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Sn<ni'ball in the Spring 

An Approach to Pictures 

Other End of the Rainbow 

Writers-Directors in a British Studio 

Witch-hunting in Hollywood 

The Screen Writer's Medium 

Questionnaire Report; Letter from Mexico 

Hollywood Jabberwocky 

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June, 1947 


Editorial • PHILIP DUNNE, 
and DELMER DAVES on Film 
Craft • Report and Comment: 
Correspondence • News 
Notes • Screen Credits 


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SINCLAIR LEWIS Kingshlood Royal 

EDGAR SNOW Stalin Must Have Peace 

SIGMUND FREUD Leonardo da Vinci 

EUGENE O'NEILL The Iceman Cometh 


BUDD SCHULBERG The Harder They Fall 

ELLIOT PAUL Linden on the Saugus Branca 

JOHN O'HARA Hellhox 

DAVID DAVIDSON The Steeper Cliff 





Random House is the publisher of THE MODERN LIBRARY and THE LIFETIME LIBRARY 

A complete catalog is yours for the ashing 

















An Interim Report on A. A. A. 

Snowball in the Spring 


EMMET LAVERY, president of the 
Screen Writers' Guild, is chairman of 
the over-all AAA committee of SWG. 
He is an active member of the Drama- 
tists Guild, author of The Magnificent 
Yankee, which has just wound up a 
cross-country tour. 

UNLIKE the rolling stone that gathered no moss, 
the snowball tossed out in the early spring by the 
AAA committee of the Screen Writers Guild has gath- 
ered a lot of snow — and a lot of momentum. 

Thanks to the formal cooperation of the Council of 
the Authors League of America, approximately 9,000 
copies of the special (March) supplement on AAA 
were distributed to members of the four guilds of the 
League. Above and beyond this, 4,000 additional copies 
were sent by the Screen Writers Guild to unaffiliated 
writers and members of the arts and professions 
throughout the country. 

Today, the proposals advanced in the AAA supple- 
ment are officially before the member guilds of the 
League and the Council of the League for official con- 
sideration. In due time the member guilds will be asked 
to ballot on the AAA and the full Council of the 
Authors League of America will be asked to decide, on 
the basis of this balloting, whether this particular form 
of licensing shall be put into operation. 

To prepare intelligently for this voting, the AAA 
committee of the Screen Writers' Guild is proposing to 
the Council of the Authors League of America that a 

*As this issue of THE SCREEN WRITER was going to 
press, word was received from New York that the Licensing 
Committee of the Authors' League of America is preparing 
to make a formal report on AAA to the Council of the League 
in the near future. It is not certain, naturally, that the final 
disposition of AAA will be made according to the procedure 
outlined above. It is quite possible that the Licensing Com- 
'mittee may recommend that the whole question be determined 
: n, and by, the Council of the League. 

sub-committee of the AAA committee of the Screen 
Writers' Guild go East in the near future to : 

( 1 ) confer with the full Council of the Authors 
League of America 

(2) confer with the individual boards of the 
member guilds of the League 

(3) conduct an all-day seminar in New York — 
and perhaps other regional centers — for 
detailed analysis and discussion of the plan by 
League members.* 

West Coast members of the Authors Guild have 
already gone on record, by a vote of 38 to 6, in favor 
of the AAA licensing program as outlined in the special 
supplement of the Screen Writer. Two hours of solid 
discussion were devoted by this group to the project at 
a recent meeting chaired by Albert Maltz. James Cain, 
Morris Cohn and Emmet Lavery spoke in favor of the 
AAA plan and Rupert Hughes led the discussion 
against it. 

Meanwhile strong indications have been received 
from England that members of the Screen Writers 
Association look with a friendly eye on many of the 
proposals advanced in AAA. While they would prob- 
ably not approach the problem of licensing with the 
same kind of machinery in England, they are keen to 
cooperate in any universal program which will establish 
the principle of licensing as against the principle of 
outright sale. 

(In this connection it is worth noting that, in dis- 
cussions of licensing in England, the phrase "assign- 


ment of copyright" is used to indicate outright transfer 
of ownership. That is, over there, the issue is stated as 
the issue of "licensing" versus the issue of "assignment 
of copyright." Here, in discussing AAA, we have of 
course used the phrase "assignment of copyright" as a 
phrase subsidiary to, not hostile to, the idea of licensing. 
With us we have used the phrase as meaning "trustee- 
ship of copyright." The distinction in use and meaning 
is important to remember because while in one sense of 
the word our English colleagues are consistently 
opposed to "assignment of copyright," actually our 
position and theirs is identical at the moment. We are 
both for licensing and against outright sale under any 
terms. ) 

It would be bad reporting, however, to suggest that 
AAA is sweeping the country. It is too new, too com- 
prehensive, to be disposed of in a few easy resolutions 
and generalities. The truth is many writers still have 
quite a few reservations about AAA, some of them valid 
and reasonable, some of them invalid and irrational. 

The position of the Screen Writers' Guild at this 
point is a very simple one. We say now, as we have said 
many times before: this is one form of licensing, it is a 
form in which we believe, but if it isn't the best form, 
give us the one that is better. 

We realize, for instance, that many members of the 
Dramatists Guild do not take easily to the theory of 
"assignment of copyright" even though the proposed 
assignment is a very limited one and would be, in fact, 
a revocable trusteeship. They do not take easily to this 
theory because they have been able to operate otherwise 
in the theatre. They have been able to operate under a 
Minimum Basic Agreement. 

We understand this position and we can appreciate 
the logic of it, for many of us have been members of 
the Dramatists Guild for many years. But we also 
realize that licensing in four fields can not be projected 
without some comprehensive machinery to implement 
that licensing and to date we have heard of no over-all 
machinery which would provide that implementation. 
True, the Authors Guild is considering the advisability 
of a film negotiator — like the one in the Dramatists 
Guild — as one possible method of regulating the 
licensing of the material of Authors Guild members 
that might be sold to motion pictures. But this is not 
the same thing as over-all negotiation in the fields of 
theatre, radio, television and films. It is a limited 
approach to one section of the problem and it is a very 
good approach. It is a step in the right direction but we 
in the Screen Writers' Guild think similar steps have 
to be taken by all guilds together: in effect, over-all, 
simultaneous negotiation in all fields. Through the 

Authors League of America of course, but through some 
special machinery set up to do this particular job. 

To date, the only hint as to a possible alternative to 
AAA — and it is only a hint, and perhaps an uninten- 
tional one at that — comes from George Middleton, 
veteran dramatist, in his excellent reissue of the pam- 
phlet describing the operations of the Dramatists Guild 
Minimum Basic Agreement. Toward the end of this 
report, Mr. Middleton sagely observes: 

"Healthy differences as to policies, which may arise 
within the League, should not weaken a common front 
through which alone can the common objectives, of 
benefit to all authors, be achieved. To that end, Basic 
Agreements, I believe, should be negotiated to cover 
the entire field of authorship, in which European 
authors, who have asked our cooperation, should be 
invited to participate." 

The italics, it should be noted, are those of Mr. 
Middleton. They raise a provocative question. Here, of 
course, is the ultimate of ultimates — one to which I 
think most members of the Screen Writers' Guild 
would subscribe without hesitation. But are we in a 
position to project such an agreement at the present 
time? Isn't that the last round in the licensing fight 
rather than the first round? A hundred members from 
each of the four guilds might easily put AAA into 
operation, if they were the holders of enough active 
copyrights, for the whole principle of AAA is that of a 
voluntary association of writers in a limited trusteeship. 
But it would take the common concerted action of at 
least five to seven thousand writers to make effectual a 
Compulsory Minimum Basic Agreement covering all 

As matters stand now, the League and its member 
guilds are firmly committed to the general principle of 
licensing and the accompanying theories of separation 
of copyrights and reversion for non-use. But no one 
has yet suggested the possible zero hour when this 
licensing program will take effect — and after which 
outright sales of literary property will no longer be 
countenanced by the League. And no one, with the 
exception of the Screen Writers' Guild, has come for- 
ward with a detailed over-all plan whereby such a 
licensing program might be projected through the 
League and its member guilds. 

Locally, many playwrights and screen writers are 
already working at the theory of licensing, even though 
there is as yet no League machinery to implement it. 
They are able to do this because they are strong enough 
individually to ask for and to obtain seven and ten year 
licensing contracts, separation of copyrights and rever- 
sion for non-use. Others, not so fortunate, face the old 


familiar pressures. In the catch-as-catch-can state of 
the so-called "package" market, outright sales are often 
effected with no provision for additional compensation 
to the original author in the event of a profitable re- 
sale. In the regular market most studios continue to 
insist on the preposterous legal fiction that the sale of 
property and/or literary services to the studio makes the 
studio perforce the "author" of the property. And in 
recent weeks we have seen an intriguing variation on 
this situation in which an individual producer in his 
individual capacity asked a writer to certify that the 
producer was, in fact, the complete and sole creator of 
the literary property that he had just bought from the 

Appropriately enough, relatively little attention has 
been given by the press throughout the country to the 
revised AAA plan as printed in the March supplement, 
although columns of vituperative comment were hurled 
at the Screen Writers' Guild and its members when the 
plan was first discussed some months before. The reason 
for the silence, naturally, is not hard to understand. 
The revised AAA plan is a carefully thought out docu- 
ment, fair, honest, and democratic, with every guar- 
antee possible to the individual writer that he is creating 
nothing more than a revocable trusteeship. There isn't 
much argument, in law and logic, that can be brought 
against it. A few points here and there perhaps but not 
many and none of the kind that give comfort to the 
creators of scare headlines in the five star finals. 

True, some very sincere writers — not members of 
the American Writers Association, organized for the 
sole purpose of destroying AAA — just don't like the 
idea of assignment of copyright in any form, no matter 
how limited. They dispose of copyright every year of 
course to publishers and studios but they hesitate at the 
idea of trusteeing any part of it to a group of fellow 
writers. There are also a few agents, here and there, 
who have been a little slow to realize that AAA is not 
an agent and would not replace the agencies. And, it 
must be admitted, on the basis of questionnaires that 
have already come in, there are a few younger writers 
who are frank enough to admit that they would always 
prefer an outright sale to any form of licensing. They 
want the bird in the hand even though it might grow 
to be a bigger bird if they let it have its wings. 

Finally, there is still a little East Coast-West Coast 
tension. Not very much. Nothing that wouldn't dissolve 
quickly when facing a common enemy. Some writers in 
New York feel that some individual observations in the 
AAA supplement with respect to the eastern guilds are 
I not borne out by the facts. Others feel that the AAA 

is just some kind of screen writing dream for screen 
writers who have no knowledge of other fields. A few, 
to be perfectly frank, still think most writers west of 
the Los Angeles river are blood brothers to one Joseph 
Stalin and accordingly want no part of us. 

Time of course will dissipate most of these last 
objections, time and detailed study of the Questions and 
Answers section of the AAA supplement. As for the few 
Marxists in our midst, whose initial enthusiasm for 
AAA may have disturbed some people, I have no hesi- 
tation in repeating now a prediction which I have made 
many times before : in the last analysis, or, if you prefer, 
in the last round of the good fight for licensing, we will 
be hearing less and less from the brethren on the far 
Left. They will probably not be hostile to AAA or 
whatever the final form of licensing may be. They will 
naturally go along with any plan that in the long run 
improves the standing of writers, especially the finan- 
cial standing. But, as one of our articulate conservatives 
pointed out some time ago, the whole battle for licensing 
and for the AAA is a highly capitalistic maneuvre 
designed to take a little more capital from one group of 
capitalists — producers, publishers, radio chains, tele- 
vision — and put in the pockets of another group of 
capitalists, the writers. It is not something that squares 
with the Communist Party line. It has no compulsions. 
It is open to everyone. It has no control of content. It 
works for the small writer as well as for the big writer. 
It is the most voluntary form of association that has 
ever been proposed for American writers : it is a limited, 
revocable trusteeship administered by democratically 
elected delegates from the four guilds of the Authors 
League of America. The Kremlin would not under- 
stand it nor care for it. 

At this point it might be timely to point out one or 
two more obvious facts: in the Screen Writers' Guild, 
as in most writing guilds, we have no political or reli- 
gious screening of membership. We do not even qualify 
the writers who become eligible for active membership : 
the studios, who employ screen writers, provide that 
qualification by providing enough employment (26 
weeks) to make them eligible for active membership. 
The rest of our members, at the moment about 200, 
come to us on assignment (exchange) from brother 
guilds in the Authors League of America. So obviously 
we are not a front for the Communist Party nor a 
recruiting agent for the Kremlin. We are just a typical 
cross-section of American writers, people with the 
average worries, hopes, and ambitions — people naive 
enough to believe that the struggle for a better world 
begins with a struggle for a better art, people naive 
enough to believe that one way to better the art is to 
better the man who creates it, to give him just a bit 


more to say about it than the man who is merely going 
to sell it. 

But is it art, asks a mocking voice in the back of the 
house? Well, if it isn't, brother — whose fault is it? 
Who sold it down the river, year after year, and got a 
mess of pottage for his pains — yes, and only one mess 
of pottage at that ! No one forced our novelists and 
playwrights and screen writers to sell outright all their 
rights in all these fields. But they did and that is why, in 
pictures at least, the remakes of famous plays and novels 
are so seldom equal to the first attempt. The further 
you get away from the original author the less you have 
in the end. 

Yes, this is the same kind of fight that the Dramatists 
Guild had in the theatre. Only longer and tougher and 
nastier. We can't win it by fighting each other. We can 
only win it by standing together wherever writers are 

And so we in the Screen Writers' Guild say: let's 
stop talking about licensing. Let's begin to license. Let's 
set a stop-date. Let's have thorough study and a prompt 
vote on AAA. We still think AAA is the best form of 
licensing we have seen so far but we're willing to be 
shown if somebody has found a better way. Let's have 
the alternatives, if any, and let's have them soon . . . 
very soon. 

The way we look at it, that was a pretty good snow- 
ball we threw out in the early spring. And there's still 
a lot of snow clinging to it, even in the heat of June. 
There will still be a lot of snow on it, when the frost is 
on the ground in the Fall. 

But let's not fool around too long with this thing 
called licensing. The best snowball in the world won't 
last forever. So 

If it isn't this snowball, what snowball is it? 


Statement on Thomas Committee 

In a statement widely quoted by 
the nation's press, Emmet Lavery, 
president of the Screen Writers' Guild 
demanded that accredited channels 
instead of Representative J. Parnell 
Thomas' "Un-American" Commit- 
tee undertake the job of investigating 
truly subversive activity in the motion 
picture industry. He suggested that 
the FBI is the proper agency for 
such work. 

Despite Rep. Thomas' statement, 
as published, that "90 per cent of 
Communist infiltration in Hollywood 
is to be found among screen writers," 
Mr. Lavery, head of the writers' or- 
ganization, had at the time of going 
to press not been summoned or invited 
to appear before the investigators 
then sitting in Los Angeles. 

"I doubt very much," said Mr. 
Lavery, "if any subversive elements 
are likely to be trapped by punches 
telegraphed in advance by Congress- 
man Thomas in eight-column scare 

"Writers are always being called 
Communists," Mr. Lavery pointed 
out. "It has been a favorite indoor 
and outdoor sport for a good many 
years. We may have a few Commun- 
ists in the Screen Writers' Guild, just 
as there may be a few Communists 
in all of the professions and the arts. 
We do not employ them; we do not 
qualify them for their membership in 
this Guild. Oddly enough, it is the 
employing studios who qualify all of 
our writers for active membership, 
for unless they are employed by a 

studio, they cannot become active 
members. We accept all our members 
without regard for political or relig- 
ious affiliation. 

"I have been President of the 
Screen Writers' Guild for three years, 
and I am confident that the solid 
democratic worth of the Guild speaks 
for itself. And it may be interesting 
to Mr. Thomas to know that as early 
as October 7, 1946, I appeared vol- 
untarily at the local headquarters of 
the FBI, following my testimony be- 
fore the Committee of Senator Jack 
Tenney, and formally placed myself 
and the Guild at the command of 
the FBI for any investigations that 
they might care to make. They told 
me at that time that they had no 
questions to ask." 

An Approach to Pictures 


writer-producer <who discusses here 
some problems of production and the 
place of writers in the motion picture 

PROBABLY any author who attempts to tell a story 
of our times faithfully and with regard to the social 
needs of today will find himself confronting certain 
difficulties. He will run afoul of obsolete restrictions. 
Or he will feel the resistance of those forces which 
oppose necessary change wherever they find it. 

In gaining permission to use hitherto inaccessible in- 
formation files in writing the story of the Treasury 
Department's Bureau of Narcotics in cooperation with 
the Department's Customs and Coast Guard Bureaus, 
I encountered little or none of the traditional red tape 
of government bureaucracy. When the officials were 
satisfied that I would not distort the material to suit 
cheap, stereotyped theatrical needs, their intelligent 
cooperation was forthcoming. The first real obstacle 
was the notice from the Production Code Administra- 
tion that the story was in violation of the existing code, 
which forbade the dramatization on the screen of illicit 
traffic in narcotics. However, the Motion Picture Asso- 

When JAY RICHARD KENNEDY came to Hollywood 
15 months ago he had behind him an unusual record of 
achievement as an economist, financier and special aide to 
the federal government in both the national and international 
fields. In 1945 he was called upon by the Treasury Depart- 
ment to help smooth the way for the Bretton Woods agree- 
ment. While working with the department, he was impressed 
by the great range of its law enforcement activities, and by 
the fact that its Bureau of Narcotics as far back as 1935 
proved the practicality of the concept of cooperation between 
nations. He proposed to Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr. 
and the Commissioner of Narcotics Harry J. Anslinger that 
he tell the story of that Bureau's work in cooperation with 
the Customs and Coast Guard Bureaus of Treasury. With 
the understanding that the essential facts remain in focus, 
they gave him access to hitherto closed files and later ap- 
proved his story, as did the subsequent Secretaries of Treas- 
ury, Fred Vinson and John Snyder. 

Feeling that the story was best suited to motion pictures, 
Mr. Kennedy came to Hollywood. Four major studios bid 
for the story. He chose to set up an independent corporation 
owned jointly by Sidney Buchman, as producer, and himself 
as associate producer and author of the original story and 
screenplay. Believing his brief but intensive experience in 
Hollywood illumines some current problems encountered in 
motion picture making, the editors of THE SCREEN 
WRITER asked Mr. Kennedy to discuss frankly his approach 
to film writing and producing. 

ciation of America, while pointing out that the story 
(tentatively titled) Assigned to Treasury, was techni- 
cally outside the pale of its code, nevertheless, agreed 
at the same time that the story was in good taste and 
in the public interest. 

The MPAA has its own practical, hard-headed rea- 
sons for understanding that real stories must be told if 
the world market is to be won. In the domestic market 
it is aware of a stirring deep in the bones of John and 
Mary Smith, who were subjected to the violent impo- 
sition of a depression, followed by a global war and 
who now confront the unsolved problems of tomorrow. 
Our American audiences need a celluloid mirror of 
their lives and aspirations. English, French, Italian and 
Russian films are dealing maturely with realistic themes. 
We can do no less and compete successfully. Undoubt- 
edly the MPAA is conscious of this fact. 

In any case, the code was amended to allow for the 
screen portrayal of the worldwide effort to curb the 
illicit traffic in narcotics. Though many factors con- 
tributed to the decision of MPAA to amend its Pro- 
duction Code, I believe that the basic one was the 
appeal by Commissioner of Narcotics Anslinger that 
the picture be made. That appeal came as the result of 
the Treasury Department belief that the world would 
benefit from the realistic presentation of this global 
story, and also as the result of Commissioner Anslin- 
ger's faith that the best interests of his bureau had not 
been, and therefore would not be sacrificed for the pur- 
poses of a quick theatrical advantage in bringing the 
story to the screen. 

But the amendment of the Code did not end our 
problems. In many respects, it began them. Immedi- 
ately a hysterical campaign set in against the picture, 
against the amendment, even against the industry. The 
real nature of this campaign has not been opposition to 
the narcotics issue, the core of this opposition is appar- 
ently the belief that the Production Code is a sacrosanct 
instrument, and that the establishment of any precedent 


for seriously amending it is dangerous. Outcries against 
the screen portrayal of the fight against the interna- 
tional illegal narcotics traffic has been, in my opinion, 
used as a smokescreen to obscure something of impor- 
tance to the entire industry — namely, its right of self- 
government and the duty and even necessity of change 
to meet the conditions of our changing world. 

In preparation for writing the treatment of Assigned 
to Treasury, I studied over eighty motion pictures and 
then did "homework" analyzing the screenplays from 
which these pictures had been made. This study dis- 
closed an interesting difference in the prewar technique 
of Hollywood picture making and the wartime so-called 
"documentary technique," a difference which I had to 
understand if the experiences of skilled veterans in 
both fields were to teach me anything in preparation 
for the writing of my first treatment and screenplay. 

The prewar film technique seemed to concern itself 
most actively with the Great Man, the individual who 
bends all situation to his fabulous will. The story was 
placed at the complete service of validating this one 
unusual hero. (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town) Supporting 
players and plot action were subordinated to make the 
solitary jewel shine. I may be wrong, but it seemed to 
me that the evil of the star system, rather than creating 
this technique, emerged out of it, and that this tech- 
nique, in turn, was created by the unrealistic social 
climate of the pre-depression and prewar years. I 
learned a great deal from this technique about swift and 
oblique theatrical revelations of what purport to be 

However, in the end, these revelations remained 
false for my purposes, for they were set forth in unreal 
situational context. I had assured the Treasury Depart- 
ment that I would be faithful to the facts in the file 
(which in theatrical terms meant the basic dramatic 
situations). Against that objective, the prewar tech- 
nique became "make-believe" in an unusable sense. The 
lone individual never bends dramatic situation (other- 
wise known as environment) or supporting players 
(otherwise definable as the community as seen from the 
protagonist's viewpoint) to his own exclusive will. Even 
the "status-quo individual" is no exception. With the 
aid of the weight of environment he hamstrings the 
efforts of others to reshape it. Environment, as we all 
know, takes one powerful lot of bending before it 
yields. It acts upon the individual with at least as much 
force as the individual, no matter how heroic, acts upon 
it. In Assigned to Treasury a consideration of this 
social truth ceased to be academic. 

The other technique, the wartime "documentary" 

like the prewar Hollywood technique referred to above, 
likewise taught me many important things. How to find 
people and events in their native habitat (among other 
things, by actually bringing a camera there!), the 
power of understatement, of matter-of-factness, the 
attention to small, but exciting detail which creates the 
illusion of reality, faith in the dramatic values implicit 
in environment (dramatic situation) which prevents 
gilding the lily or distorting it. All this proved inval- 
uable. Yet, taken by itself — for my purposes — it 
seemed to exaggerate in one direction as the prewar 
technique exaggerated in another. (I am not referring 
to Hollywood wartime films like Sahara, Wake Island, 
Destination Tokyo, which attempted the beginnings of 
a synthesis between the two techniques. I refer to the 
government documentary film, a technique almost as 
old as entertainment film making itself) which had its 
origin in visual education. In it, the protagonist is sub- 
ordinated to dramatic situation. 

During the war this technique dealt with a great 
global social crisis. To meet that crisis the individual 
either subordinated or associated himself with the com- 
munity in a joint effort to reshape the environment 
which created this crisis. But that could not have pos- 
sibly meant that the individual was less important than 
the task he performed. Quite the reverse. It caused 
tremendous personality changes, making heroes out of 
ordinary men and thus making the individual more 
important than ever. The wartime documentary tech- 
nique in many cases implied the opposite. How to load 
a gun, what to do for wounds, how to behave when 
captured, was treated more importantly than the person 
who performed these deeds. We learned no more about 
people than was indispensable for carrying the docu- 
mentary story forward. 

Perhaps this over-simplification was born out of the 
social climate of a war for which we were not suffi- 
ciently prepared ideologically, in much the manner as 
the social climate of rugged individualism in the prewar 
period created the over-simplification of environment 
in prewar Hollywood film technique. In any event, I 
felt that technically, in writing Assigned to Treasury 
my task was to synthesize the best of both, striking a 
tone and style which authentically dramatized environ- 
ment on the one hand and authentically and dramatic- 
ally revealed the importance of the individual on the 
other. This meant neither environment nor character 
would be distorted to serve the other's needs. 

Whether this synthesis has been achieved, remains of 
course to be seen. If it has been on film, it will be the 
result of the joint efforts in this direction, not only of 
myself, but in the first place of Sidney Buchman, the 
producer, and after him, of every other person seriously 


involved in the project. I am sure that my colleagues, 
no less than I, live in anxious hope, rather than satisfied 
certainty. But whether we have succeeded or failed, 
one thing, I believe, remains true: 

Out of the various efforts now being made in Holly- 
wood to achieve this synthesis in both subject matter 
and style can come something new, better and more 
mature in picture making. My evidence that this can be 
done, is that it already has been done in The Best Years 
of Our Lives. In the past, the documentary technique 
bubbled along quietly under the surface of popular 
entertainment. It excited only an aesthetic, scholarly 
and frequently snobbish few. Running parallel, the 
Hollywood technique flashed its virtuosity profitably 
across the entertainment sky. The war exploded heaven 
and earth in more ways than one. It drew the docu- 
mentary up out of its safe obscurity to educate and 
inspire millions of soldiers and other millions of people 
in liberated areas, supplying sufficient audience and 
opportunity to fulfill what was previously embryonic in 
its technique. That same upheaval brought "once-upon- 
a-non-existent-time" magnificently down to earth with 
Sahara, Destination Tokyo, Edge of Darkness and 
others. Inevitably, when the smoke cleared, these two 
strangers had to meet. In The Best Years of Our Lives, 
they did. 

Before the first draft of my screenplay was com- 
pleted, The House on 92nd Street made its debut. I did 
not feel about The House as I feel about The Best 
Years of Our Lives. While The House had a "newsreel 
authenticity" and a new approach to environment, 
which proved that the "factual style" could yield profi- 
table dramatic entertainment, I believe it suffered from 
the same weaknesses as the wartime documentary tech- 
nique in that it sacrificed deepened characterization for 
the purpose of emphasizing what was dramatic in 
authentically presented situation, (as differentiated 
from Boomerang which certainly does, in many respects, 
achieve this synthesis.) 

In the process of dealing with my story, a working 
definition was developed with regard to the people in it. 

I call it "documentary characterization." If the word 
"documentary" still has an odious or frightening, non- 
commercial sound, I readily accept other words like 
"authentic," "realistic," or "factual." All I mean, is a 
technique of unfolding character which is as dominant 
as the authentic factual revelation of dramatic situation 
and strikes the same tone and matter-of-fact spirit. By 
documentary characterization I mean a research into 
Jthe human data to the point where the people in each 
scene stand with equal dramatic importance as the 
/ factually arrived at situations they are in and not at the 

expense of watering down either of these factors. 
(Documentary situation obviously is not based on case 
file material alone. It achieves stature whenever it is 
well-researched as in The Lost Weekend.) In the effort 
at synthesis I had to, of necessity, treat the dramatic 
situation as constant (meaning that while it was subject 
to and required imagination, it was not subject to dis- 
tortion. The United States Department of Treasury 
saw to that ! ) This made documentary characterization 
variable, subject to test, re-test, work, re-work until 
the human values felt as sound, believable, exciting and 
factual as the constant situational values. 

The various artists who made The Best Years of Our 
Lives voluntarily assumed a kindred problem and solved 
it with remarkable success. William Wyler makes refer- 
ence to it in his important article in the February issue 
of THE SCREEN WRITER when he says: "In the 
case of The Best Years, I should like to make the point 
that the picture came out of its period as a result of the 
social forces when the war ended. In a sense the picture 
was made by events and imposed a responsibility upon us 
to be true to these events and refrain from distorting 
them for our own ends." (My underscoring.) Else- 
where in this same article Mr. Wyler observes: "It is 
readily apparent that The Best Years is not a story of 
plot, but a story of some people facing real problems." 
The fact that Assigned to Treasury is a story of plot, 
real, factual plot, documentarily unfolded, by itself 
confronted us with some interesting riddles. Whether 
solved or not, of course still remains to be seen. 

If characterization was to be attempted at all, it 
required that the "human document" be as real as the 
"situational document" — - that it never be forced and 
always remain consistent with the terms imposed by the 
plot and the understated, authentic style demanded by 
the "fact-drama" method of story telling. Among other 
solutions, in the middle section of Assigned to Treasury 
the girl is totally absent. She is kept alive in the story 
only by her bearing on it. In addition, in this same sec- 
tion, Mike Barrows (Dick Powell) is placed in the 
hands of his colleagues in Beyrut and in Egypt. They, 
not he, are the protagonists. 

Another by-product of this approach which starts 
with thematic viewpoint — is that it commits mayhem 
on a host of theatrical values bred by chauvinism. The 
narcotics operatives of the various nations of the world 
involved in our story are all men of stature. That is the 
truth in the file. Creating these new authentically con- 
ceived archetypes, with their own specific personality 
coloration was a willing labor. I think it is better to 
allow Gunga Din to achieve his dignity than to weep 


for his lack of it. The moon-faced, greasy South Ameri- 
can, the Vodka-swilling Russian, the bowing, "chop- 
chop" Chinese are figments of a prejudiced, undemo- 
cratic imagination. It is only justice that audiences 
composed of these people and self-respecting audiences 
generally throughout the postwar world should, in a 
competitive film market, reject any American film that 
perpetuates this slander. 

Obviously, eliminating these "well-established" 
forms of domestic boxoffice insurance necessitated fur- 
ther research into character rather than caricature. 
Finding the theatrical expression of the true national 
characteristics of these people yielded the reward of 
foreign characters who are not "alien." While valid 
and entertaining, they are understandable and worthy 
of the high regard to which the peoples they represent 
in life are entitled. 

The character who best illustrates the point I am 
trying to make regarding the raising of the human 
document to the same level as the situational document 
is Homer, the boy without hands in The Best Years. 
The documentary development of how Homer uses his 
artificial hands could have met the strictest require- 
ments of wartime documentary technique. This was a 
carefully researched statement of "know-how" in using 
artificial hands. But in a story "of some people facing 
real problems" it would have been a terrible blunder to 
make the issue of how Homer uses his hands more 
important than why he has to. Hence, it was necessary 
to deepen the character of Homer. We learn how and 
why simultaneously, without distorting either one to 
suit the dramatic needs of the other. As a result we are 
emotionally bound up with the larger issue of men like 
Homer who fought for something they are entitled to 
and the assistance as well as the courage they must have 
in order to secure it. I believe that is why Homer 
proves the theme of The Best Years better than his two 
buddies, with or without artificial hands. Because a true 
balance was struck between who he was (documentary 
characterization) and what he faced (authentic situa- 
tion) he stands out as something new in picture making. 

The effectiveness of The Best Years remains at this 
writing the strongest evidence to support my conviction 
that integrating the prewar Hollywood technique with 
the war-time so-called documentary technique is the 
problem of serious minded picture makers today. It par- 
allels the nation's postwar social problem of integrating 
the best elements of our prewar life with the experi- 
ences the GI and all of us had during the war. In my 
own case, being steeped so deeply in the case file mate- 

rial, I was able to contribute a kind of resistance to its 
distortion, while being flexible as to its use. 

The effort to integrate a full authentic plot story and 
a full human story created certain problems in exposi- 
tion and recapitulation, which are no doubt "old stuff" 
to the reader who has written screenplays before. To 
me they were in the nature of new lessons. The size of 
the problem came with the "discovery" that a film is in 
constant motion, whereas the stageplay, the radio show 
and the novel on the other hand, have their intermis- 
sions. In the play, in the radio show, they are imposed. 
In the novel, the reader decides the intermission when 
he sets down the book to reflect on what he has read 
before picking it up again. Obviously, the so-called 
"interruptions" in the theatre, radio show and novel 
put the audience's and reader's mind to imaginative 
work (even if only partially). The film, conversely, by 
virtue of its uninterruptedness can quickly create men- 
tal fatigue (all the more so if considerable data either 
story wise or character wise has been unfolded) unless 
recapitulation is forthcoming to make up for the absence 
of these intermissions. This, in turn, could not be done 
at the expense of "stopping the story." In a tale as full 
as Assigned to Treasury is, both in plot and character 
data, the solution came from placing recapitulation 
(which invariably pertained to situation, plot action, 
story development) at the service of discovering some- 
thing new about people. 

In the first section, recapitulation comes from tht 
Chinese operative at a time that we discover underneath 
his calm and seemingly professionally indifferent atti- 
tude an intense, burning hatred for those Japanese who 
are attempting to subjugate his people with narcotics. 
The disclosure of his hatred is specific, rather than 
general, and therefore is new. 

In the second section, recapitulation comes from the 
Egyptian operative, in a scene in which we learn the 
reasons why he does his work (it is international in 
scope and coming as he does from a minority people he 
strives for a better understanding between peoples 
which would yield more equality for his own people, 
etc.) In the last section, it comes at the moment when 
our protagonist, Mike Barrows, comes fully of age and 
now gives leadership to the Cuban operative and then 
to his North American associates, much in the manner 
in which he has heretofore taken leadership from the 
Chinese, Egyptian, British and French operatives. 
Thus, the very agent which created a complicated 
story-telling problem also provided the key to simpli- 
fying the telling of the story. 



Whether agreed with, or not, I sincerely hope that 
this recital of a struggle with technique may be of some 
interest to those directly connected with the creative 
and policy-making side of production. But since this 
struggle was undertaken essentially in my capacity as a 
writer, its most direct bearing on the industry stems 
from its bearing on writers. Theirs is the first task in 
achieving this kind of integration of prewar and war- 
time techniques. If they are to do it at all (or, for that 
matter, contribute substantially to the maturing of 
picture making in any other ways at the present time ) , 
I believe that their current status must undergo changes 
in certain important respects. Only then will the indus- 
try fully profit from their efforts. In the first place, it 
would seem necessary that the writer be permitted suf- 
ficient time to write a story properly. After that, I 
believe he should be accorded the privilege of following 
through on every screenplay he writes, from rough 
draft on paper to the finished film on screen and he 
should do so with some right of participation in pro- 
duction decisions. 

The common practice of taking the screenwriter's 
script, assigning him to a new one, then turning the 
pages over to another author (most of the time without 
so much as even a conference between the first and 
second author), then turning the finished script into 
film without either author's collaboration, without 
their privilege of opinion or authority to exercise it, 
seems to a newcomer's eyes the most outrageous dich- 
otomy of an author's relationship to his own work. 
From it, not only the writer suffers. So do the producer, 
the director, the cameraman, the set designer, the set 
dresser, the film editor, publicity and advertising 
departments, the studio owner, the bank which partici- 
pates in financing the film, the exhibitors, and last, and 
most important, the public. 

It seems incredible that the writer whose story is the 
subject of the entire project of production should have 
the smallest and least important voice in production 
decisions. I am grateful for what my initial picture 
production experience has been and to both Sidney 
Buchman and the distributor of our film for making it 
possible. I believe that all writers must be accorded a 
similar opportunity in their own interests as well as in 
the interests of the industry. It is costly bureaucracy 
indeed which prevents genuine rapport between the 
writer and the actors. Surely if the "playing attitude" 
of an actor derives from anything, it must, in the first 
place derive from the interpretation of the lines and 
situations conceived by the writer. 

Obviously, a director who has not spent the same 

amount of time on the story which the writer has 
(which is most often the case and once again I am not 
discussing the exception) cannot unearth all the in- 
tended meanings. The director or producer who denies 
the validity of this argument inevitably demonstrates 
the deficiency in his outlook in the final irrefutable 
evidence of the finished picture itself. There is a whole 
part of a sincere writer's experience which he never 
puts on paper in the screenplay. This remaining part in 
his head and in his nervous system can be contributed 
only during actual production. It is judgment based on 
the experience of having written the story. There is 
mood creation and set design which can be destroyed 
by over-stylized, low-key lighting or conventional 
lighting to glamorize the star. There are currents and 
cross-currents of meaning which can be completely dis- 
rupted by an insufficiently digested approach to such 
mechanical (though important) questions as brevity 
or length. 

One may argue that a writer's work is no better than 
the producer or director he associates himself with. 
Absolutely tiue. Particularly true in my case with a 
producer as skilled, talented and experienced as Sidney 
Buchman. But where, in general industry practice is 
the writer's privilege of choice in this matter ? One may 
likewise argue that in the collaborative work of picture 
making, problems such as those indicated above are 
properly the domain of the producer, director, cam- 
eraman and film editor. This argument likewise is not 
satisfying. It is a platitude to say that the head of every 
department has his own specialized, valid, individual 
contribution to make. Obviously. Likewise it is an 
evasive argument to proclaim that a writer of necessity 
loses his total objectivity concerning his material after 
seventeen re-writes and months of living with the story. 
Also true. The argument which nonetheless stands un- 
assailable is the simple common sense fact that the 
writer, and no one but the writer, conceived and incu- 
bated an idea. Pie or she gave birth to it and raised it. 
He visualized scenes designed to express this idea and 
created characters concerning whom, it is hoped, he 
developed certain passions. No matter what changes 
may take place from paper to film, no matter what valid 
additions or deletions may come about as the result of 
"kicking the material around," no matter how many 
re-writes may take place, something has remained in 
that author as a result of this experience which, if he is 
still on his feet, gives him a lasting perspective regard- 
ing the scenes and characters that supplies him knowl- 
edge concerning the dramaturgical pitfalls in the story, 
and an instinct as to where, when or how violence can 


be done to the story, characters and scene design. This 
is the part of his contribution which is not in the script. 

