Going To The Pictures

Morality at the Cinema

Morality at the cinema
From the early days of moving images through to today issues regarding morality and censorship have been in the fore.

After the Second World War, the church and educationalists raised concerns regarding what was being shown within the children’s cinema matinees, and in the cinemas in general, highlighting Hollywood’s glamorization of immoral behavior and crime.


In 1948 a committee on Children in the Cinema was set up to examine the effect of cinema and films on young people. A document written by a local Waterloo Senior Science Master was put forward as evidence for the committee, the archive copy resides in Sefton Records Office named ‘Frank Tyrer – Children and the Cinema’ This committee and its findings help set in place the Wheare report.

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The Wheare Report was published in 1950 and looked at juvenile cinema going. The report made suggestions regarding censorship of film and brought in the X certificate to replace the broader H certificate of film classification. From 1951 no children under the age of 16 were supposed to be able to see an X certificate film, but of course many of them did, as the film posters and trailers would highlight the X rating which would make the film more appealing and a challenge to the younger audience to be able to see them. The report also placed a levy of voluntary tax on each cinema ticket the “Eady Levy” which would go towards setting the Children’s Film Foundation.

The Parents View Parents of young cinema goers saw the children’s cinema matinees as a safe place where their children could go to be entertained for a few hours whilst they could get on with their chores and shopping. A lot of what was shown in the matinees was often unknown and unseen to the parents so when films especially made for children were introduced, together with tighter controls on film censorship parents could send their children to the pictures without fear of what they were watching causing delinquency as many of the moralist at the time had tried to claim.