GROWING SOPHISTICATION OF FILM CONTENT
TWO important developments occurred during the period 1914- 1918 that profoundly influenced the character and implications of motion picture content. One was a change within the industry: the broader and new type of audience; the other was an outside development: the World War. Each carried movie content further in its development; each focused attention on the screen's power as a social agency. Together they quickened the industry to a consciousness of movie content as a social record, as propaganda, and as en tertainment for the world. By the close of the war, movie content was being deliberately prepared for its three aims: to portray, to mold, and to divert twentieth-century America.
The moralism and religiousness that had characterized movies of the pre-war period found simple expression in the title of the best- selling novel and play for 1913, 1914, and 1915: Pollyanna. A consummation of old ideals, "Pollyanna philosophy" became the dominant note in moving pictures. It was based on the old spiritual axiom that contentment with one's lot makes for real and lasting happiness; that riches and luxuries cannot buy peace of mind, but bring disaster. It was better to be poor than rich because, as movies continued to show, the poor were always loving, kind, true, and full of virtue. The poor mother idolized her children, worked and slaved for them; the father loved the mother and seldom strayed from the happy home. Cheerfulness, optimism, love, and honesty were the essentials of well-being, and one did not need money to have them.
The Pollyanna ideal was personified first and foremost by Mary