The studio has paid for it and then denies itself the 
opportunity of benefiting from it. His right to contrib- 
ute some of the judgment and knowledge born of the 
experience of writing the story must not depend on the 
common sense, itnelligence, self-interest, or fair-minded- 
ness of the studio, the producer, or the director. His 
right must be inherent somewhere in the terms of his 
employment. The playwright enjoys this status. To a 
more limited extent so does the novelist. 

If every screen writer were given these minimum 
opportunities there would be less criticism by an actor 
of lines which look fine on paper but which he cannot 
speak. This process goes on into the cutting and editing 
of the film, from which the writer learns, as well as to 
which he contributes, day by day. By actual participa- 
tion in daily shooting and in the subsequent study of 
the rushes, the writer quickly learns the limitations 
imposed upon him by actual film. Questions of length 
or brevity are realistically related to the understanding 
of intercutting, dissolves, total film length, audience 
fatigue, etc. With such experience, a writer can subse- 
quently design his scenes conscious of problems and 

It would seem to me that this added knowledge on 
his part ultimately spells greater profits at the boxoffice. 
But denied the opportunity of participating in daily 
shooting and seeing the rough cut as it grows reel by 
reel, he remains ignorant of the final product, which is 
not words on paper, but people and their purposes in 
action on film. Seeing the picture months later in a 
theatre never did and never will supply this. And that, 
I believe, is why from one assignment to the next, the 
writer is told that his place is at the typewriter and 
that he has no right to participate in production deci- 
sions because he doesn't have the "know-how." Thus, 
both he and his employers are in the final analysis 
cheated. I reject the solution which works for individ- 
uals, but not for the writing group, such as the person 
who becomes a writer-producer, or a writer-director to 
"protect his material." I choose the path of writing- 
producing for a variety of reasons having to do with 
previous experiences in other fields. 

But if a writer wishes to devote himself exclusively 
to writing, then, in the best interests of the industry he 
should not be penalized for this by being the lowliest 
participant in the decision-making end of producing a 
motion picture. Not so long as the final product rests 
upon the basic characters, sequences and ideas he had 
originally put on paper for its validity and effective- 
ness. It is unjust as well as unintelligent. I likewise 
reject the pompous judgment of the "Haves" against 

the "Have-Nots" which argues that the writer, to 
secure these privileges of authority with regard to 
production, and the privilege of following through on 
a picture "on the company time" until the film is in the 
can, must go through a lengthy and bloody apprentice- 

If his dramatic instinct and capacity to be articulate 
were good enough to secure him employment in the 
motion picture industry, then they are sufficient creden- 
tials at that very moment to qualify him for the addi- 
tional training which I described above. It will make 
him a better writer. It will make good pictures better. 
It will give his employer more value for his money. 
I was surprised to find that this line of thinking creates 
wrath expressed with great certainty in some quarters. 
Perhaps my specific solution is not the best. But no one 
who has the interests of the industry as a whole at heart 
can deny the existence of the problem. Those who do, 
with such deep throated certainty are, I suspect, guilty 
of an unreasoning canine snarling born of dog-eat-dog 
competition which is harmful to the entire industry at 
a time when it heads into serious problems at home 
and abroad. 

I am aware that the Screen Writers' Guild has done 
prodigious work on this problem and I am most cer- 
tainly not criticizing the Guild for what remains to be 
done. I realize that achieving this improved status of 
practical dignity for the writer may well bear directly 
on achieving an improved economic status for him. 
I still think it is sound business for the industry, as well 
as for the writer. In addition, I know what those 
writers who have not been accorded some of my oppor- 
tunities have been denied. 

I am indebted to my many patient teachers during 
this apprenticeship — men who had nothing to gain for 
themselves by their generosity. Sidney Buchman, Bill 
Lyon, our film editor, his assistant, Sam Brown, our 
set designer, Carey O'Dell, Larry Butler, in charge of 
special effects, Reggie Smith, our property man, Burnett 
Guffey, our cameraman, Arthur Birnkrant, Seymour 
Friedman, our assistant director, and Irving Lerner, 
whose practical experiences in the documentary field 
taught me a great deal. I would like to see other writers 
share similarly enriching experiences. 

It is not enough that some studios and producers 
have the intelligence to realize that the director and 
producer must work closely with the writer. So long as 
this fundamental difference in authority persists, when 
the going gets rough and disagreements become basic, 
from what I have learned, the producer and director 



are more often working on the writer, rather than with 
him and finally, if expedient, they work around him. 

The fact that my positive experiences give me the 
confidence to proceed now with production plans of my 
own, does not mean that these experiences are the less 
necessary for the writer who has no such intentions. 

As fifteen months go, these have been hard and long. 

They have convinced me that this is where I belong. 
I am grateful to those who made my coming possible. 
A community of working artists is a good thing. It 
makes the individual know that he is never alone. Mak- 
ing this point through Assigned to Treasury is what 
brought me to Hollywood in the first place. I am glad 
to be here. 


World Film &. Fine Arts Festival at Brussels 

June 1-30 are the dates of the World Film and Fine 
Arts Festival to take place at Brussels. The daily pro- 
gram, as recently made public in its tentative form, 
calls for concerts or related film music by Virgil Thom- 
son, Aaron Copeland, Leonard Bernstein, George 
Gershwin, Benjamin Britten, and others; discussions 
(with Eric Johnston, William Wyler, Louis de Roche- 
mont, Ingrid Bergman and others participating) ; and 
daily film showings from June 8 to June 27. 

The U. S. industry will, as can be seen by the above, 
be much more adequately represented than it was last 
year at Cannes. But a look at the program appears to 
reveal that screen writers, as such, receive, if possible, 
even less attention than they did there. 

Following excursions on June 28-29 to Liege, Spa 
and that landmark of recent vintage, Bastogne, there 
will be awards of prizes and closing ceremonies on 
June 30. 

Eleven countries had, at this writing, signified their 
intention of showing films at Brussels. Their entries, as 
announced so far, are: 

U. S.: Down to Earth, Song of the South, The 
Yearling, To Each His Own, It's a Wonderful Life, 
The Razor s Edge, The Best Years of Our Lives, The 
Egg and I, Hinnoresque, and one entry from United 
Artists and one from an independent producer; 

Great Britain : The Courtneys of Curzon Street, 
plus five entries from the British Film Producers' 
Association ; 

France: Le Diable au corps, Le silence est d'or 
(Golden Silence), Le Bataillon du ciel; 

Poland : The Dragon of Wavel Castle, Parvel and 
Farvel, Land of Lubusza, Black Gold, Victory Parade 
(all shorts) ; 

Switzerland: The Reign of Matto, Citizen and 

Argentina: Life of Albeniz, Kreutzer Sonata; 

Belgium: Mr. Wens' Trumps, The Pilgrim to Hell; 

Italy, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Greece : Titles to be 



Other End of the Rainbow 


SUMNER LYON is a member of 
SWG, now living in New York where 
he has been specializing in the field 
of educational and commercial films. 

IN 1945, Col. Darryl Zanuck discovered Manhattan, 
and invaded. Units of other companies followed. The 
island was taken. . . . Mission accomplished. Head- 
quarters: The House on 92nd Street. 

Victory secure, the motion picture fortress this year 
moved into 106th St. Even the Wall Street Journal 
acknowledged the invaders' success when it announced 
that Pathe's Park Avenue studio is "equipped to turn 
out a complete feature picture ... is the nation's only 
vertical studio. ... As many as three units can work 

But some people are beginning to wonder what's 
going to happen to the natives. Are they to be despoiled ; 
or might they perhaps participate in the fruits of suc- 

What natives? Why, those who for years have been 
making motion pictures in the East. And, for your 
information, there is a tribe called "writers" among 

This tribe has been busy in an industry which pro- 
duces what is called the short subject. Its archeology 
is somewhat unfamiliar because of the shadow thrown 
upon it by the glamour of its Hollywood progeny. Let 
us scrape lightly the shovel to reveal the nature of this 
product, and the writing headaches concomitant thereto. 

Arbitrarily we shall subdivide the short subject into 
two general categories: theatrical, and non-theatrical. 
You may quarrel with this classification, for often what 
is produced for one is found useful by the other. And 
often the product defies classification. Broadly how- 
ever, the purpose of the film — which shapes its con- 
tent — and not alone its quality, determines its status 
in this regard. 

Into the theatrical classification we shall place the 
newsreel, and the "entertainment" short subject; into 
the non-theatrical, the educational, the documentary, 
and the commercial. 

Each of these products requires a special kind of 
writing; each has its intrinsic problems. 

The perennial newsreel has a definite story to tell in 
very limited footage. The newsreel writer, of which 
there are about ten, scattered among the five newsreel 
companies, always under pressure, must frame his story 
to fit the film available, cram in as much information 
as possible, and time his narration so that it accents the 
film for maximum effect. No retakes or rewrites are 
possible. The recording is done to the negative, and the 
first composite goes right into a theatre. 

The Eastern production of theatrical short subjects 
is accounted for largely by RKO Pathe's This Is 
America series, and the March of Time. Fiction and 
musical shorts, which rest more easily in the "entertain- 
ment" classification, emerge but sporadically from the 
East. And certainly there is nothing novel in the writing 
problems aroused by these. 

In the non-theatrical field, such educational pictures 
as are made hardly deserve the category. (Let us hope 
that Encyclopaedia Britannica Films and Young 
America, Inc. may soon refute this statement.) For, 
were the "educational" a standard product, its creation 
would demand the most exacting care. The writer 
would be required to weigh content, language, even 
length of individual scenes, against the age, grade, and 
course of study of the given audience. The writer of 
the true educational picture would be a master psychol- 
ogist. Since, however, visual education is still in a dis- 
organized state, the usual classroom film is merely an 
adaptation of some short whose content happens to be 
of some interest to teachers here and there. The student 
audience of America has not developed a status which 
can demand the meticulous planning and careful pro- 
duction which films for its consumption deserve. 

On the shoulders of the so-called documentary, then, 
has fallen the burden of transmitting information 
through the medium of the screen. And it need not be 
limited to non-theatrical distribution. Both The March 
of Time and the This Is America are documentary 
in style, but what they have to say is certainly tempered 



by the distributor's estimate of the customers' desires. 
Seeds of Destiny, for example, which won the Acad- 
emy Award for documentaries, is not being shown 
theatrically, through no lack of quality, but because 
of strong content. There are those who say every person 
in this country should see this film, but such a decision 
lies in the hands of those who control the theatres. In 
any event, the documentary is the film means of saying 
something in the manner which the writer deems most 
effective for his expression. To be sure, the writer of 
the documentary has a certain licence, but always he 
needs a talent for synthesis . . . that blend of picture 
and sound . . . the quality which Santayana would call 

But far and away the bulk of motion picture work 
in New York is commercial. This is also the most diffi- 
cult and trying work for the writer. This is so because, 
in addition to the consumer — that nebulous group of 
persons which makes up an audience — there is a 
customer to please. He is the party who pays to have 
the picture made; he must be kept happy. In the total 
project of sustaining the client's account the writing 
and making of the commercial film may become inci- 

The writer of the commercial, or business, motion 
picture finds himself first, then, a trouble shooter — 
a diagnostician, if you please. The customer desiring 
the film wants it to do a given job. Whether it's selling, 
or selling an idea, he expects great things of a "movie," 
even though other media may already have failed. 

So the writer's first job is to find out what the client 
is trying to sell. This objective may not always be clear 
to the customer himself. Very often he tries to make the 
film do too much. Once this is settled, the writer's next 
step is to formulate an acceptable presentation. Here, 
weighing the audience against the purpose of the pic- 
ture, the writer must give his client the benefit of his 
creative experience. Like other writing, the quality of 
his script may be judged by what he throws into the 

Running the gamut of approvals and technical 

advisors is no little trick. If the writer musters the 
stamina and courage to fight for license and time, he 
has a good chance of turning out a creditable motion 
picture, as well as a product which meets the customer's 

Often, however, the client's purpose for the picture 
is so specific that the result cannot fairly be judged by 
normal motion picture standards. The Philco picture, 
made last year, with a running time of six hours, is such 
an example. Their purpose was to take a national con- 
vention to the Philco dealers, rather than vice versa. 
This, in its saving of company personnel time and 
energy, was sound business. One can't quarrel with the 
motive. From the company point of view, this was a 
highly successful picture, even at the cost of some 
$350,000. Another example is the recent order for a 
film to show to an executive meeting of a national 
organization which gave the producer exactly seven 
working days. The company got its picture, but without 
opticals ; there wasn't time. Here was a film, made sim- 
ply for the projection of an idea at one showing — 
one showing at a cost of thousands of dollars! Here is 
a product with an accent quite foreign to that West of 
San Berdoo ; yet good business for both customer and 

Realizing the great business potential of the com- 
mercial film Pathe builds a nice, modern plant where 
quality pictures can be turned out, and what happens? 
Eastward flows the tide of Hollywood feature produc- 
ing units. Selznick moves into the studio for his 
Portrait of Jenny. 

The East has passed the test. Not in Fort Lee, or 
New Rochelle, but in the middle of Manhattan Island. 
So now there is talk of United Artists' building in 
New Jersey; and Paramount wants to get back into 
Astoria. Say, the prospect of commuting to the 
studio from that Connecticut farm is getting pretty 
real. And Bucks County is only an hour or so away. . . . 

You don't suppose that Hollywood SWG guy is 
going to want to pick up a commercial show now and 
then between features, do vou? 


Screenwriter and Director 
in a British Studio 


T. E. B. CLARKE is a contract writer 
at Ealing Studios, England. He has 
collaborated on six recent screenplays, 
including Dead of Night. He is the 
author of the original screenplays, 
Johnny Frenchman and Hue and Cry. 

' I 'HE exacting requirements of the partnership be- 
■*■ tween the writer of a film and its director are clearly 
indicated, I think, by the number of British screen 
writers who, in recent years, have taken to directing 
their own pictures. 

Writers seldom turn themselves into directors for 
the sake of increased prestige or a larger income. If 
they are good enough, they can acquire both these 
rewards just as soon by means of their writing, which, 
as a form of work, is undoubtedly more agreeable and 
less wearisome. Almost every writer who becomes a 
director of his own films does so because he has found 
that in no other way can his work be brought to the 
screen in precise accordance with his conceptions of 
its future form. 

In other words, he has failed to find a director with 
whom he can form a partnership that calls for the 
maximum degree of harmony, openmindedness and 
close understanding — and he has learned that a col- 
laboration falling short of these requirements stands 
little chance of producing an artistically successful 

This fact was not realised nearly enough in the past. 
All too often the director was allowed to ride rough- 
shod over the writer; and it is significant that recogni- 
tion of the need for a truer balance of collaboration 
between the two coincides approximately with the time 
when British films really began to advance in quality. 

A director cannot be expected to make a good film 
out of a script that fails to stir any enthusiasm in him. 
Independent judges may consider it the best script the 
writer has ever turned out; that is immaterial. No 
matter what other people go into eulogies about his 
work, this will reach the screen without the essential 
qualities of warmth and sincerity if it does not make the 
same appeal to its director. It is thus very much in the 
writer's interest to work as closely as he can with the 
director from an early stage in the development of 
his story. 

For what is the alternative? A conscientious direc- 
tor, not liking the script as it stands, will hand it over 

to another writer for readjustment according to his own 
wishes, or else will tackle this job himself. How much 
more satisfactory for the original writer if he can be 
the one to effect the necessary compromise ! 

I am not suggesting that he should bow to the direc- 
tor's demands. In certain instances their discussions may 
result in the director coming over to his own point of 
view — and here again I do not mean that any act of 
submission is involved. It is sometimes extremely diffi- 
cult, even impossible, for a writer to show in his script 
the precise mood or flavour that he intends the finished 
picture to have; and the director may have read the 
script without being able fully to appreciate his aims. 
Similarly, the director may have certain ideas about the 
picture he wishes to make which are different from — 
and possibly an improvement on — the writer's con- 
ception. By working together from the start, the two 
have a real opportunity to smooth out such conflicting 
views, and to infect each other with new enthusiasms. 
(Perhaps I should make it plain here that I am speak- 
ing of original stories written specifically for the 
screen, and not adaptations of plays or novels.) 

Though I am not trying to claim for one moment 
that a harmonious partnership between writer and 
director is a recipe for assured success, but merely that 
absence of it must almost certainly bring failure, I 
think the way in which I have worked with the same 
director, Charles Crichton, on my last three film stories 
may be of some interest, if only as a testament of one 
screenwriter who has found a method of working which 
affords him personal satisfaction. 

Many future misconceptions and disappointments 
may be avoided, I have found, by a very full discussion 
of the subject with the director before a line is set down 
on paper. The discussion having concluded with a rough 
agreement between us on the form the story is to take, 
I produce an outline, fifteen to twenty pages in length, 
as a basis for a fresh conference. Knowing now the sort 
of courses that the lives of our characters are to follow, 
we devote this second discussion mainly to the charac- 
ters themselves. i 



(I should add that at each conference stage, the pro- 
ducer, the associate producer, and the scenario editor 
have their full say ; but as I am dealing here only with 
the relations between writer and director, I am restrict- 
ing myself to an account of the manner in which we 
two work once our aspirations have received all neces- 
sary blessings.) 

The treatment comes next; about a hundred pages 
describing the action, continuity and characterizations 
as I myself now see them. Personally, I believe in writ- 
ing as much dialogue as possible in the treatment rather 
than merely describing conversation, as I find that this 
can be made to help considerably in the drawing of the 
characters. I do not, however, spend much time on the 
niceties of the dialogue in my treatment; not until the 
scripting stage does this receive careful attention. 

In spite of our previous discussions, the director, as I 
fully expected, feels differently from me about many 
points in the treatment; but we have already acquired 
sufficient mutual understanding for co-ordination of our 
views on most of these points to be reached in the dis- 
cussion that follows its completion. Also, we are now 
beginning to know our characters well enough for new 
constructive suggestions to come freely from us both. 

It is likely that Crichton will find that I have not yet 
drawn some of the characters clearly enough. For 
example : 

"What exactly, is Roy's background?" he will ask. 
"What made him adopt his attitude to life? Was his 
father a drunkard — did his mother have so many chil- 
dren that she couldn't give him enough attention — 
was he an orphan brought up in some place where he 
was badly treated? I don't understand Roy." 

Not a word about Roy's upbringing will be spoken 
in the film ; Crichton is just as well aware of that as I 
am; but he wants to know it just the same, or he may 
feel a lack of confidence when he comes to bring Roy 
to life before the camera. 

Deficiencies of this sort are remedied as much as 
possible in my first revision of the treatment, when I 
also try fresh approaches to those points still at issue. 
Some of these will click ; some won't. The treatment is 
revised a second, third and fourth time, the remaining 
divergences of opinion being gradually ironed out until 
we are both satisfied that there is nothing in the story 
over which we will be sharply divided when we come 
to script it together. 

That phase is not reached until I have first turned 
out a draft script. This involves the presentation of the 
accepted treatment in separate scenes with more pol- 
ished dialogue. And when I say "scenes," I do not 

mean "shots." I give little attention in my draft script 
to camera directions, except where these are necessary 
to emphasize moods and the importance of certain lines 
which must clearly be spoken in close-up. 

Even if I knew six times as much as I do about the 
technicalities of film-making, I should consider it a 
waste of time end effort to attempt "breaking down" 
a script into camera shots on my own initiative. Though 
Crichton might perhaps adopt a few of my suggestions, 
he would be certain to alter most of those carefully 
listed shots to conform with his own individual style of 
shooting. To ask him to follow precisely shooting direc- 
tions prepared by someone else — prepared, if you like, 
by Eisenstein himself — would be like asking Hutton 
to follow Bradman's style of batting instead of his own. 

The draft script will probably undergo as much 
revision as did the treatment before we are ready to 
begin on the final script. It is now that we set about the 
"breaking down" process; we work on this together for 
about a month. By this time most of the creative work 
required from me has been applied, and my own con- 
tribution to the "breaking down" is restricted mainly 
to reshaping certain scenes and amending the dialogue 
to conform with the manner in which Crichton wishes 
to shoot. All major differences of opinion having been 
settled by now, I seldom find it hard to stomach a pro- 
posed change at this stage. Most of them are small 
changes and where these are concerned, the writer may 
as well resign himself to the certainty that the director 
will have his way about them on the floor, even though 
he may appear to submit to argument during the 

Scenes of complex action involving a great deal of 
cross-cutting, such as a free fight, I do not attempt to 
write in detail. These I leave entirely to the director, 
having once set down a full description of the general 
action as I see it, with a list of suggested incidents and 
visual "gags," from which he may draw as he feels 
inclined. The director's own scripting of these scenes, 
incidentally, will rarely be found to correspond at all 
closely with what eventually reaches the screen, for only 
in the cutting-rooms can they be finalized. 

Have I given the impression that, in such a partner- 
ship as ours, the director works sufficiently on the script 
to deserve a writing credit? Forget it! Apart from 
possibly scripting one or two of those complex action 
scenes, he has at no time done any actual writing: 
certainly he is responsible for none of the dialogue. His 
part has been to serve as midwife to the script to which 
the writer has given birth, and I hold that he should 



earn his directing credit as much for the thought he 
gives to the picture before it reaches the floor as for 
what he does once shooting has begun. 

In any case, only the screenwriter knows how often 

a director has been acclaimed by the critics for this or 
that clever touch which could be traced back, did they 
but know it, to an inspiration that emerged originally 
from his own typewriter! 

The Editorial Committee, having formally apolo- 
gized to Mr. Joseph L. Mankiewicz for deleting mate- 
rial from his article, "Film Author! Film Author!" in 
the May, 1947 issue of THE SCREEN WRITER 
ivithout first consulting him, herewith supplies the 
missing portions of his text. In presenting his opinion 
that there is an urgent need for the Hollywood screen- 
writer to dedicate himself to a study of his craft, Mr. 
Mankiewicz stated: 

! A RE1V 
l\ polit 

political utterances at the time were unfortun- 
ately of a nature which made everything he said seem 
equally wrong — but he was never closer to right, un- 
happily, than when he branded most Hollywood screen 
writers as 'Mechanics.' He was wrong, of course, in one 
important aspect. When a mechanic shows a union card, 
you can be pretty sure he knows his craft. The possession 
of a paid up SWG card has never offered any assurance 
that the bearer could write a screen play. Nor, appar- 
ently, is it intended to carry the assurance that he can 
write anything else. At a recent meeting, a suggestion 
— offered with some timidity — that returning veteran 
screen writers write original stories and screen plays, 
was greeted with catcalls and hoots of derision. As if it 

were ingenuous to the point of infantilism to suggest 
that a writer make his living by writing. 

"Similarly at the same meeting, and others before 
and since, there could be noticed the growing manifes- 
tations of what seems to be a new SWG faith. A 
strange belief, comforting for many and frightening for 
a few, that the screen writer will advance in impor- 
tance and authority not in relation to his knowledge of 
his particular craft and his individual skill in it, but by 
a series of fevered mass resolutions and statements of 
policy that are periodically moved, seconded, passed 
and carried to the morning papers. These writings may 
well be a joint credit for Tom Paine, John Brown and 
Uncle Tom; they cover all the colors of the political 
spectrum; they attack, defend and propound local, 
national and international economics on a global front ; 
they have to do with everything under the sun but 
screen writing. It seems to some of us that screen 
writing could also become a concern of the Screen 
Writers' Guild." 

"It would be edifying, for example, to have a public 
reading — before a full Guild membership lured to- 
gether by some provocative political bait — of the com- 
plete list of original screen plays submitted by the 
American screen writer for Academy Award con- 


Witch-Hunting in Hollywood 


GARRETT GRAHAM, a screen writ- 
er with a long record of achievement 
in Hollywood, is also known for his 
30 years of stalwart Republicanism 
and his impressive list of published 
volumes, the latest of which is BAN- 

TT IS this writer's view, submitted without humility 
*■ and for what little it might be worth, that it's time 
the Screen Writers' Guild and the Motion Picture 
Industry as a whole turned on their traducers. 

For quite a spell Hollywood has more or less ignored 
sporadic Red-baiting as of no more real importance than 
the rantings of America Firsters who were disseminat- 
ing Nazi propaganda right up to the hour of Pearl 
Harbor. After all, their constituencies have retired to 
oblivion Ham Fish, Gerald P. Nye and Burton K. 
Wheeler ; and whoever was pulling the puppet strings 
on Lindbergh left him completely inarticulate by not 
writing any more speeches for him — a Mortimer 
Snerd without a Bergen. 

But for nearly a year now — specifically, ever since 
the introduction of the initial AAA suggestion — Hol- 
lywood, and particularly the screen writers, have 
been the targets for an unparalleled campaign of cumu- 
lative calumny. The individuals of the Guild have been 
attacked either as sinister tools of Moscow, or dupes 
unwittingly succumbing to Communist propaganda. 
The latter group has not been restricted to writers. It 
includes such august personages as Louis B. Mayer, 
Jack Warner, Samuel Goldwyn, and Darryl Zanuck, 
who are said to have let some of the nasty stuff get by 
them onto the screen. 

Incidentally, the evil genius who has really mastered 
the trick of putting something over on any or all of 
these smart gentlemen could make a fortune discreetly 
peddling his secret. 

The avalanche of falsehood and misrepresentation 
that followed the launching of AAA was adequately 
dealt with in the recently published supplement of 
THE SCREEN WRITER. No one who really wants 
the facts about it need look further. 

But a few of the highlights in this barrage of villi- 
fication might be profitably reviewed. First, of course. 

there was the banner line in the Hollywood Reporter, 
and a following story that a vote for AAA was a vote 
for Joe Stalin. This was to be expected, and naturally 
it caused little insomnia. 

Then later came Dorothy Thompson's outburst in 
her syndicated column. She labelled the proposal "An 
Assault On Freedom" and confused this reader a little 
by r not only injecting the Communist issue into it but 
also saying the scheme was a leaf right out of Dr. 
Goebbels' book. It is my hazy recollection that Stalin 
and Goebbels were not playing for the same Alma 
Mater. But she alarmed a lot of people because of her 
many readers. Miss Thompson is too good a reporter 
not to know she was screaming pure nonsense. 

Came a rainy Sunday in December when the Colum- 
bia Broadcasting System gave time on the air to a 
debate about the Hollywood film strike, which had then 
been going on for several months. Roy Brewer spoke 
for the IATSE and Herbert Sorrell and John Martin 
for the Conference of Studio Unions. 

It is beside the point that it was not a debate at all, 
but a bumbling reading of three prepared speeches, 
badly written, badly delivered, and not dealing with 
the same subject. There was no time given for rebuttal 
or surrebuttal. 

What the CSU leaders said is not important because 
it has been said often and better by others. The burden 
of Mr. Brewer's address was that the sole issue of the 
strike was keeping Communism out of the film industry. 
He did not explain just how a carpenter could express 
his political opinions by the way he sawed a board or 
drove a nail ; nor how a scene painter could endanger 
national freedom by the way he slapped his brush 

Instead he pictured himself and his boss, Richard 
Walsh, President of the IATSE, as brave urchins 
holding their tired little fingers in the dike to keep 



Hollywood from being engulfed by the Red Menace. 
Then he launched into the threadbare theme that the 
Screen Writers' Guild had been completely captured by 
Communists who were attempting to warp the thinking 
of the innocent and unprotected public by coloring 
what they wrote with propaganda direct from Moscow. 

He also read some highly laudatory press clippings 
about himself and Mr. Walsh which limned the pair 
as honest in soul, pure in heart, high of purpose, and 
unselfish and noble of spirit. One of the clippings even 
decried the baseness of anyone who would bring up the 
indisputable fact that these two are the successors to 
and former loyal colleagues of the convicted criminals, 
George Browne and Willie Bioff. 

The Hearst hubbub about Hollywood's Commu- 
nists could hardly be regarded as a highlight. It's been 
going on for years, and although it's been getting even 
more strident of late, if that is possible, it has the public 
more or less immunized through sheer boredom with 
the same old tune. The Reporter has also continued its 
sharpshooting to the point of absurdity. 

Then in March of this year Senator Jack B. Tenney 
presented to the California Legislature a report from 
his committee's investigation of so-called Un-American 
Activities, and in seeking a further appropriation to 
continue his witch-hunt, he named a number of promi- 
nent and reputable citizens of the Hollywood film 
colony as contributors of time and money to a move- 
ment to overthrow by force the government of the 
United States. 

And, as this is written, necessarily some time before 
publication, a Congressional subcommittee, headed by 
Rep. J. Parnell Thomas, is huffing and puffing about 
the town allegedly gathering data on subversive activi- 
ties while getting a fine spread of personal publicity 
in the daily papers. 

Of course all this is done at the expense of the tax- 
payers. The junketing Congressmen and their retinue 
are housed at the Biltmore, eating and drinking their 
fill on comfortable expense accounts while also draw- 
ing their salaries. Meanwhile a former Marine of my 
acquaintance who returned from the Pacific with a 
Navy Cross, a Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts, 
has been living for months in a drafty garage because 
he can't afford to pay the bonus necessary to rent a 
decent apartment. 

These Congressmen have been summoning busy 
folk to secret sessions from which nothing emerges but 
lurid puerilities they think will justify their visit here. 
If some informed, unbiased, and level-headed witness 
has told the investigators that they are nuts the fact 

has not been revealed in the local press. Eric Johnston, 
who certainly is no radical and is in a position to know, 
has permitted himself to be quoted to the effect that 
there is no red menace in the film industry. Perhaps 
he, too, is now suspect for such a statement. 

So far, Congressman Thomas and his satellites have 
revealed nothing that couldn't have been found out 
and forwarded to them by a Western Union messenger 
boy. If the situation is actually more complex, there 
are several highly competent and experienced investi- 
gators in the Los Angeles office of the FBI, any one 
of whom could have collected all pertinent facts at no 
extra cost to the government. But this, of course, would 
have deprived our visitors of their current fanfare 
and per diems. 

The tactics are the same, whether it's a state legisla- 
tive or a Congressional smelling out of evil. They 
smear people by innuendo. They rush into print with 
unsubstantiated charges that would get them punched 
in the nose if they were acting as private citizens. They 
hide behind the immunity from libel of their official 

Hearst and Wilkerson — and it's absurd to mention 
the latter's puny influence in connection with the for- 
mer's — have a right to print whatever they please at 
their own expense as long as they retain their skill in 
keeping on the safe side of obscenity and libel. 

But every tax-payer has a right to howl his head off 
at having public funds frittered away by these politi- 
cians seeking self-aggrandizement through their official 
witch-hunts. The money could and should be much 
better used doing something for the thousands of vet- 
erans in Los Angeles alone who are sleeping in garages, 
broken down trailers, and often in all-night theaters 
because they can't even find a bed. 

The three principal charges hurled at the Screen 
Writers Guild and the film industry as a whole can be 
completely dealt with in three short paragraphs. 

The statement that the Guild is controlled by Com- 
munists is palpably a baldfaced lie. The present officers 
and directors were chosen in an honest, impartially 
supervised election, in which more members voted than 
ever before. Emmet Lavery was retained as President 
because of the dignity and urbanity with which he has 
conducted Guild affairs in previous terms of office. He 
happens to be a Democrat and is regarded by the 
Catholic Church as one of its foremost laymen in 
America. If he is a Communist then so is the Hc ( y 
Father. Mr. Lavery and the board of directors can take 



no important action without a vote of the full member- 
ship. Even if they wanted to, there's no way under 
heaven they could influence what anyone else writes. 

The second charge, that the screen is being used to 
spread Communist propaganda, is even more ridiculous. 
I pointed out in a previous issue of THE SCREEN 
WRITER that Motion Pictures are big business con- 
trolled entirely from Wall Street. There's not the re- 
motest possibility of getting upon the screen any ideol- 
ogy or political point of view contrary to that of the 
financial titans w T ho control the major companies and 
the theater chains. This is so obvious it shouldn't even 
have to be argued. 

The third accusation, that many prominent citizens 
in the film industry are contributing time and money to 
a movement to overthrow the present government, is a 
clear charge of treason. Anyone having evidence to this 
effect, or information bearing upon it, and who does 
not turn it over to the Department of Justice, is equally 
guilty as an accomplice. 

In the April 30 issue of the Hollywood Reporter Mr. 
Wilkerson printed a list of pictures "containing sizable 
doses of Communist propaganda." I haven't seen all of 
them, but I'd like to mention three. 

There was Margie, a nostalgic tale of puppy love 
in the twenties, produced by Darryl Zanuck. Are you 
holding still for that, Darryl? 

There was The Best Years Of Our Lives, which 
swept the field in the recent Academy Awards. It's too 
bad the handless veteran featured in this picture can't 
be lent a fist to answer appropriately the slur on his 

There was Pride Of The Marines, based upon the 
real life story of Al Schmid, one of the outstanding 
heroes of Guadalcanal. This was directed by Delmer 
Daves, produced by Jack Warner, with the enthusias- 
tic approval and cooperation of the United States 
Marine Corps. 

Al Schmid gave his eyes for his country. The United 
States Marines pretty well established their American- 
ism in the jungles of the Solomons, and on the beaches 
of Tarawa and Iwo Jima. What did you do, Mr. Wil- 
kerson, or Senator Tenney, or Mr. Hearst and your 
stalwart sons? What did any of you risk? What did 
you sacrifice? Have any of you ever been within sound 
or sight of battle? 

And Jack Warner, after producing the best war pic- 
ture it was this writer's privilege to see, you are going 
to let such an accusation go unchallenged? 

This brings us to Louis B. Mayer, probably the 
wealthiest, most powerful and most astute producer in 

the business. Several of the writers most frequently 
mentioned as spear-heading the Communist movement 
have been under contract at MGM. Do you like the 
inference, Mr. Mayer, that these foul fellows have been 
too smart for you, and have been able to slide past you 
subversive propaganda that you didn't recognize but 
that would corrupt the Right Thinking of the general 

It would be interesting to know the private emo- 
tions of Mr. Mayer over the published statement of 
actor Robert Taylor at the Congressional inquiry that 
he, Taylor, was forced into appearing, against his 
patriotic judgment, in Song of Russia, produced by 
MGM in 1943. 

This film, Mr. Taylor stated, favored Russian 
ideologies, institutions and ways of life over the same 
things in our country. He said he protested to MGM 
that the picture was Communist propaganda, and that 
he was kept from joining the Navy until he completed 
the picture. 

It was not revealed either by Mr. Taylor or Con- 
gressman Thomas how the Navy, during that trying 
year when the war was going pretty badly for our side, 
managed to get along without the handsome actor until 
this foul plot was consummated. 

I have never been important enough in the film 
industry to know Mr. Mayer personally, but several 
of my friends who do assure me that he does not force 
easily. How many men did it take, I wonder, to hold 
Mr. Mayer while this dastardly deed was being done 
in his name. 

Another fascinating revelation transmitted to the 
public from the Biltmore hearings was the gallant 
story of how Mrs. Leila Rogers, mother of Ginger, 
saved her daughter from uttering the infamous lines, 
"Share and share alike — that's democracy!" These 
lines, occurring in Tender Comrade, were a prime 
exhibit illustrating the Kremlin's grip on the film 
industry. I wonder how, if we ever make a definite 
film biography of the great Lincoln, we can record 
some of his utterances, such as the one in which he 
said that in any conflict between property rights and 
human rights, human rights must prevail. Or how, 
if the life of Christ is filmed in the future, we can use 
His verbal portraits of the rich exploiters and Pharisees 
and hired scribes of His dav. 

Let us turn upon our detractors the sly Socratic 
method of character defamation the Hollywood gossip 
columnists use so frequently. Questions like this: 
"What actor's wife (or writer, director, or producer) 



would sue him for divorce if she had peeked through 
the bedroom window of a certain starlet the other night, 
when the wife thought her husband was working late 
at the studio?" 

Get the idea? No names mentioned, no risk of libel, 
but, human nature being what it is, that question could 
cause trouble any day in a dozen homes. 

Or: "Are the boys at Las Vegas paying you off prop- 
erly for the ballyhoo you are giving their gilded joints 
in the Hollywood Reporter?" 

Or: "What do you hear from the mob? How are 
Guy and Farmer? 

Or : "When a certain character recently became an 
associate producer at one of the major studios, a person 
whose former Sunset Strip joint you frequented and 
often mentioned in your trade paper why didn't you call 
to the attention of at least the Johnston office, the fact 
that this same character used to be a member of the 
tight little syndicate that controlled and levied tribute 
on all gambling and prostitution in our fair commu- 

See how it works? I haven't accused him of anything. 
But the answers would be highly interesting. 

