state and local courtrooms to become issues of national debate and significance. A compendium of judicial action in the film industry, Freedom of the Screen is a tribute to those who fought for the constitutional right of free expression and paved the way for the variety of films that appear in cinemas today.

Animal Sacrifice And Religious Freedom

Author: David M. O'Brien
Publisher: Univ Pr of Kansas
ISBN: 9780700613038
Size: 72.12 MB
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The Santeria religion of Cuba--the Way of the Saints--mixes West African Yoruba culture with Catholicism. Similar to Haitian voodoo, Santeria has long practiced animal sacrifice in certain rites. But when Cuban immigrants brought those rituals to Florida, local authorities were suddenly confronted with a controversial situation that pitted the regulation of public health and morality against religious freedom. After Ernesto Pichardo established a Santeria church in Hialeah in the 1980s, the city of Hialeah responded by passing ordinances banning ritual animal sacrifice. Although on the surface those ordinances seemed general in intent, they were clearly aimed at Pichardo's church. When Pichardo subsequently sued the city, a federal court ruled in the latter's favor, in effect privileging the regulation of public health and morality over the church's free exercise of its religion. The U.S. Supreme Court heard Pichardo's appeal in 1993 and unanimously decided that the city had overstepped its bounds in targeting this particular religious group; however, the court was sharply divided regarding the basis of its decision. Three concurring opinions registered distinctly different views of the First Amendment, the limits of government regulation, and the religious freedom of minorities. In the end, the nine justices collectively concluded that freedom of religious belief was absolute while the freedom to practice the tenets of any faith were subject to non-discriminatory local regulations. David O'Brien, one of America's foremost scholars of the Court, now illuminates this controversy and its significance for law, government, and religion in America. His lively account takes us behind thescenes at every stage of the litigation to reveal a riveting case with more twists and turns than a classic whodunit. Ranging with equal ease from primitive magic to municipal politics and to the most arcane points of constituti

The Sodomy Cases

Author: David A. J. Richards
Publisher: Univ Pr of Kansas
ISBN:
Size: 31.54 MB
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For America's gay community, the question of rights is often reduced to the issue of privacy. Until very recently, even though this right has been upheld by the Supreme Court in landmark cases relating to contraception and abortion, the issue of "nonprocreational sex" continued to trigger a double standard for gay men. Now David Richards, a leading legal scholar who is himself gay, shows how two other landmark cases nearly twenty years apart shed light on America's evolving views of privacy. The Supreme Court's decision in Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) stemmed from a 1982 gay-sex arrest in an Atlanta home under a Georgia law that criminalized sodomy--a case not originally prosecuted, but then pursued in court to challenge the statute's constitutionality. Lawrence v. Texas (2003) followed a similar arrest in 1998 in Houston, where Texas law also criminalized sodomy--but only when practiced by members of the same sex. Richards views these cases as the nadir and apogee of the gay community's efforts to fight discrimination through the courts. In Bowers, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no constitutional protection for sodomy and that states could outlaw those practices. But in Lawrence, the Court overturned the Texas law--and the Bowers decision as well--because it denied due process protection to consenting adults whose sexual practices were conducted in private. Justice Kennedy's majority opinion reaffirmed a constitutionally protected right to privacy that prevented the government from regulating intimate behavior. Tracing the Court's deliberations, Richards shows how Lawrence unambiguously establishes that the right to a private life is an innately human right and that ourconstitutional right to privacy rests on the moral bedrock of equal protection. He shifts gracefully from the law to literature, and from the Courts to the wider culture, to offer a brilliant analysis of the relevant arguments, going beneath their surface to link them to the emotional and moral foundations of the controversies raging around these decisions. Both of these cases show a Supreme Court ready to take seriously the idea that homosexuals have human rights--and that these rights are the basis of judicially enforceable constitutional rights. In describing these challenges to public prejudice, Richards's book offers students and general readers new insight into the practice and theory of constitutional law.