HC Deb 10 November 1926 vol 199 cc1084-5

(by Private Notice) asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that arrangements have been made for the exhibition on Armistice Day in London and the Provinces of an American film entitled, "The Unknown Soldier"; and whether he proposes to take steps to prevent the exhibition of this film, having regard to the pain which it will cause to many mourners who have lost relatives in the War and who will be taking part in the remembrance services on Armistice Day?


Yes, Sir; the attention of my right hon. Friend has been drawn to the proposal to show this film in London on Armistice Day, and he has looked carefully into the matter. Representations have been made to him that the film is out of harmony with the feelings of reverence and sorrow associated with this day, and my right hon. Friend sympathises with these representations, but he is advised that there is nothing in the film which would authorise any intervention on his part.


Is it not possible for the Home Secretary to make any representation to the film censors to postpone at any rate the exhibition of the film to a more suitable occasion?


This film has been shown already in no fewer than 14 different provincial cinemas throughout this country and it has also previously been shown in London. Although the film may be considered by some to be in bad taste, we must take into consideration the fact that it has been approved by the British Board of Film Censors, which is under the able guidance of my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). We must take into account that it has been approved by them.


Is not the name "The Unknown Soldier" a sacred name?


May I ask my hon. and gallant Friend whether the statement on which feeling has been excited against this film is that it represents the burial of a soldier in Westminster Abbey with the Stars and Stripes over the coffin, and whether that statement is not entirely false; whether it is not a fact that the only service to a soldier which is there commemorated took place over an American soldier in Washington, the full approval and aid of the American Government, and whether it can be offensive to the opinion of any sane Englishman that the Americans should celebrate, as we do, the memory of their soldiers who fell fighting by our side?


I cannot speak with regard to the approval of the American Government, but there is no doubt that this picture was taken in Washington, and that Westminster Abbey is not represented in the film.