Now let's consider Senator Tenney. I am indebted 
to Fortnight, the sprightly young California news mag- 
azine, for the following published background infor- 
mation on this legislator: "He himself was branded as a 
Communist before the old Dies Committee in 1938 — 
about the time he was thrown out as President of the 
Los Angeles Musicians Union. 

"He was a Democrat when he was a mere Assembly- 
man from the Inglewood District; switched to the 
Republican ticket in 1944 just as he was about to be 
read out of the Bourbon party for supporting a rival 

"Tenney's chief claim to fame is the fact that he 
wrote the song 'Mexicali Rose' when he led a dance 
band in Mexicali. He didn't cash in on the song, but 
will whip out and autograph a copy for anyone who 
professes to be the least bit interested." 

Let's interrogate the Senator, and it ain't a joke, son. 

"Senator Tenney, do you think that your former 
occupation of entertaining the highly colorful charac- 
ters of Mexicali qualifies you to pass upon the patriot- 
ism and loyalty of thousands of respectable men and 
women employed in the motion picture industry?" 

Or: "Do you think that this background really justi- 
fies further appropriations of the people's money to keep 
you in the public eye ; or that it makes you more capable 

than J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI staff in investigating 
any real menace to this country?" 

Or: "Do you think that writing 'Mexicali Rose' — 
a very good song, by the way — is sufficient training for 
you to help write the laws of the State of California?" 

I will leave it to someone else to ask similar questions 
of Mr. Hearst. I don't want to give away too much 

In the interest of public economy I will save these 
gentlemen the trouble of investigating my political 
orthodoxy. I am not a Communist, I do not believe in 
Communism and I'm not defending it. I've been a reg- 
istered Republican for nearly thirty years. I served 
voluntarily in both World Wars. I served without 
distinction, it's true, but with some small personal risk, 
and great inconvenience. Can any of these witch-hunters 
make that statement? 

The most dismaying thing about the attacks on the 
Screen Writers' Guild and the efforts to establish the 
AAA is that two of the most skilled and influential 
members of our craft, who should be staunchly with us, 
are on the other side. I refer to Louis Bromfield and 
Rupert Hughes. They have not only achieved great 
literary fame but have become wealthy doing it. Why 
should they scoff at their less gifted fellows who also 
would like to own a model farm in the Middle West or 
a mansion on Los Feliz Boulevard ? 

The only personal intimacy I have ever had with 
Mr. Bromfield was some years ago, when he was 
writing in Hollywood, we used to patronize the same 
barber. While we never spoke, I occasionally was privi- 
leegd to enjoy the warmth of the chair just vacated by 
the distinguished Bromfield buttocks. 

But I've known and admired Uncle Rupert for many 
years, and I call him Uncle Rupert with all possible 
respect and affection. I personally know that he has 
given with prodigal generosity the benefits of his long 
experience and his wizardry with words to many a 
struggling beginner. I, myself, have been a beneficiary 
of his kindness and a guest in his home. I'm certain that 
no one needing help of any kind has ever been turned 
from his door. 

Then why, when he has done so much for so many 
individuals, does he turn against the members of his 
craft when they seek as a body to improve their status 
in the profession that has rewarded him so richly? I am 
seriously and respectfully asking why, Uncle Rupert. 

Why doesn't he turn his keen mind and flashing wit 
against the Tenneys — against all the political monte- 



banks and charlatans who preach bigotry and racial 
and religious intolerance? 

Uncle Rupert is smart enough to know, and if he 
doesn't know he could easily find out, that there's about 
as much chance of the Communists overturning the 
government of the United States as there is of me 
dethroning Joe Louis. He should know that most of 
the things he has been saying about the Screen Writers' 

Guild and the proposed American Authors Authority 
are sheer poppycock. 

We need your weight on our side, Uncle Rupert ; we 
need your thunder to help answer some of our more 
powerful detractors. Of course, we couldn't ask you to 
stoop to a controversy with the Hollywood Reporter. 
After all, one doesn't call on the heavy artillery to 
shoot rabbits. 

Following a series of public utter- 
ances, the irresponsibility of which 
was challenged by Sa?nuel Goldwyn 
and other leaders of the industry, 
Ronald Reagan, president of the 
Screen Actors Guild was quoted re- 
cently by the trade press in a refer- 
ence to the Screen Writers' Guild. 
Under the date of May 7, Emmet 
Lavery, president of the SWG, wrote 
Mr. Reagan inquiring about the item 
in the trade press in which he was 
quoted as saying that "there were 
some Communists in the SAG and in 
the Screen Writers Guild, probably 
more in the latter than in the actors' 
group." Mr. Lavery went on to say: 

I am very much interested in an 
item printed in the Hollywood Re- 
porter yesterday in which you are 
quoted as saying that "there were 
some Communists in the SAG and in 
the Screen Writers Guild, probably 
more in the latter than in the actors' 

If this report of your speech is cor- 
rect, on what basis do you presume to 
offer the public the gratuitous infor- 
mation that there are "probably more" 
in the Screen Writers' Guild than in 
the SAG? 

At a time when inter-Guild unity is 
of increasing importance, it is a little 
difficult for us in the Screen Writers' 
Guild to understand why the presi- 
dent of a neighboring guild should go 
out of his way to make this particular 
type of criticism. 

My own private guess would have 
been that you have many more Com- 
munists in the SAG than we have in 
the SWG, but I certainly would not, 
in the first instance, have felt the in- 
clination to grab a public platform 
and offer this generality as an absolute 
fact. Undoubtedly there are some 
Communists in the Screen Writers' 
Guild and there are some Commu- 

nists in the Screen Actors Guild. But 
since neither of our Guilds has a po- 
litical test for membership, we have 
no way of screening out the few Com- 
munists, any more than we have of 
screening out Republicans or Demo- 
crats. And in the light of prevailing 
Supreme Court decisions neither of 
our Guilds would find very much 
support — especially in time of peace 
— for exploring the private political 
lives of our members. 

I see nothing to be gained for either 
Guild in a guessing contest as to the 
probable number of Communists in 
either. The solid democratic worth of 
each Guild is a self-evident fact 
which needs no apology from anyone 
at this time. Now, as always in the 
history of our country, there is a 
simple remedy for seditious activity in 
time of peace or war. If members of 
any guild or union in Hollywood are 
truly engaged in any activities border- 
ing on sedition, there are standard 
procedures in law by which these ac- 
tivities can be stopped. 

The Screen Writers' Guild, as you 
must well know, has always had the 
friendliest regards for the Screen Ac- 
tors Guild. I can only hope that you 
have been misquoted in the trade pa- 
pers. If this is so, I would appreciate 
a word from you so that I may refer 
it to our Executive Board without 



President Screen Writers' 


Mr. Reagan's reply, dated May 
12, follows: 

This will acknowledge receipt of 
your letter of May 7th. I was not 
only misquoted — I was smeared, and 
I am a trifle surprised that you should 
place any credence in anything the 

professional red-baiting section of the 
press says, for if memory serves, you 
yourself have had some experience 
with the lengths to which some papers 
will go to justify their own peculiar 

My entire talk was a defense of 
Hollywood and about 95 per cent of 
it had nothing to do with Commun- 
ists. I discussed from a number of 
facets the fact that Hollywood is just 
a cross-section of the country at large 
and that it would be unjust to judge 
the entire city of Des Moines by the 
actions of a very few individuals who 
might misbehave in public and land 
in the hoosegow. 

In briefly touching on politics, I 
said we had all shades of opinion here 
in Hollywood, ranging from the Fas- 
cist-reactionary on the extreme right 
to the Communist Party member on 
the extreme left, but that the vast 
majority of people in the industry 
decried both extremes. 

I ventured the opinion that the 
Communist Party was a bit more ac- 
tive here in Hollywood than in Des 
Moines, for propaganda purposes, and 
that for propaganda reasons, indivi- 
dual party members sought to use 
the Screen Actors Guild and the 
Screen Writers Guild. I did not say 
there were more Communists in the 
Writers Guild than in the Actors 
Guild. I did say that the active Com- 
munist Party member infiltrates where 
he can do the most for his party and 
for this reason, it is possible that the 
party has directed greater attention 
to the Writers Guild than to the 
Actors Guild — although both Guilds 
have a few of them. 

This small portion of my talk led 
up to a condemnation of some previ- 
ous investigation of alleged subversive 
influences in Hollywood, which have 
unfairly smeared the names of screen 



personalities in order to get the head- 
lines in the newspapers. I stated that 
if there was to be a fair and impar- 
tial investigation of Communism and 
Fascism, I and many others in the 
industiy would be glad to cooperate 
— and that many of us know the 
names of the comparatively few Com- 

munist party members in the industry not let intolerance and deliberate inac- 

as well as the names of some persons 
who to all intents and purpose are 

The Screen Actors Guild has cer- 
tainly enjoyed the very friendly rela- 
tions which we have with the Screen 
Writers Guild and I hope that we do 

curacy in some sections of the press 
come between us. 



President, Screen Actors 

hr 1 

Hollywood Jabberwocky 


5' I 'ff'AS ciros, and the cinelords 

-*■ JVere lolly parsing with, their babes : 
All goldwyns were acadawards 
But demille ruled the nabes. 

"Beware the Jarthurank, my lad! 
The lion's claw, the eagle's wing! 
And when U-I his pix, be glad 
That DOS dos everything!" 

He took his Johnston code in hand: 
Long time the ranksome foe he sought- — 
So rested he by the schary tree, 
And stood awhile in thought. 

And as in quota-quotes he stood, 
The Jarthurank, of happy breed, 
Came boulting through the korda wood 
And caroled on his reed ! 

For sin! For shame! On cleavaged dame 
The censor shears went flicker-flack! 
He scarred the Bard, and coward marred 
Went gallupolling back. 

"And hast thou haysed the Jarthurank? 
Come to my arms, my breenish boy! 
O date and day! Elate! L.A.!" 
He xenophobed with joy. 

'Twas ciros, and the cinelords 
Were lollyparsing with their babes : 

All goldwyns were acadawards 

But demille ruled the nabes. 


The Screen Writer's Medium 


whose article, What Is Screenwriting? 
was published in the May issue of 
THE SCREEN WRITER, this month 
discusses the medium in which screen 
•writers work. Mr. Gibney is a writer- 
producer and chairman of the SWG 
Political Advisory Committee. 

IN A PREVIOUS article I attempted to define screen 
writing, and by a process of elimination, came to the 
enormous conclusion that what a screen writer does is 
to write a motion picture — in much the same fashion 
as a playwright writes a play, or a composer writes an 
opera. In all three cases, whether or not his works are 
produced, succeed, or fail, the writer is the essential 
creator, for without his manuscript there can be no 

But there the similarity ceases. The screen writer, 
employing quite different devices to achieve his effects, 
can borrow only sparingly from the rules and techniques 
of the theatre ; and it is for this reason that I ventured 
the further opinion that writers for the screen are 
engaged in a new form of dramatic art. 

Historically, it is not uncommon for new art forms 
to come into being as a result of mechanical inventions. 
In music, for instance, the invention of the harpsichord 
in the fourteenth century, combining the keyboard of 
the pipe organ with the strings of the harp, made pos- 
sible and inevitable the development of many new 
forms of musical composition. But the invention of the 
motion picture camera has had a far more revolutionary 
effect upon the art of the dramatist than the mere addi- 
tion of a new instrument could possibly bring about. 

The origin of western drama is commonly attributed 
to a Greek named Thespis in the sixth century B. C, 
who conceived the idea of having an "actor" discourse 
with the leader of the chorus in the Dionysian festivals 
— a radical departure in religious ritual which enabled 
Greek tragedy to develop. Aeschylus added a second 
actor and Sophocles a third ; and from that day to this, 
a matter of twenty five hundred years, the medium for 
drama underwent no essential change so far as writers 
were concerned. Their task was set once and for all by 
the established convention of presenting a dramatic 
representation of life on a stage by means of actors and 

dialogue for the enjoyment or discomfort of an 

The physical limitations of the stage itself were soon 
turned by the dramatist to his own advantage. The 
necessity for bringing characters logically and naturally 
to the scene of action; the three rules of classic unity 
which made a single setting possible ; the arbitrary con- 
vention of keeping physical violence off the stage (where 
it too often appears ridiculous or implausible) ; are 
conditions by means of which the playwright demon- 
strates his skill. The accepted limitations of any art 
form are always looked upon as a challenge; and the 
artist, like the magician, is judged in part by his ability 
to conceal the methods by which he overcomes them. 
The technical triumph of Ibsen, for example, in devot- 
ing a large part of his dialogue to pure exposition, while 
appearing not to, is a case in point ; and a present day 
playwright like Elmer Rice is able in Street Scene to 
convey an impression of reality by the use of a single 
set representing the windows of a tenement, a doorway, 
and one conveniently placed ash can. To this arbitrary 
place of action all the characters must logically and 
naturally be brought in order that the audience may 
view them. The success with which this feat is accom- 
plished contributes, in large measure, to the enjoyment 
and interest of the spectator. 

The revolutionary aspect of motion pictures, from a 
craft point of view, is simply that it reverses this proc- 
ess. By freeing the audience and putting it on a magic 
carpet, so to speak, the skills and techniques of con- 
struction, which playwrights have sweated over these 
many centuries, suddenly become useless. The writer 
can no longer rely upon an audience's imagination to fill 
in the picture for him. On the contrary, he must take 
his audience with him, for there is now no legitimate 
reason not to. The audience can ride on a carousel side 



by side with the leading lady; it can accompany the 
leading man in a parachute jump when he bails out of 
a burning plane; it can peer nosily into a woman's 
vanity case, or read a letter over someone's shoulder ; 
all of which are highly unorthodox activities for the 
age-old theatregoer to engage in. 

Even to the casual observer, therefore, it must appear 
obvious that the physical limitations of the stage, on 
which dramatists have leaned so heavily, are of no use 
to the screen writer. An excellent illustration of this 
fact can be seen in the film version of The Green 
Pastures. On the stage, one of the most thrilling 
scenes in the play occurs when the entire company, by 
means of a treadmill, "marches" toward the walls of 
Jericho ; but on the screen this action is in no way spec- 
tacular because there is no physical limitation to be 
overcome. What the screen shows is simply a crowd of 
people moving by natural means along a road. 

This is only one of countless ways in which the 
devices of the conventional theatre are rendered inef- 
fective by the analytical eye of the camera. But of much 
greater significance is what has happened to the internal 
structure of the play itself. 

Let us assume that a modern three act play is to be 
adapted for the screen. The first problem the screen 
writer faces is what to do about the exposition in act 
one. Minor characters bustle in and out like busy bees, 
each with a honeyed drop of information absolutely 
essential for the spectator's ear if he is to understand 
the action that follows. However adroit the dramatist 
may have been in disguising this fact, it is all too 
apparent on the screen. The picture audience is soon 
bored with being "told" something, since there is no 
good reason why the thing being told shouldn't be 
shown. Accordingly, the screen writer seeks a way to 
dramatize the events and subject matter contained in 
the exposition. This can either be solved by opening the 
story at an earlier period or by the use of flashbacks. 
Occasionally it is found necessary to invent new situa- 
tions entirely. 

He then comes to the first major dramatic scene 
which starts the "action" or "conflict" of the play, and 
is dismayed to find that it is mostly "talk" and very 
little action; added to which it all takes place in one 
small room. The ability of the camera (audience) to 
move is thus arbitrarily restricted; and the spectator, 
more often than not, becomes restless and bored. To use 
the camera in this fashion is like playing a fine piano 
with one finger. The real potentialities of the instru- 
ment have not been realized ; and the results, therefore, 
are disappointing. 

This is elementary to screen writers and is only 


stated here to illustrate how completely the careful 
plotting of act one breaks down. But when the screen 
writer tackles the second act, an even graver problem 
confronts him. He views with increasing alarm the fact 
that acts one and two are building to a big "climax" on 
which the curtain will be lowered for an eight minute 
intermission. He calculates roughly that this will occur 
in about reel six with three more reels to go. Feverishly 
he examines act three to see if the "action" continues to 
build ; but more often than not there is a falling off to 
the conventional denouement or resolution. Again this 
entails explanations, which, if they pall at the beginning 
of a picture, are ten times worse at the end. 

Thus the entire architecture of the play defeats the 
effective use of the camera. The screen writer, with no 
artificial limitations to overcome, is faced with the 
difficult task of making the most of his freedom. Since 
everything can be "shown," he has to appear to show 
everything, which, of course, is not what he is doing at 
all. He is actually engaged in making a painstaking 
selection of scenes, characters, and background, from 
the almost limitless possibilities at his command. The 
rules by which he makes this selection are peculiar to 
the screen and are being formulated by the simple 
method of trial and error (what is effective and what 
isn't) ; and many of them have already been discovered. 

Certainly, the basic form is pretty well established. 
The screen writer must present a continuous action, 
sustained through many scenes to a final climax — at 
which point the picture ends. In this respect the "form" 
is closer to the Shakespearian drama than to the modern 
three act play. The writer is presenting a series of tiny 
little scenes designed to have a cumulative effect. But 
his story must not be told as a narrative. It must con- 
tain all the elements of drama without the aid of 
theatrical devices, as I have pointed out before. It might 
be said that he is writing a long one act play in two or 
three hundred scenes. But the greater freedom he enjoys 
entails a greater responsibility to his subject matter. 
The slightest irrelevancy becomes a glaring flaw and 
is soon snipped out in the cutting room. 

The selection of scenes, therefore, and their con- 
tinuity, are matters far less flexible than is commonly 
supposed. They are dictated by the inherent demands 
of the story; and the ability of the writer to recognize 
these demands depends entirely upon his dramatic talent 
and the skill with which he can use it. Regardless of 
cast or director, a "good" picture — like a "good" 
play — is one that is fully conceived and ably written. 
A "bad" picture is one that isn't. 

Dear Editor: It seems 

One Way ^J^tJr 

of Doing It — By Mitt Qross 






HIS issue of The Screen Writer begins the third year of the magazine's 
publication. The format is new; the policies and objectives remain un- 

In the June, 1945, first issue of The Screen Writer this editorial statement 
was made: 

This magazine can develop in either of two directions. It can become 
the personal organ of a small clique consisting of the particular Guild 
members whom the Executive Board happened to appoint as its edito- 
rial staff. If that happens, it will only be a question of time until it 
withers and dies an unlamented death. Or it can become the actual voice 
of the Screen Writers' Guild, in which case it will assume an ever-in- 
creasing stature, not only in Hollywood but among people with a serious 
interest in motion pictures all over the world. 

Our magazine has not withered and died. Undoubtedly errors of judgment 
have been made, since the editors are humanly fallible and not professionals in 
the editing and publishing business. In spite of editorial shortcomings The 
Screen Writer has grown. It continues to grow in prestige and value. We believe 
it has become truly the voice of the Screen Writers' Guild. We believe it is 
assuming an ever-increasing stature in the motion picture industry and among 
people all over the world who know the actual and potential importance of 



motion pictures and who understand that the optic nerve is the shortcut to the 

These beliefs are buttressed by the results of the recent questionnaire sent 
by the Editorial Committee to all readers of The Screen Writer. 

A tabulated analysis of these results and a commentary on them will be 
found on page 29 of this issue. We consider it pertinent to call attention here 
to the answer of SWG members to this question: 

"Is the magazine succeeding or failing in its objective to provide the SWG 
and the motion picture industry with an adult, constructive public relations 
medium emphasizing the contribution of writers and their creative aims to the 
screen art?" Out of 420 Guild members who answered that question, 380 
replied that the magazine was succeeding in that objective, and 40 replied that 
it was falling short. 

Another indication of interest in and support for the magazine on the part 
of SWG members : In answer to the question, "As a contribution to the Guild 
and its magazine would you be willing to accept assignments to do articles?" 390 
replies were received ; 364 said yes, 26 said no. 

Replies from non-member readers — educators, editors, drama and film 
critics and writers in other fields — concerning the success and value of the 
magazine have been so almost uniformly appreciative that the Editorial Com- 
mittee read them with a mixed glow of gratitude and embarrassment. 

In the June, 1946, issue when The Screen Writer began its second year of 
publication, this editorial statement appeared: 

The first objective of the magazine — that of providing a vehicle 
of free expression — has been a difficult one to define. Certain articles 
have been rejected precisely because of the ideas they expressed. In 
framing a policy for such rejections, the Editorial Committee has con- 
cluded that an article which assumes a basic anti-Guild position has no 
place in a Guild publication. Since the outside market for anti-Guild 
and anti-labor pieces is extremely wide and profitable, it was felt that no 
invasion of the right of free expression was involved in such rejections. 
The second objective of the magazine ■ — -that of achieving recog- 
nition for screen writers and their craft — has, in the main) been achiev- 
ed. Screen Writer articles have served as the basis for full columns in 
metropolitan newspapers. The magazine has been widely quoted. It has 
received general commendation. We are still far from the final goal, but 
we have progressed. 

With this beginning of the third year of publication, further progress has 
been made in terms of circulation and recognition. We hope progress has also 
been made in terms of service to the Guild, to the profession of writing and to 
the motion picture industry. Final goals must remain far away and dim. But 
immediate goals have come closer. They have grown more sharply defined. 
They have been clarified by the generous response to the questionnaire. The 



goal of achieving real stature in Hollywood and in the world of motion pic- 
tures seems far less remote. 

In its new format The Screen Writer will stick to its old and original role 
of being the militant organ of the Screen Writers' Guild, an alert spokesman 
for the profession of writing. We are proud that in the past year this magazine 
was the vehicle for presenting the American Authors' Authority proposal to 
the world through the medium of many articles and a special supplement. Sup- 
port for the AAA will be continued vigorously. 

Insofar as it is within our resources to do it, the quality of the magazine 
will be improved and its range and usefulness extended. It has been made plain 
that a magazine published by professional writers in the motion picture indus- 
try has something of interest to say to other members of the industry, to other 
writers, to persons of awareness and intelligence throughout the world. 

The high goals envisaged for The Screen Writer and the Screen Writers' 
Guild by so many friends who responded to our questionnaire create a sense of 
deepening responsibility. What are these goals? Greater leadership by its artic- 
ulate and primarily creative members, the writers, in an industry that speaks to 
the world in the international language of pictures. A better understanding of 
the technique and art of pictures, and the creation of pictures that will help all 
people understand better that what they have in common is more important 
than the differences between them. Rewards and recognition for writers com- 
mensurate with their contributions. A more mature and critical interpretation of 
the art of the motion picture. These are important goals. It will take all the 
unity and intelligence our friends attribute to the SWG if we even begin to 
achieve them. 

Screen Writers' Guild Studio Chairmen 

(May 6, 1947) 

Columbia — Mel Levy; alternate, Hal Smith Warner Brothers — James Webb; alternate, Ruth 
MGM — Gladys Lehman; alternates, Sidney Boehm, Brooks 

Marvin Borowsky, Anne Chapin, Margaret Fitts, 

Charles Kaufman. Paramount — Arthur Sheekman ; alternate, Jesse 

Republic — Franklin Adreon ; alternate, John K. Lasky, Jr. 

Universal-International — Silvia Richards 
20th Century-Fox — Wanda Tuchock; alternate, 

Richard Murphy RKO — Daniel Mainwaring; alternate, Bess Taffel. 


Report on The Screen Writer 

"D ECENTLY the Editorial Committee of The magazine. In the belief that the results of this question- 

^ Screen Writer sent to the full subscription list a na ; re a i so w ;n b e of interest to readers, this report is 

questionnaire designed primarily to register opinions nresented 

and preferences of readers, and to guide the Committee 

and the SWG Executive Board in the conduct of this Following is a tabulated summary : 

Questionnaires returned by SWG members 450 

Questionnaires returned by non-members 260 


SWG Members Non-Members 

Craft articles on film writing 360 222 

Special articles on rights and economic problems of writers 346 176 

General articles dealing with motion pictures .. 334 180 

Critical surveys of motion picture product 308 216 

Articles on censorship 298 1 78 

Articles on film problems and delevopment abroad 290 174 

Personal experience articles 276 148 

Articles on stake of writers in political action 252 118 

Critiques of criticism and its approaches , 250 148 

Historical articles on the development of screen techniques and writing 248 174 

Personality profiles 176 96 


In favor of or agreeable to change to a larger and more flexible format 270 96 

Keep old format 165 188 


Yes 66 30 

No 342 234 


Yes 80 48 

No 304 204 


Yes 188 100 

No '. 200 160 


Yes 80 195 

No 322 48 












(A majority of yes answers specified that book 
reviews and listings should be restricted to those 
of special interest to writers and industry.) 



(Following Questions Sent Only to SWG Members) 


Succeeding .... 
Falling Short 





Much interesting comment accompanied the ques- 
tionnaire returns. There were a great many specific 
and general suggestions for future articles. Main cur- 
rents of reader interest showed up clearly. 

As indicated in the tabulated summary under the 
subhead Preference in Types of Articles, a very heavy 
demand was evident for more craft articles, for analysis 
and detailed discussion of the actual problems encoun- 
tered in writing, directing and producing motion pic- 
tures, and for a more integrated consideration of the 
craft relationships existing between writers and the 
other creative levels of the industry. There was a 
frequently recurring request for the publication of 
screenplay scripts or portions of them illustrating 

The Editorial Committee has not been unaware of 
this demand. Since the inception of the magazine an 

effort has been made to meet it. The recent articles 
by William Wyler and Rouben Mamoulian, the cur- 
rent series by Sheridan Gibney, the article in this issue 
by the writer-producer, Jay Richard Kennedy, all rep- 
resent the recognition of this need. However, the 
awareness of the Editorial Committee concerning the 
importance of craft articles has been sharpened by the 
impact of the questionnaire replies. 

But it may be well to point out again that THE 
SCREEN WRITER is not one of the how-to-learn- 
to-write-successfully-in-ten-easy-lessons magazines. It 
must leave that to the correspondence schools and their 
publications, and to the school of experience. 

As for publishing scripts of produced screenplays 
or portions of them here, this has been done once or 
twice in the past, and several attempts have been made 
to continue doing it. But serious difficulties have been 



met in securing studio front office permission to reprint 
these scripts as the writers wrote them. The Committee 
will give renewed attention to this question. 

Another sharply defined main current of reader inter- 
est showing up in the questionnaire returns is the mat- 
ter of markets. The demand for marketing informa- 
tion was almost as insistent as the concern with craft 
discussions. There were many requests for frequent 
analyses of story trends, and for articles by studio 
story editors presenting their needs. The Committee 
has not been unmindful of the interest in such mate- 
rial, and of its importance. The question has been dis- 
cussed by the present and preceding editors. One of the 
hazards involved is the highly competitive story market 
in Hollywood and the doubt that story editors would 
be free to discuss with complete frankness their story 
needs. Fear has been expressed that any lack of full, 
authentic information might be the derailing switch 
shunting too many writers to the sidetrack of specu- 
lative writing. However, the Committee will re-examine 
this problem in the light of the questionnaire returns. 

Another prevalent request was for regular publica- 
tion of motion picture reviews and criticisms. But many 
members remain unconvinced that in a magazine pub- 
lished by screen writers it would be wise policy to open 
the pages to critical review of pictures which represent 
the work of SWG members. Film criticism on a high 
professional level can be found in the Hollywood Quar- 
terly. In THE SCREEN WRITER the editors 
believe there should be ample space for general critical 
surveys of the motion picture product, and for discus- 
sion of the technical problems involved in the writing 
of specific pictures. But they would prefer to leave the 
matter of film reviewing to general membership direc- 
tive, hoping at the same time that the magazine will 
provide the nation's film critics with a better under- 
standing of the writers' contribution to pictures and 
with a more informed basis for a fair, intelligent 
approach to criticism. 

Acute interest was expressed in the economic and 
employment problems of writers. Extensive comments 
were made in praise of the Screen Writers' Guild fight 
for the American Authors' Authority plan. Scores of 
suggestions were made for more articles dealing with 
the problems of young writers. These came not only 
from the younger writers, but from many old Holly- 
wood hands who apparently have a sense of responsibil- 
ity toward the younger writers and toward the future 
of screen writing. It was clearly evident that a great 
deal of emphasis is desired on the question of writers' 
rights, on employment and on the economic trends 
within the motion picture industry. 

Another regularly recurring suggestion was for more 
articles on censorship, the production code, and the use 
of films devoted to "pure entertainment" for presenting 
a misleading and immature picture of American life. 

Interesting to the Editorial Committee was the 
response to the question concerning format. As indi- 
cated in the tabulation, among SWG members there 
was a majority in favor of, or agreeable to a change 

to a larger and more flexible size. Among non-members 
the majority opinion was in favor of retaining the orig- 
inal small size. A general comment, however, was that 
content, not size or typography, was the important 
thing. There were a few rather violent objections to 
the inclusion of advertising, and a great many more 
opinions favoring the limited use of advertising to help 
SWG meet the expenses of the magazine. People with 
publishing experience were almost unanimously in 
favor of changing to a larger, more standard size. 
There were a great many complaints about the 
unshaded type hitherto used. 

In the questionnaire space left open for criticisms and 
suggestions there were hundreds of comments. Most 
of them were constructive, helpful, filled with praise 
for the magazine, and the Editorial Committee hereby 
expresses its gratitude for them. But the Committee 
is also grateful for the criticism, some of which was 
frank and barbed. It read with special interest and 
attention the 40 negative answers to the question of 
whether or not the magazine is succeeding in its objec- 
tive to provide the SWG and the motion picture 
industry with an adult, useful public relations medium 
emphasizing the contribution of writers and their 
creative aims in the screen art. 

These negative answers concerning the success of 
the magazine were largely qualified by statements that 
it had only partially achieved its objectives; that it had 
failed to be sufficiently interesting and broad in its 
appeal; that it had failed to print illustrations manda- 
tory in a magazine devoted to a visual medium ; that 
it was too much or too little of a house organ; that it 
had published too many personal political attacks, and 
griped too much about the economic problems of writ- 
ers. Here are some of the more critical comments from 
SWG members: 

"It makes screen writers seem like a gang of chiselers 
more interested in their economic gains and political 
rights than in the artistic development of their craft." 

"Too partisan; keep it out of union politics." 

"Too obviously a public relations medium. If it were 
a better trade organ — a better magazine — it would nat- 
urally become a public relations medium but would 
not be so readily recognized as such." 

"Too much concentration on SWG problems." 

"It is too limited in its scope." 

"We sound like a bunch of disgruntled adolescents 
with chips on our shoulders, and most of the time not 
our own chips." 

"It has a general air of waspishness reminiscent of 
spinsters who couldn't get raped. Too much flimsy 
stuff by people who wont take the trouble to put body 
into their work. . . . A political attitude which may 
be right or wrong, but is pre-determined. Cut out the 
anonymous editorials. You are trustees, not owners." 

"Too often used to fry personal fish." 

"Too much space given to political indignation, too 



heavy-handed satire directed at management . . . and 
too little to the writing and making of motion pic- 

"Before changing the format, we should change 
the editorial board." 

"Magazine should be more like Authors' League 

"Magazine has little influence in Hollywood. This 
influence is prerequisite to influence elsewhere. 

"Magazine fluctuates between fawning on producers 
and being belligerent toward them." 

"For more humor, just publish minutes of our 

"Fewer words from on high advising the lowly on 
matters personal, political, biological and colonic. Eighty 
per cent of material published is highly valuable. Why 
don't you make it 100 per cent?" 

"The editorial committee is just a bunch of reds. 
They should resign." 

SWG membership comments in praise of the maga- 
zine outnumbered by about 10 to 1 the doubtful and 
caustic comments. Here are a few quotes from ques- 
tionnaires returned by Guild members: 

"A helluva swell magazine. Who's complaining?" 

"The only thing wrong with The Screen Writer is 
that there isn't more of it." 

"The best ivritten professional magazine in the 

"Congratulations to the editorial committee for a 
really swell job." (This was repeated many times.) 

"The one really good magazine about the motion 
picture medium." 

"Magazine has lived up to its best prospects." 

"The Screen Writer has been the greatest of all 
boons to creative workers in the industry. It has now 
outlived its rather restricted house-organ character. It 
can be, potentially, a boon to the nation." 

"A good magazine. . . . Keep it strictly house-organ. 
Don't louse it up with any fancy-pants or corny stuff." 

"It's a great publication, inherently so — as well 
as splendid showcase for SWG and the industry as a 
whole. But I hate to see the format changed." 

"Sure, change the format. Content is the important 
thing — and the content is GREAT." 

"By all means let's have advertising. That seems 
to me the next logical step in the development of a 
great magazine. Any self-respecting publication should 
be able to support itself." 

"A fine magazine . . . but avoid advertising, the most 
corrupting of all influences." 

"Our magazine has done more than anything else 
to attract attention to the writer's role in motion pic- 
tures. Committee has done a wonderful job. It's the 
most constructive move SWG ever made." 

"The Screen Writer is the most exciting trade maga- 
zine I ever read." 

"Give us more of the same." 

"Thanks for a wonderful job. That article by Willie 
Wyler was worth the price of the magazine for the 
next 10 years." 

"Magazine can serve as forum for whole motion 
picture industry. It can and should be the sounding 
board for all phases of picture making." 

"The magazine is entirely absorbing. I have no 
negative criticism." 

"It's so good that tens of thousands of people in and 
out of the industry should be getting it. We should 
put them on the free list." 

"The Screen Writer deserves to become the world's 
leading magazine on all screen matters." 

"I am grateful to the editorial committee and the 
executive board for their excellent job of furthering the 
cause of writers in particular and the position of motion 
pictures in general." 

"I doubt if the industry knows as yet what a gold 
mine of good will reposes in the pages of The Screen 
Writer. It should give the magazine all sorts of help 
in spreading the good word throughout the world." 

"Your AAA fight is great. That special supplement 
was a honey — a wonderful service to the profession 
of writing." 

"Don't see how it can be improved. But if you can 
do it — great! My thanks to executive board, edi- 
torial committee and staff." 

"Magazine suffers only because it isn't bigger. I find 
it extremely interesting, and always wish there were 
more to read." 

"Magazine is swell and a great credit to the Guild." 

"My copies of the magazine are read by myself, my 
family, my house guests, my friends, a large percentage 
of which are just plain old General Public. Discussion 
of magazine's contents are lively and interesting." 

"So good it should be made more generally available 
to the public." 

"My congratulations to the SWG editors and board 
for their excellent job in furthering the cause of writers 
in particular and motion pictures in general." 

"The magazine is a superior job of editing. Don't 
pay too much attention to No's unless backed by 
specific charges. The Hollywood atmosphere is so 
poisonous that some writers consider it corny to say 
anything good about anything — except, of course, 
their own great scripts. The question is not do they 
like it, but do they read it." 

"Magazine has been doing one hell of a good job." 



Here are a few comments from readers outside the 

"Give us more factual articles on what's wrong 
with Hollywood." 

"For my money the only publication that deals ade- 
quately with the creative aspects of motion pictures." 

"As a director, I have liked it very much to date. . . . 
The very clever article on De Mille and another similar 
one left me wondering if this personalized attack is 
fair — no matter how pleasant to read." 

"Magazine is well-balanced as it now stands, except 
it is too much of a house organ." 

"Broaden the title and content to include radio. The 
two fields are akin." 

"The most vital and interesting publication of its 
nature I have ever read. Print what YOU like, think, 
believe, want, etc., and let your readers take it or leave 
it. If it's good they'll take it — and they certainly have." 

"I appreciate the part the screen writers play in 
shaping events. I am a veteran of this war, and one who 
would like to think that the entertainment film industry 
can help people all over the world understand each 
other a little better, so that my generation may be the 
last veterans." 

"A lively and interesting journal which fills a spe- 
cial need." 

"The Screen Writer has been the best craft publi- 
cation I ever encountered. Exceedingly valuable, not 
only to writers for the screen, but to other craftsmen 
of the medium." 

"The magazine should de-emphasize the pervasive 
war-like attitude slightly. That is, confine the writers' 
battle to one or two articles per issue and not have it 
spill over into other departments." 

"Your magazine is valuable, but your political and 
economic problems of interest only to your Guild should 
be published outside the magazine. Why not mimeo- 
graph them for members only, and keep the magazine 
clear for its creative and worthwhile job of providing 
us with a better understanding of the motion picture 
industry and the contribution of the writer to it." 

"Give more attention to world film problems, world 
production, world responsibilities of our industry and 
our writers." 

"The magazine is a disappointment in that it con- 
tains too much complaining and cynicism. It should 
be professionally helpful, not flippant or sour. You are 
conscious of the problem, as shown by the questionnaire. 
But I enjoy the magazine, good or bad. It has many 
virtues. I hope to be a permanent subscriber." 

"The only lack I have felt in The Screen Writer 
is the absence of material by actors or writers dealing 

with the problems they face working with each other 
in the industry." 

{From Ireland) "Found your S.W.G. Film Forum 
in April one of the best and most important contribu- 
tions I have seen. American films in Europe lack taste. 
I hate to see an American film attempting an English 
story. Congratulations and thanks for the high standard 
of your magazine." 

