|Moving Picture World, 02-August-1919|
METHODISTS USE WORLD'S BIG SCREEN
Churchmen at Columbus Centenary Entertained
by Pictures 75 Feet High and 100 Feet Wide
THE Methodist Centenary Celebration, which was held at Columbus, Ohio, from June 20 to July 13, saw the moving picture for the first time in its history occupy a prominent place on the entertainment program of the convention. It is estimated that over one million members of the Methodist society attended the celebration, which was held at the Ohio State Fair Grounds. A surprisingly large number of the members saw a moving picture for the first time in their lives at these meetings, including four bishops. They all expressed unbounded delight at their experience. On the evening of July 4 the largest movie crowd ever assembled watched a moving picture thrown on the largest screen ever erected.
This screen was 115 feet square, the picture measured 100 feet wide by 75 feet high and the crowd in front of the screen was over 40,000 in number. The pictures are reported to have been "remarkably clear and sharp. The blinking of a man's eyes shown in a close up was plainly discernible two blocks away. The pictures as a whole were easily seen from a distance of six blocks."
Success Due to Three Men.
The three men responsible for the success of these picture showings are Dr. Christian F. Reisner, Dr. Chester C. Marshall and Samuel P. Vinton. They were members of a committee having the selection of the pictures in charge and also directed the showing of the pictures in Columbus. Dr. Reisner, who has long been an enthusiastic advocate of the use of the screen in the church, is familiar with the proper projection of pictures. He and Dr. Marshall went about the task of choosing the subjects far in advance of the celebration. To supplement their own knowledge of the matter representatives from the different trade papers were invited to add their familiarity with the most suitable pictures for such an occasion to the list.
The response to this invitation was immediate and the reviewers who met the committee were able to suggest the best pictures for the purpose. The cooperation of the National Association already had been secured and its members kept the celebration supplied with the pictures asked for throughout the entire meetings.
John Flinn Makes Address.
On July 8, John S. Flinn, director of publicity and advertising for Famous Players-Lasky, attended the centenary as the representative of the National Association, and addressed a meeting in the main auditorium on "Motion Pictures and the Church." During his remarks he pointed out the large part the screen will have in supplying a substitute for the saloon now that national prohibition has been established, dwelt upon the duty of the church to help the moving picture in every way possible.
At the same meeting Orrin G. Cocks, of the National Board of Review, delivered an address on "The Motion Picture in the Church." Among the things he said was : "The screen is now being recognized in splendid fashion as a handmaiden to the social work of the church." Mr. Cocks also called attention to the fact "that a vast number of splendid motion pictures now exist which are available for the church. The National Board of Review has just selected some 650 educational films for the educators of the United States, and most of these, with slight modifications, might be used for sermons, missionary classes and so forth in churches and church houses.
Half of Product Available for Churches.
"Some three years ago, in its list of the finest kind of selected pictures for the family, the National Board included 26 per cent, of the entire output for the year. This percentage of fine films has increased until during the past year 48 per cent, were adjudged to be of fine enough quality to be included in such a list."
Mr. Cocks closed his address with the following :
"While it is most important that the church should be served with the very finest films adapted as completely as possible to the needs of parishioners, it is also necessary that the rank and file of the American people should be permitted to enjoy those forms of entertainment which they crave. There are some things which the entire American people recognize to be indecent, immoral and improper. With the exclusion of these there still remains a number of subjects with which the church is not primarily concerned.
"A vast number of dramatic and comic subjects have been made entirely for entertainment. These do no harm, while they furnish rest and relaxation to many people with many tastes. Inevitably the more artistic, the more subtle and sincere, as well as the more powerful, dramatic pictures will continue. Out from among these the church should develop the means of making constant selections which shall be used to drive home the truth as it is in Christ."