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Roman Catholicism in the United StatesA Thematic History$
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Margaret M. McGuinness and James T. Fisher

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823282760

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823282760.001.0001

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Pulp Catholicism: Catholics in American Popular Film

Pulp Catholicism: Catholics in American Popular Film

(p.193) Nine Pulp Catholicism: Catholics in American Popular Film
Roman Catholicism in the United States

Anthony Burke Smith

Fordham University Press

This chapter assays some of the roles that Catholics played in the art form/industry that shared with jazz music a distinction as the most influential American cultural product of the twentieth century. It uncovers a rich, nearly lost history of apostolic film production—launched prior to 1920—under the auspices of the Catholic Art Association. Catholic tastemakers' relatively sophisticated embrace of visual mass culture stood in marked contrast to the later heavy-handed censorship motive that was often ascribed to the church. The film industry's original production code was written in 1930 by the prominent film-friendly Jesuit and theatrical impresario Daniel Lord; in later incarnations a harsher code was enforced with gusto by a small group of highly influential laymen.

Keywords:   Catholics, apostolic film production, religious films, film industry, Daniel Lord

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