Following are a few comments from questionnaires 
returned by many of the nation's leading drama and 
motion picture critics: 

"Please continue to be uniquely 'inside' and critical 
of the industry. That's your value, and it is a much 
greater value than has been adequately exploited in 
your circulation." 

"Keep it sound and beneficial — the Harpers of the 
industry, not the True Story." 

"So much fetid publicity tripe and fan treacle comes 
across this desk that when The Screen Writer arrives 
each month it's like a current of clean, cool air coming 
into a hot room. Keep it coming. A lot of us have 
learned a lot and gained new perspectives from it." 

"The Screen Writer is a monthly treat. I know of 
no publication that does its job so expertly." 

"I think that if the level of films is ever to be raised 
it must be done by closer relationship and more mutual 
understanding between critics and screen writers." 

"Circulation and prestige of your magazine should 
be nationally increased. Make it less of a house organ." 

"Your Guild magazine is one of the high spots of 
my reading program because it deals with the writing 
end of a business whose other angles are highly pub- 

"Your magazine has given me a better understanding 
of my job as a film reviewer, and has sharpened my 
sense of values in judging pictures." 

In the foregoing the Editorial Committee has tried 
to present a fair sampling of questionnaire comments. 
It regrets space is not available for hundreds of other 
pertinent and interesting comments. It will try to 
present in succeeding issues some of the longer opinions 
and suggestions. In the meantime the Committee wishes 
to thank for their cooperation all readers who sent in 
questionnaire replies, and to assure them their intelli- 
gent response will be of great help in editing THE 

for the Screen Writer 
Editorial Committee. 


Can Screen Writers Become 
Film Authors? 

A Few Comments and Suggestions Concerning This Transition 

In the May issue of THE SCREEN WRITER Joseph L. Mankie- 
wicz advised screen writers to become film authors. In response to a request 
from the Editorial Committee, several writers, directors and producers 
present a few ideas about how genuine film authorship may be achieved. 


MY distinguished colleague and 
fellow-sufferer, Joe Mankie- 
wicz, has written a most interesting 
and stimulating piece for the May 
issue of this magazine. It is true that 
I found much to disagree with in his 
article, but a great deal more with 
which to agree wholeheartedly, par- 
ticularly the paragraphs in which he 
suggests that screen writers, as a 
body, have tended to show more inter- 
est in holding down their jobs than in 
learning their trade. His argument 
along this line is most persuasive, but 
I think some of his conclusions are at 

For instance, it is true that Ameri- 
can screen writers cannot be proud of 
their record in creating original screen 
plays, but I submit that this has noth- 
ing to do with trade-learning and, in 
fact, is far more the fault of the stu- 
dios than of the writers. 

Let us analyze the situation that 
obtains in the studios. The business 
men who run these factories are re- 
sponsible for the investment of very 
large sums of money in a series of 
gambles — every story being a gamble 
which would give an inveterate horse- 
player stomach ulcers. It is only nat- 
ural that these gentlemen prefer to 
risk the stockholders' cash — and their 
own professional necks — on horses 
which have already won races, that is, 
on established novels, serials and 
plays, or on biographies of characters 
well established in the public's mind. 
Having acquired a proved property, 
they then make assurance doubly sure 
by assigning to its adaptation a proved 
screen writer. 

The result is that the experienced 
screen writer, the vers" man or woman 

capable of creating the original screen 
plays for which Mr. Mankiewicz so 
eloquently calls, is kept busy year in 
and year out on material owned by 
the studios. If his contract with one 
major studio expires, he is at once be- 
sieged with offers from the others. If 
he resists these offers, does he sit down 
and write an original screen play? He 
does not. He writes a play or a book, 
because he is enough of an egotist to 
relish being able to read his name on 
advertising matter without using a 
microscope, and enough of an eco- 
nomic animal to realize that the finan- 
cial return for even a third-rate play 
is greater than that for a first-rate 
screen play, not only on Broadway, 
but in Hollywood itself. 

The unpalatable truth is far too 
many of the originals (and I except 
musicals, biographies, western and ac- 
tion scripts written on salary in the 
studios) are written by writers out of 
work in the hope of earning some 
quick money before the next job 
comes up. Far too many of them are 
written by writers who, because of 
youth, inexperience or incompetence, 
are incapable of writing screen plays. 
I know; I have been there. 

And most of the originals are not 
screen plays at all. They are synopses 
for screen plays, blueprints, not build- 
ings. The reason for this is easily un- 
derstood. It takes anywhere from 
three months to a year to create a 
screen play. How many writers can 
afford to allot this time to a gamble in 
a limited market? Why should they 
when they realize that the purchasing 
studios, when and if, will undoubt- 
edly have their screen plays rewritten 
past all recognition? 

It all boils down to this: there is no 
incentive to write original screen 

plays. Until there is an incentive, few 
of quality will be written. The suc- 
cessful writers will continue to work 
on studio-owned material, the unsuc- 
cessful will continue to write desper- 
ate little synopses, and the handful 
who are strongwilled (and well- 
heeled) enough to withstand studio 
offers will continue to write for other 
media. And, praise the Lord, one or 
two of the desperate little synopses 
will come through as strong, exciting 
screen plays, and their authors will 
forthwith become transmogrified, van- 
ish within the studio gates and never 
have to write originals again. 

It would be unfair to Mr. Mankie- 
wicz to ask him to produce a list of 
his own original screen plays. He has 
been kept far too busy this last decade 
to write any. Mr. Mankiewicz knows 
his trade, and the studios are properly 
appreciative. Since he has directed my 
last two scripts with taste and skill, I 
might add that so am I. But if he now, 
like Peter the Hermit, proposes to lead 
a crusade out of the modernistic of- 
fices and into the garrets, I doubt if 
he will find many followers. When I 
get time off, I shall either write a 
play or go fishing. And I think he 
will, too. 


' I HE telegram requested three hun- 
■*■ dred to one thousand words on 
how newer writers can learn their 
trade thoroughly under present con- 
ditions. Just like that . . . simple as 
any old basic problem of living and 
eating and being true to one's ideals 
and the demands of one's integrity. 
Skipping the three hundred to one 
thousand words part of the request, 
let's analyze the rest of the sentence ; 
let's find some definitions and see 
whether or not they'll help us find 
the answer. 

First, there are the rather sad 



words — "newer writers." What is 
meant by "newer writers"? Does it 
mean those who have just begun to 
work at the business of writing, the 
beginner fiction writer, the hopeful 
dramatist? Or does it mean writers 
new to Hollywood? Before I'm ac- 
:used of quibbling, I hasten to say the 
fundamentals of screen writing — in 
my opinion — are the same as in any 
other media. A story-teller is as good 
is his story. Consequently, one must 
assume the newer writer, i.e., the 
writer new to Hollywood, has learned 
the art of story telling, regardless of 

If he hasn't then it will mean noth- 
ing for him to learn the facts of screen 
story telling. 

The next phrase is — "learn their 
trade." By definition, we are assuming 
the newer writer has learned the fun- 
damentals of good story telling and is 
now deliberately and of his own free 
will determined to use them as a basis 
for screen story telling. We are 
promptly faced with a diversity of 
opinions as vast and often as confusing 
as an MGM budget, not counting 
retakes. I can only offer mine for 
what it's worth. There is no mystery 
to the mechanics of movie-making. 
There is a camera, there is a sound 
track, there is a cutting room, a dub- 
bing room, a thing called special ef- 
fects, all kinds of exciting mechanical 
activities, all plainly marked by small 
signs on buildings tucked away be- 
tween stages. I've never yet met one 
of the gentlemen or ladies involved in 
these wonderful processes who was- 
n't definitely delighted at the oppor- 
tunity of explaining how his or her 
particular job really made the movies. 

Then there are the already pro- 
duced motion pictures, great ones, 
even bad ones, sometimes crowded 
with imaginative achievements, some- 
times offering only a single moment 
that can be recognized as the humble 
offering of true artistic inspiration. 
These are the newer writer's text 
books, available in direct ratio to his 
own curiosity, his desire to study what 
has been done, his will to learn to 
understand, through review and 
study, this potentially greatest of all 
artistic media. 

And I say if the newer screen 
writer, assuming he has already learn- 
ed the fundamentals of good writing, 
has done all this — and is still dissat- 

isfied with his knowledge of screen 
writing as such, he needs to examine 
his own curiosity and re-evaluate the 
creativeness of his own imagination. 

So we come to the last and third 
phrase — "under present conditions." 
I will — for a moment — seemingly 
refute something I wrote in the pre- 
vious paragraph. I have never ceased 
to marvel at the stupidity of producers 
who expect fine screen plays from un- 
trained writers or from successful 
dramatists and novelists who have too 
often turned up their noses at anything 
Hollywood other than its money. 
Does this same producer think his 
particular brand of Scotch is blended 
by a beginner who has not been given 
a decent chance to learn his trade? 
Doesn't this same producer often tell 
you at great length how he started as 
a cutter or an office boy or even a 
waiter? And in some instance when 
reason finally fails, doesn't he refer to 
his "long experience" as if it were a 
weapon capable of destroying logic? 
I do not blame producers entirely for 
writer ineptitude, but I do believe 
they are at least partially responsible 
by not urging the newer writer to 
spend more time on stages. 

I will go even further; I will say 
that newer writers should be expected 
to spend at least one month on a stage 
before being asked to write a screen 
play. And then, after he has written 
his first screen play, he should be en- 
couraged to follow it through every 
phase of production. I, of course, 
realize that is only possible for con- 
tract writers. For the newer free lance 
writer, something should be worked 
out with the studios whereby a writer 
certified by the Screen Writers' Guild 
will be given the opportunity to watch 
production for at least one month. 
Not only the writer but the studio 
would profit from some such arrange- 

Producer attitude toward writers is 
— to put it mildly — short-sighted. 
Much of it however, is the fault of 
the writer himself. Writing, in any 
medium, is not easy; it takes hard 
labor, constant discouragement and 
continuous self-education to achieve 
the high standards inherent in fine 
writing. It takes the severest kind of 
self-criticism to beget the humility 
that eventuates in great creative ac- 

I know how difficult the writer's 
task is in this motion picture indus- 

try; I have lived through most of its 
hazards ; I am still far from overcom- 
ing many of its obstacles. And I know 
how quickly the truly creative mind 
is discouraged and sometimes de- 
stroyed by stupid and even intellec- 
tually dishonest restraints ranging 
from inept producers to infantile cen- 
sorship. But I also know the history of 
both the drama and literature is 
crowded with similar seemingly 
tragic restraints. Yet each survived 
and produced greatness on greatness. 
And always it was the writer who 
fought and suffered to produce this 

The motion picture is — in my 
opinion — the greatest medium of ex- 
pression yet devised. Also the young- 
est of the art forms. Even now, it is 
still going through a period of transi- 
tion in which it is trying to learn the 
proper use of sound in what was con- 
ceived as a silent medium. There are 
hundreds of other problems, problems 
having to do with the eternal intan- 
gibles of truly creative progress. I 
believe many of these are essentially 
the writer's problems ... as they have 
always been the writer's problems. 
There must come a day when produc- 
ers will recognize them as such and 
accept the writer's solutions. 

But the writer must also be capable 
of finding the solutions. Therefore, 
the wise producer will help the writer 
learn the complex mechanics of movie 
making. The rest is up to the writer. 
To his knowledge of story telling he 
will need to add the integrity and the 
courage to fight against the destruc- 
tion of the results of that knowledge. 

There is no easy road to learning 
any kind of writing. There never has 
been. It's a miserable profession un- 
der almost any conditions ... if 3'ou 
really work at it. 


T MUST agree with everything that 
-*- Benoit-Levy and Mankiewicz wrote 
in the May Screen Writer as I must 
agree that cancer must be conquered. 
I'm afraid, however, that Jean and 
Joe don't go far enough with their 
argument. A "film author" can learn 
his craft as solidly as a surgeon alleg- 
edly learns his, but when a surgeon 



does his final sewing-up, it is not 
likely that the head of the hospital 
will reserve the right to do more cut- 

What Benoit-Levy and Mankie- 
wicz should have insisted, it seems to 
me, is that once the film author is 
employed, he be left alone from the 
beginning of the writing to the time 
the final negative goes to the lab for 
prints. Does that happen today with 
any of the truly brilliant writer-di- 
rectors or writer-producers Joe has 
listed? Perhaps with some; certainly 
not with all. 

In major studios, the front office 
still reserves the prerogative of bitch- 
ing the product no matter what con- 
tractual authority the film author has. 
I say this must stop. When the head 
men hire — "delighted" as they are 
— that film author who has learned 
his trade and earned the respect of 
his colleagues, that's it, brother, and 
no interference by men who have 
money instead of mentality. 

Until that period in our industry 
comes, Jean's and Joe's film authors 
are kidding themselves, but strictly. 


WISH I were able to make some 
■*■ practical suggestion to newer writ- 
ers to guide them in their efforts to 
"learn their trade" and become "film 
authors." But in this fiercely com- 
petitive business the chances are they 
will have to scratch for their suste- 

If they are sufficiently hungry and 
sufficiently in earnest about film- 
writing, as as distinct from other 
kinds of creative writing, the chances 
are they will learn what they have to 
know. If they can persuade the unions 
involved, and the producers concerned, 
to allow them to put in an actual stint 
as script clerk and cutter, or assistant 
cutter, nothing in the world could be 
of more enduring value. 

Failing this, they might study a few 
great pictures intensively, running 
them over and over again until they 
know them cut for cut, camera angle 
for camera angle ; and until the pat- 
tern of each scene, as staged by the 
director, has been apprehended and 

appreciated. Let them go to school to 
a great picture like William Wyler's 
Dodsworth, screening it not once, 
but thirty times, and do the same with 
John Ford's The Informer. 

It is a pity that masters like Wyler, 
Ford, Lubitsch and Hitchcock cannot 
have schools of literary and directorial 
apprentices to study their style. 
(There are so few who have what can 
be called a style — so that their work, 
unsigned, is still as readily recogniz- 
able as the music of Mozart or the 
prose of Joseph Addison.) This was 
the happy practice of the great Ren- 
aissance painters, but it is, no doubt, 
too much to hope for in the movies. 
It doesn't even exist any longer in 

In the old days there was a good 
deal of Hollywood shop-talk, discus- 
sion of technical, narrative and aes- 
thetic difficulties, and this was healthy. 
Now we rarely hear anything but 
personal gossip and discussion of box- 
office returns. The vast, and as yet 
unsolved, problem of the co-ordina- 
tion of visual and auditory rhythms, 
which is the central dilemma of the 
talking picture, is seldom fruitfully 

Lacking some radical solution, and 
none appears probable, I can only sug- 
gest these quite inadequate make- 
shifts. I'm afraid they won't prove of 
much help. For in the long run there 
is only one way to learn how to do 
anything and that is by doing it. I am 
optimist enough to think that, diffi- 
cult as it is, if the talent is great 
enough the way will be found. 


T T W newer writers can also be- 
-*- •*- come genuine authors under pres- 
ent conditions or words to that effect: 
The genuine author is distinguished 
by his lorgnon, his love of talk and his 
hatred of writing. He has dandruff on 
his collar and needs a shampoo. 

Not being a genuine author, but 
only a playwright, it is so difficult 
for me to write prose, spelling out 
each word, wrestling with the gram- 
mar and tripping over the syntax, 
that I rarely contribute to symposia. 
What little I know of my profession 
I got out of a book called "A Study 

of the Drama" by Brander Matthews 
which cost $1.50. 

In closing here are two pieces of 
advice given by two good playwrights : 
Dumas the Younger and Pierre Ve- 
ber. The first said: "To write a suc- 
cessful play is very easy: Let the be- 
ginning be clear, the end be short, and 
let it all be interesting." The second 
said: "Never be afraid of boring 
them. When they are bored they think 
they are thinking. This flatters them." 


\ A OST screen writers in their 
■^■V-i- apprentice days feel that their 
biggest problem is getting the job 
rather than learning how to handle it. 
I think there is much to be said for 
this view. The process is injurious to 
writers only when they fail to learn 
by doing. If they want to find out 
how a picture is made there is nothing 
that I know of to prevent them. In 
any studio scripts are available for 
study and the pictures made from 
these scripts can be studied in turn, 
and the scripts then checked again for 
particulars of technique. This process 
provides a post-graduate course which 
rapidly produces specialists. 

However, it is a form of education 
which is only available after a man 
has been hired ; hence one raises the 
question — should there not be an 
opening in motion pictures for young 
writers trained directly for screen 
writing but lacking the qualifications 
in other fields of creative work which 
v/ould ordinarily make them eligible 
for studio jobs? 

I think that there is definitely a 
place for such writers and the colleges 
should be encouraged to supplement 
courses in motion picture art and his 
tory with practical craft work in 
writing and the technical fields. 

The only campus that I know of 
that supplies such a course if USC 
where Clara Beranger's Cinema 
Workshop is attracting a large num- 
ber of students, many of them former 
servicemen. European countries have 
long provided such courses. In Russia 
technical courses in all branches of 
film making, including screen writing, 
have been established for many years. 



Miss Beranger tells me that France 
has an Institute of Advanced Film 
Studies where students have the use 
of a large library pertaining to film 
making. If other industries like radio 
and television, not to mention elec- 
tronics, steel and chemicals, can spend 
large sums each year training young 
men in research and special crafts, 
why can't Hollywood start a modest 
experiment along the same lines? I 
think it would pay off. 

The suspicion still remains with me 
that even after college training and 
the study of scripts, the only practical 
way of learning the screen writing 
trade is to get on the set with a picture 
and stay with it up to and through 
the night of the sneak preview. Many 
writers who have been in the industry 
twenty years have never done this, but 
I believe it is a capsule that contains 
a complete educational program. If it 
doesn't work nothing will. 


T GOT your flattering wire and I sat 
-*- myself right down and began to 
write three hundred words on "How 
newer writers can — etc., under pres- 
ent conditions?" 

I was going along pretty good too, 
until it occurred to me I don't know 
much about present conditions. I 
haven't been a contract writer for 
about ten years, and the few pictures 
I've done since have been at home and 
out of town. 

The basis of my piece was going to 
be on learning film technique by 
working for people — different people 

— you admire. Not the same person 

— even if he's a comfortable director 
to be teamed with — but with men 
from whom you can learn something 
new. Cast yourself carefully, like 

But, do those conditions prevail 
now? Can a young writer get a job 
without being tied to a long term con- 
tract ? 

I don't know, and f rankly, I would- 
n't want to advise so carelessly, to the 
possible damage of some budding 

P.S. I think your magazine is 


TN 1942 I was assigned to direct my 
-*- first picture, Destination Tokyo. 
After fourteen years of screen writing 
I thought I had mastered the craft, — 
but I was destined for a sharp lesson 
in humility. The lesson was learned 
alongside the camera where the muted 
sound of the sprockets whirling keeps 
pace with the dialogue and action tak- 
ing place in front of the lens. 

The film itself is cheap, a few cents 
a foot, — but the scenes being photo- 
graphed represent an enormous in- 
vestment in thought, energy, hope, 
labor, capital, careers, eagerness and 
despair, buoyancy and exhaustion ; 
what is being photographed takes the 
combined efforts of dozens of depart- 
ments, thousands of people, now 
channeled down to the hundred who 
may be on the shooting stage for the 
sole purpose of transferring your 
script or my script to film. Formerly, 
I took these things for granted, I 
don't any more. Writing a script at 
home or in my office I was too remote 
from all of this to think in these new 

My first lesson in humility came as 
I began photographing scenes I had 
written, — and everything I had 
written was literally under the spot- 
lights on the set. I could hear the film 
racing through the sprocket holes, 
twenty-four frames a second, ninety 
feet a minute, and I soon realized 
why, on my sixty-day shooting sched- 
ule, an average of ONLY TWO 
ROW OF FILM CANS ! Figure it 
out for yourself; sixty days of shoot- 
ing, one hundred and twenty minutes 
of previewed film. What has this to 
do with screen writing? Be patient. 
Let's take a look at the budget: one 
million dollars — sixteen thousand, 
six hundred and sixty-six dollars per 
day. Then two minutes of film should 
be worth that much in money. 
$8,333.00 per minute. Now, please 
add this to the second paragraph and 
you will begin to get the reason for 
my first embarrassed lesson : what I 
had written wasn't worth this over- 
whelming amount of human endeavor, 
it wasn't worth $8,333.00 per minute. 

The realization comes as those 
sprockets whirl beside your ear — the 
actors are saying your lines, making 

your motions, and both are recorded 
on film racing through the camera, 
ninety feet a minute. Then and there 
is where I learned that the words had 
to be better, the action exactly right; 
the whirr of the sprockets taught me 
the lesson of the over-written scene. 
I could almost hear the sprocket holes 
groan : "You're saying this twice — 
it's taking twenty feet to get that jerk 
out the door — I've heard this before, 
every word of it — this scene was 
over twenty feet ago — this gal's been 
talking for over one hundred feet, but 
the yadada-yadada — goes on and on 
... it took her one hundred and 
eighty feet to say what she could have 
said in ten ! One hundred and eighty 
feet? That's two minutes! That's a 
day's work!" 

It's easier to over-write, we all 
know that. I used to indulge myself 
in long scenes, long scripts until I 
learned this added lesson: I have yet 
to see more than one hundred and 
twenty five pages of script represented 
in a finished film of normal feature 
length. All over that is trimmed out 
or cut out in chunks, even whole se- 
quences — and until you realize the 
tremendous combined effort that goes 
into every foot of the film on the cut- 
ting room floor you won't realize the 
sin of over-writing. We cannot in- 
dulge ourselves, we must learn a les- 
son on this score from the playwrights 
in New York: THE PLAY MUST 

When you're ready to turn in your 
final script, give it the "sprocket hole 
test" — is every word of every page 
worth the combined efforts of thou- 
sands? If it isn't, edit it or write it 
over. And watch some of your script 
being shot, sit near the camera, listen 
for the sprockets turning frame by 
frame, foot by foot. After your film 
has been edited for release, ask the 
film editor to lend you his cutting 
script and compare the released ver- 
sion with your original script. See 
what was cut — even if you disagree 
with the cutting you may learn that 
very rarely is a scene cut because it 
played well ! 

The director quickly learns that he 
cannot "coast" through one foot of 
film, that one badly shot scene, even 
if it represents but twenty feet of 
film, will stand out to mar the effect 
of the whole. 

Now I know that the same truth 



applies to the writer — that one badly 
written scene, however short, not only 
causes the sprocket holes to groan, but 
the audience as well. I know. I, too, 
have suffered. 

Letter From 

(Continued from Index Page) 

important documents — which, I as- 
sume — writers are required to sign?" 

"In quintuplicate," I corrected. 
"They are prepared by the lawyers 
for the companies." 

"The same lawyers for all of 

"No, senor. Each film company has 
its own set of abogados." 

Senores Bustamente and Portas 
shook their heads and the latter 
reached into a drawer and took out a 
paper — a single sheet, legal size. 
"This," he said, "is the contract 
which a Mexican screen writer signs. 
The only contract!" 

I said that any writer offered a 
one-page contract either owns a piece 
of the company or is the producer's 

"All Mexican screen writers sign 
this contract. All!" Furthermore, he 
said, it is the only contract which the 
Sindicato de Trabajadores, etc,, etc., 
as the parent organization of ever}- 
film worker in the country will allow 
him to sign. And no waivers of any- 
thing in it. 

"Does it say in that contract that 
the writer shall be at his desk by 9 :30 
every morning and remain until 5 :30, 
Pacific Standard Time?" 

"It says there," Portas answered, 
"that the writer agrees to deliver a 
script for a certain amount of money 
to be paid to him at certain stages of 
his work — and he works wherever 
he chooses — at the Mexico City race 
track or the bull-ring if he finds it 
more comfortable there." 

"You have a minimum salary for 
the screen writer?" 

"We do not call it salary, we call it 
compensation, And we call him not a 
screen writer but an adaptador as dis- 
tinguished from the autor who sells 
original works that still need proces- 
sing, to a producer. The minimum is 
5,000 pesos, The maximum is not 
stated, and is of course not as high as 
in Hollywood, A good price for an 
original story or for making it into a 
shooting script is from 25,000 to 
50,000 pesos. The screenplay is con- 
sidered as valuable as the original 

Still a little bewildered at the brev- 
ity of the Mexican contract I asked 
Senor Portas whether there are any 
misunderstandings at times, due to 

"One in a thousand. Let me read 
you from Clause Nine. Both parties 
agree that all points relating to obser- 
vation, interpretation or execution of 
this contract shall be under the juris- 
diction of the Federal Tribunals of 
Labor. In other words, the law of the 
land determines whether a contract 
has been fairly lived up to by either 

And I had been in Mexico long 
enough to understand that the Fed- 
eral Tribunals of labor of the Mexi- 
can Republic have a paternal concern 
for the creative worker as well as the 

"In America," I told him, "when 
there are disputes we too have certain 
machinery for adjustment. Arbitra- 
tion, conciliation, grievance commit- 
tess. . . ." 

"Here in Mexico," offered Senor 
Bustamente, "we have one inter-in- 
dustry group to settle those matters. 
It is called the Committee of Honor 
and Justice." 

He read me another delicious little 
clause from the Mexican contract: 
The producer agrees to respect the 
adaptation (screenplay) dealt with by 
this contract and not to modify, mu- 
tilate or make additions thereto with- 
out the written permission of the 
adaptador (screen writer) given 
through the Sindicato. 

"That means," I stuttered, "that 
after the producer has settled with 
the writer and kissed him off (con 

besos y embrasos) he can't mess 
around with the script! This is a 
little fantastic, senor." 

"You are assuming, Senor Kahn," 
Mr. Portas said, "that after the pro- 
ducer has paid money to the writer 
he has bought something. That, if I 
may say so, is a misapprehension. He 
has bought nothing. Nada!" And he 
quoted me from Clausula Cinco. 
(Clause Five) of the contract: 

The Sindicato assigns to the pro- 
ducer the literary rights to produce 
the production mentioned in this con- 
tract. This assignment of exclusive 
film rights will hold good for a period 
of five years after which time the 
author will resume absolute title and 
possession of his work. 

(Memo: Please send these gentle- 
men a copy of our American Authors 

It was clear from this clause refer- 
ring to the five-year lease of the writ- 
ten work that the writers' section of 
the Sindicato is the repository of the 
copyright, holding it in trust for the 

And w T hat happens after five years ? 
What about re-issues and remakes, I 
asked them. There are pictures play- 
ing in the States that are far older. 
Does the Mexican screen writer get 
additional compensation if his picture 
is re-issued or remade? 

"Seguro que si! Clausula Ocho. 
Listen; It is understood that when 
the film mentioned under this contract 
has been exhibited more than five 
years, counting from the date of the 
premiere, the producer shall pay the 
adaptador a bonus of not less than 
50% of the sum (paid him for his 
work previously) without which pay- 
ment the producer shall cease to ex- 
hibit the film. 

"Cease to exhibit the film!" I 
gasped. "What about the company 
getting its lawyers busy? Courts — 
injunctions — counter-injunctions!" 

"Hombre," said Mr. Bustamente 
with quiet tolerance, "what projec- 
tionist who is a member of the same 
Sindicato as the writer will turn the 

Hasta luego. 




Report and 



The purpose of this article is to 
present a procedural plan for Guild 
meetings. The article itself is the cul- 
mination of a series of letters between 
myself and our Executive Board. 

On the premise that Guild meet- 
ings are poorly attended because of 
the tedious, bitter, minor arguments 
attendant on each subject under dis- 
cussion, I offered my plan to the 
Board in the form of a letter. I am no 
parliamentarian. I do not know the 
feeling of the Board in regard to the 
idea. I know only that they have re- 
quested me to present it for member- 
ship review through the medium of 
our magazine. 

Before proceeding I'd like to offer 
the impressions I take with me after 
each of our meetings. I think the 
meetings are: 

1. Boring. In that every subject, 
no matter how innocuous, is argued 
pro and con by a group of die-hards 
who see it as stemming originally ei- 
ther from the Kremlin or the peripa- 
tetic bailiwick of Gerald L. K. Smith. 
The same arguments pertain, no mat- 
ter what the subject happens to be ! 

2. Intolerable. In that there is no 
ending these discussions. 

3. Frustrating. In that out of 
sheer desperation we often find our- 
selves voting on questions that have 
been touched only on the fringes — 
the real issues having been neatly 
skirted by the bevy of speakers. 

4. Insulting. In that we, as 
thinking adults, can make up our 
minds on the average run of questions 
without the earnest, enduring chant 

ARNOLD BELGARD, a member of 
SWG, recently outlined this proposal to 
the Executive Board. 

of the innumerable speakers who be- 
labor us with their oft-reiterated 

It is because of these four factors 
that a large group of normally inter- 
ested writers abstain from sitting in 
at meetings they would otherwise be 
eager to attend. They send in their 
proxies, and they vote as preordained 
by the proxy holder — not as they 
might have, had they been present to 
hear intelligent debate. 

I have no real quarrel with our 
vociferous chums. I believe them 
earnest, sincere crusaders. A good 
many of them are my friends. I quar- 
rel only with the fact that what they 
say is not necessary in the least, al- 
though under the democratic way of 
life, they are entitled to, and take, the 
floor from now on and forevermore. 

But you who have attended meet- 
ings know that when Mr. Lavery 
reaches the breaking point (his toler- 
ance is much greater than mine), he 
rolls up his sleeves, sets everyone 
straight as to the issue in point, gives 
us a quick summary of the pros and 
cons, and again takes his chair. Rarely 
after this, is there further discussion. 
There is no need for any. 

So, at long last, here is the struc- 
ture of our meetings as I want to see 
them conducted. I want to see a 
thoroughly planned and prepared 
agenda. Prepared is italicized because 
it is the keynote of the plan : A Forum 
Group in Action, rather than a hodge 
podge of word makers. Here is how 
it would work: 

Let us say that our agenda is made 
up of a series of Committee Reports. 
It usually is. I want to hear the com- 
mittee chairman's report in full — 
complete with recommendation^, 
instead of ad lib discussion, I next 
want to hear the views of the opposi- 
tion from within the committee itself. 
This speaker is eminently qualified to 
give us the reasons behind the origi- 
nal dissenting votes. Again, instead of 
ad lib discussion, the committee 
chairman will present the reasons why 
the dissenters were voted down. And 
if there were not final unanimity 
within the committee, the opposition 

would be entitled to a final rebuttal. 

Now we are ready to hear from 
the floor. If there is room for further 
discussion, let it come from the floor 
through the chairman (as moderator) 
to the debater in the form of a ques- 
tion. These people on the rostrum 
have been through the subject at great 
length. They know the answers. Their 
responses, instead of being ad libbed, 
will be the result of considered 

And from here on, any individual 
who presumes to add weight to a com- 
pleted argument had better have 
something solid to place in the scales 
or else think twice before speaking. 

I believe the forum group to be as 
democratic in principle as our present 
meeting form. 

This plan is presented on the as- 
sumption that we have elected our 
officers and Board in the good faith 
that they will carry out the desires of 
the membership. That the trust we 
place in them and the committees to 
which our various problems are 
thrown does not end with the mere 
submission of a report. 

As with practically all bodies dem- 
ocratic, there is a fair split of those 
who think on the left, in the center, 
and on the right. All three ideologies 
are to be found among our officers, 
our Board members, and our every 
important committee. Either we trust 
them to do the ground work or we, as 
a body must do it. There's no sense in 
wasting their time — and they use up 
plenty of it — if we disregard what 
they have to report upon completion 
of their work. 

Let's not make up our collective 
minds at the last minute after having 
been detoured away from the original 
report by the hot-tongued orators of 
the night. Let's do things right. Let's 
have full membership attendance. 
They'll come to meetings that main- 
tain a lively interest, and that don't 
run off on divergent tangents every 
two minutes for hour after bitter 

Let's have our meetings be forum 
in shape. Let's not step on our toes 
any longer. Let's progress as a body. 




The following communication has 
been received from Jules C. Gold- 
stone of the Jules Goldstone-Al Man- 
uel, Inc. agency: 

In your issue of May, 1947, under 
an article written by Martin Field 
entitled, Twice-Sold Tales, reference 
was made to a transaction in which 
Clarence Brown and I were involved. 

Since I feel that the implications 
in the reference were unfair and dam- 
aging, I should like the opportunity 
to furnish you with the full facts. In 
this connection I will be glad to open 
my files on the matter to the inspec- 
tion of anyone duly authorized by 
you to examine them. 


Martin Field of the Editorial Com- 
mittee has submitted the following 
statement in reply : 

As the authorized representative of 
as the author of Twice-Sold Tales, I 
acted on the invitation of Jules C. 
Goldstone to examine his files in the 

I examined in detail the books, 

documents, and contracts concerning 

the transaction referred to in my 

I am happ}' to be able to correct 
any statement or implication in the 
article suggesting unfair dealings on 
the part of either Mr. Brown or Mr. 
Goldstone. Any criticism whatsoever 
of their conduct is unfounded. 



News Notes 

■^Current programs in the N. Y. 
Museum of Modern Art's History of 
the Motion Picture are: A British- 
American Documentary: The True 
Glory, June 2, 3, 4, 5; A Short His- 
tory of Animation: Animated Paint- 

ings, Drame Chez les Fantoches, 
Gertie the Dinosaur, The Big Swim, 
Newman's Laugh-o-Grams, Felix 
Gets the Can, Steamboat Willie, 
Flowers and Trees, Les Trois Petits 
Cochons, June 6, 7, 8 ; Theatrical and 
Social Dancing in Film: In Seville, 
Moment Musicale, The Whirl of 
Life, Four Horsemen of the Apoca- 
lypse (excerpt), Anna Pavolova test 
shots, Our Dancing Daughters (ex- 
cerpt), The Skeleton Dance, Swing 
Time, June 9, 10, 11, 12; Great Ac- 
tresses of the Past: Madame Sans- 
Gene, La Dame aux Camelias, Van- 
ity Fair, Cenere, June 13, 14, 11; 
Legend and Fantasy (I) : Skladan- 
owsky's Primitives, Don Juan's Wed- 
ding, Misunderstood, The Cabinet of 
Dr. Caligari, June 16, 17, 18, 19; 
Legend and Fantasy (II) : The Gold- 
em, June 20, 21, 22; Legend and 
Fantasy (III) : Destiny, June 23, 24, 
21, 26: The Psychological Drama 
(I) : Warning Shadows, June 27, 28, 
29; Legend and Fantasy (IV) : Sieg- 
fried, June 30, July 1, 2, 3. 

"A"A group of unusually interesting 
paintings by Herbert Klynn, Julius 
Engel and Oskar Fischinger is on 
exhibition at the American Contem- 
porary Gallery, 6727^ Hollywood 
Boulevard, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 
daily except Monday. All three paint- 
ers are Hollywood artists. Herbert 
Klynn is the well-known screen artist 
who is now working in the field of 
industrial design and who has given 
material assistance to THE SCREEN 
WRITER in designing the format of 
the magazine. His paintings have been 
widely exhibited throughout the na- 

*SWG member Millen Brand's 
new novel, Albert Sears, will be pub- 
lished June 30 by Simon & Schuster. 
The novel is the story of two families, 
one white and the other Negro, and 
of how they affect each other in a 
Jersey City real estate fracas. 

^■Gordon Kahn, editor of THE 
SCREEN WRITER, examines the 
motion picture fan magazines as the 
subject of his contribution for May 
to the Atlantic Monthly. Title of the 
article is The Gospel According to 

"&SWG member Robert Wilder is 
at work on a new historical novel, 
Bright Feather, according to his pub- 
lishers, G. P. Putnam's Sons, who 
announce that the story is about the 
Seminole Indians in Florida and the 

independent nation they still main- 
tain — a nation which declared its 
own war on Germany, Italy and Ja- 
pan. The novel is announced for pub- 
lication in the spring of 1948. 

~kThe Twisted Mirror, a new mys- 
tery novel by SWG member Leonard 
Lee, is on the fall publishing list of 

'ArHarcourt - Brace will publish 
SWG member Valentine Davies' 
story, Miracle on 34?A Street as a 
novel, with publication date probably 
in August. Item of particular interest 
in relation to this is fact that it was 
first sold as an original story to Fox, 
where it has been produced as a pic- 
ture, with Fox re-assigning publica- 
tion rights to Davies. 

~kThe Sunday Pigeon Murders by 
SWG member Craig Rice is out in a 
Pocket Books edition. Samuel Spe- 
wack's The Skyscraper Murder has 
also been published in small size as an 
addition to the Parsee library. 

~kThe Big Yankee, the biography 
of Evans Carlson by SWG member 
Michael Blankfort, is making the 
best seller lists. It was the subject of a 
recent article by SWG member Guy 
Trosper in the AVC News. 

