IN the Spring of 1929 the Payne Fund of New York City made available funds for the scientific study of the effect of motion pictures on youth. These studies were made by the Committee on Educational Research of the Payne Fund at the request of the National Committee for the Study of Social Values in Motion Pictures, now the Motion Picture Research Council, 366 Madison Avenue, New York City. It was decided at the same time that a constructive program of teaching youth to develop higher standards of taste in motion pictures was desirable. The writer was given the task of preparing teaching materials for this purpose.
The first task attempted in connection with this project was that of discovering the standards of excellence set up by reviewers of motion pictures. In general, this project proved fruitless, since the motion-picture critics of today, with few exceptions, present little in their reviews other than a statement of the story and the reviewer's personal likes or dislikes in reference to the picture.
Much assistance, however, was secured from the few available books on motion-picture criticism, such as: The Film Till Now, by Paul Rotha; The New Spirit in the Cinema, by Huntly Carter; Scenario and Screen, by Frances Taylor Patterson . Welford Beaton Hollywood Spectator proved an excellent source of information on standards by which to evaluate current motion pictures. Foreign publications such as Close-Up and the Cinema Quarterly offered fundamental data on film techniques.