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Thursday, December 13, 2007



You know who I want reviewing movies my kids are going to see? I want some shrewd little old lady who is very sensitive and not easily fooled. I want to be warned about immoral plot lines but some scenes can be thrown in that are bad and sometimes just the way people dress and talk should require a warning! Then I don’t have to worry about walking into a movie thinking it’s one thing and finding out the hard way, it’s something else.


I had a telephone conversation with Harry Forbes about a year ago - I had been reading his review of a children's movie (don't remember the title right now) and I had objections to the film from a Catholic perspective.

He spoke on and on about "the general theme" and I was mentioning specifics - finally I asked, "Let me ask you, are you married?"

(Which was going to be immediately followed up with, "Do you have children?" so I could find out how he could possibly be giving this movie a positive review.)

In response to, "Are you married?" I got an immediate change of tone from friendly and condescending to abrupt and nasty, "I'm not going to answer that question! That's not your concern!"

Well, at that point, it hit me: This man may be a homosexual. Considering the organization employing him for this many years after this many damning articles about him and he STILL WORKS THERE, should we be surprised?

Mona Alona

Well Anne, Harry does seem to be a friend of Dorothy's. The Wizard Oz is his 2nd favorite movie.

Harry’s Favorites


1. Gone With The Wind
2. The Wizard of Oz
3. Once Upon a Time
in The West
4. Children of Paradise
5. Marriage Italian Style
6. Wuthering Heights
7. 2001: A Space Odyssey
8. Sunrise
9. The Lord of the Rings
10. Swing Time

Mona Alona

I'm happy to see Father Euteneuer is calling for Scarry Harry's removal. I think the reason Scarry Harry hasn't been removed is because he is a friend of Dorothy and all the other friends of Dorothy over at the USCCB have got Scarry Harry's back.

Atlanta Catholic

Mona Alona......"Scarry Harry" is too kind. So Harry and the USCCB loved Brokeback Mountain as well as the Golden Compass?
Catholics need a rallying wake-up call. What will it take? I know!!! I'll borrow a frequently used quote, from the ever fun loving purveyor of movie critiques, Father Fred Bailey, who probably would agree with Harry and say..."HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mona Alona, did you ever watch the movie "Misery"? Which, by the way has been the dominating and prevailing, spiritual theme of the Diocese of Orange. The fact that the USCCB gives an approving thumbs up to these movies that mock and deliberately counter Catholic Teaching, makes Harry and the USCCB a collective flock of complicit "Dirty Birdies" with a glittering abundance of sashaying pink feathers!

Mona Alona

Here's an idea, throw Harry out and bring back the Legion of Decency

A Brief History of the Legion of Decency
By Rick Kephart

The Legion of Decency was formed in 1934 to combat immoral movies. People took a pledge, in church, against bad movies. They pledged not only never to go to any morally objectionable movie, but never even to go to any movie theater that had ever shown a morally objectionable film!

This was very effective in discouraging Hollywood from making movies which would earn the disapproval of the Legion of Decency. And the Legion of Decency's ratings were very strict, much more strict than the modern Catholic Bishops' movie rating system (which has been sadly ineffective in influencing the making of movies).
Catholics used to be united, strong and strict, and then they were a powerful force to be reckoned with by the movie industry!

Around the end of the 1950's, things began to change. The emphasis was taken off condemning bad movies, and a deliberate effort was made to make The Legion of Decency more `positive'. The pledge gradually faded out of use, until it was finally completely forgotten.

By 1975, the Legion of Decency had ceased to exist. It was replaced by the Bishops' new Catholic rating system. That ended the Church's influence on the movie industry. Movie standards continue to drop.

In researching the history of the Legion of Decency, this disturbing bit of information came up:

I called the library at St. Charles' Seminary for information about the Legion of Decency. Whomever I spoke to had heard of it, but knew nothing about the pledge. He looked it up in the New Catholic Encyclopedia, and told me what it had to say about the Legion of Decency.

In 1957, Pope Pius XII issued an encyclical called Miranda prorsus. The Encyclopedia claimed that the encyclical called for the Legion of Decency to be more positive, to put its emphasis on promoting good movies rather than condemning bad movies, and have more respect for people's consciences. In response to that encyclical (so claims this Encyclopedia) the Legion of Decency changed, very gradually (with no definite date). Eventually, it went completely out of existence, to be replaced by the rating system we now have.

I asked the person on the phone if he knew where I could get a copy of that encyclical, so I could read it myself. He said he thought it was most likely out of print.

But I found one, and read it.

There is nothing in the encyclical that could lead anyone to think he was calling for the Legion of Decency to change what they were doing! It not only vigorously condemns bad movies, but also immoral TV shows and radio programs. It would form a good defense for exactly what the Legion of Decency was doing, if it were considered honestly.

I doubt the author of that article in the Encyclopedia expected anyone to actually read that out-of-print encyclical to see if what he wrote was true.

People do tend to claim that Pope Pius XII said things which he in fact never said.

end of file

Mona Alona

Quote from How about a Legion of Decency? from World Net Daily

When I was a little boy growing up in Boro Park, Brooklyn, in the 1940s, I saw a double feature every weekend and never saw any yuck. The reason was the private sector effectively punished Hollywood if it tried to sneak some unnecessary sex or violence into their films. It did so through the Legion of Decency, which was somehow affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Its screening in the early 1940s took over from Hollywood's self-censorship of the Hayes Commission, which began stamping out nudity in 1934. The Legion had a crew of censors who watched all the films before they hit the theaters and gave their approval, or not. Their decisions would be posted in the back of the church or in the weekly bulletin, which my parents would pick up after mass. A really bad movie would be "condemned." It was in 1943, when I was seven, that I absolutely knew I could not go see a movie called "The Outlaw," produced by Howard Hughes and starring Jane Russell, wearing a special bra he had designed for her. The records indicate Hughes finished filming in 1941, but the movie did not hit the theaters until 1943, with Hughes fighting the Legion of Decency's "condemned" rating much of that time. The movie produced was 117 minutes. The movie shown was 103 minutes. Wow!