^"Pasadena Playhouse's 13th an- 
nual Midsummer Drama Festival, 
slated from June 24 to August 17, 
will feature eight varied plays, as 
follows : Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage 
Patch, by Alice Hegan Rice, June 
24-29 ; A Midsummer Night's Dream, 
first Plaj'house staging of Shake- 
speare, July 1-16; Melloney Hot- 
spur, by John Masefield, July 8-13; 
School for Scandal, by Richard Brin- 
sley Sheridan, July 13-20; Arms and 
the Man, by Bernard Shaw, July 22- 
27; The Great God Brown, by Eu- 
gene O'Neill, July 29-August 3 ; 
Alice Sit-By-The-Fire, by James M. 
Barrie, August 5-10; Girl of the 
Golden West, bv David Belasco, Aug. 

^kThe Hollywood Film Society 
opened its first season in its New 
Coronet Theatre, 366 N. La Cienega, 
Los Angeles, with a Greta Garbo 
film, as scheduled. Thornton Wild- 
er's Pulitzer Prize play, The Skin of 
Our Teeth, will be presented at the 
same theatre for a three or four weeks 
season, beginning June 5 and starring 
Jane Wyatt, Keenan Wynn, Blanche 
Yerka, Hurd Hatfield, Carol Stone, 
Elizabeth Fraser. Play will be pro- 



duced by Robert McCahon and di- 
rected by Paul Guilfoyle. 

•Since the poetic sequence, Two 
Poems of Hollywood, by John Mot- 
ley appeared in the May issue of THE 
SCREEN WRITER, many inquiries 
have been made concerning the iden- 
tity of the poet. His real name is 
Bernard C. Schoenfeld, member of 
rial Committee. 

•SWG member Roland Kibbee's 
article, Stop Me If You Wrote This 
Before, published in the May issue of 
lustrated by Samuel Fuller, has been 
widely quoted in the national press 
and on the radio. Since Kibbee is one 
of Hollywood's outstanding screen 
writers, with a distinguished record 
of credits in the motion picture busi- 
ness, his article has been quoted as an 
illustration of the fact that the indus- 
try is not always pompous and solemn 
in talking about itself. 

•Current serial in SEPost at this 
writing is Too Late for Tears, by 
SWG member Roy Huggins ; current 
serial in Collier's at this writing is 
Flight From Fear, by SWG member 
Ketti Frings. 

•For more than a quarter of a 
century under the owner-editorship 
of Rob Wagner, Script, our neighbor 
in Beverly Hills is now owned and 
published by a new management. The 
editor is James Felton, who had ear- 
lier been on the staff of the Los Ange- 
les Daily News and a Time-Life- 
Fortune writer. 

•Noel Meadow, a contributor to 
Garner, who head Vog Film Co., 
have acquired three new French-lan- 
guage films, which they are presently 
editing for American presentation, 
prior to their New York premiere 

shortly. Photoplays are: "Francis The 
First," a frankly escapist costume 
story reminiscent of Mark Twain's 
"A Connecticut Yankee In King Ar- 
thur's Court," starring Fernandel; 
"The Woman I Loved Most," with 
Arletty, currently in "Les Enfants 
Du Paradis" and Noel-Noel, star of 
"A Cage of Nightingales" ; and "One 
Of The Legion," also with Fernan- 
del. Messrs. Meadow and Garner 
were recently represented with "Lu- 
crezia Borgia" and Pushkin's, "The 
Postmaster's Daughter," with Harry 
Baur. Incidentally, "Borgia" is hav- 
ing its West Coast premiere at the 
Sunset Theatre, in L.A., to be fol- 
lowed by the Larkin in S.F. 

•China Film Enterprises of Amer- 
ica, Inc., 35 Park Ave., New York 
16, N. Y., announces as its object the 
showing of more and better pictures 
of China in America and to make 
good American and foreign films 
available to Chinese audiences. It of- 
fers writers, directors, producers and 
distributors a complete consultation 
service concerning pictures touching 
in any way on China or the Chinese 

•Milton Krims, acting chairman 
of the SWG Special Program Com- 
mittee, has announced a meeting with 
leading writers, directors and produc- 
ers in the industry for discussion of 
the question: How can the screen 
writer find out how pictures are 
made ? The date : June 5 ; place, the 
Walnut Room at Lucey's. The fol- 
lowing have been invited to partici- 
pate in a round table discussion and 
to answer questions : Dudley Nichols, 
Frank Capra, Joe Sistrom, Dore 
Schary, Joseph Mankiewicz, Billy 
Wilder, Adrian Scott, Nunnally 
Johnson, Robert Riskin, Walter Mac- 
Ewen, John Huston, Ernst Lubitsch, 
Vincent Sherman, Charles Brackett, 
Mark Hellinger. 

•The Industry Film Committee, 
organized to produce a good public 
relations film for the industry, had 
its third meeting May 19. Personnel 
of committee follows : N. Peter Rath- 
von, chairman and producer repre- 
sentative; Jack L. Warner, Donald 
Nelson and I. E. Chadwick, also rep- 
resenting the MPAA; Jean Hersholt, 
representing the Academy; Lester 
Cole and F. Hugh Herbert, repre- 
senting the Screen Writers' Guild 
Delmer Daves and Billy Wilder, rep- 
resenting the Screen Directors' Guild 
Warner Anderson and Leon Ames 
representing the Screen Actors' Guild 
The May 19 meeting included ex- 
hibitor representatives. 

•The People's Educational Center 
series of film showings, Realism in the 
American Film, concludes with the 
following showings : June 6th, A Man 
To Remember; June 1 3th, Of Mice 
and Men; June 20th, Native Land. 
All showings are at 8 : 15 at the Screen 
Cartoonists Hall. 

•Helen Colton, wife of SWG 
member Martin Field, has been ap- 
pointed west coast representative of 
Writers Newsletter, which goes only 
to publishers, editors, agents, and pro- 
fessional writers. Writers can phone 
her with news of their sales to maga- 
zines, publishers, screen, stage, and 
radio at GRanite 4327. 


Many members of the Screen 
Writers' Guild, including a num- 
ber of veterans, are in desperate 
need of housing. Any members of 
SWG or any readers of THE 
of available housing space are asked 
to get in touch with the Guild 
office, HOllywood 3601. 




Cu «*eNT 

1 w 

, . r RED 1 TS 






*s E 

APRIL 1, 1947 TO MAY 1, 1947 



Joint Screenplay (with Karen DeWolf ) BURY 

ME DEAD (Eagle-Lion) PRC 

Sole Screenplay PARDON MY TERROR 


Sole Screenplay MEET MR. MISCHIEF 


Sole Screenplay HOT HEIR, Col (S) 

Sole Screenplay SQUAREHEADS OF 


Sole Screenplay and Joint Adaptation (with 

Raymond L. Schrock) KEY WITNESS, Col 

(with Howard 




Harris and 
(David L. 

(with I. A. L. Diamond) 


Joint Screenplay 

Laszlo Vadnay) 

Hersh) UA 

Joint Screenplay 


Sole Original Screenplay THE 


Story Basis WILD HARVEST, Par 

Joint Screenplay (with George Wells) McR- 


Joint Screenplay (with Don Cameron) MID- 

Joint Screenplay (with Charles Kaufman) 



Sole Original Screenplay SMOOTH SAILING, 
Par (S) 

Joint Screenplay (with Peter R. Brooke) 


Story Basis and Joint Screenplay (with Wal- 
ter Bullock and Edward Eliscu) OUT OF 
THE BLUE (Eagle-Lion) PRC 


Sole Original Screenplay VALLEY OF FEAR, 

Joint Screenplay (with Bennett R. Cohen 
and Ande Lamb) HOPPY'S HOLIDAY (Hop- 
along Cassidy) UA 


Joint Screenplay (with Arthur Hoerl and 
George Plympton) THE VIGILANTE (Esskay) 

Joint Screenplay (with Royal K. Cole, Ar- 
thur Hoerl and Leslie Swabacker) JACK 
ARMSTRONG (Esskay) Col 



Joint Original Screenplay (with Arthur Drei- 


(Banner Prod.) Mono 

Sole Original Screenplay FREDDIE STEPS 

OUT (Banner Prod.) Mono 

Sole Original Screenplay VACATION DAYS, 




Joint Screenplay (with Adolph Green) GOOD 


Joint Play Basis (with George S. Kaufman) 







Sole Original Story 


Sole Original Screenplay THE WILD FRON- 
TIER, Rep 
*Contributor to Dialogue BLACKMAIL, Rep 


Joint Screenplay (with Dwight V. Babcock) 
BURY ME DEAD (Eagle Lion) PRC 


Joint Screenplay (with Allen Boretz) TWO 


Joint Original Screenplay (with 
Pic.) Col 



Joint Screenplay (with Walter Bullock and 
Vera Caspary) OUT OF THE BLUE (Eagle- 
Lion) PRC 


*Joint Additional Dialogue (with Edwin Gil- 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Bradley 
King) THAT'S MY MAN, Rep 


Story Basis KILLER DILL (Screen Art) 
Screen Guild 


Sole Original Story ON THE OLD SPANISH 


*Joint Additional Dialogue (with Sidney 


Joint Screenplay (with Albert Hackett) THE 


Joint Story Basis (with Robert E. Kent) 



Joint Screenplay (with Betty Comden) 




Joint Screenplay (with Frances Goodrich) 


Joint Screenplay (with Laszlo Vadnay and 
Alan Boretz) COPACABANA (David L. 
Hersh) UA 


Sole Original Screenplay BANJO, RKO 


Joint Screenplay (with Arthur Marx) 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Don Martin) 
Screen Guild 


Joint Screenplay (with Lewis Clay, Royal K. 
Cole and Leslie Swabacker) JACK ARM- 
STRONG (Esskay) Col 

Joint Screenplay (with Lewis Clay and 
George Plympton) THE VIGILANTE, (Ess- 
kay) Col 


Sole Screenplay SPORT OF KINGS, Col 


Sole Screenplay and Joint Original Story 
(with Lee Wainer) KILROY WAS HERE, 


Joint Screenplay (with Leonard Lee) WHIS- 
PERING CITY (Quebec Prods.) 

'•'Academy Bulletin Only 

'Academy Bulletin Only 

In this listing of credits, published every other month in THE SCREEN WRITER, the following abbreviations are used: 
COL — Columbia Pictures Corporation; E-L — Eagle-Lion Studios; FOX — 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation; GOLDWYN — 
Samuel Goldwyn Productions, Inc.; MGM — Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios; MONO — Monogram Pictures Corporation; PAR 
— Paramount Pictures, Inc.; PRC — Producers Releasing Corporation of America; REP — Republic Productions, Inc.; RKO — 
RKO Radio Studios, Inc.; ROACH — Hal E. Roach Studio, Inc.; UA — United Artists Corporation; UNI-INT'L — Universal- 
International Pictures; UWP — United World Pictures; WB — Warner Brothers Studios. (S) designates screen short. 






Joint Screenplay (with Harold Buchman) 


Joint Additional Dialogue (with Hugh 

Kemp) WHISPERING CITY (Quebec Prods.) 

Joint Story Basis (with William H. Graffis) 



Joint Original Screenplay (with Steve Fisher) 


Joint Original Story (with Ellen Corby) 

HOPPY'S HOLIDAY (Hopalong Cassidy) UA 


Sole Original Screenplay UNEXPECTED 
GUEST (Hopalong Cassidy) UA 
Joirjt Screenplay (with J. Benton Cheney 
and Bennett R. Cohen) HOPPY'S HOLIDAY 
(Hopalong Cassidy) UA 


Sole Original Screenplay BLONDIE'S HOLI- 
DAY, Col 


Joint Screenplay (with Rian James) WHIS- 
PERING CITY (Quebec Prods.) 



Sole Original Story CURLEY, Roach 




(Eagle-Lion) PRC 

Character Basis THE SON OF RUSTY, Col 

Joint Original Screenplay (with Carl K. Hit- 

tleman) THE HAT BOX MYSTERY (Screen 

Art) Screen Guild 

Joint Screenplay (with Jack Henley) and 

Sole Original Story BLONDIE IN THE 


Sole Screenplay WILD HARVEST, Par 

Sole Original Screenplay PRAIRIE BADMEN, 




Sole Screenplay ON THE OLD SPANISH 


Sole Screenplay KILLER DILL (Screen Art) 
Screen Guild 


Joint Screenplay (with Lewis Clay and Ar- 
thur Hoerl THE VIGILANTE (Esskay) Col 
Sole Adaptation JACK ARMSTRONG, (Ess- 
kay) Col 


Additional Dialogue KILROY WAS HERE, 


Joint Screenplay (with Gregory LaCava) 

Sole Original Screenplay THE STRANGER 
Sole Original Screenplay PRAIRIE RAIDERS, 

Joint Screenplay (with Edmond Seward) 
and Joint Original Story (with Edmond Sew- 
ard and George S. Cappy) SCAREHEADS, 


Joint Adaptation (with Edward Bock) KEY 


Sole Screenplay MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, 


Sole Original Screenplay RIDERS OF THE 


Joint Screenplay (with Lewis Clay, Royal K. 

Cole and Arthur Hoerl) JACK ARMSTRONG 

(Esskay) Col 


Joint Screenplay (with Robertson White) 


Joint Screenplay (with Allen Boretz and 
Howard Harris) COPACABANA (David L. 
Hersh) UA 



Joint Screenplay (with Lou Breslow) MER- 


Sole Screenplay THE LADY FROM SHANG- 
HAI, Col 


Joint Screenplay (with Eric Taylor) DICK 


Sole Original Story KEY WITNESS, Col 


Joint Story Basis (with Paul Lennox) WHIS- 
PERING CITY, (Quebec Productions) 

Participation Pay*Off 

The greatest participating deal ever made by a writer for motion pictures was consummated 
by Thomas Dixon, author of The Clansman. 

Dixon had lunch with D. W. Griffith in New York in 1913 and in consideration for the motion 
picture rights to his novel the author received $5,000 cash and TWENTY-FIVE PER CENT OF 
THE GROSS of the picture. 

The picture was The Birth of a Nation and it grossed more than $15,000,000. 
Years later Dixon told Frank Woods, former secretary of the Academy, that he was ashamed 
to look a royalty check in the face. 




Chaplin and His Art 

Disunion in Vienna 

The Bob Meltzer I knew 

Letter From London 

Writers & Publishers 

Gregg Toland : The Man and His Work 

Can't Scare the Movies 

Writers Who Paint 

Bindle Biog 

Reading For the Movies 

What Is a License of Literary Property 

French Cinema in the U. S. 
New Blood, or the Arteries Seem to Be Frozen 

Also : Story Editors Look at Writers ; and further articles by LOUIS ADAMIC, SYD- 

Special Announcement 

Inquiries have been made of the Editorial Committee regarding the recent "grand tour" 
of motion picture studios by Eric Johnston, chief of the producers' association. During these 
appearances, Mr. Johnston issued a body of new directives affecting the content of coming 
features. In not all cases, however, were his directions accepted without protest. 

The Editorial Committee has appointed a special sub-committee to collate material on 
this development in the industry, and a definitive "round-up" article is in preparation. 

The Editor 



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ZJne +jrreedom of lite ^c 


A Report of Activity and an Analysis of Trends Aftecfe- 

ing Motion Pictures as a Free Medium of Artistic, 


JEAN RENOIR: Chaplin Among the Immortals 
MEYER LEVIN: Writing and Realization 
SHERIDAN GIBNEY: The Future of Screen Writing 
HARRY BERNSTEIN: Reading For the Movies 
STEPHEN LONGSTREET: Hollyxvood Eye Test 



Vol. 3, No. 2 


July, 1947 

Book Review by Emmet La very 
Report and Comment: The 
Wailing Wall at Lucey's by G.K. 
&. How Are Pictures Made, by 
R. S. • Writer Employment 
Symposium, by David Moss, 
Fi n 1 ay M c D e r m i d , Will i a m 
Nutt and Richard Sokolbve > 




B 87242 

<r Rgbert e^fleltzer was a good deal more than a talented writer, ^ie 
"was a good deal more than talented, and a good deal more than a writer. 
If he'd lived I think he would have been an important "writer, before he died 
he "was already an important human being. 

^is was a disciplined intelligence, a mind wholly free, informed "with a 
focused curiosity, and anchored to a big, warm sympathy. 

Cohere had better be more of his sort, if our literature is to survive, and 
if the democratic cause is still to be defended. 

— Orson 'Welles 

The Robert Meltzer Award 

WITH this announcement, The Screen Writers' Guild institutes an 
annual award for the writing of that American feature film which, 
in addition to its value as entertainment most effectively contributes 
to a better understanding of the problems of our times. 


The award shall be in memory of Robert Meltzer, David Silverstein, 
Frederick Faust, Edward de Melcher and Arch Heath, members of the SWG 
who gave their lives in the Second World War. 

The Robert Meltzer Award shall be given all writers credited with work 
on the film so honored, including the authors of the original work if the film 
is adapted from a play, novel, story or other written source. 


THE RULES: During the first week of January, 1948, and every year 
thereafter, the entire list of films released during the preceding year shall be 
sent to all active members of The Screen Writers' Guild. Each member will 
select not more than six films which he wishes to place in nomination. These 
nominations must be in the office of the Guild by midnight of January 20. 
Upon tabulation, the six films receiving the greatest number of votes will be 
announced and thereafter arrangements will be made for general membership 
viewing. , 

Voting for the film to receive The Robert Meltzer Award will begin 
immediately thereafter by mail. Balloting will continue for ten days. The 
award will be made at an annual dinner to be held soon thereafter. 

The Screen Writers Guild has authorized the sum of $1,500 annually to 
comprise the award and the cost of the undertaking. 

The Robert Meltzer Award Committee 
Melville Baker 
Lester Cole 
Maurice Rapf 

Two Letters 



figure in the British motion pic- 
ture industry and production 
head of the Ealing Studios, com- 
ments here on the article by 
Herbert Margolis published in 
the April issue of THE SCREEN 
WRITER on the UNESCO film 
student exchange plan. 

ALTHOUGH Britain today is 
**■ making films of an international 
quality, I am ashamed to say as an 
Englishman that we are much behind 
some other countries in fostering an 
interest and technical education in 
films. It is for this reason that I wel- 
come warmly the plan for the inter- 
national exchange of students. 

I am afraid that it is only in recent 
years that Government departments 
and educational bodies, to say nothing 
of the churches, have come to appre- 
ciate in our country the sociological 
significance of the cinema, but the 
tardiness has been compensated by the 
enthusiasm of the convert ; it seems to 
me, therefore, that this excellent sug- 
gestion should receive not only the 
whole-hearted support of the British 
film industry but also of other bodies 
which could help to make it a success 

I read with real envy of four thou- 
sand students in America taking film 
courses at major universities and col- 
leges throughout the country. We, 
alas, are only on the threshold of 
sponsoring such things, although I 
know that all our own universities 
have groups of students whose inten- 
tion it is to take up technical work in 
films as a career. 

I myself and the technicians who 
work with me at Ealing Studios have 
spent a lot of time, particularly in the 
last four or five years, lecturing on 
various aspects of film making to 
groups of students all over the coun- 
try and it is heartening indeed to 
think that these enthusiasts may now 
be presented with real opportunities 
for studying not only in their own 
(Continued on Page 36) 


Screen Writer 





JULY, 1947 

Gordon Kahn, Editor 

Robert Shaw, Director of 


Art Arthur 

Martin Field 

Harris Gable 

Richard G. Hubler 


Lester Koenig 

Isobel Lennart 

Herbert Clyde Lewis 

Ranald MacDoucall 

Bernard C. Schoenfeld 

Theodore Strauss 


Robert Meltzer Award Announcement Inside Front Cover 

MICHAEL BALCON: Letter From London This Page 

STEPHEN LONGSTREET: Hollywood Eye Test Next Page 

JEAN RENOIR: Chaplin Among the Immortals 1 

MEYER LEVIN : Writing and Realization 4 

FREEDOM OF THE SCREEN: Special Section 8 

Foreword 8 

MARTIN FIELD: Short History of Film Censorship 9 

Mr. Eric Johnston's Studio Tour 12 

VLADIMIR POZNER: What of Foreign Market? 14 

Symposium on a Question Asked 16 

MORRIS E. COHN: Memo to J. Parnell Thomas 17 


SHERIDAN GIBNEY: The Future of Screen Writing 22 

HARRY BERNSTEIN: Reading for the Movies 24 

Editorial 28 

RAYMOND CHANDLER: Critical Notes 31 

Special Program Committee Seminar 32 

The Wailing Wall at Lucey's, by G. K. 33 

SWG Bulletin 34 

Correspondence 35 

EMMET LA VERY: A Review of George Middleton's Autobiography 38 


& RICHARD SOKOLOVE: Opinions on Writer Employment 39 

Nevis Notes 40 

Screen Credits 42 



YEARLY: $2.50: 
FOREIGN 30c). 



C B 

T N O E 

E O P C Y 

F V T C E L B 


6C*flfN p i *. y tf 

Chaplin Among the Immortals 


JEAN RENOIR, a member of SWG, 
is the internationally noted motion pic- 
ture writer and director. Son of the 
French painter, Pierre Auguste Renoir, 
he was a journalist in France before 
turning to films and making a new 
chapter in screen history. 

"Man is interested in only one thing: man." 

— Pascal 

LAST night, I had a strange dream. I was sitting 
at my diningroom table carving a leg-of-mutton. 
I went at it in the French manner, which is to 
slice it in length. In that way, you get a great variety of 
cuts. Those who like it well done are served first. You 
wait till you get closer to the bone, for those who prefer 
it rarer. My guests had been lost in a sort of fog, but 
as I asked each one how he liked his meat, they sud- 
denly came into a very sharp focus, and I recognized 
them as people I admire and like. The couples of The 
Best Years of Our Lives were right there at my table, 
smiling amiably at me. I served them, and they ate with 
robust appetite. Next to them were the priest and the 
pregnant woman of Open City, a bit more reserved but 
no less cordial. At the end of the table, the loving pair 
of Brief Encounter were holding hands. This abandon 
was proof that they felt themselves among friends, and 
I was gratified by it. As I was about to proceed to the 
beautiful courtesan of Children of Paradise, the door- 
bell rang. 

I went to open the door and found myself facing a 
gentleman of distinguished appearance. Offhand, he 
reminded me vaguely of someone I knew well, a little 
old tramp who had made the whole world laugh. But 
I quickly understood that the resemblance was merely 
physical. Even under the rich fur coat of a goldmine 
owner, the other one had remained a bit of a gutter- 
snipe. It was obvious that he would never completely 
get rid of his lowdown ways. Whereas this one, on the 
other hand, was most certainly the scion of a "good 
family." His parents had taught him proper table man- 
ners, and when and how to kiss a lady's hand. He had 

breeding. And all of his person gave off that impression 
of suppressed passions, of hidden secrets, which is the 
earmark of the bourgeoisie in our old Western civiliza- 

I introduced myself. With exquisite politeness which 
bespoke his old provincial background and his prep- 
school education, he told me his name was Verdoux. 
Then he placed his hat and cane on a chair, flicked a 
speck of dust from his jacket, adjusted his cuffs, and 
headed for the diningroom. Immediately, the others 
edged closer together to make room for him. They 
seemed happy to see him. Obviously, they were all 
members of the same social world. 

After dinner, we went outdoors. But word of the 
presence of my famous guests had spread, and the street 
was crowded with people. When we walked down the 
porch steps, the public enthusiasm burst out. Everyone 
wanted to shake their hands, there was a terrific crush, 
the autograph-seekers were at work. Suddenly, a very 
dry lady, wearing an aggressive little hat, recognized 
Monsieur Verdoux and pointed a finger at him. And, 
strangely, the enthusiasm turned into fury. They rushed 
at him, raising their fists. I tried to understand, and 
kept asking the same question over and over again: 
"What did he do? What did he do? . . ." But I could 
not hear the answers, for everyone was speaking at 
once and the caning the poor man was taking made a 
deafening racket. So deafening, in fact, that I awoke 
with a start and had to close my window, which a 
sudden stormy wind was violently banging back and 

I DON'T believe that the people who attacked Chaplin 
so sharply over his latest film did so for personal or 
political reasons. In America we haven't yet reached 


that stage. I think rather that the trouble is their panic 
terror before total change, before a particularly long 
step forward in the evolution of an artist. 

This is not the first time 6uch a thing has happened, 
nor will it be the last. Moliere was a victim of the 
same kind of misunderstanding. And the Hollywood 
commentators who have been unable to recognize the 
qualities of Monsieur Verdoux are in very good com- 
pany, indeed. Moliere's detractors had names no less 
important than La Bruyere, Fenelon, Vauvenargues, 
Sherer. They said he wrote badly. They criticized him 
for his barbarism, his jargon, his artificial phrasing, his 
improper usage, his incorrect wording, his mountains 
of metaphors, his boring repetitions, his inorganic style. 
"Moliere," said Sherer, "is as bad a writer as one can 

This animosity on the part of certain self-appointed 
intellectuals is not the only point of resemblance 
between the careers of Moliere and Chaplin. 

TN his early stages, the former achieved great success 
■*■ by simply following the traditions of the Italian 
Comedy. His characters bore the familiar names and 
costumes, their predicaments were those to which the 
public was accustomed. Only, beneath Sganarelle's 
makeup and behind Scapin's somersaults, the author 
injected a rarer element, a little human truth. But on 
the surface, there was not too much of an apparent 
change. When the action slowed down, a solid laying-on 
with a stick was always good for a laugh. The senti- 
mental side was taken care of with formulae no dif- 
ferent, except for the author's masterful touch, from 
those used elsewhere in the same period : a noble young 
gentleman falls in love with a scullerymaid and his 
family will have none of her. But, in the end, it all 
works out. It is revealed that the ingenue was really a 
well-born maiden who, as a baby, had been carried off 
by pirates. 

Chaplin, to begin with, simply followed the tradi- 
tions of the then most popular form in the world, 
English farce. His feet foul him up on the stairs and his 
hands get entangled in flypaper. The sentimental side in 
his films is represented by babies left on doorsteps, 
streetgirls mistreated by life, or other carryovers from 
the good old mellers. In spite of that, he never falls 
into the worst vulgarity of our time, phony bathetic 
goodness. And beneath his character's flour-face, as 
well as behind the fake beards of his companions, we 
rapidly discern real men of flesh and blood. As he 
grows, like Moliere, he introduces into the conven- 
tional framework, which he has made his very own 
through the vigor of his talent, the elements of a 
sharper and sharper observation of humanity, of a more 
and more bitter social satire. Nevertheless, since the 

appearances remain the same, no one is shocked, no 
one protests. 

One day, Moliere decided to give up the form which 
had brought him his success, and he wrote The School 
for Wives. Accusations were heaped upon him. He was 
called a mountebank. People became irritated with him 
because he was director, actor and writer all at the 
same time. 

One day, Chaplin wrote Monsieur Verdoux. He 
turned his back on the outward forms to which he had 
accustomed his public. There was a great hue and cry 
of indignation, he was dragged through the mud. 

After The School for Wives, instead of giving in, 
Moliere went on hitting harder and harder. His next 
play was Tartuffe, which impaled phony religion and 

What will Chaplin's next film be? 

;j THINK it is unnecessary to explain why I like the 
*■ Chaplin of the old school, since everyone seems to 
share that taste. It is even probable that some of the 
attackers of his present film must have written glowing 
tributes to The Gold Rush or The Kid. I would like, 
however, to present a few of the reasons which, to me, 
made the showing of Monsieur Verdoux a pure delight. 

Like everybody else, I have my own ideas about what 
is conventionally called Art. I firmly believe that since 
the end of the period in which the great cathedrals were 
built, since the all-pervading faith which was to bring 
forth our modern world is no longer present to give 
artists the strength to lose themselves in an immense 
paean to the glory of God, there can be quality to 
human expression only if it is individual. Even in cases 
of collaboration, the work is valuable only insofar as 
the personality of each of the authors remains percep- 
tible to the audience. Now, in this film, that presence 
is, to me, as clear as that of a painter in his canvas or 
of a composer in his symphony. 

Moreover, every man matures, his knowledge of life 
increases, and his creations must develop at the same 
time he does. If we do not admit these truths in our 
profession, we might as well admit right now that it is 
an industry no different than the rest, and that we 
make films like efficiency experts supervise the produc- 
tion of iceboxes or shaving cream. And let's stop priding 
ourselves on being artists, and claiming that we're 
carrying forward the grand old traditions. 

It is agreed, some will say, that Chaplin has created 
a highly personal work, and we admit that he has 
undergone a natural artistic transformation. We only 
feel that he has done all this in a wrong direction. And 
they add that the greatest crime of Monsieur Verdoux 
was the killing-off of the beloved little vagabond who 
had been such a charmer. His creator should not only 


have kept him alive but depended on him in his search 
for a new form of expression. I cannot share this 

In giving up the rundown shoes, the old derby hat 
and willowy cane of the raggedy little guy whose 
pathetic hangdog look used to melt our hearts, Chaplin 
has gone deliberately into a world that is more danger- 
ous, because it is closer to the one we live in. His new 
character, with neatly-pressed trousers, impeccably- 
knotted tie, well-dressed and no longer able to appeal 
to our pity, does not belong in those good old situations, 
outlined in strong broad strokes, where the rich trample 
the poor in so obvious a manner that even the most 
childish audience can immediately grasp the moral of 
the story. Before, we could imagine that the adventures 
of the little tramp took place in some world that 
belonged exclusively to the movies, that they were a 
sort of fairy tale. 

With Monsieur Verdoux J such misapprehension is 
no longer possible. This one really takes place in our 
time, and the problems faced on the screen are really 
our own. By thus giving up a formula which afforded 
him full security, and undertaking squarely the critique 
of the society in which he himself lives, a dangerous 
job if ever there was one, the author raises our craft to 
the level of the great classical expressions of the human 
mind, and strengthens our hope of being able to look 
upon it more and more as an art. 

ET me add a purely personal note here: Having 
■*— ' given up the powerful weapon which was the 
defenselessness of his old character, Chaplin had to 
look for another to be used by his latest creation. The 
weapon he chose is one that appeals particularly to the 
Frenchman in me, steeped as he is in the 18th Century: 
paradoxical logic. 

I understand perfectly the misgivings of certain con- 
formist minds before this method which seems to belong 
to a bygone aristocratic era. I hope they will forgive a 
devoted reader of the works of Diderot, Voltaire and 
Beaumarchais for the pleasure he found in Monsieur 

Moreover, even when it is not thus spiced with 
paradoxical logic, genius often has something shocking 
about it, something subversive, some of the character- 
istics of a Cassandra. That is because it has better vision 
than ordinary mortals, and the commonsensical truths 
that it sees still strike the rest of us as something akin 
to madness. 

Another reason for liking Monsieur Verdoux: I 
love to be amused at the movies, and this film made me 
laugh until my tears flowed like wine. 

I believe I see growing up about me a certain taste 
for collective accomplishments, the anonymousness of 
which is a tribute to the adoration of new deities. Let 
me mention at random some of these false idols : public 
opinion polls, organization, technics. These are but the 
saints of a dangerous god that some are trying to sub- 
stitute for the God of our childhood. This new divinity 
is called Scientific Progress. Like any self-respecting 
God, he tries to attract us with his miracles. For how 
else can one describe electricity, anaesthesia or atomic 
fission? But I am very leery of this newcomer. I am 
afraid that, in exchange for the refrigerators and the 
television sets that he will distribute so generously, he 
may try to deprive us of a part of our spiritual 

In other times, every object was a work of art, in 
that it was a reflection of the one who made it. The 
humblest early American sideboard is the creation of 
one given woodworker, and not of any other. This 
personal touch was present in everything, in houses, 
in clothes, in food. 

When I was young, in my village in Burgundy, 
when we drank a glass of wine, we could say: That 
comes from the Terre a Pot vineyard up over the hill 
behind the little pine wood, or from the Sarment Foun- 
tain, or from some other specific spot. Some bottles left 
on your tongue the silex taste of their vines, others were 
like velvet and you knew they came from a lush green 
valley with plenty of moisture. Closing your eyes, you 
could see a certain greyish hill, with its twisted little 
oaks and the imprints of the boars' feet which had been 
found there last fall after the harvest. And later the 
young girls bending under the weight of their baskets 
full of luscious grapes. Especially, you recalled the 
wrinkled face of the vintner who had devoted his life 
to the culture of that difficult soil. 

All the manifestations of life took on a profound 
meaning, because men had left their mark upon them. 
You felt that you were in the center of an immense 
prayer sent heavenward by all of the workers, with 
their plows, their hammers, their needles, or even simply 
their brains. Today we live in a desert of anonymity. 
The wines are blended. The nickel-plated tubing in my 
bathroom, the hardwood of my floor, the fence around 
my garden, all bring to mind for me only the uniform 
purr of the machines that turned them out. 

' I HERE are still a few places where we can seek a 
■*■ refuge. A painter can still speak to us of himself in 
his canvases, as a chef can in his culinary creations. 
That is probably why we are ready to pay fortunes for 
a good picture or for a good meal. And then there is 
also this film craft of ours, which will remain one of 
the great expressions of human personality if we are 


able to retain our artisans' spirit, which fortunately is 
still very much alive. That spirit is Chaplin's, down to 
the tips of his toenails. One feels it in a certain decent 
way he has of going into a scene, in the almost peasant- 
like thriftiness of his sets, in his wariness of technique 
for technique's sake, in his respect for the personalities 
of actors, and in that internal richness which makes us 
feel that each character just has too much to say. 

Monsieur Verdoux will some day go into history 
along with the creations of artists who have contributed 

to the building of our civilization. He will have his 
place alongside the pottery of Urbino and the paintings 
of the French Impressionists, between a tale by Mark 
Twain and a minuet by Lulli. And during that time, 
the films which are so highly endowed with money, 
with technique and with publicity, the ones that enchant 
his detractors, will find their way God knows where, 
let us say into oblivion, along with the expensive 
mahogany chairs mass-produced in the beautiful nickel- 
plated factories. 

{Mr. Renoir wrote this article in French and. translated it into English with the assistance of 

Mr. Harold Salemson.) 

Writing and Realization 


MEYER LEVIN, a member of SWG, 
is a novelist, film critic and foreign 
correspondent as well as a screen 
•writer. His novels include The Old 
Bunch and Citizens. He is now living 
in New York. 

IT takes only a few minutes to write a scene in 
which a runaway boy wakes up on a high rocky 
ledge in Palestine, to find himself surrounded by 
sheep, with an Arab shepherd staring at him. 

But when you go to make the scene, in precisely the 
spot you had in mind when you wrote it, you discover 
that the equipment-truck can only go within a few 
hundred yards of the rocks because the driver does not 
want to risk his vehicle on a plowed field. You help 
lug the camera equipment the rest of the way. The 
shepherd who was to be there at four o'clock with the 
sheep is found in a meadow a mile away at four o'clock, 
because he says his sheep could not feed on the rocks. 
You push and goad the sheep but by the time they 

reach the scene, the cameraman decides that the light 
is on the hairline of departure. There may be time for 
just one take. Then it is discovered that the sheep 
simply will not stay on the rocky ledge long enough 
for a take. They scramble away. Finally you make the 
scene without the sheep. 

But it isn't what you wrote. At night, worrying 
about it, you suddenly realize that the scene was 
wrongly written. It should have been goats. So the 
next day you decide to try it with goats. 

Although there are goatherds all over the mountain- 
side, there are none within four miles of this particular 
spot, on the day you want them. You go to Tiberius 
and personally lift a sufficient number of goats onto 


the truck. You transport them. You help herd them 
up the hill. And after a few dozen major and minor 
crises, and hours of toil as a goatherd, Arab-pacifier, 
reflector-holder, and assistant cameraboy, you get the 
scene that was so easy to write. 

The French have a word for it. They call it real- 

The realization of Survivors, in Palestine, was a 
six-month try to catch a dawn shot, scarcely an eve- 
ning that wasn't spent desperately hunting for a char- 
acter for tomorrow's scene, because the one who had 
been cast had been called away by his Youth Group 
for a "hike." Every word that was innocently typed 
in the script, which was written in six weeks "from 
scratch," later entailed laborious hours of realization. 
And yet, as the writer, I could not permit myself to 
feel that the final responsibility of realization could 
rest entirely with someone else. 

In a studio setup, it is simple for the writer to say 
that what he wrote was beautiful, but that after the 
script departed from his hands any number of people 
mangled and butchered it far beyond recognition. While 
this is usually true, there are surely times when every 
writer in his soul smiles at the task he has given the 
producers and directors, knowing that what he has so 
easily written is most difficult to realize, and inwardly 
glad that he does not have to take the responsibility for 
putting it on the screen. 

Conversely, and more often, the writer aches with 
the apprehension that what he has written cannot 
exactly and precisely be understood, through the words 
themselves; he feels that any realizer, however talented, 
is bound to get the atmosphere or the emphasis wrong, 
and knows that the only true way to make films is for 
the writer to be present throughout the shooting and 
to have at least as much control as anyone else in the 

Few writers ever get such an opportunity. But with 
the increasing trend toward story-documentary tech- 
nique, stimulated by the successful experiments pro- 
duced during the war, these opportunities are increas- 
ing. And when Herbert Kline and I set out to make 
our Palestine film, it was agreed that this was to be 
the method. I would assume equal production respon- 
sibility, and have equal production authority, with him. 
He would direct the film, but the realization had to 
conform to the intention of the script. 

