Scholarship on Exhibition

Analysis of scholarship on film exhibition and how it relates to Oregon

Film Censorship: America's Disagreement

The early 1900's era of filmmaking was under the firm grasp of the National Board of Censorship, an organization formed to prevent the showings of indecent or suggestive content in movies. This became quite a hot topic among viewers at the time. Some Americans preferred a restriction on what they considered to be inappropriate while others favored a more risqué style. This debate did not go unnoticed in Portland, Oregon and in fact seemed to emphasize the same national issues. Listed below are four separate segments from two Portland Newspapers between years of 1910 and 1922.

Heppner, Oregon

Heppner, Oregon is home to its very own Star Theatre, which was known as being one of the only theatres to show moving pictures in Heppner Oregon during the early 1900's as well as being a popular public space for other forms of performance art. Heppner's Star Theatre was owned and operated by B.G. Sigsbee and the program usually showed local short films and/or feature length films. The films showed at the theatre ranged in genres, including comedies, drama, war, etc.

Portland Motion Picture Censorship – For the Good of the People?

As early as 1897, local film censorship boards regulated film exhibition with standards that varied city to city, and because of a lack of enforcement power, even theater to theater. In 1911, Portland debuted a censorship board of its own. The chairman of the board, at least in 1916, was a man by the name of F. T. Richards.

Pathe Pictures and the Alhambra Theater

               While I was scouring the Historic Oregon Newspaper archive for an advertisement concerning the Alhambra Theater in Portland, a common subject continued to crop up: The Iron Claw. It appears that, at the time this ad was published in 1916, The Iron Claw was a serialized film program run by a proto-studio named Pathe. I say “proto-studio” because Pathe seems to operate more like an exchange in the nickelodeon-era than a true studio.

Portland's Odeon Theatre

The Odeon Theatre in Portland, Oregon took the place of the previously known as The National Theatre and is located on Seventh Street, near Washington. (1) The first newspaper ad promoting the switch from The National to The Odeon was printed in May 1910, this ad marked the earliest known date of programs under the theatre's new title The Odeon. Portland's Odeon Theatre actually shared a name and exhibition history with other Odeon Theatre's nationwide, for example St. Louis or Cincinnati, the latter notably suffered over $200,000 in damage in the fall of 1904.

Portland's Oh Joy Theatre

The Oh Joy Theatre in Portland, Oregon was a perfect venue for the picture loving public in the early 20th century. The theatre shows various forms of entertainment and is located on Morrison Street near Third. In mid-February 1910, the Oh Joy Theatre featured the program entitled "Taming A Husband" and a unique art film imported specially to the Oh Joy Theatre from the Pathe Factory in Paris, France entitled "Ouchard, The Merchant". A vaudeville acrobatic presentation of "Harry Brothers, the Acrobats" was equal in quality the renowned first class vaudeville house productions of the time.