One of my favorite Memphis bad guys, (all of these were Crump minions, lieutenants, subjects, snitches or cronies) to talk about was Lloyd T Binford. While his rest of the Crump Gang was controlling how you voted, Lloyd Binford was the best at controlling what Memphians got to see in the movies. I can assure you he didn’t do anything Crump didn’t let him.
In 1908, Lloyd T. Binford was an Insurance Executive with the Columbian Mutual Insurance Company and was apparently quite successful as he had the The Lincoln American Tower built in 1924 (now Court Square Center) with his office was on the top floor.
Good old Lloyd here, just like his boss Crump, was an extreme segregationist. In 1928, Binford was appointed head of the censor board. The Commercial Appeal said of Mr. Binford “He reigned as America’s most inflexible, eccentric and subjective censor”.
E.H. Crump died in 1954 and that put an end to his shenanigans. During his time if you wanted to see any of his banned or dissected pieces of movies (naughty parts in his eyes) he removed you had to cross the bridge and watch it in West Memphis. I’m sure the owners of the Joy Theater were making a killing off of movie hungry Memphians.
There have been several very interesting stories written about him in the 2008 Memphis Flyer, and the 2012 Commercial Appeal as well as The Tennessee Encyclopedia.
Mr. Binford hated Charlie Chaplin films. In Vincent Astor’s wonderful book, Memphis Movie Theaters, he uses the term that was common in Hollywood for movies that Mr Binford censored or banned outright by using the term “Binfordized”.
According to the Commercial Appeal Binford wrote this about David O Selznick’s “Dual in the Sun “It was sadism at its deepest level. It is the fleshpots of Pharaoh, modernized and filled to overflowing. It is barbaric symphony of passion and hatred, spilling from a blood tinted screen. It is mental and physical putrefaction”
He would state that he was not a racist but by his actions and the actions of his boss he was at the very least a segregationist. He was against anything that promoted blacks or showed any picture where blacks and whites were getting along in harmony together.
Lloyd T. Binford died in 1956.
Some of the movies Mr Binford censored or banned:
Because of Eve (1948) – Sexually explicit.
Brewster’s Millions – “Scenes gave too much prominence to Negroes”
Curley – (Aug 23, 1947) – “The Memphis Censor Board … is unable to approve your picture with the little Negroes, as the South does not permit Negroes in white schools nor recognize social equality between the races, even in children.”
Dead End (Aug 27, 1937)
Duel in the Sun (May 8, 1947) – Depicted an affair between a white man and a mixed race Mexican woman.
The French Line (Feb 8, 1954)
Imitation of Life (Nov 26, 1934)
Jesse James – (January 27, 1939) – Binford did not like train robbery films as he was working on a train that was robbed.
King of Kings – (May 18, 1927) – Not Biblically accurate and had a negative portrayal of Jews.
Lost Boundaries – (July 2, 1949) – “It deals with social equality between whites and Negroes in a way that is not practiced in the South. We banned it for that reason.”
Miss Sadie Thompson – (Jan 27, 1928)
The Outlaw- (Feb 5, 1943)
Rebel without a Cause– (Oct 27, 1955) – Promoted juvenile delinquency.
The Return of Frank James – (August 16, 1940)
Sensations of 1945 – (June 30, 1945)
The Southerners – (April 30, 1945) – Seemed condescending to the South.
Stromboli – (Feb 15, 1950) (featuring Ingrid Bergman “the public exhibition of a motion picture starring a woman who is universally known to be living in open and notorious adultery.”
The Wild One – (Feb, 1954) – “rowdy unlawful and raw”
The Woman They Almost Lynched- (March 20, 1953) – same reason as Jesse James.
He also forbade Charlie Chaplin films calling him “London guttersnipe.”
Thanks to the following for information used in this article.
2008 Memphis Flyer article, 2012 Commercial Appeal article and the Tennessee Encyclopedia.
Cornell Law Review, 1951 Motion Picture Censorship, The Memphis Blues, Theodore R. Kupferman, Philip J. O’Brien Jr.