A S it worked out in practice, Kline acted as my 
*• *■ producer while I was writing the script, I acted 
as his producer while he was directing the film. 

It need not be imagined that this procedure is per- 
fect, and that it always works harmoniously. Nor does 

it mean that each takes responsibility for the merits 
of the other's work. In the end, the writing stands on 
its own, and the direction stands on its own. But 
although the French often use the word realization in 
the same way that we use the word direction, it 
reflects only their over-emphasis on the role of the 
director of films, for the realization in this type of film 
is truly the work of both, and I believe that writers 
may justifiably insist that it is part of their function 
in all film-making to have such a share in realization. 

As joint producers, we decided from the beginning 
that in the case of severely disputed scenes, where we 
could arrive at no agreement as to the method of film- 
ing, we would film both versions, and decide which 
to use when we saw what they looked like on the 
screen. It became necessary to do this in only three 
or four instances. 

To the making of Survivors, I brought a continuing 
interest in Palestine, that had begun with my first visit 
to the country in 1925. I had also specialized, as a war 
correspondent, in the story of the fate of the Jews of 
Europe. The film, Kline and I agreed, was to show 
what Palestine could do for the survivors. 

Kline brought to the project his experience as a 
story-docuirentary producer, being especially known for 
The Forgotten Village. But each of us had worked in 
the other's field, for he had collaborated on screenwrit- 
ing assignments, while I had worked as a documentary 
film director in OWL 

Having agreed upon the theme of the story, there 
followed a consideration of what had to go into the 
story. During all my years of contact with Palestine, I 
had collected "must" scenes for a film about the coun- 
try. On every one of my four previous trips I had dis- 
covered some view, or some activity, which I felt must 
eventually go into the film. And I had, in fact, first 
proposed the idea of a Palestine film to Kline in Spain 
in 1937; we had never quite let the subject drop. 

I knew, for instance, that the story must show what 
life was like, in a Palestine farm collective; it must 
include a horra — the settler's dance — and it must 
include an aliyah — the going up to the site of a new 
colony, which is collectively built in a single day. It 
must include an illegal landing. It must include the 
view of the wilderness of Judea and the Dead Sea from 
Jerusalem- Jericho road. It must include the view of 
the Emek from the Haifa road. It must of course 
include the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan. It had to 
contain a sequence that could be played on the campus 
of the Hebrew University, with the awesome back- 
ground of the Dead Sea on one side, and the spiritual 
view of Jerusalem on the opposite side of Mount 

The film-story would have to make an opportunity 


for a sequence in the old city of Jerusalem; it would 
have to make use of the complex traditions and emo- 
tions that were attached to the sights of the Via 
Dolorosa and of the dark lanes and huddled synagogues 
of the old city; it would have to show the progressive 
force and spirit of the new city, too. 

And apart from all the physically obligatory scenes, 
the places that had to be in the picture because of 
their beauty, or their historic and spiritual connection, 
there were the mandatory requirements of the life in 
the country. Something of the cultural life had to be 
shown, through the city of Tel Aviv — perhaps the 
theatres or the symphony orchestra. Something of the 
industrial life of the country had to come into the 
story, either showing the manufacturing complex in 
Haifa harbor, or perhaps the diamond industry of 
Nathanyah, or the potash works of the Dead Sea. 

And finally, the pioneering aspects of land reclama- 
tion had to come into any story of Palestine, and for 
this, the new drive toward settling the desert of the 
Negev was the obvious answer. 

Plainly, there were enough "must" items for the 
construction of a full-length documentary film. If we 
could hope to get them all in, we needed a story of 
movement — a chase, or a search. 

Usually, writers feel that the inclusion of obligatory 
scenes hampers them. But sometimes one feels these 
scenes as a challenge to invention. And since in this 
case most of the requirements had originated with 
myself, there could be no complaint. 

IN the end, they were all solved, through the story 
of a boy's search for his family. The central motif 
of the story echoed in my mind from the story of every 
survivor I had met in the liberated camps and on the 
roads of Europe, during and immediately after the 
war. The first and consuming quest of each was for 
the remnants of his family. Indeed, I somewhat caught 
their obssesion, and for many weeks almost dropped 
my work as a journalist in order to collect lists of 
survivors, with the names of the kin they hoped to 
find, and spread these lists wherever they might be 

One story emerged from the rest. It was the story 
of a little boy in Buchenwald who refused to leave 
the camp, when liberation came, because his father 
had been at the camp with him, and his father, when 
taken away on a work-party, had told the child "don't 
go away from here — wait here for me until I come 
back. Otherwise we will never find each other." 

This became transmuted into the story of a child 
whose father, when being taken away with the rest 
of the family on a deportation train, told the child to 

run and hide in the woods, "you will find us in Pales- 

The child, then, arrives in Palestine with a group 
landed illegally by the Hagana ; from the first moment, 
he reveals his obsession that he will find his family 
in Palestine. As the group is taken, by truck, to a set- 
tlement in lower Galilee, it becomes possible, by fol- 
lowing the truck, to disclose such views as Mount 
Tabor in the pre-dawn, and the Sea of Galilee in dawn. 

The life of a typical settlement is revealed as the 
refugees begin to adjust themselves to their new home, 
and as the children try to befriend the boy, David. But 
he rebuffs them, and runs away in search of his own 

David trades an army jack-knife for a ride on an 
Arab boy's donkey, and through their run-away episode 
we see more details of the shores of Galilee, and the 
life of the region. The relationship between David and 
the Arab boy, and between the settlement and the 
Arab boy's village, serves in a most natural way to 
illustrate the typical workaday relationships on the 
ground level, between Jews and Arabs. 

The runaway episode is halted when the donkey 
gives birth to a foal ; the boys are brought back home, 
and David is given the foal. But as it cries for its 
mother, he carries it back, wading across the Jordan, 
which is between the Jewish settlement and the Arab 
village. Later, it is decided at a meeting of the settle- 
ment that David shall be sent to a children's village, 
where he will be among other boys like himself, with 
a chance for special care toward adjustment. 

This time in the daylight, the truck passes on the 
Haifa road, through the Emek, past oil refineries; it 
stops in Haifa, where David learns that a ship of legal 
immigrants is entering the port ; he hopes to find some- 
one from his family on the ship. 

After his further disappointment in the port, the 
story progresses to the children's village; on the first 
night he quarrels with the boys who insist he is an 
orphan like all the rest of them, he has a fight, and 
runs away again. 

Through means of this flight, it is possible to show 
glimpses of Arab shepherd life, and of Caesaria, and 
finally of the new city of Tel Aviv. Here, he is led 
to seek his family amongst the members of the Palestine 
Philharmonic orchestra, for one of the violinists bears 
David's family name, Halevi. 

David interrupts a rehearsal, where a new Palestine 
folk symphony is being performed. But the violinist 
is not from David's country — Poland. However, some- 
one knows of a Halevi from Poland, working at the 
Dead Sea potash plant. 

Again, the boy's journey leads through a section of 
unforgettable Palestine landscape — this time as he 


rides a bus down the Jericho road. He passes through 
the potash works, where Jews and Arabs labor side 
by side, and finds Yehuda Halevi; the worker pretends 
to be his uncle. 

As the boy begins to find himself at home with the 
Halevis, the life of the community is felt — the Sab- 
bath by the Dead Sea, the visit to the neighboring 
settlement, the chatter of Palestinian children about 
their vast projects for electrifying and irrigating the 

BUT when David discovers that Halevi is not really 
his uncle, he runs away for the last time — to find 
the office in Jerusalem where, he has heard, there is 
a record of all the families that have been found. On 
his journey through the wilderness, he is helped by an 
Arab merchant, who takes the boy to Jesusalem on his 
camel-train. They enter by the Gate of St. Stephen. 
The boy becomes lost in the maze of the old city, and 
is helped by two priests who find him on the Via 
Dolorosa. They take him to his own people in the 
Jewish quarter. (Here, we deliberately avoided the 
Wailing Wall.) The boy enters a synagogue, and from 
there is directed to the new city. 

With a troop of children masquerading for Purim, 
he at last finds the "office where they have the names." 
This Search Bureau for Missing Relatives is actually 
housed under an ancient ruin, between the new and 
old cities, and the long files of family- records, in the 
catacombs, provide a perfect background for the 
climactic moment when David discovers that his 
family is dead. 

In his collapse, he has a reversion to infancy. He is 
taken to the Haddassah hospital on Mount Scopus, and 
there his friends from the first settlement find him. In 
his phase of infancy, he identifies the refugee woman 
who has befriended him, and the leader of the settle- 
ment Hagana, as "mama" and "papa." 

This moment fuses the story of the child with the 
story of the refugee woman, and her problem is revealed 
in the following scene, which takes place on the campus 
of the Hebrew University, adjacent to the hospital. 

The story moves on to the establishment of a new 
colony in the Negev by the refugees, together with a 
Palestinian youth group. The child is brought to the 

In plowing, a stone is turned up, bearing an ancient 
insciption, with the name Halevi. Through this inci- 
dent, the boy is brought back to reality ; in this symbol, 
he finds his family. 

The course of this story provided the inclusion of 
all the self-imposed obligatory scenes, and yet provided 
this in such a way that every setting added to the 
dramatic potential of the tale. 

While it was the director's task to realize the scenes 
in terms of acting, the finding of the precise locations, 
and the enlistment of the people of each place for 
authentic background usually fell to the writer. Partly, 
this was due to my working knowledge of Hebrew, and 
partly to my long familiarity with the country and 
with Jewish customs. For though the film was made 
with English-speaking participants, the work in the 
entourage was usually conducted in Hebrew. 

While all of Palestine was extremely excited by our 
film project, and more than ready to cooperate, the 
very intensity of interest sometimes caused difficulties. 
For the smallest participant wanted to be sure that our 
point-of-view was acceptable, and every scene was 
scrupulously investigated. As the population is intelli- 
gent and hyper-sensitive, this often led to delays and 
to discussions and explanations which would seem try- 
ingly protracted under ordinary circumstances. In 
addition to allaying the suspicion of the political groups, 
and of the Arabs, there were difficulties of tradition 
to overcome. 

My script for instance envisaged a scene in a syn- 
agogue in the Old City. Now, almost all orthodox Jews 
consider photography as forbidden under the command 
not to make graven images. How could one "realize" 
such a scene? 

I found the leader of the old-city community, and 
got him to show me an ancient, beautiful little syn- 
agogue behind his own house. It was named, he told 
me, the Ohr Chayim — the Living Light. It so hap- 
mens that I wrote a book of Chassidic tales some 
years ago, and knew that the Ohr Chayim was one of 
the great rabbis of that mystical sect. 

This communion of information, coming from an 
unorthodox American Jew, was the opening point. 
We discussed Chassidism for hours. And finally we 
were permitted to film our scene in the holiest of Old 
City synagogues. 

IN the completed film there are of course many things 
which I feel might have been different, and many 
things which the director feels might have been differ- 
ent, had there been fewer practical difficulties — such 
as the curfew, which usually struck just as we had 
finished three hours of preparations and were ready to 
film. But these are the limitations of the method of 
shooting in live locations ; in return, you get the quality 
of life. 

As a writer, I believe the labor I put in for six 
months, after the six weeks I spent in writing the 
script, was necessary for the fulfillment of an author's 
responsible share in the realization of this type of film. 
The goats are among the rocks — even if I had to 
carry them there myself. 

The motion-picture screen is an instrument of entertainment, education. Having been pioneered 
and developed in our country, it is peculiarly american. its contribution to the country as a whole and 
to individual citizens has been enormous. the motion-picture industry has always been permitted free- 
dom of expression. the impression has now arisen, and very naturally, that one of the hoped for results 
of the pressure of your investigation will be to influence the industry to alter its policies so that they 
may accord more directly with the views of (its critics). the industry is prepared to resist such pressure 
with all of the strength at its command. 

— A statement by Wendell Willkie 
on the occasion of the 194-1 Senate in- 
vestigation of the motion picture in- 

^Jhe ^TPeedom of the S^c 


This special section of THE SCREEN WRITER has been 
prepared to give all who are concerned with films a report and 
analysis of activity both in the industry and in government which 
may affect the integrity of motion pictures as a free medium. 


THE trade press and journals of public opinion 
throughout the nation recently have insinuated 
that a crisis is looming in the motion picture 
industry — a crisis due to foreign competition. 

Since the beginning of this year reviewers and audi- 
ences alike have thrown their critical hats high in the 
air in praise of Brief Encounter, This Happy Breed, 
Odd Man Out, and Great Expectations. The last men- 
tioned film was introduced to New York at the Radio 
City Music Hall — an indication that the days of the 
"artistic" British film with no box office appeal are 
indeed over. There are rumors of excellent films being 
made in France, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Russia, 


films which American audiences may well prefer when 
it comes to box office appeal. 

More important is the fact that as these countries 
produce films of the calibre of Great Expectations, 
The Open City, and Children of Paradise, the citizens 
of those countries will naturally prefer to see their own 
excellent product rather than to see ours. 

But, as Mr. Johnston has told us, a tremendous per- 
centage of gross receipts come from our foreign mar- 
kets. If our foreign markets decrease to an alarming 
extent, then there will be a crisis indeed. 

There are but two methods by which we can show 



our films abroad with the assurance that money will 
flow in from European audiences: 

1 — We can compete on a level of content ; filming 

adult and truthful stories with the unsur- 
passed technical experience that is ours. 

2 — We can take advantage of our unrivaled dis- 

tributing resources, our past popularity and 
our great economic strength as a creditor na- 
tion, and, with the help of Washington, force 
our films into the movie houses of the world 
through implied threats of "no loans unless." 

Which course are we taking? Are we picking this 
second choice — the "dollar as a weapon" method? 

If, however, we are to choose the first method of 
retaining prestige, then certain other questions must be 
raised. Is the content of American films being limited? 
Are there forces attempting to keep the screen from 
illuminating all truthful aspects of present American 
life? Is content becoming an instrument for political 

In other words — what of Freedom of the Screen? 

Freedom of the Screen means exactly what the phrase 
says. It has no ambiguity. It means the same rights that 
have always been enjoyed by the book publishers, the 
theatre and allied arts — bound by the laws of common 
decency and majority consent. 

Whether or not this freedom is going to be enjoyed 
is a question being argued by almost all who work in 
our industry today. 

This question was first projected on the screen of the 
average writer's mind by Mr. Eric Johnston's visit in 
March to the studios. Then the House Committee on 
UnAmerican Activities, led by J. Parnell Thomas, 
came to town. Almost simultaneously Dr. John 
Lechner of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Pres- 
ervation of American Ideals leapt to a platform and 
implying that the Thomas Committee was his author- 
ity, denounced the following pictures as containing 
"Communistic and subversive propaganda" : Margie, 
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Boomerang, The 
Best Years of Our Lives, Medal For Benny, Watch 
on the Rhine, The Searching Wind, Pride of the 
Marines, North Star and Mission to Moscow. 

Dr. Lechner is no longer with the MPAFTPOAL. 

Miss Katharine Hepburn, the distinguished motion 
picture actress, in a speech, was convinced that Freedom 
of the Screen was being throttled. The officers of the 
Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of 
American Ideals advertised to the contrary. And so 
the points of view shuttle back and forth and 
the issue grows. 

The questions raised here are of deep concern not 
only to the members of the industry, but to the motion 
picture public as a whole. 

To stimulate discussion in the hope of finding the 
truth as to whether Freedom of the Screen is being 
threatened, THE SCREEN WRITER presents the 
following special section of this issue and invites com- 
ment from its readers. 

/ say discuss all and expose all. I am for every topic openly. 

I say there can be no safety for these states without innovation, without free tongues 
and ears willing to hear the tongues. 

— Walt Whitman 

A Short History of Film Censorship 


THE history of censorship of the screen goes back 
to 1909, when, because of the alleged character 
of the films being shown in New York City, the 
mayor closed the theatres. In a successful move to get 
their theatres reopened, the exhibitors secured the for- 
mation of the National Board of Censorship to inspect 
films before their release to the public. The member- 

MARTIN FIELD, a member of the Editorial Committee of 
THE SCREEN WRITER, is a frequent contributor to this 
and other magazines. As a screen writer and playwright he 
has had extensive experience in Hollywood and New York. 

ship of the Board included representatives of civic, 
social, and religious agencies. In 1914, the National 
Board of Censorship discreetly changed its name to the 
National Board of Review, which still functions. 

Despite this form of voluntary censorship, several 
states enacted censorship statutes. Pennsylvania was the 
first, in 1911, and Ohio and Kansas followed suit in 
1913. Maryland adopted legalized censorship in 1916, 
New York and Florida in 1921, and Virginia in 1922. 

It was in 1922 that the worst storm in Hollywood's 
history broke over the town's head. Motion picture 


producers, trying to buck the postwar "recession," 
found that sex is, as Eric Johnston terms it, "interest- 
ing" and, even more important, profitable at the box 
office. A few men, working on the age-old theory that 
you can't have too much of a good fling, produced some 
rather salacious items. As if this were not enough, a 
series of scandals involving Hollywood personalities 
was trumpeted in the nation's press, notably the Fatty 
Arbuckle case. While no question arose about censoring 
the newspapers that sensationalized the Arbuckle case 
and others to the tune of accelerated newsstand sales, 
there was a loud outcry for Federal censorship of the 
screen. A bill to that effect almost succeeded in coming 
to a vote. 

Dozens of national civic organizations of women, 
teachers and religious denominations added to the 
clamor. There was the prospect that some 22 censor- 
ship bills would become law. 

The producers, genuinely frightened by this threat 
to their industry's welfare, looked about frantically for 
the right gimmick that would solve their problem. The 
inspired gimmick proved to be Will H. Hays, chairman 
of the Republican National Committee and Postmaster 
General of the Harding regime then in office. 

Will Hays proved his worth. As head of the newly- 
formed Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of 
America, he contacted all the organizations which had 
been denouncing the industry and got from them a 
six-month reprieve on the promise that he would clean 
house in the industry. Within that time he organized a 
division of the Hays Office to act as the industry's own 
censor board, stating that "none could deny that the 
lusty infant which was the movies had by 1922 trans- 
gressed some of the religious, ethical, and social mores 
upon which our society is built." By 1929, the MPPDA 
was cooperating with 326 national, civic, religious, 
educational and welfare groups and Will Hays could 
proudly cite as past history the "constant threats of 
investigation, legislation and litigation (that) afflicted 
the industry." 

With Will Hays and 326 organizations of varying 
standards of acceptability ruling the screen, there flour- 
ished the game known as "getting past the Hays Office." 
Morris L. Ernst, an authority on censorship, tells a 
revealing story: "The play Rain held the stage in New 
York and the towns on the roads for several years 
without shaking the foundations of Church and State, 
but Will Hays for a time prohibited its adaptation for 
the movies. There is a tale that his consent was subse- 
quently secured by guile when Gloria Swanson, seated 
next to him at a luncheon, sweetly asked if she might 
do a series of short stories by one Somerset Maugham 
called The Trembling of a Leaf, among which was a 

certain one called Miss Thompson." And from time to 
time, Mr. Hays could be induced to permit titillating 
title changes, such as reducing Madame Du Barry to 
Passion and transforming The Admirable Crichton 
into a suggestive Male and Female. 

As a result of the fresh problems created by the 
advent of talking motion pictures, the "Code to Govern 
the Making of Pictures" was devised in 1930 to regu- 
late the depiction of crime, drinking, sex and other 
such "interesting" subjects. 

MEANWHILE, apparently unimpressed by Mr. 
Hays' guarantees of purity on the screen through 
self-regulation, the Boards of Censorship set up in the 
seven states (Florida, knocked out by a legal techni- 
cality, was replaced by Massachusetts) continued to 
function according to their separate dictates of taste 
and morality. Nor did the rule of the Hays Office 
affect the more than 50 local censor boards operating 
from Atlanta to Memphis to Pasadena. 

In the opinion of authorities on the state censor 
boards, Pennsylvania imposes the severest restrictions 
and Ohio is believed to be second. Choosing an average 
year, 1939, here are some typical State Censor Board 
activities: Kansas banned Yes, My Darling Daughter 
(Warner Bros.) until one line of dialogue was deleted. 
Miracle Man on Main Street (Columbia) had deleted, 
"Stranger, anything might happen after we've had a 
couple of drinks." From the reissue of All Quiet on the 
Western Front (Universal) the Kansas censors elimi- 
nated "scene of professor being paddled by boys, where 
his figure shows." Maryland deleted scenes or dialogue 
or both from Mutiny on the Bounty (MGM), Black- 
well's Island (WB), Winter Carnival (Wanger), 
Charlie McCarthy, Detective (Universal). Maryland 
rejected Hitler, Beast of Berlin (Producers Pictures 
Corp.) until the producers agreed to change of title to 
Beasts of Berlin, and elimination of Gestapo officers 
hitting bartender, "We don't bother about God — 
Hitler takes good care of us," an officer grabbing a 
priest by the collar before disrobing him. 

Massachusetts, which exercises censorship through its 
Department of Public Safety, deleted from Man With- 
out a Country (WB) the key dialogue, "Damn the 
United States." All scenes showing rioting in a Para- 
mount newsreel were eliminated. Hitler — Beast of 
Berlin was changed to Goose Step and approved with 
eliminations, such as scene of Storm Troopers stepping 
on cross. 

New York banned such films as Ecstasy (Eureka 
Productions), Or age (Inter- Allied), Dick Tracy Re- 
turns (Republic). 



Pennsylvania banned Life of a Gorilla (Jewel), 
Ecstasy (Eureka), Birth of a Baby (American Com- 

The conflicting views of Censor Boards reflect the 
viewpoints of individuals comprising those boards. A 
lawyer on a censor board objected to all films depicting 
crooked or unethical lawyers. Some censors accepted 
women smoking and some did not. If a man was in the 
men's underwear business, he understandably objected 
to a scene showing Clark Gable in It Happened One 
Night going through life without the protection of an 

"THEN, in 1933, a new storm broke over Hollywood. 

A Despite the zealous operation of the Hays Code, 
the early 1930's saw a flood of realistic films portraying 
crime and sex in rather frank terms. Again, as in 1922, 
it was the hypo the producers needed to bolster the 
sagging depression box office. 

In October of that year, the Most Reverend Gio- 
vanni Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the United 
States, issued a challenge to the Catholics of this coun- 
try to combat "immoral" pictures. The following 
month the National Legion of Decency was formed to 
classify "films in terms of Christian morality." Since 
the Legion's ratings of pictures are distributed to the 
Catholics of Latin America as well as the United 
States, when a picture is deemed objectionable the 
producer will all but hand the cutting shears to the 
Legion and let it snip where it may. Of a total of 429 
feature pictures reviewed from November 1943 to 
November 1944, the Legion deemed 51 films objec- 
tionable and three pictures were condemned in toto. 

While a host of other organized pressure groups, 
such as P.T.A. groups and church groups, wage indi- 

vidual campaigns against films, none of them is organ- 
ized as potently as the Legion of Decency. 

When Pearl Harbor forced war upon the United 
States the advisability of censorship because of national 
security was accepted unanimously. Yet despite the 
emergency, President Roosevelt recognized freedom of 
the screen when he took the time to state on December 
18, 1941 : "I want no censorship of the motion picture; 
I want no restrictions placed thereon which will impair 
the usefulness of the film other than those very neces- 
sary restrictions which the dictates of safety make 

The wartime Office of Censorship passed on all com- 
pleted product until it was closed at the cessation of 
hostilities. Some students of the film maintain that the 
exigencies of war made possible the production of pic- 
tures which would not ordinarily be produced, pictures 
that remain a contribution to the advancement of the 
screen medium. 

Since the war, there have been only two outstanding 
censorship battles. One was over The Outlaw, which 
still plays, outside the Code, to packed houses. The other 
was Duel in the Sun, which was condemned by the 
Legion of Decency. 

Eric Johnston, who replaced Will Hays as head of 
the producers association (renamed Motion Picture 
Association of America) , shifted the headquarters of the 
association to Washington. Questioned on Duel in the 
Sun, Mr. Johnston admits that this is one picture he 
does not care to discuss. In the absence of any definite 
statement from Johnston, there is an impression that 
the six million dollars invested in the picture and the 
weight of high industry officialdom behind it, secured 
for it a clean bill of health after it had been condemned 
by the Legion of Decency. 

So far, with Mr. Johnston at the helm in Washing- 
ton instead of Mr. Hays in Hollywood, there has been 
no actual interference with the choice of material or 
theme for a motion picture. 

It is better to guard speech than to guard wealth. 


I should think it my duty, if required, to go to the utmost part of the land where my 
service could be of any use in assisting to quench the flame of prosecutions upon infor- 
mation, set on foot by the Government, to deprive a people of the right of remonstrat- 
ing and complaining of the arbitrary attempts of men in power. 

— Peter Zenger 



Mr* Eric Johnston's Tour 

During Mid-March, Mr. Eric Johnston, President 
of the Motion Picture Producers of America, came to 
each major studio, lunched, then spoke to invited 
writers, directors and producers concerning problems 
he felt were facing the industry. 

In response to inquiries by many writers concerning 
this tour, THE SCREEN WRITER, from reports 
submitted to it by members of Mr. Johnston's audiences 
at these occasions, herewith gives below an abstract 
of his remarks : 


MR. Eric Johnston opened with the statement 
that in his opinion, the most significant results 
of World War I and II were the rise 
and consolidation of the Soviet Union after 1918 and 
the emergence of the United States as the most power- 
ful country in the world after 1945. 

He then spent some moments tracing the basic his- 
toric difference between the American and Soviet 
ideologies. In the 18th century, the United States gave 
to the world the concept of the Rights of Man ; in the 
19th and 20th centuries, our genius for mass produc- 
tion improved man's material comfort and well-being. 
In contrast, Mr. Johnston continued, the ideas ema- 
nating from the Soviet Union are little more than 
medieval tyranny disguised in slogans of freedom for 
the masses of working people. 

Mr. Johnston then discussed at length President 
Truman's declaration of a new foreign policy, particu- 
larly on behalf of the peoples of Greece and Turkey 
and their government, and how, because of this impor- 
tant diplomatic development, a responsibility was 
placed on all Americans and particularly those in the 
motion picture industry. 

He spoke of the great threat that a loss of foreign 
markets would mean to writers, directors and produc- 
ers. However, he assured those present, cordial rela- 
tions and mutual understanding exist between the film 
industry and the State Department. He emphasized 
that the State Department was bending every effort to 
keep the foreign outlets open to American pictures. He 
made the point that when in Washington, he is "in and 
out of the State Department every day." 

The political section of his speech ended, Mr. John- 
ston now spoke of the threat of more rigid censorship 

in many states. To ward off this danger, he continued, 
there must be less drinking shown in films. Sixty-seven 
percent of the features produced last year had shown 
drinking of alcoholic beverages. Mr. Johnston decried 
giving to foreign audiences the impression that we are 
a drinking nation. 

During the question period, Mr. Charles Brackett 
stated that under the Code, a picture like Welldigger's 
Daughter could never be made in Hollywood, and 
asked Mr. Johnson to speak on this point. 

Mr. Johnston said that Mr. Breen, who was present, 
was in a better position to answer the question. Mr. 
Breen turned to an assistant and asked him to answer 
it. The assistant stated that he had seen the Welldig- 
ger's Daughter and "I was so bored with it that I 
walked out in the middle." 



R. Johnston's approach was frank and his tone 

He began his remarks by clearly emphasizing that 
the writers and producers present were considered by 
him as members of a business organization directly 
interested in the public relations and marketing prob- 
lems of the industry. 

Mr. Johnston divided his remarks into two separate 
and distinct parts — political and artistic. 

In his political section, he pointed out that at one 
time the United Nations was a good idea and "we had 
high hopes for it." The loans to Turkey and Greece 
marked, in his opinion, the beginning of a new era in 
United States diplomacy. He told his listeners that 
after discussions with Secretary of State Marshall, 
Senator Vandenberg and others, it was his under- 
standing that there was now initiated an official policy 
of a world-wide countering of Soviet expansion and 
emphasized that this policy should be supported in 
American motion pictures. 

Mr. Johnston spoke of the United States being the 
strongest and richest nation in the world. He added 
that we must bring the benefits of our country's indus- 
trial proficiency and its way of life to less fortunate 
countries of the world. 

He then pointed out that these new diplomatic devel- 
opments directly affected the motion picture industry. 
He again emphasized that the personnel in the motion 



picture industry would be expected to play a part in 
implementing this State Department policy. 

To present the best in the American way of life 
would be one of the jobs of the industry. During these 
remarks on how best the industry could hold a mirror 
up to this way of life, Mr. Johnston criticized the 
excessive routine drinking in recent pictures. 

In the second part of his speech — the aesthetics of 
movie-making — Mr. Johnston stressed motion pictures 
as a product for a mass market. "It is all right for a 
starving artist to paint a nude and get it hung in the 
Louvre," he continued. He then said that "adult" pic- 
tures were praiseworthy but that there was a difference 
between an "adult" market and a "mass" market. 

On this emphasis, Mr. Johnston concluded his 
formal remarks. 


"DOTH Mr. Eric Johnston and Mr. Joseph Breen, 
*~* in charge of administering the Code, were present. 
The burden of Mr. Johnston's remarks was that the 
United States "is not a drinking country." He cited 
statistics to prove that in large sections of what he 
described as "rural Protestant America," prohibition is 
a consummation devoutly to be wished, and the fre- 
quent appearance of stimulants on motion picture 
screens was not approved. 

Mr. Johnston now spoke of the vast industrial poten- 
tial of the United States. He compared the economic 
and industrial power of this country with backward 
countries in Latin and South America and gave as one 
illustration of the disparity, the non-use of water power 
below the Rio Grande. 

In response to a question asked him by a producer, 
Mr. Johnston remarked: "I'm just here to tell you 
what the American people think. I am merely a mes- 
senger from the American people." 

Mr. Harry Warner asked Mr. Johnston concerning 
Duel in the Sun. Mr. Johnston gave the floor to Mr. 
Breen. Mr. Warner asked how the Breen Office 
could have allowed the showing of Duel. Mr. Breen 
explained that the picture had not been judged for 
censorship all in one piece, but by snatches. From this 
point on, the discussion veered towards a personal 
exchange between Mr. Harry Warner and Mr. Breen. 

During his appearances at Universal-International, 
Twentieth-Century Fox and M.G.M., Mr. Johnston 
is reported as having repeated what he had said at the 
above studios without significant variations. For this 
reason, THE SCREEN WRITER is not abstracting 
his remarks at these three studios. 

However, some time later, on June 3rd, Mr. John- 

ston, having been asked many times to meet with the 
members of the Screen Writers' Guild and talk to them 
informally, accepted the long-extended invitation and 
spoke at Lucey's. Herewith is an abstract of his 
remarks : 

\ /fR. Johnston admitted that there were areas of 
■*■"■*■ disagreement between him and the Screen Writ- 
ers' Guild, but emphasized that discussion of divergent 
opinions often yields the truth. He stated that his best 
friends had warned him not to appear before the Screen 
Writers' Guild, but he was not heeding that warning. 

Mr. Johnston spoke of his belief in capitalism as 
having done more for more people than any other sys- 
tem in the world. He advocated strong democratic 
guilds and unions as a way to make capitalism work. 
He stated that he was for the liberties of the individual. 
In emphasizing what he stood against, Mr. Johnston 
described American Communists as treasonable and 

In regard to the future of the motion picture indus- 
try, Mr. Johnston divided his remarks into two topics 
— the foreign market and the domestic market. Speak- 
ing of the foreign market, he stressed that most of the 
net income in the past years has come from outside the 
United States. He admitted that at present we are 
taking serious losses. He categorized the foreign prob- 
lems all over the world: exchange restrictions, embar- 
goes, bans against American films because certain coun- 
tries "do not like something in them." He explained 
how, because of these foreign problems, he had to be in 
almost constant contact with the President, his Cabinet 
and leaders of the House and Senate. These meetings 
were important in order to stimulate the development 
of films abroad. 

Because a very great potential of the peoples of the 
world has not yet seen a motion picture, the Associa- 
tion is promoting 16 mm films to be shown in out of 
the way places such as Iran, etc. In this way, markets 
will be opened of millions of people who will see 
American pictures. 

Mr. Johnston stressed that these methods of awak- 
ening millions of people over the world to the habit of 
seeing American films directly concerned the screen- 
writers, since the monies obtained from such foreign 
markets represented jobs and salaries to the writers. 

In relation to the domestic market, the speaker told 
of several ideas the Association had under way. One of 
these was the formation of a Motion Picture Institute 
in which the entire personnel of the industry would be 
joined to consider questions of interest to motion-pic- 
ture makers. Unfortunately, until the anti-Trust suits 
were over, this would still be only an idea. 

A second project in the offing is the series of films 



called This Is Hollywood, produced in the hopes of 
showing Hollywood in its human aspects rather than its 
sensational ones. 

"If children form the habit of going to motion pic- 
tures, maybe they will go when they grow up," said 
Mr. Johnston. In order to stimulate the interest of the 
young, the Association is spending $150,000 on 
visual education for teaching aids in schools. 

In answer to a question concerning the Un-American 
Committee, Mr. Johnston stated: "From now on we 
will insist on names and facts and we want this inves- 
tigation to end all investigations as far as Hollywood 
is concerned." He explained that in order to assure a 

fair trial of Hollywood, the Association had employed 
Mr. James Byrnes to assist the industry. 

In answer to the question of injecting subversive 
propaganda into pictures, Mr. Johnson replied : "We 
want a free screen, free from government pressure or 
subversive propaganda." 

In answer to a question as to whether the Motion 
Picture Association has any long-range policy about 
committees such as the Un-American Committee, Mr. 
Johnston answered: "The philosophy of any industry 
has little effect on Congress. The ballot box is what 
counts. The industry of course wants to avoid such 
hearings because of the possible result of federal 

"Then you would say what you mean," the March Hare went on. 

"I do" Alice hastily replied. "At least — at least, I mean what I say — that's the same 

thing, you know." 

"Not the same thing a bit," said the Hatter. 

— Lewis Carroll 

What of the Foreign Market? 


I HAVE never been able to find out whether ostriches 
actually hide their heads in the sand of the desert. 
In Hollywood they do. As a matter of fact, it seems 
to be their favorite posture when it comes to discussing 
problems of motion pictures. 

The discussions have been particularly lively since 
the Thomas Committee put Hollywood on the map of 
Russia. Lately they have taken the form of advice, and 
even directives, generally aimed at writers — a some- 

SWG member Vladimir Pozner is the well-known novelist 
and screen writer. A member of the French Syndicat des 
Scenar'istes, he has recently spent much time in Europe, where 
he has had experience as a film salesman, writer and 

what belated but none the less gratifying kind of 
recognition for our craft. 

We were told that to the old and self-evident truth 
— "movies are your best entertainment," something 
new has been added : the movies must sell the American 
Way to the world, said Way being the Main Street of 
a small Mid-western town, which in turn goes to show 
what capitalism and free enterprise will do for you if 
you let the law of supply and demand work unham- 
pered — as any returned veteran among the screen 
writers will tell you. 

Thus the ideal picture of the future should be a 
combination of Anchors Aweigh and Behind the Iron 



Danube. A new slogan is in the making: "The motion 
picture is your best singing commercial." 

I have a great respect and sincere admiration for 
Main Street, whether or not it runs parallel to the 
railway tracks, and won't raise the question which side 
of the latter we are asked to describe in our films. 
However, since the word "commercial" has been men- 
tioned, I cannot help wondering. 

We have been told many a time that the motion pic- 
ture industry derives close to fifty percent of its income 
from the foreign markets. In other words, the profits 
of the motion picture companies are conditioned to a 
large extent by the response of a world-wide audience. 
Consequently, we must avoid any insulting or disparag- 
ing remarks about any country, and, above all, stay 
away from all controversial subjects, such as color, 
race, creed, politics, adultery, pregnancy, suicide, etc. 

'KTOW, the American Way, as defined above, may 
■*■ ^ not seem controversial on Main Street of Paris, 
Kentucky, but it certainly is in Paris, France — 
whether one likes it or not. Speaking of free enterprise, 
for instance, it is well to remember that basic indus- 
tries have been or are being nationalized in Great 
Britain and France, not to mention points East. Or, to 
choose another example, one may point out that the 
word "Red" has a different connotation in the United 
States and the rest of the world — with a few excep- 

tions. Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries 
have Socialist Governments, in France and Italy the 
Communists are the strongest political party. 

The lawmakers and ministers of other countries are 
less important, however, from our viewpoint, than the 
millions of foreign professional people, industrial and 
white-collar workers, farmers, students, shopkeepers, 
housewives, etc., who voted for those lawmakers and 
ministers, because these millions represent the majority 
of moviegoers the world over. Six years of war and 
what they still call fascism, made them acutely aware 
of social and political problems. They may be wrong or 
right, but, right or wrong, they are not likely to pay 
admission in order to listen to theories or content, no 
matter how carefully, dressed, which they have rejected 
at the polls. After all they do not have to go to the 
movies. In France for instance they did not — under 
Nazi occupation. Today they would not even have to 
sacrifice going to the movies: they can choose between 
the product of different European countries, which 
they could not then. 