Can't the guy just be fired?

People who do poorly at their job otherwise get fired all the time.

Why is this so tough or complicated?


A Simple Sinner, You ask "Why can't the guy just be fired?" I will answer that for you. The guy knows where the bodies are burried! Get it!!!

Mona Alona

Scarry Harry knows all the fairies.

Fairies like not to be seen and they don't like to have their names known or spoken. Fairies can be full of nasty tricks at times.


There is a lot of fear in some circles about academic freedom, even among Catholics who should know better. (In some sense, it mirrors the libertarian debate some are having in another section on this site.) There was considerably sympathy and controversy over the "silencing" of Hans Kung -- and the claims that he has been punished harshly for his academic work. Instead of addressing the issue of truth and Catholic doctrine, many think such issues are open to discussion and debate--as a way to eventually deconstruct it.

I'll bet there is fear among the bishops over firing someone for a "mere" opinion for a small body.

Their fear of man's condemnation and ridicule keeps this man in his position.


Mike - that seems to be the best explination.

Over the years, for good or ill, I have simply come to distrust USCCB "stuff". Like a brand name I had a bad experience with, a document coming accross my desk with "USCCB" on it seems tainted every time.

I pray the day comes sooner than later that our bishops in America will regain some credibility. There is some hope, to be sure... But when guys like this remain in place, two steps forward, three steps back.

Leticia Velasquez

Well, Carolg, I'm not sure if we qualify as wise old ladies, but five of my Catholc blogger friends and I have created an alternative voice to Scarry Harry, called, "Catholic Movie Reviews"
CMR which attempts to create a reliable site for those who wish to evaluate various forms of media in the light of the Magesterial teaching of the Church, and with special regard for parent's needs to protect the innocence of their children.
Two of these bloggers, Happy Catholic, and Causa Nostrae Laetitiae were mentioned by the National Catholic Register last February as sources of Catholic film criticism. I write reviews for Mercatornet, and have had my reviews posted online at Reuters, USA TODAY, and various TV news sites.
I hope you find Catholic Media Review a useful site to refer your readers.

Leticia Velasquez
Causa Nostrae Laetitiae
Cause of Our Joy



The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington

DC 20017-1194

(202) 541-3000


Dear and entrusted shepherds:

I would like to respectfully add my own voice to the ever rising chorus of those Catholics requesting the resignation of Mr. Harry Forbes, of your Office for Film & Broadcasting.

My wife and children and I are constantly confounded and scandalized by the many “tortured” reviews which have come from the USCC extolling some of the most diabolical misadventures which pass for entertainment today.

It is bad enough to be bombarded with this kind of poor analysis from the secular media, but it is deeply embarrassing (and alienating) to see our own Catholics Bishop Conference sullied by reviews which extol the artistic creativity of otherwise morally bankrupt films.

Please reply and answer the three questions I pose here and now: Question 1.) Are you going to stand behind a man who has a proven track record of giving tepid reviews to films like Brokeback Mountain?

Here is an excerpt from the Brokeback film review:

“The performances are superb. Australian Ledger may be the one to beat at Oscar time, as his repressed manly stoicism masking great vulnerability is heartbreaking, and his Western accent sounds wonderfully authentic. Gyllenhaal is no less accomplished as the more demonstrative of the pair, while Williams and Hathaway (the latter, a far cry from "The Princess Diaries," giving her most mature work to date) are very fine.”

While Mr. Forbes indicates an OFB review rating of “L” (as in limited) at the end if this silly and mixed review, we wonder in my house (and indeed in my circle of friends) what in heavens name that means. Does “L” mean limited to me, my wife?... perhaps some poor 20 year old who has already strayed from the Church and is sexually confused by modern day narcissism?

Question 2.) Exactly WHY is it necessary as a film reviewer to do anything except indicate that a film like this contains objectionable material which could have no beneficial effect on the Catholic mind?

Question 3.) Would it be necessary for me to posit the afore mentioned comments and past reviews of Mr. Forbes with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?

Many faithful Catholics are getting fed up with the fact that our collection dollars are feeding this kind of heterodoxy masquerading as artistic criticism.

Please either dissolve the OFB or put someone in there that simply knows the Catholic Faith and can recognize when a film is damaging or compromising to the Truth. As Catholics, we can not be ambiguous when it comes the sensus fide! Many of the films Mr. Forbes has luridly reviewed were in fact, simply not fit for any audience. I’m willing to bet that our Holy Father would agree if we were to take a close look at the past reviews.

I hope you can answer these three questions satisfactorily in writing to me.

Sincerely ...


You people are crazy. Go back to the middle ages.

James Barrek

Hi i saw Golden Compass and i have to say it was a great movie.If i had kids they would of seen it also.

I saw nothing about the movie offensive and im Catholic.

I see no reason at all to freak out about this movie religiously or otherwise. It was a great movie and i hope they make another.

No offense but i am so glad the Catholic Church doesn't run the world,if it did id find a way to move :)

i have respect for the church but lately its been dwindling. :(

In case your wondering i do believe in god.

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