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The Censor by C.J. Dennis

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A great deal of criticism is being hurled just now at the talking picture censors both here and in England.                                                       

The Fanciful 

We picture the fellow all jaundiced and yellow, 
   A long and inquisitive nose -- 
A Stiggins in short of the rabidest sort 
   With a prudish Pecksniffian pose; 
And he wriggles and squirms at the mildest of terms 
   And faints at the partially nude, 
A purist, a preacher, a Sunday-school teacher, 
   Who looks upon kissing as rude. 
He's a blurb, he's a snob, who is yearning to rob 
   The earnest producer and mangle the job. 

The Real 

As a matter of fact both in word and in act 
   He is probably what we esteem; 
A man of broad views, which he doesn't confuse 
   With licence where sex is the theme. 
With a normal sane mind of the healthier kind, 
   Mild-mannered, but nobody's fool. 
He is not to be gulled or his commonsense dulled 
   By the blurb of the decadent school. 
In short he's the sort that the normal support, 
   And, privately, probably quite a good sort.

First published in The Herald, 4 December 1929

Birds of Other Feather by C.J. Dennis

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A 720ft. talkie film of the Australian Lyre Bird in its natural surroundings has been produced by the Commonwealth Cinematograph Branch after three years of patient effort.

To avoid confusion
Amongst the untaught,
And for the information of the punning dunce,
Let it be stated at once
That the item above is not fraught
With any political allusion.
If it were --
Well, my dear sir!
I mean to say --
Three years? Why a single day
Would suffice to complete
Several thousand feet.

First published in The Herald, 24 November 1937

The Vocal Vamp by C.J. Dennis

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Say, kid, I used you like you some
When you were beautiful, but dumb.
   Them pearly teeth, them rollin' eyes --
   Dreamy and of amazin' size --
That leak large tears of glycerine,
When you got mushy on the screen,
   They set my feelin's all awhirl,
   An' made me go all goofy, girl.

Cutie, I fell for you, I did.
I thought you were a reel nice kid,
   Them close-ups! Say! Them cunning' curls!
   You seemed the niftiest of girls.
Them swishy looks you slung about
When villainy was winning' out
   An' you was suffering' the jars
   Of bad men chewing' big seegars!

Aw, kid, my heart was wrung with woe
To see my baby treated so.
   In agony I watched the screen,
   An' when I seen 'em treat you mean
I longed to leap from out my chair
An' be your champeen then an' there.
   Yes, all het up I was each night.
   You sure vamped me, all right, all right.

Why couldn't I be well content
With gifts that Hollywood had sent
   Of old -- the sight of you so cute
   Without no vocal attribute?
But, sweetie, man ain't built that way.
I craved to hear them sweet lips say
   One little sentence, soft an' sweet,
   To make my happiness complete.

Honey, you said ... Oh, that night!
When my great love, conceived at sight,
   Was buried in the cold, cold ground
   Because the films took to sound.
A buzz-saw, Babe, believe me true,
Ain't got one single thing on you;
   For you sure spoke a noseful, kid,
   I'll tell the cock-eyed world you did.

First published in Stead's Review, 1 November 1929

Deprivation by C.J. Dennis

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In New Zealand, as a result of the 25 per cent. tax on the profits of foreign films, American corporations are threatening to stop the sale of their films in the Dominion. Such a reprisal is unthinkable in Australia!

The mind is staggered at the thought:
   This strong-arm stuff fills us with fright,
To think one day we may be brought
   To such a pass. Think of a night --
A Melbourne night, without the joy
Of he-men howling "Atta boy!"

What would a winter evening be
   That did not feed the thoughtful crowd
With amplified cacophony,
   Pouring from palaces, while loud
The splendid sweetie chorus rose
To greet the back stage beauty pose?

Don't rob us of our two-gun fights,
   Our nasal toughs, our baby gal,
Where those "stoopendous" sounds and sights,
   And humor, are mechanical,
And guaranteed as sure enough
One million dollar super-stuff.

Don't rob us of the pleasant dope,
   For sluggish minds we scorn to guide.
Why should the brain thro' problems grope,
   If eye and ear be satisfied?
A fearful threat! Don't think of it,
Lest, in our weakness, we submit.

First published in The Herald, 1 September 1930

A Haven Marred by C.J. Dennis

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"Talking pictures" are about to be screened in Melbourne.

Jones is a man exceeding meek
   And henpecked, so his neighbors say,
Who, one glad evening every week,
   Sought sanctuary in his queer way.

At his suburban picture show
   He'd sit and gloat, in mood serene,
Quite recompensed for all his woe
   To see dumb women on the screen.

But now the picture house he shuns;
   His week becomes one weary drag;
For, 'mid the crash of "he-men's" guns,
   Even the female shadows nag!

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 19 July 1927

My Scenario by C.J. Dennis

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Amongst other prizes, the Commonwealth Government is offering two of £500 each for film scenarios.

Oh, I've got a lovely story that I've thought out all myself.
   It will make a gorgeous picture, I am sure.
(Mind, it isn't for the money, for I am not keen on pelf,
   And my attitude to Art is very pure.)
It is full of real heart-int'rest, mother-love and passion rare,
   And gun-fights and a bad, bold man (who dies),
And a big, strong he-man hero with divinely marcelled hair;
   And I really think it ought to win the prize.

The hero falls on evil days and sinks and sinks quite low
   (This is where the villain comes upon the scene),
But the mother writes a letter pointing out the way to go
   (We will show the letter, close-up, on the screen);
Then Augustus (that's the hero) meets a lovely girl by chance,
   With great, big, soulful, golf-ball, baby eyes,
And undying love comes to them at the very first brief glance.
   Oh, I really think it ought to win the prize.

But ways of true love ne'er run smooth, and lots of dreadful things
   Occur, and all their plans turn out amiss.
But thro' the fights and flights and frights she clings and clings and clings
   To win him with the last, long, luscious kiss.
I don't know much of writing things -- scenarios and such;
   Still, one never really knows what one can do.
But the theme is so original and has so quaint a touch
   That I think it ought to win the prize.  Don't you?

First published in The Herald, 14 June 1929;
and later in
Random Verse: A Collection of Verse and Prose edited by Margaret Herron, 1952;
The C.J. Dennis Collection edited by Garrie Hutchinson, 1987; and
More Than a Sentimental Bloke: A Performance, 1990.

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