I do not mean to say that Hollywood should stick to 
its old policy of total non-intervention in life. Nor do 
I know what would be the combined income from 
operations in Argentine, Spain, Turkey, and Greece. 
I am merely raising a question which, I am afraid, must 
be answered, lest the Hollywood ostrich finds itself in 
a near future with a lot of headaches, a tremendous 
overhead — and no head. 

The Un-American Way 

Show business knows too well the ways of publicity to gaze with other than a cold eye upon the 
Hollywood investigation by Congress' Un-American Activities Committee. The newspapers also are 
aware of the score, but when they can fit "Hollywood Red Probe" into a page one head it means 

It blows up into quite a bawl of yarn which, nevertheless, is neither a yard wide nor has it much 
wool. That's because the Un-American Committee won't lay it on the line by mentioning names. 

They say the picture business is full of Reds on the Hollywood end. Well, name 'em. There 
isn't a studio that won't help chase subversive elements off its lot. Yet all this has been said again and 
again, hashed over again and again. That "again and again." It has a familiar refrain. Are they going 
to blame pictures on him too ? 

But accusations as to Reds and Roosevelt are not the burnup. It's when they claim that Holly- 
wood has turned out pictures detrimental to this Government. 

Smile when you say that, Mister, or name names. 

Name the picture. Name the sequence. Name the scene. 

Put up or shut up. 

It's time. 

— N. Y. Variety, June 4, 1947. 



Symposium on a Question Asked 

The Screen Writer sent to more than thirty figures 
prominent in the motion picture industry — writers, 
producers, directors, critics, newspaper publishers etc. 
— the following telegram : 

Because of the vast public interest inspired by cur- 

Of the more than thirty wires sent out, the following 
replies have been received : 

EMMET LA VERY, President of SWG: 

If the nation is in immediate peril from Communist 
activity in Hollywood as Congressman Thomas would 
have the country believe, it is difficult to understand 
how the Congressman and his Committee can adjourn 
the peril so glibly — how he can lay it down so blandly 
in June and prepare to pick it up again, on schedule, 
in September. 

From this distance it looks more like a show that is 
laying off for the summer. 

I hold no brief for Marxian Communism, but I do 
hold a brief for the American theory of due process. If 
Mr. Thomas has any proof of seditious activity any- 
where, let him take his case at once to the FBI and let 
indictment in the Federal Courts follow. If Mr. 
Thomas has no proof — but is merely conducting an 
ex parte witch hunt in the newspapers of the country 
— he is merely giving us a sample of what truly Un- 
American activity can be. 

I say this with no disrespect to Congress. I make it 
as a personal observation on the strange behavior of 
Congressman Thomas. He hasn't changed very much 
since the days of the Dies Committee, and his extra- 
ordinary method of inquisition is a sad subversion of 
the power which has been entrusted to Congressional 

BOSLEY CROWTHER, Motion Picture Editor of 
the New York Times: 

To my mind, the imputation that there has been 
"subversive" or "un-American" doctrine circulated in 
Hollywood films is reckless and ridiculous. Anyone 
who follows even casually the nature of American films 
knows that their standard myths and concepts are any- 
thing in the book but "Communist." 

However, I do feel that endeavors have willfully and 
greedily been made to slip into many Hollywood pic- 
turse as much salacity and suggestion as possible. I also 
feel that a disturbing trend towards stories of vice and 
depravity has been manifest in recent pictures. And 
this bothers me very much. 

For it is my considered opinion that the surest way 
to corrupt the minds and feelings of human beings is to 
feed and stimulate their baser appetites. This is being 
done, to my mind, by many of Hollywood's current 


ELI A KAZAN, Motion Picture Director: 

I certainly do not think that films like The Best 
Years of Our Lives, Boomerang, Margie, etc. contain 
subversive material unless "subversive" is defined as 
anything that criticizes any aspect of American life 
whatsoever. In fact, the pointing to these pictures as 
"subversive" gave me one of the best laughs I've had 
in a long time. 


ARCHER WINSTEN, Motion Picture Editor of 
the New York Post: 

Let me state parenthetically before answering your 
question that we in New York now have before us five 
British films, Odd Man Out, Great Expectations, 
This Happy Breed, Brief Encounter, and The Captive 
Heart, the Swedish Torment, the Italian Open City, 
and the French The Well-Digger's Daughter. Current 
American competition to these is composed of Duel In 
The Sun, The Strange Woman, The Other Love, The 
Imperfect Lady, Dishonored Lady, Carnegie Hall, 
Honeymoon, The Two Mrs. Carrolls, The Brasher 
Doubloon, The Sea of Grass, Nora Prentiss and The 
Best Years of Our Lives. Only the last named picture 



can compete with the foreign ones. It can be omitted 
from my blanket indictment. 

To answer your question: YES, I do think these 
recent American films are subversive, immoral and 

They are subversive in the sense that vulgar, simple- 
minded sensationalism is well calculated to overturn 
the long dominance of American films not only in the 
world market but also at home. 

They are immoral in their tricky adherence to a 
Production Code and their flouting of any truthful 
statement of life's problems. 

They are un-American in their crass, commercial 
distortion of the values and lack of values in this 

Needless to say, censorship, having already botched 
its job, can only make matters worse if extended 

As for the more specific, communist charges to which 
your questions must refer, they are sufficiently laugh- 
able to rate a "boff" as low burlesque. That Robert 
Taylor could think he was spouting propaganda in 
Song of Russia is in itself an hilarious comment on the 
well-known power of analysis of our popular face- 
makers. Even North Star, Goldwyn's effort to be 
nice to Russia, was 99.44 percent pure Hollywood. 

I would say that if Hollywood knuckles under to this 
further attempt to frighten its scared millionaires into 
deeper retreat from consideration of ideas as such, the 
comparative values of social systems, the criticism of 
our less than perfect system, and the honest presentation 
of anything that freedom of thought should rightly 
feed upon, it will deserve the oblivion for which it has 
been heading these past two years. 

As a critic I would like nothing better than to see 
great pictures pouring out of Hollywood. I'm sure the 
writers represented by The Screen Writers' Guild 
share that view and could do much to make it come 
true if they were given a chance. 

DORE SCHARY, Production Head of RKO: 

{William Mooring, film critic of the Tidings, offi- 
cial organ of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los 
Angeles, characterized Mr. S chary' s recent film THE 
FARMER'S DAUGHTER as communistic. Mr. 
Schary's reply to this critic has been given by him to 
The Screen Writer as his answer to our telegram) : 

The review, to me, is curious and odd on a basis of 
logic. Mr. Mooring says the heavies in the film are 
Fascist and that, therefore, their opponent is a Com- 
munist. This reasoning would make every one who has 
opposed fascism a Communist, including Roosevelt, 
Eisenhower, Truman, Stassen and fourteen million 
soldiers. It is impossible for any convinced liberal to 
avoid temporary agreement with leftists on some sub- 
jects and with rightists on others. But liberals must 
not, therefore, be intimidated or frightened into aban- 
doning their principles. If one says that Hollywood is 
communistic because of such pictures as Mission to 
Moscow and Song of Russia, it is equally logical to say 
that Hollywood is monarchistic because of Mrs. 

FREDA KIRCHWEY, Editor of The Nation : 

As far as my own experience goes do not believe 
films have been subversive, immoral or un-American. 
Do not believe in censorship. Must admit that my 
attendance at films is limited. 

Memo to J* Parnell Thomas 


THE Thomas Committee to Investigate Un- 
American Activities is the successor of a line of 
somewhat similar committees extending back to 
1919. Shortly after the revolution in Russia a meeting 
was held in a theatre in Washington, D. C, apparently 
in the nature of a public forum, to discuss the merits 
and the dangers of the new form of government. Some 
of the newspaper reports indicated no more than a 

MORRIS E. COHN is counsel for the Screen Writers' Guild 
and has published many studies of legal problems affecting 
writers and the motion picture industry. 

temperate examination of the new government; other 
newspapers treated the situation as inflammatory, and 
as a result, almost immediately, there was set up a 
Senate committee to investigate bolshevism in America. 
From that time until 1940 there have been un-American 
committees; the committee is now a standing commit- 
tee of the House. 

The motion picture industry is an immediate subject 
for investigation by this committee, and the Screen 
Writers Guild has been marked for special attention. 
It seems an appropriate time therefore to examine this 




servant of the people, the Committee to Investigate 
Un-American Activities. 

The Committee is an agency of one of the legislative 
branches of our government. Its powers and purposes 
stem from the body which created it and cannot rise 
higher than the source of its being. Although it is a 
justifiable figure of speech to speak of a trial by this 
Committee, it is important to understand that the Com- 
mittee has no judicial powers; that is to say, the Com- 
mittee has no power to try anybody or to render a 
judgment, in the formal sense. The figure of speech is 
however justified because the conduct of this Committee 
often entails consequences as important in the life of 
the individual concerned as any judgment of a court. 

The Committee's powers derive from the legislative 
function of Congress. The legislative function includes 
the power to make laws; but it is not limited to that 
power. How far it goes beyond the power to make laws 
has not been determined by our highest courts. How- 
ever students of constitutional government speak of 
"the informing power" as appropriate to Congress. By 
this they mean publicity, turning public attention to 
information. And Martin Dies has subscribed publicly 
to that theory. He said, in substance, that there was a 
large range of subject matter about which Congress 
could make no law but which was within the province 
of investigating committees; by turning public atten- 
tion to danger spots these committees could neverthe- 
less accomplish a great deal. Notwithstanding the 
approval of the informing power by such students of 
government as Woodrow Wilson and Dr. Marshall 
Dimock, it seems at odds with the conception of a gov- 
ernment of limited powers, of a government of laws 
rather than of men. If Congress should possess a power 
not granted or limited by the Constitution, that power 
would be unlimited, to be used as an individual incum- 
bent chose. I do not think that the suggested power 
could withstand judicial test. 

Corollary to the power to make laws is the power to 
learn the facts. A legislator cannot write laws in the 
dark. Most investigating committees have, on the 
whole, confined themselves to the task of learning the 
facts necessary to indicate to Congress the direction 
which legislation should take. 

Opinion concerning the value of investigating com- 
mittees has been strongly divided. There are those, 
entitled to great respect, who argue that the use of the 
committees is wholly unjustified, because the evidence 
extracted by compulsion is small in comparison with 
the injuries suffered by the individuals who were 
brought to testify. Most of those who argue in favor of 
the power substantiate their position by pointing out 
that Congress is more directly representative of the 
people ; and that it is essential to give the people's repre- 

sentatives supervisory power over the government ; that 
without the right to investigate into the post office, the 
navy, the attorney general's office, and the like, ulti- 
mate power would be splintered. 

It is worth pointing out that one may concede the 
fact that the right to investigate governmental depart- 
ments, government officials, and even government em- 
ployees, is indispensable, without necessarily conceding 
the power to investigate a private citizen wholly unat- 
tached to any agency of the government. Since the 
Committee has no power to try the witness, and since 
grand juries exist everywhere for the ferreting out of 
possible crime, it might be possible to safeguard the 
powers which are regarded as indispensable without 
unnecessary injury to the private citizen. Still it is 
probably well in the main to accept a congressional 
determination as to who shall be investigated so long as 
the subject matter of investigation does not violate 
constitutional standards. 

APART from criticism of investigating committees 
in general, there are difficulties about the Un- 
American Committee which deserve special attention. 

First of all its scope, to investigate un-American 
activities. Congress has never defined the term; our 
courts have never defined the term; in one lower dis- 
trict court one judge said he could not define the word. 
In his first report to Congress in 1938 or 1939, Martin 
Dies defined the term un-American as including, among 
other things, the following: class intolerance; racial 
intolerance ; religious intolerance ; any philosophy which 
embraced all or an essential part of communism; and 
all violence or lawlessness. 

No one would of course care to challenge the state- 
ment that lawlessness is un-American; but to accept it 
as part of the organic document of a Congressional 
committtee does give the committee rather wide powers. 
Subsequent committees have suggested definitions of 
un-Americanism as ranging from social and economic 
equality to criticism of Chiang Kai Shek. Failure to 
answer a question put by a committee is a crime if the 
question is within the scope of the committee's power. 
It is a grave demand on the witness's acuity to deter- 
mine when his silence may be criminal. 

Of greater interest to writers than most objections 
to this Committee is the fact that the subject matter of 
investigation is the area of thinking, opinion, belief and 
conviction. It is believed that this marked a new ven- 
ture for our government. The field of conduct, what 
a man does, is admittedly a proper scope for the exer- 
cise of governmental powers. But to invade the domain 
of the mind, what a man thinks, is a wholly different 
matter. The last citadel of individualism, the one place 



in which the individual has found sanctuary is now 
invaded with the trappings of officialdom, the trumpets 
of press releases, flashbulbs, cameras, and the shadow 
of prison. 

Ever since the ascendancy of temporal power over 
spiritual, when the church relinquished political power 
to the state, the privacy of a man's convictions have 
been entitled to be respected. Defeated, angered, embit- 
tered with the world he could seek the comfort of 
criticism, condemnation, all within his own mind. He 
could express the criticism if he chose, but he need not. 
If he was one of a slender minority, he might well defer 
expression, or at least select the time and occasion for 
saying what he thought. 

Another subject worth attention is the lack of the 
ordinary immunities of witnesses. While it is true that 
there is a statute saying in effect that no person shall be 
prosecuted on evidence given in a Congressional inves- 
tigation, it is questionable whether this is the equivalent 
of the privilege against self-incrimination guaranteed 
by the Constitution. 

England has a Witnesses Protection Act, which goes 
beyond mere protection against self-incrimination in 
examination before Royal Commissions of Enquiry. In 
any event the usual privileges of ordinary witnesses, the 
inviolability of marital communications, of the confes- 
sional, and of the lawyer-client relationship do not 
extend to persons compelled to testify before Congres- 
sional committees. It is true that in one case our 
Supreme Court said that the power to investigate does 
not include the right to pry into the private affairs of 
ordinary citizens ; but there are many instances in which 
this rule has been disregarded. 

Furthermore the lack of regularized procedure is 

apparently a tax on the powers of the committee to 
restrain itself. Hearings are conducted in secret, and 
hardly have the echoes of the testimony died in the 
hearing room when the examiner or a Committee mem- 
ber rushes to the press with a press release. 

The transcripts of the hearings under Dies' chair- 
manship do not show a desire to learn all of the facts ; 
accusations and charges were welcomed and admitted 
by wholesale ; witnesses carrying condemnations of 
persons and institutions were allowed to give testimony 
by the hour, to throw in hearsay, and unsubstantiated 
reports, letters, documents, and the like. But the per- 
sons accused were either not given the right to appear 
or, if they were, were subjected to the most thorough- 
going cross-examinations, as witness the case of Hallie 
Flanagan when called on to defend her position with 
the Federal Theatre Project. 

It is not fair to the Committee to condemn the effec- 
tiveness of its cross-examining persons accused; that is 
not intended. But the contrast between the receipt of 
accusations and the treatment of denials suggests the 
need for a remedy. 

I think it is fair to say that these committees, while 
exerting a strong influence on the welfare of individ- 
uals, have in the main had a negligible effect on legis- 
lation. This is to say that their avowed purpose has not 
been served, but collateral consequences, (e.g. the 
defeat of Frank Murphy, now a Justice of the Supreme 
Court, for reelection as governor of Michigan) have 
been marked. Investigation into political philosophy 
with governmental sanction, and under the shadow of 
prison, is a serious departure for a government whose 
constitutional principle was declared by Justice Holmes 
to be freedom of thought. 

Of all the miserable , unprofitable, inglorious wars, the worst is the war against words. 

— Auberon Herbert 

A Summing Up 


WE, who have gathered the material for this 
special section on Freedom of the Screen are 
fully aware that we resemble the film projec- 
tionist who, having run several reels of a mystery film 
studded with ingenious paradox and clues insinuative 

BERNARD C. SCHOENFELD, a member of the Editorial 
Committee served as chairman of the sub-committee charged 
with the preparation of the preceding material in this section. 

of a bang-up climax, discovers that the last reel is 

What can he do but shut off the projector, go outside 
for a beer and leave the audience to groan a bit and 
seek answers for themselves to the relevant questions 
raised. Not having the time for a beer, and mindful of 
the Production Code which would have us drink only 
for therapeutic reasons, we will spend our time going 



back over the reels projected in order to re-emphasize 
those questions which this special section has indicated. 

In Hollywood fashion many people have put together 
the material which told this unfinished narrative. In 
what we may call the First Sequence, written by Mar- 
tin Field, we harked back to a more peaceful Holly- 
wood when the word "censorship" connoted merely the 
elimination of a siren's thigh or the deletion of dia- 
logue thought too provocative for our spinster aunts and 
our budding Pollyannas. But as Mr. Field continued 
his account of the recent past, dramatic conflict 

Certain characters were introduced. Long shots of 
churchmen, of the Legion of Decency, of "public 
spirited" citizens, arbiters of the nation's mores who 
took places on our various state censorship boards. Had 
we looked carefully we might even have seen a close-up 
of Mr. Bascom, of Memphis, Tennessee, who banned 
The Southerner, because, as he claimed, the film held 
The South up to ridicule. 

Whether such men are heroes or villains in this story 
of Freedom of the Screen is worthy of debate; for, as 
Mr. Fields points out, these churchmen and state 
boards have the power to approve or reject the portrayal 
of Americans poor and rich, sinner and ascetic, radical 
and the late George Apley. 

It becomes clear therefore, from Mr. Field's sequence 
that certain questions might be asked : 

Shall the industry consider audiences to be the final 
judges of whether our stories possess good taste and 
mirror actuality? Or shall it continue to sit back and 
allow assorted censorship boards to snip and cut or ban 
altogether a film which they dislike perhaps for indi- 
vidual or pressure-group reasons? 

What choice has the industry in this matter? 

Is adherence to the Code governed by pressure rather 
than by good taste? 

Why, as Mr. Warner asks later, was The Outlaw 
allowed to be shown? And certain scenes in Duel in the 
Sun? And fly-by-night pictures shown in fifth-run 
houses which advertise For Adults Only? 

Does Mr. Breen's recent conference with the Rank 
organization portend a rigid control on the content of 
British films shown in this country? As certain trade 
papers insinuate, will the Breen Office use the dollar 
threat so that henceforth all tortured lovers like those 
in Brief Encounter will be visibly punished for their 
sad, short, desperate romance? Or, as others believe, 
will the film industry of Great Britain maintain its 
aesthetic autonomy? 

The first sequence fades out with the departure of 
Will Hays and the appearance of a new leading char- 
acter, Mr. Eric Johnston. A panoramic long shot — 
the setting, Washington, D.C. And so, an obvious 

question: Why has the Motion Picture Association of 
America moved its operations from Hollywood, where 
films are made, to Washington, D.C, where the politi- 
cal fate of the world is pondered? 

TTERE, in Washington, the second sequence begins. 
•*• *- The story continues, however, with Mr. John- 
ston's recent tour of the studios to address writers, 
directors and producers. Though the image is a trifle 
blurred, the dialogue is sufficiently clear to give us the 
answer to our last question. For we learn, through this 
leading character that the motion picture industry is 
tied inexorably to the political scene in Washington by 
two problems: the need to keep our hold on foreign 
markets and the influence of our films in implementing 
the State Department's present foreign policy. 

Mr. Johnston stated that this foreign policy has as 
its purpose the countering of Soviet expansion. He 
spoke of the content of American motion pictures as a 
means of helping to express this policy to the rest of 
the world. 

We learn all this from Mr. Johnston's own words, 
spoken succinctly as dialogue in any good, suspenseful 
film should be spoken. Now, the exposition is finished. 
We are in the thick of action. 

To many members of The Screen Writers' Guild 
who have consistently argued that politics national or 
international should never be mixed with Guild mat- 
ters, Mr. Johnston proves once and for all that whether 
or not we like it, writers are at the moment in politics 
up to their typewriter ribbons. 

This drama now becomes classical in the sense that 
not only are screen writers in the audience but are par- 
ticipating as actors as well. At this point in the 
continuity we ask: 

If our government requests an industry in peacetime 
to follow a definite foreign policy, does this affect free- 
dom of the screen? Are we being shanghaied onto a 
ship of state steered by departmental helmsmen in dead 
of night as some aver? Or, as others believe, are we 
being allowed willingly to sign up for the voyage 
wherever it may take us? 

In the motion picture industry there are those who 
are certain that this foreign policy is correct. There are 
also others who claim that such a policy will lead to 
inevitable catastrophe and atomic war. There are some 
who believe that we are already in an undeclared war 
and of necessity we must obey, as in wartime. And then, 
there are those who haven't come to any decision. So, 
we ask, believing that it bears on Freedom of the 
Screen: Does Mr. Johnston know how the majority of 
writers, producers, directors, actors and other industry 
personnel feel concerning this policy? Isn't it important 
to find that out in the interest of industry unity? 



These are just a few of the questions which the 
introduction of Mr. Johnston into the second sequence 
of our story forces us to ask. 

A S Mr. Johnston leaves the scene (his presence, 
*■ *■ however, can be felt throughout the remaining 
sequences) the plot is continued, written by Vladimir 

Mr. Pozner is saying that today dynamic forces are 
reshaping social institutions; recasting old codes into 
new ones, for good or for evil. Both Mr. Pozner and 
Mr. Johnston agree on this point, for otherwise there 
would not be these problems of foreign markets and 
adherence to a new foreign policy. Recently back from 
Europe, Mr. Pozner emphasizes the kaleidoscopic 
changes taking place there. Newspaper headlines and 
the daily job of living also convince us that there are 
similar jarrings occurring in Latin America and Asia. 
If we examine Mr. Pozner's sequence closely we can 
see, as in a swift montage, shots of entire peoples being 
engulfed in political upheavals. Beliefs of every kind 
are being put forward as the correct Way of Life. 
Whether we like it or not, Mr. Pozner asserts, millions 
upon millions of Europeans who have known the hor- 
rors of persecution and starvation are thinking out their 
lives with desperate realism. These millions of poten- 
tial ticket-bu}'ers assume that American films will face 
quite as realistically, all aspects and conditions of 
American existence. 

The American film, many think, could be a form of 
international expression between men of all countries 
who wish to live in peace with each other. The content 
we choose for our future pictures will either contribute 
to or detract from this ideal. If the audiences of Paris, 
Bucharest or Lima prefer to stay away from American 
films, it will be due, Mr. Pozner suggests, to the fact 
that we American picture makers are portraying our 
own American lives as though we existed in a world of 
peppermint sticks, song and dance sequences, western 
deserts; all lovers Betty Grables and Tyrone Powers; 
and every returned veteran a bank-depositor living in a 
comfortable home on a peaceful, integrated planet. So, 
we must ask more questions raised by Mr. Pozner's 
sequence : 

Since, on the one hand, Mr. Johnston, with perfectly 
good business sense hopes our films will make money in 
foreign markets, shall we make the kind of film that 
the rest of the world wishes to see? Or will we portray 
only stock characters placed in situations romanticized 

and glamorized beyond a semblance of normal Ameri- 
can living? And if we do this will not such films help 
ruin our foreign market? Is Mr. Pozner correct in his 
belief or is he completely wrong? 

If we satisfy the State Department's repeated prefer- 
ence to show the American way of life, which Ameri- 
can way of life does Mr. Johnston suggest out of the 
many ways? Out of the many lives? The lives that are 
in the shadows as well as those in sunlight? In either 
case there will be those on State Boards or in Wash- 
ington who will demand rigid censorship as certain 
censors did in the case of The Southerner and more 
recently with Monsieur Verdoux and The Farmer's 

Dore Schary's remarks in this connection are a 

HERE indeed are labyrinthine paradoxes. And when 
we re-read Archer Winsten's observations they 
are compounded with a vengeance. It should give the 
writer and the producer both pause to know what Mr. 
Winsten, a distinguished film critic, thinks on viewing 
the content of current American films. 

WE believe the questions raised here are more 
worthy of discussion at Romanoff's than what 
horse won which race. Because, as Mr. Johnston so 
correctly warns us, the foreign market means our jobs 
and we must decide together — writers, producers, 
directors as a family intent on staying in business — 
what we are to do about facing the problems of market 
and content within a State Department policy which 
involves us in so many uncertainties. 

Yes, the projectionist wishes he had the last reel of 
this story of Freedom of the Screen. But as yet it has 
not even been written, let alone rewritten. So the story 
must end here. 

AS the members of the Screen Writers Guild and all 
other readers leave the theatre of speculation and 
gather in the lobby to ponder, we sincerely hope they 
will discuss the pros and cons of the questions raised 
and articulate their conclusions. 

Let one word clash against another. It is better that 
way than the gagging of opinion. Thus, doubts and 
half-truths will become convictions and the art and 
craft of the motion picture will gain strength and 
integrity out of the questioning paradox which is the 
present Hollywood hour. 

(This Special Section on Freedom of the Screen ivas prepared by an Editorial Sub-Committee com- 
posed of Martin Field, Lester Koenig, Theodore Strauss and Bernard C. Schoenfeld, chairman.) 


The Future of Screen Writing 


is a writer-producer whose articles in 
the May and June issues on the craft 
of screen writing have attracted much 
attention. He here considers what is 
ahead in the profession of screen- 

EVERYONE acknowledges that the screen is a 
great and powerful medium, but few agree upon 
the manner in which it should be used. Some 
would like to use it as an instrument of propaganda ; 
others for education ; and still others for what they 
loosely term "pure" entertainment. No doubt it will 
and should be used for all three purposes; but I submit 
that its finest potentialities lie elsewhere — in the realm 
of art. 

No amount of preaching, teaching, or entertaining 
can satisfy the deepest needs of the human mind which 
hungers for understanding and self-knowledge, and in 
the final analysis will accept no substitute for what it 
perceives to be true. 

I believe, therefore, that the enormous appeal that 
motion pictures have is not, as is often claimed, because 
they afford a means of "escape" for the individual, but 
precisely the opposite. The motion picture like the 
drama, of which it is a new and more popular form, 
helps the spectator resolve his inner conflicts, satisfy 
impossible or impractical longings, and, far more effec- 
tively than churches do, gives moral sanction to his 

As I have pointed out before, the drama is of reli- 
gious origin and has been used through the centuries to 
objectify the inner compulsions of man, "To show 
virtue her own feature, scorn her own image," and 
portray the terrifying consequences of deeds that are 
socially tabu or psychologically unsound. It is con- 
cerned, and alwa3"s has been, with the ethics of human 
relationships, with "good" or "bad" behavior patterns, 
with socially acceptable attitudes and those that are 
not, with what is admirable and what is despicable, 
what is fine and what is base. To a far greater extent 
than people realize the theatre's real function is reli- 
gious. While the spectator is being "entertained," he is 
also being punished or rewarded for some portion of 
his secret and unexpressed inner life as he sees it por- 
trayed on the stage or screen. 

If there is any need to prove this, listen to people's 

comments as they leave a theatre. You hear such re- 
marks as: "I would never have done that, would you?" 
or (with relief) "I've felt that way many times," or 
"John's like that. I wish he'd see this picture," etc. etc. 
It is the inner life that is being evaluated, purged, 
corrected, or resolved, even though the spectator is 
frequently unaware of it. That this is one of the func- 
tions of dramatic representation has long been accepted 
by philosophers from Aristotle to Freud. 

"DUT hitherto only the poets bothered about the 
*-' theatre, the gifted minds that had an urge to write, 
not for money primarily but fame, or some inner neces- 
sity to objectify the turmoil and conflict of subjective 
life ; and as a consequence, because the motive was single 
and impassioned, the works they produced, good or bad, 
had the stamp of their own personalities, and oftentimes 
vivid and unmistakable flashes of insight which estab- 
lished the individual's plight as a part of universal 

It is not so today; for the theatre, and its prodigious 
off-spring, motion pictures, have passed into other 
hands. In the last hundred years, because of increased 
urban populations and improved transportation, acces- 
sibility to the theatre has greatly expanded its audience 
and its profits. It is understandable, therefore, that 
entrepreneurs in the form of bankers and real estate 
men should have seen in this unique phenomenon of an 
art making money a sound financial opportunity; and 
the}' were quick to seize it. The actor-manager and the 
writer-manager soon found themselves at the mercy of 
the men who owned the theatres, the Shuberts or the 
Erlangers, or those professional money-raisers, the com- 
mercial producers, who could meet the growing cost of 

By 1900 the theatre, in this country at least, had 
become a flourishing enterprise for shrewd financiers, 
and by 1910 with the proven marketability of the 
motion picture, it had passed completely out of the 
hands of writers and actors and had become a vested 



interest of enormous corporations. The unbelievable 
had happened — an age-old art, spawned by the church, 
developed by poets and mimes, financed by patrons and 
subsidized by courts and states, had suddenly become 
Big Business. The aspiring dramatist no longer had 
to live in a garret, sponge on his friends for meals or 
find a wealthy dowager for a patron. His patron was 
waiting for him, eager to have him, seeking him out. 
He had only to pledge allegiance to Loew's Inc. and 
dedicate his talents to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. All of 
which would have been fine if his talents had been per- 
mitted to develop in the new art form ; but the making 
of pictures soon became a subsidiary of a vast real estate 
empire, and the writing of pictures subordinate to the 
marketing of stars. 

TD EARING these facts in mind it is difficult to 
*-* prophesy how long it will take for writers and 
actors to win back even a modicum of freedom in the 
practice of their respective arts. Occasionally a picture 
like Brief Encounter comes along, and because it is well 
written, intelligently cast and competently directed, it 
is received with critical acclaim. The "acclaim," I 
think, is largely an expression of public amazement that 
the picture was ever "allowed" to be made. It has none 
of the standard attributes of "good showmanship." It 
has no glamor, no stars, no topical or controversial 
theme. The story is slight and thinly spun and ends 
unhappily (according to prevailing formula) when the 
leading man fails to "get" the leading lady. (Conceive 
if you can of Greer Garson giving up Clark Gable to 
remain with her husband, Don Ameche.) In addition, 
it has an economy of "production value" that would 
make many Hollywood executives ashamed to have it 

What, then, has it? It is not a great picture by any 
standard, but it has one magical quality common to all 
good art ; it conveys a sense of truth. It is neither forced 
nor exaggerated. It tells a poignant story with insight 
and compassion without violating human experience. 

"This," say our critics and detractors, "is more like 
it. It's the sort of picture we want." And immediately 
into the production mills of huge studios are rushed the 
blueprints of similar projects. But, alas for corporate 
enterprise, it doesn't work that way. Most manufac- 
turers know precisely what their product consists of and 
what benefit it will be to the consumer. They know 
how to wrap it up attractively, advertise, and market 
it; but the hapless movie maker has only an artist's 
perception of truth to sell — as intangible an asset as 
ever harassed the mind of an axious merchant. No won- 
der he seeks insurance and reassurance in the form of 
popular film personalities, costly exploitation cam- 

paigns, block booking, and the exclusive ownership of 
the nation's theatres. No wonder he imposes upon him- 
self a crippling code of "don'ts" to make his product 
acceptable to even - nationality", race, sect, political 
party, protective society, profession, belief, and preju- 
dice on earth. No wonder he fears writers, upon whose 
willingness and ability to work within these limitations 
depends the continuance of his counterfeit art, which 
excludes from the screen by rigid censorship many of 
the literary masterpieces of the world. 

Let's keep the code — he says — but make better 
pictures. Audiences are sick of the formula that made 
us millions. Let's find another. Let's do pictures about 
real people, real emotions, real situations. Let's have a 
little truth for a change. But keep the code ! 

This is the ultimate absurdity to say that profits 
depend on a more honest artistic effort but writers must 
not be given the freedom to make the effort for fear of 
losing profits. 

OUCH being the case, as I believe it is, what can be 
^ said for the future of screenwriting ? At best, I 
think, we can hope for a gradual divorcement of the 
art from the industry; and there is no reason why both 
should not prosper. With the increasing number of 
independent companies, one picture ventures, percentage 
deals, there is much greater opportunity today than ever 
before for a writer to write a screenplay and exercise 
the same control over its production as the playwright 
does in the theatre. His success will depend on his tal- 
ent, as it should. It is certainly not implausible to 
expect, when conditions are favorable, that fine talents 
will come to light, and pictures bearing the imprint of 
authors' personalities begin to appear on the screen. 

Because of its greater scope and flexibility the motion 
picture medium should prove an even greater challenge 
to the writer's imagination than the theatre has been ; 
and because it is a popular medium, there is no limit to 
its audience other than that imposed by a scarcity of 
theatres and equipment. 

It can present with equal ease the sagas of fable and 
folklore, the Book of Genesis or the Book of Revela- 
tions, the Divine Comedy or the Canterbury Tales. A 
modern Dante or a modern Chaucer may well find in 
this medium an opportunity which the theatre never 
afforded him. A modern Moliere may arise to drama- 
tize our vanities and conceits or an Ibsen to define our 
social problems. If Shaw were a young man today it is 
quite conceivable that he would write for the screen, as 
H. G. Wells avowed in his own case. 

But this can only happen when writers are accorded 
greater freedom, as in the British film industry, and 
are encouraged by a more receptive attitude on the part 
of producers to try their wings. No writer wants to 



venture into new fields without a reasonable chance of 
production. And yet it seems to me that such is the 
current trend. Writers are being given greater author- 
ity than ever before — as witness the increasing num- 

ber of writer-producers, writer-directors, — and with 
good reason, for the old system is artistically bankrupt. 
The ball has been tossed to the essential creators. 
It remains to be seen how far they can run with it. 

Reading for the Movies 


HARRY BERNSTEIN, a motion pic- 
ture story department reader, herein 
describes working conditions in his 
craft in New York. Mr. Bernstein as- 
sures the Editorial Committee that he 
has stated the situation accurately* and 
other sources say he has used notable 
restraint in his portrayal of the case 
of the New York readers. 

THE Story Editor was passing through the front 
office anyway, so he stopped to speak to me. He 
was a tall, thin fellow, partly bald, and he 
scratched the back of his head apologetically and said 
he was sorry, but there was nothing in right then, he 
had hardly enough stuff to keep his regular readers 
going, but if I were to drop in around the middle of 
July, in about two weeks that was, there might be 

I murmured thanks and went out, feeling that it 
was too good to be true anyway — to read books and 
to get paid for it. Someone had told me that the moving 
picture companies hired people to read manuscripts for 
them on a part-time basis at so much per manuscript. 
It was just the sort of thing I wanted. I was writing 
my book at that time, I was going to be famous in a 
short time, and I needed something to keep the pot 
boiling until my book was written? And what could 
be a more pleasant way of making money than by 
reading? I read anyway in my spare time, so why not 
get paid for doing it? But a lot of other people evidently 
felt the same way about it as I did, for the various 

*Mr. Bernstein writes as follows : 

The experience of which I told in my article is fairly 
recent. I am surprised that you have not heard how bad 
conditions were among the outside readers in New York, 
since they have often been brought out by the Readers' Guild. 
I am back at the same sort of work, and the only change I 
find is that some of the studios have upped the basic rate 
from five to six and sometimes seven dollars a book, thus 
making the average earnings of the outside reader about 
thirty-five a week instead of twenty-five. Also one or two 
studios give typewriter ribbons to their more favored readers. 
Otherwise things are very much the same. 

story offices were clogged up with readers. The editors 
were all very sorry. 

I was not going to give up so easily. About the middle 
of July, remembering the last editor's suggestion, I 
dropped in. This time I was sent in to his office. My 
heart was pounding. I'd done it. The editor was seated 
at his desk, busy over some work. He looked up as I 
entered, mumbled a greeting, then glanced at the pile 
of books and reading material on the table at his right. 
He singled out one book, a brightly jacketed thing, and 
handed it to me, saying, "Give me an idea of its literary 

Then he turned me over to his secretary, a tired 
looking girl, who sighed and told me to follow her. 
We went down a corridor into an office at the far end 
of the suite. The secretary introduced me to the file 
clerk, a tall, thin girl with a tight dress. She glowered 
at me, plumped some carbon and paper in front of me, 
and said I would find all I wanted to know on the 
sheet of instructions and the sample synopsis. As I went 
out, I thought I heard her mutter, 'Another one." But 
I didn't care. I was treading on air. I was a reader. 

Yes, sir. I was a reader. At home, in my furnished 
room, I settled myself comfortably in the slightly louse- 
eaten armchair, a package of cigarettes before me, a 
footstool to stretch my legs on. The book was tripe, 
something to do with a spoiled heiress, who was wan- 
gling for a handsome architect, who in turn loved a 
gift shoppe girl. But I wasn't taking any chances. I 
read it carefully, each page thoroughly and thought of 
Gary Cooper and Joan Crawford in the leading roles. 



I didn't know much about moving pictures. I hadn't 
been to very many in my life. 

