Several weeks ago the publisher of my latest book informed me that a well-known fundamentalist periodical had refused to advertise the volume. The reason? I quote directly from the letter my publisher received: “We do not feel we can carry this particular ad, since Dr. Montgomery openly opposes any talk against the movies and dance.”
The charge was not strictly accurate (in point of fact, I oppose immoral and inartistic movies, as well as lewd and cloddish dancing; what disturbed the periodical was simply that I refuse to throw all secular theatrical activities into outer darkness). But the anti-theatrical philosophy of American fundamentalism is sufficiently at odds with my own viewpoint that the letter in question motivated a long-standing intention to survey the current French stage and screen for readers of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. For years I have had a secret desire to imitate Janet (“Genêt”) Flanner’s “Letter from Paris” in the New Yorker; who would have thought that a certain Tennessee periodical would have turned potentiality into actuality?
First, some words about the cinema. (In my next “Current Religious Thought” column, the stage will be the focus of attention.) For those unacquainted with French cinematography, it is perhaps well to stress at the very outset the radical difference between French films and Anglo-American products. The difference is not (despite opinions in Murfreesboro) sex. Actually, film-makers in Hollywood—and even more so in London—are today producing erotica that cultured Frenchmen regard as trash; interestingly, the French answer to Playboy magazine (Lui) is much milder than Hefner’s product, and the dives in London’s Soho and Charing Cross districts would make an inhabitant of Montmartre blush ...1
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