I spent a sleepless night worrying whether I should 
recommend the book or not. God knows it seemed like 
the sort of thing the movies put on, but I wasn't sure. 
In the morning I started to write the synopsis. The 
instructions said a minimum of six pages, so I wrote 
six pages. Then there was a summary and a comment. 
In the comment I tried to be as noncommittal as pos- 
sible. I said that while it seemed to have some screen- 
able material, on the whole it was slight and lacked 
originality. What the hell, I didn't know. I just wasn't 
taking any chances. 

I found that it was three o'clock when I was through. 
I hurried back to the story office on Sixth Avenue in 
the big Rockefeller Center Building. I was worried all 
the way over, wondering whether I had said the right 
thing or not. Gosh, supposing it turned out to be first 
class movie stuff, and I'd passed it up. I had half a 
mind to turn back and do it over. But I didn't. The 
editor mumbled his same greeting as I came in. He 
glanced briefly at my comment, then turned to the last 
page and frowned slightly. He said they usually did 
more than six pages — and I ought to clean my type 
out. Anyway, there was nothing in right then, but if I 
was ever around again, I might drop in, or I could 
call up. 

SO much for that. There had been stuff on his table, 
but I was not supposed to see it. I slunk out, mis- 
erable. Guess I'd fallen down on the job or he'd have 
given me something else. I didn't know that it was the 
regular procedure, a sort of test of a reader's persist- 
ence. If a reader came back often enough he really 
wanted the job, and the movie companies wanted read- 
ers who really wanted jobs. I did — at least that job. 
There was my masterpiece to write. I had to consider 
that. So I called up and came down several times, and 
finally I was rewarded with another book. 

This time I wrote a synopsis of ten pages. The editor 
pursed his lips and said sometimes readers wrote synop- 
ses of fifteen and twenty pages, and even as much as 
thirty. It was fairly common. I started to tell him that 
it took up too much time, that if I were to write fifteen 
or twenty pages I would have to take two days on a 
book. But I figured he might not like that. He wouldn't 
have. Anyway, he seemed more satisfied than the last 
time. From then on I wrote longer synopses. They took 
up more of my time than I had expected. In fact I was 
not getting any time to write my book. But I thought 
— what the hell — just as soon as I break in I'll be able 
to ease off. My book would wait, my epic. 

I didn't know then that it was the busy season. The 

Fall publishing lists were coming in from the publishers 
and agents. The editor's desk was piled high with stuff. 
His greeting as I came in was more genial. In those 
next few weeks I read my guts out. Novels of all sorts, 
romances, mysteries, an occasional piece of literature; 
plays, plays that had been produced or were going to 
be produced or that nobody in his right mind would 
ever produce. Short stories, magazines, articles, even 
newspaper features. Essays, books on the Panama Ca- 
nal, on the Suez Canal, the Chicago River, the Canarsie 
Bay, everything under the sun. And once, God help 
me, a book of poems. 

I couldn't handle more than one a day — and this 
was enough. Reading the book would take me an aver- 
age of four hours ; writing the synopsis about four, five 
or six hours. If the manuscript was recommended, then 
I would be required to write an extremely long synop- 
sis which, in itself, would take two days. And no extra 
pay for it, either. I started work at nine in the morning, 
usually. I did the synopsis then. I came into the office 
about two, often not having had any lunch. Some- 
times the editor was dictating, or in conference, or 
something of the sort, and readers had to wait often as 
much as an hour before going in to see him. It was 
about half-past three when I got home. There was 
dinner — or supper or lunch — sometimes even break- 
fast — and then back to reading the manuscript I had 
been given. I might not be through with my day's work 
until ten that night. If the book was extra long, I 
might be up until twelve reading it. And no extra pay 
for it either. 

Quite often there were "rush jobs." These were 
manuscripts that, because of some special reason, per- 
haps because the agent was a favorite, or the manuscript 
considered "hot" — had to be in at nine the next morn- 
ing. That meant I would be up most of the night typing 
out my synopsis. The people downstairs complained. 
The landlady threatened to kick me out. I told them 
all to go to hell. I was always in a bad mood. 

And it was hot that September. The sweat poured 
off me. The galleys were long and cumbersome to han- 
dle, and slipped to the floor. The keys of my typewriter 
stuck. I was a two finger artist. I cursed. I raved. 
I was a madman. 

Now and then we were sent out to read at the offices 
of publishing companies or agents. This was done for 
the same reason as the "rush job" business. You'd think 
the agents and publishers would treat us with a certain 
amount of respect. No such thing. They stuck us in all 
sorts of odd, uncomfortable corners. One pulp magazine 
I visited put me in the waiting room, right near the 
door. Every time the door opened, the pages of the 
manuscript would fly off the table. And people were 
passing to and fro constantly. Girls came out to gossip 



with the receptionist. Salesmen were interviewed. 
While I tried to read about how the Arizona Kid gal- 
loped madly through the valley to rescue the rancher's 
fair daughter — damn her. 

One time I went up to an agent's office. The agent 
was an elderly, rusty looking dame. But she seated her- 
self directly in front of me in the tiny, crowded office 
(part of which was a circulating library) and crossed 
her legs so that I could see her knobby knees. She kept 
her gaze fixed on me all the time I read, and presently 
when I had passed uncomfortably part way through the 
manuscript she began asking me how I liked it, and 
didn't I think Barbara Stanwyck would do well in the 
part of the heroine. After she had asked me the same 
question a few times, a funny look, I guess, began to 
come on my face. She then reached for the phone and 
called up another moving picture company and told 
them - to send down a reader. "And be sure you send 
someone down with a little sense," she said. 

"VTOU can guess what I was up against. Hard as I 
-*■ worked I could never make more than twenty-five 
dollars a week. That was tops. For a book, regardless 
of length, I received five dollars. For a novelette, three 
dollars, and two dollars apiece for short stories. And I 
was working morning, afternoon and night ! Sometimes 
Saturdays and Sundays too ! I hadn't touched my novel 
for weeks. I didn't know what it looked like. When I 
did have some time left, I was too tired to do anything. 
At the end of the week I was so dazed, somebody said 
I looked like a cow that had been dealt a severe blow 
on the head. 

But pretty soon the slump started. The Fall publish- 
ing season was over. No longer was the editor's table 
piled high with work. And no longer was his tone as 
genial as before. Quite often I did not gain admittance 
even to his office. The secretary would come out and 
shake her head wearily, saying she was sorry but there 
was nothing in right then. I had plenty of time for my 
book, all right. But I wasn't making enough to live on. 
The other readers were in pretty much the same fix. 
They haunted the office day and night practically. One 
would be coming in hopefully and he would meet 
another coming out emptyhanded. Then his hope 
would die. 

By now I had come to know some of the readers. A 
few, like myself, were "working on a novel." Reading 
manuscripts was just a stopgap for them until they had 
completed their novel and had sold it and become rich 
and famous. One had actually written and had pub- 
lished a novel, but it had not made much of a success. 
Another had, several years ago, written a rather well- 
known movie in which Emil Jannings had acted. The 
latter, a thin, gloomy fellow, usually sat apart from us 

in the front office when we were waiting to see the 
editor, staring sullenly at the floor, never talking. 
When it was his turn to go in, he got to his feet 
abruptly, pushed the editor's door open roughly. Never 
once did he say anything to us. 

One, an elderly woman, was forever sighing about 
the old days. She was very heavily rouged, and her 
grey hair was bobbed. When she sat down you saw her 
stockings rolled below her knees, and tied with garters 
made out of pieces of string. With tears in her eyes, she 
would tell us of the days when she used to get fifty 
dollars for reading a manuscript, and all the time she 
wanted. She would take a few out to the country with 
her, read them at a leisurely pace, then dictate the 
synopsis to a secretary. But of course she was a very 
important woman in those days. She wrote novels, and 
had plays produced on the stage, and the screen. "Ah 
yes," she would sigh, "those were the days." The next 
moment she would be dropping her purse, and her 
handkerchief and her spectacle case as she jumped up 
to answer the story editor's call. 

One day, I was about to enter the building, when a 
limousine drew up at the curb. A smartly dressed 
woman in her middle thirties got out, followed by a 
string of yapping low bellied dogs that looked like 
frankfurters. I let her enter first with the dogs, then 
followed her into the elevator. She got out at my floor, 
and entered the Story Office. Immediately there was a 
commotion. The entire office staff ran out to greet her, 
crying, "Felice, darling!" The dogs started yapping. 

Felice darling was also a reader. She was the intel- 
lectual daughter of some wealthy Wall Street man who 
had an interest in the movie firm. She read, we under- 
stood, "to keep herself out of mischief." 

The file clerk turned out to be all right. After I had 
given her a piece of chewing gum one day she whispered 
to me that the other movie company across the street 
was busy and needed readers. She said that seeing as 
how there wasn't much in the reading line right now 
here, I might try them across the street. I went across. 
They must have been pretty busy. The editor, a woman 
this time, didn't ask any questions. She handed me a 
manuscript and my heart leaped when I saw it. The 
yellow egg stain on the front cover told me that it was 
the manuscript I had covered for the other firm a week 
ago. It was a cinch. But that sort of luck didn't con- 
tinue. Because I could not make a living by working 
for either firm singly, I attempted to work for both at 
the same time, hoping that when one firm did not give 
me work, the other would. 

Readers have tried that stunt often. It has never 
worked. It can't. Almost invariably, when one turned 
me away empty-handed, the other did too. And when 
one gave me a script, so did the other. So then I was 



faced with the appalling task of covering two books in 
one day. And one might happen to be a rush job. The 
first editor apparently suspected, for he delivered a 
long lecture one afternoon on "loyalty to the firm." He 
hinted that there were rewards for people who devoted 
their entire energies to the firm. There were such things 
as inside reading jobs — steady work — steady pay — 
(thirty-five a week, I found out later). The editor 
concluded his lecture by saying that he must have read- 
ers who were on call all the time. Readers that weren't 
on call he didn't want. 

I caught on. I dropped the other firm. They'd have 
dropped me anyway in a short time, as their work was 
falling off. At the first place work had picked up 
slightly, but it came in dribs and drabs. The most I 
could make was about fifteen dollars a week. In the 
Spring there was another busy season. With its seasons, 
it was just like the tailoring or bricklaying trade. Dur- 
ing the season I made as high as twenty-five a week. 
Then the season stopped and I was back to fifteen a 
week, sometimes ten, sometimes five, sometimes nothing 
a week. 

AS time passed, I began to notice new faces appear 
among the readers, old faces disappear. The turn- 
over of readers I learned was rapid. The life of the 
average manuscript reader for the movies was about 
one year. After that time he was considered played out, 
jaded, too apt to pass up good stuff. The moving pic- 
ture people could afford to be independent toward their 
readers. College boys sometimes offered to do the work 
for nothing, simply to gain experience in the writing 

world. Writers in Hollywood who had failed to renew 
their contracts were consoled with jobs in the Story 
Office. Executives got rid of the lesser important rela- 
tives by sending them into the Story Office. Bored 
society girls read manuscripts to kill time. 

My turn came in a very short time. It was after I 
had taken the liberty of writing a mere eight page 
synopsis on a certain book that didn't stand a dog's 
chance anyway. This might not have had anything to 
do with it, since I had written eight page synopses 
before. I don't know. Anyway, the editor's face began 
to stiffen when he saw me, and he shook his head. 
Nothing in today. When I called on the phone, his 
secretary, who had gone to Hunter College, drawled, 
'Awfully sorry, but really things are so slow." Then 
one day the editor said he didn't think there'd be any- 
thing in for quite some time, he hardly had enough to 
keep his regular staff of readers going, but if I hap- 
pened to be around the neighborhood in — say — a few 
weeks, I might drop in. 

Only this time I didn't drop. I was through with 
reading for the movies. The next time I read, which 
wouldn't be for quite some time, it would be for myself. 
I wouldn't get paid for it, but I wouldn't mind. I had 
a good job, washing dishes in a cafeteria. The job didn't 
pay much more than reading manuscripts, but it left 
me a good deal more leisure time. I was going to utilize 
that time working on my book. It wasn't the same book 
that I had originally set out to write. It was a brand 
new idea, based on my recent experiences. It was to be 
called, Books of Wrath, and it was to deal with migra- 
tory manuscript readers in America. 

Screen Writers' Guild Studio Chairmen 

(June 23, 1947) 

Columbia — Melvin Levy. 

MGM — Anne Chapin ; alternates, Sidney Boehm, 

Marvin Borowsky, Margaret Fitts, Charles 


Republic — Franklin Adreon; alternate, John K. 

20th Century-Fox — Richard Murphy. 

Warner Brothers — James Webb; alternate, Ruth 

Paramount — Arthur Sheekman; alternate, Jesse 
Lasky, Jr. 

Universal-International — Silvia Richards. 

RKO — John Twist. 





D I T O R 

Absolute freedom to present all 
public issues is the foundation 
stone of American liberty. 

— Herbert Clark Hoover 

THERE is need to investigate Hollywood and its vast business of imagery. 
It is a pity in a way that this need has been repeatedly and pointlessly ob- 
scured by the low-comedy level so characteristic of the Dies-Rankin- 
Thomas Un-American Activities Committee, with its overtones of mountebank- 
ery and megalomania. 

Apparently that has happened again. The routine grows monotonous. First 
the bread-and-circuses build-up, the 160-point Hearstian banner lines, the 
shrilly indiscriminate cries against whipping boy writers and pictures to the 
accompaniment of publicity pyrotechnics that exude the faintly reminiscent 
smell of burning books. Then the quick fadeout, with the whole uproar as 
tricky and evanescent as a bad dream sequence. 

Show business, particularly Hollywood show business, fits so perfectly this 
diversionary technique, which takes millions of minds off high prices, bad 
housing and other worries. In Hollywood itself our complex production 
machine is in need of expert overhauling, of intensive lucubration, and not of 
this crude congressional monkey wrench irresponsibly tossed into it. 

It is a delicate and wonderful machine, and of late it hasn't been working 
very well. The machine from the god, Dudley Nichols called it in one of his 
prefaces; the machine which in ancient Greek drama projected the god-actor 



to the stage from the upper wings, and now in our common use and able to 
project into countless millions of brains the dreams, the beauty, the truth, the 
dignity and happiness that could be the common heritage of human beings. 

But Nichols points out that this gift which brought added power also 
enhanced responsibility; and that so far these machines from the gods have 
meant cultural regression rather than advancement. The integrity of newspa- 
pers, the responsibility of radio, have retrogressed as their power increased. 

What the motion picture machine has done to enrich culture has not lived 
up to its far-reaching potentials. 

Why? Here is something that opens up many vistas of investigation. 

The idea for such investigations might not be utterly Utopian or academic. 
Such probings and soul searchings of course should come from within the 
motion picture industry, or at least should originate in maturely competent 
outside agencies rather than in the minds of headline hunters. Such an investi- 
gative move was recently made and its results published by the University of 
Chicago Commission to study the freedom of the press, screen and radio. This 
commission's findings under the guidance of Chancellor Robert M. Hutchins 
of the University of Chicago and Zechariah Chaffee, Jr., professor of law at 
Harvard University, were of importance to Hollywood and the American pub- 
lic. But they were drowned in the tidal wave of sensational Thomas Committee 
press releases. Again, that is a pity. 

PROBABLY the most effective diagnosis of our creaking motion picture 
machine must come from within the industry. Among the creative men and 
women who make American movies there are rich resources of intelligence and 
integrity for such an investigative survey. 

There is need for impartial, basic exploration of such problems as : 

1. Hollywood's labor situation. Why does the long studio lockout, 
the prolific cause of hardship and higher production costs, remain unset- 
tled? Is it true, as John Gunther says in his new book, Inside The U.S.A., that 
all the major studios, even the so-called "liberal" lots, are basically anti-labor? 

2. Employment. What must be done to halt the industry's shrinking 
employment trend, especially in the creative fields? What are the rock-bottom 
economic factors behind falling employment? 

3. Re-issues. The release of these pictures is undermining employment 
in Hollywood with profit for the producing companies, but with no additional 
compensation for artists and craftsmen who originally created the properties. 

4. Monopoly Control. The University of Chicago Commission cited as 
fundamental this problem of the increasingly monolithic control over produc- 
tion and distribution, and its corollary danger of the cartelization of thought. 

5. Intimidation. Dozens of little and dubiously legal censorship boards 
throughout America habitually bulldoze the movies. Why not investigate and 
act on the need of united resistance to this blue law hypocrisy? 

6. Production Administration Code. In concept and content this document 



is widely recognized as in need of revision. Its contradictions and absurdities 
should be responsibly examined. The University of Chicago Commission recom- 
mended that this be undertaken by a board representing the Screen Writers' 
Guild, The Screen Directors' Guild, the Screen Actors' Guild and the Pro- 
ducers' Association operating with a national advisory board with broad public 

7. Film Content and Propaganda. Into this old question new implica- 
tions have been injected. What about them? Does the industry cling to its pious 
slogans of "pure entertainment?" Or have recent events induced the policy 
making entrepreneurs of the screen to abandon them and to embark on a new 
course of loading films with content, as long as the content message coincides 
with their social mores and political convictions? Is this the meaning behind 
Mr. Eric Johnston's recent talks to gatherings on the lots? If so, it is important 
to Hollywood, America and the world. Let it be brought out into the open, 
and examined frankly. 

8. Foreign Markets. These markets, affording to the industry its finan- 
cial gravy, affect every industry member, whether employer or employee. So the 
way in which the pictures we make affect those markets is of concern to us. We 
know that lack of content, vacuity in films, affects them adversely. How will 
heavy-handed content, plugging what may seem to them alien points of view, 
influence the foreign box office? 

9. Creative Control. Every thoughtful analyst of the industry points to 
the need of greater participation and control of production by its creative ele- 
ments if there is to be qualitative improvement in the output. Only in this way 
can we hope to compete with the quality British pictures are achieving through 
control by their creators. 

HESE are some of the things that really need investigating in Hollywood. 

Intelligent investigation of them, followed by action, would make Holly- 
wood a better place to live in, work in, and even to make money and reap divi- 
dends in. Continued abuse of our machine from the god is infinitely danger- 
ous. Rightly used, it could greatly enrich human culture and civilization. 
In the world language of pictures it could raise its voice above the clash of 
ideologies, speak to all peoples of peace, democracy, freedom and the dignity 
of the human spirit. There may not be much time in which to do it. 

^s- 1 




epori an 

d L^c 



Critical Notes 


I THINK some of my comments on 
the questionnaire were possibly a lit- 
tle more acid than necessary. The May 
number of THE SCREEN WRIT- 
ER seems to me unusually good. If 
you have patience to read, I should 
like to offer detailed comments. 

Twice Sold Tales, by Martin 
Field: This exposes a disgraceful 
situation which I don't suppose the 
Guild could ever entirely eliminate, 
since there will always be distress 
sales, that is sales by writers at un- 
reasonably low prices because they 
happen to need the money or to think 
that the particular sale offered them 
is the only one they will ever get a 
chance at. No agent should be allowed 
to purchase and resell a literary prop- 
erty at a profit, either in his own 
name or through a dummy. An agent, 
to some extent at least, is in a position 
of trusteeship towards his clients as a 
whole and towards his individual cli- 
ent. If he cannot observe the integrity 
of this relationship, he should be 
blacklisted publicly. If there is any 
way of attacking him legally, it should 
be done by the Guild and I, as a 
member, should be only too glad to 
be assessed my share of the costs. 

But let's be fair all around ; actors, 
directors and writers should also be 
limited in buying literary properties 
on speculation, since the object of 
such purchases, when made in good 
faith, is not so much a profit as to tie 
up a property the individual is inter- 
ested in seeing converted into a pic- 
ture. It is obvious that the only legiti- 
mate action here is the taking of an 
option, and there should be an agree- 

SWG member Raymond Chandler, 
noted novelist, accompanied his reply 
to the recent questionnaire with some 
trenchant comments concerning THE 
SCREEN WRITER. Later, after 
reading the May issue, he sent in 
the above comments: 

ment negotiated between the Guilds 
that any such option, if turned over 
to a studio at a profit must result in 
an equitable division of such profit 
between the optionee and the original 
seller. The optionee is entitled to 
some reward for taking the risk. Ex- 
cept in these special circumstances 
speculation in literary properties by 
others than producers who have re- 
sources to turn them into films is a 
vicious practice, will always be a vi- 
cious practice, and every effort should 
be made by our Guild and every other 
Guild to stop it. 

My only personal experience with 
this sort of thing was the sale of an 
option to Howard Hawks, or rather 
to a company which was, in fact, 
Howard Hawks, which option How- 
ard Hawks later turned over to War- 
ner Brothers, and I am informed and 
on this information believe that 
Hawks made no direct profit from the 
transaction, but recovered from War- 
ner Brothers the exact amount he was 
obligated to pay me, if he exercised 
his option. This is the sort of thing 
that we can respect; and I may add, 
if you don't already know it, that 
Howard Hawks is a pretty shrewd 

What Is Screen Writing?, by 
Sheridan Gibney: This admirable 
article of course requires no comment 
or criticism from me. It reinforces me 
in the thought, however, which I 
have had for a long time, that a screen 
adaptation of a play, or of a work of 
fiction, but more particularly of a 
work of fiction, is a new kind of lit- 
erary property, and that the only 
thing that prevents us from asserting 
this right is the fact that most writers 
in Hollywood are employees, and must 
assign to the motion picture companies 
the right for those companies to call 
themselves the true authors. As long 
as writers remain employees, even if 
discontented ones, it will be impos- 
sible for them to put over the idea 
that a screen adaptation is not just a 
service performed. 

As an individual I refuse to be an 
employee, but of course I am only an 
individual. I have a contract with 
Universal-International to write a 
screen play which expressly deals with 
me as an independent contractor. I 
admit that not many writers in Hol- 
lywood can get this now; not because 
they don't deserve it, but because they 
will not face the financial risks of 
demanding it, and refusing to work on 
any other terms. I have expressed 
some of these ideas to Mr. Albert 
Maltz, who did not deign to reply to 
them in the spirit in which they were 
given. I consider that in making this 
fight, solitary as it is, I am making a 
contribution to the status of the screen 
writer in Hollywood. There are too 
many barriers for any one man to 
break down, but every barrier that is 
broken down, and with good will on 
both sides, certainly is a good augury 
for the future. 

Film Author! Film Author!, by 
Joseph L. Mankiewicz: I am in ab- 
solute disagreement with the philo- 
sophical basis of this article. I do not 
think a writer has to become a pro- 
ducer or director in order to be an 
independent artist. Some writers do 
not want to be directors or producers, 
and I will maintain that the best 
writers will not want to be directors 
or producers, because there is a cleav- 
age between the creative art of writ- 
ing and the arts of directing and pro- 
ducing, if indeed they are arts. They 
are, at their highest level, but their 
highest level is very seldom reached. 

The few (there are probably not 
more than a score) really good direc- 
tors, make very few pictures. The 
average Hollywood director is just 
about competent enough to direct 
traffic on a quiet Monday afternoon 
in Pomona. But even the best direc- 
tors often disfigure the creative integ- 
rity of screen plays in favor of what 
they choose to call showmanship. 

There is an innate, permanent, arid 
probably necessary struggle between 



what the director wants to do with 
his camera and his actors, and what 
the writer wants to do with his words 
and his ideas. When this struggle is 
reconciled, you may get a great pic- 
ture. When it is eliminated by having 
both functions performed by the same 
man, you are much more apt to get 
the highest common factor of both 
talents. I know there are some excep- 
tions to this, some famous ones in 
fact. They have, so far as I know, 
resulted from economic conditions 
which cannot be obtained in Holly- 

It is no great trick to make artistic 
pictures, if you can make them for 
what the costumes of the star cost 
over here, and if a return equal to the 
salary of that same star would be a 
profitable return. There are plenty of 
artistic people about. The point is in 
Hollywood they have to use their tal- 
ents to bring in two or three million 

Two Poems of Hollywood, by John 
Motley:* If you can get poetry as 
good as this, I am happy to withdraw 
mv objections to the publication of 
poetry in THE SCREEN WRIT- 
ER. Very good T. S. Eliot, and very 
good T. S. Eliot is good enough for 

Oh Mr. Johnston, Oh Mr. Breenl: 
This is a very cute piece, but Phyllis 
Cornell is much too respectful to Mr. 
Eric Johnston. I take it that Mr. 
Johnston fits into his job or he could- 
n't have it. I take it that his business 
negotiations are all for the good of 
the industry. I think he would be a 
very nice guy at a Kiwanis Club 
luncheon, but when he starts talking 
about art, he is strictly from hambur- 

I am told — in fact I heard it with 
my own ears over the radio, but I am 
getting old and my memory plays me 
strange tricks — that Mr. Johnston 
announced on the occasion of the 
Academy Awards, that the motion 
picture was the greatest art form 
since the Greek drama. He made this 
announcement in the clear, ringing 
tones of one bringing tidings of a 
great victory. I do not think this 
statement should be allowed to die. I 
suggest it be engraved on an old bottle 

*JOHN MOTLEY was a pseudonym used 
by Bernard C. Schoenfeld of THE 
SCREEN IVRITER Editorial Committee. 

cap and handed for safe keeping to 
one of the rhesus monkeys in the Grif- 
fith Park Zoo. 

Why British Pictures Are Good : 
A lot of this is fairly sound stuff, but 
I think it overlooks a couple of rather 
significant points. One reason why 
British pictures seem very good is that 
they have been very bad in the past, 
and we are surprised that they are 
good at all. Another, and much more 
cogent reason is that British pictures 
are made close to the center of theat- 
rical production. They can be cast 
thoroughly in all parts, large and 
small. In Hollywood we have a few 
high priced and talented stars, a num- 
ber of second-rate stars who are not 
the equal of British performers, a few 
very good character actors, some rea- 
sonably effective hacks, and from that 
we drop straight down to the mass of 
bit players who try to steal the picture 
in a scene involving four lines of dia- 
logue. So we don't write scenes for 
bit players, and in consequence our 
pictures are apt to lack the texture of 
British pictures. They are apt to be a 
series of highlighted, important scenes 
between the principals, strung togeth- 
er by passage work, movement, 
threading in and out of crowds, mu- 
sic, and so on. This is quite a handi- 
cap, since we lose the enrichening ef- 
fect of the peripheral writing which is 
so vital in fiction, and should be 
equally vital in motion picture mak- 

Lastly, about advertising. Don't let 
the opposition worry you. Be not 
afraid of commercialism and of losing 
that prepaid propaganda sheet. Of 
course advertising influences editorial 
policy. It always has, and it always 
will, but in the long run it influences 
it far less viciously than ideological 
pressure. Advertising in a magazine 
like this may create a few minor 
taboos, very minor I think, but it will 
also keep the magazine on an even 
keel. If the contents of a magazine do 
not force all kinds of people to buy it, 
the advertisers will not pay for space 
in it. Why should they? Advertising 
would force the magazine to become 
attractive, but not only to those who 
already think like it, and only want 
to read in print a more pointed ex- 
pression of their own thoughts, but to 
people who neither share those 
thoughts nor are even aware of them ; 
to people who are not interested in 
the Guild objects for Guild members, 
but in thought about motion pictures, 

in clever and well written critical 
articles about motion pictures, and in 
any good reading matter whose basic 
subject is the motion picture. Only if 
this larger public buys this magazine, 
will the advertisers pay for space. 
Without this kind of support the 
magazine will be merely a tool for the 
party in power. Commercialism, with 
all its faults, is at least a fixed point 
of reference. 

How Are Pictures 

' I 'HE question before the SWG 
■*■ Special Program Committee sem- 
inar at Lucey's on June 10 was: 
"How can screen writers find out 
how pictures are madef" Sitting at 
the speakers' table were Milton 
Krims, acting chairman of the Spe- 
cial Program Committee ; Dore 
Schary, production head of RKO ; 
Adrian Scott, producer ; Vincent 
Sherman, director; Dorothy Bennett 
Hanna, writer; Walter McEwen, 
producer; Joseph Sistrom, producer, 
and Joseph L. Mankiewicz, director. 

All the round table speakers except 
Walter McEwen have had screen 
writing experience. Mr. McEwen 
was a story editor for many years. 

Mr. Krims opened the discussion 
with the remark that the question 
quoted above seemed to him to have a 
significantly plaintive connotation. 

Mr. Schary observed that the ques- 
tion seemed not only plaintive but 
trite. He expressed the belief that any 
employed screen writer who seriously 
wishes to learn how pictures are made 
can do so. He can study good pictures, 
analyze the scripts, talk with direc- 
tors, see the daily rushes, spend time 
on the sets. He promised that any 
writer employed at RKO or any oth- 
er Hollywood studio would be given 
permission to spend time on RKO 
sound stages and observe production 

Mr. Scott also referred to the 
plaintive quality of the question under 
discussion, and said he was unable to 
answer it. In his opinion the question 
should have been phrased in this way : 
"Why is it that motion picture writ- 
ers do not usually have the opportu- 



nity to share in the making of motion 

He expressed the belief that under 
present conditions in Hollywood the 
producer is the only one who has di- 
rect access to full knowledge of how 
pictures are made; that the director 
has only occasional access to this 
knowledge; that camera men, cutters 
and actors as a rule have a fragmen- 
tary rather than full knowledge of 
screen techniques; and that when 
writers turn in the script they gener- 
ally finish their participation in the 
making of the picture they have writ- 
ten. Mr. Scott said that the industry 
in Hollywood did not seem to be 
geared for full writer participation in 
picture making, and that possibly the 
problem should be subjected to psy- 
choanalytical exploration. 

Mr. McEwen greeted his old 
friends in the SWG gathering, and 
reserved his comments. Mr. Sistrom 
observed that for contract writers the 
problem of learning how pictures are 
made should be relatively easy, but 
that for the new writer who had sold 
an original or so it was a difficult 
problem badly in need of Hollywood's 

Mr. Mankiewicz said that Mr. 
Scott's statement about producers be- 
ing the only ones with easy access to 
full knowledge of motion picture 
techniques was disturbing. He be- 
lieved that writers, producers, direc- 
tors, cutters and others primarily re- 
sponsible for the making of motion 
pictures should have a good working 
knowledge of how pictures are made, 
and that when they did have this 
knowledge we would turn out better 
pictures. He said the motion picture is 
a special form of art; that its flexi- 
bility and tremendous technical re- 
sources must be learned by hard study 
and experience, as a novelist learns to 
write good novels, or a painter learns 
how to paint good pictures. 

Mr. Sherman, who has had experi- 
ence in the industry as an actor, writ- 
er and director, said that a writer 
brings to the task of creating a script 
these resources: the material at hand, 
and his concept of it ; himself — his 
knowledge, his background, his atti- 
tudes and values ; the technique which 
he must use to illustrate and make 
effective what he wants to say. He 
urged writers who want a better 
knowledge of how pictures are made 
to gain a better knowledge of how 

the world we live in is made, of the 
problems and conflicts of our times, 
of the impact of these motivating 
pressures on human beings. He also 
emphasized the importance of more 
cooperation and contact between the 
writer and director before shooting 
starts, and while the script is still in 
the formative stage. He said that if 
use of the word collective is still al- 
lowable, he would like to see more 
genuine collective effort between 
writers, directors, producers and oth- 
ers engaged in the making of a pic- 
ture. He pointed to the excellence of 
the current British film, Great Ex- 
pectations, to illustrate the rewards of 
such collective activity in terms of 
integration and beauty. He cited the 
article by T. E. B. Clarke, the British 
writer- director, in the June issue of 
important illustration of the value of 
intra-studio cooperation. 

Dorothy Bennett Hanna said writ- 
ers, especially new writers, should get 
a better break in the studios; that 
money is not enough, and morale 
should be considered, too. She ob- 
served that a new writer goes into a 
studio, and is so overwhelmed by the 
private office, the secretary, the office 
couch and the salary that he or she 
does not have the nerve to ask for 
anything more. But she believed 
something more is needed — a more 
friendly spirit, more evidence of co- 
operation, more effort to show the 
new writers the ropes, to take them 
on the sets, to make them feel they 
are an integral part of the complex 
studio mechanism. 

AFTER these opening statements 
by the round table speakers, Mr. 
Schary said that he had not met writ- 
ers of the timid, shrinking type de- 
scribed by Miss Hanna. He did not 
see much point in having studios cod- 
dle writers, or subsidize their training. 

He expressed the opinion that the 
great need is for writers to create 
good stories, well-written, rich in the 
detailed imagery that makes pictures 
come alive. If writers will do that, he 
said, they will not have to worry 
about their position in the studios. If 
they will put visual technique into 
their scripts, plenty of valid imagery, 
directors and producers will shoot the 
script as written, in the opinion of 
Mr. Schary. 

Mr. Sherman observed that there 

is a lack of books on motion picture 
directing. As a former dialogue direc- 
tor, he expressed amazement over 
what he called the "unnecessity" of 
so much dialogue in films. He advised 
writers to study the scripts of the old 
silent pictures and to analyze the 
techniques used when there was no 
conversation to supplement action. 

There were many questions and 
remarks from the floor. Richard Ma- 
caulay observed that too many direc- 
tors who could not write a scene 
themselves had a tendency to butcher 
writers' scripts. Borden Chase said 
directors had made the movies largely 
their medium, and advised writers to 
be content as writers. He believed 
that would pay off in a big way, and 
said it had paid him off last year to 
the extent of a quarter of a million 
dollars. Howard Young, with long 
experience in England as a screen 
writer, described working conditions 
in the English studios, where writers 
are consulted in all phases of pro- 
duction. Louise Randall Pearson pre- 
sented some of her experiences and 
conclusions, and Dick Irving Hyland 
advised movie writers to see more 
movies. Gordon Kahn pointed out 
that while books on the technique of 
screen writing would fill a five foot 
shelf, there was a lack of books on the 
problems and techniques of produc- 
tion. He asked for more enlighten- 
ment from policy-making producers. 

Mr. Schary and Mr. Mankiewicz 
suggested that it might be a good idea 
if SWG would inaugurate a series of 
seminars. Mr. Schary said important 
pictures could be shown at these semi- 
nars and their techniques discussed. 
Mr. Mankiewicz suggested joint 
seminars held by the Screen Writers' 
and Screen Directors' Guilds. 

R. S. 

The Wailing Wall 
At Lucey's 

DEEP in the heart of New Mexico 
— and Texas, too, there are 
units of a cult calling themselves The 
Penitentes. Several times a year the 
members of this society gather in 
secret places to beat the tar out of 
themselves. They gash their bodies 
with broken glass and merrily inflict 



lacerations, abrasions and contusions 
on each other. It's all very joyful and 
bloody — just like a bunch of screen 
writers whenever they gather in packs 
of four or more. 

Since they bruise more easily than 
those fanatical seekers after grace 
writers merely beat their breasts in 
cadence, as they did the other night 
at Lucey's restaurant where 150 of 
them gathered at the invitation of the 
SWG's Special Events Committee to 
"find out how pictures are made." 

Now we all know that any reader 
of newspaper film sections, popular 
weeklies and fan magazines is privy 
to the black arts of picture-making, 
from the script onward. They know 
the names as "styles" of every direc- 
tor and can recognize his "touch." 
They have become canny enough to 
detect process shots, miniatures and 
other screen illusions. 

But the writers came anyhow. And 
ten minutes after the proceedings be- 
gan, the sound of their knuckles on 
breast-bone could have been heard 
clear down to Figueroa Street. 

From long habit, the writers rose 
one by one and assumed for their craft 
the whole responsibility for what ails 
the motion pictures today. Occasion- 
ally the testimony of sin was inter- 
rupted by the organ tones of those on 
the high altar who had once been 
writers themselves but now held posts 
as directors, writer-directors, writer- 
director-producers and all the varia- 
tions in between. These men had 
written the masterworks, but the ma- 
jority of those below the salt were the 
writers of the 425 turkeys out of the 
total annual product of 450 features. 

Secretly, what the writers who 
foregathered on this occasion wanted 
to know, was how the producer ex- 
plained his own contribution to the 
art of the motion picture. But they 
remained politely vague on that point, 
and the producers on the dais declined 
to broach it on their own account. 

One writer attempted to draw the 
producers out on this phase of picture 
activity. He said that there are many 
textbooks on film writing; some dis- 
closures by directors on their tech- 

niques and by professors of other 
skills. But he knew of no book in 
which a producer makes clear his par- 
ticular science. Perhaps, he implied, a 
producer contemplated such a book. 

Instead of enlightenment on this 
subject, the questioner was given a 
swift and irresponsive one in the 
groin, which put the writers back on 
the defensive. 

I am sure that the writer who 
wanted to know more about produc- 
ers had intended no opprobrium. He 
was simply after enlightenment. In 
what respects do they help a picture 
along? Are they at the bow or the 
stern of the belt-line? Is there some- 
thing they can still learn — or teach? 

It is time that writers heard from 
them. Producers are the direct supe- 
riors of the writer when he is on an 
assignment. It is the producer's nod 
or frown that makes the difference 
not only in the spirit and zest with 
which he works, but to a vital extent 
in the quality of motion pictures. 

Writers aren't always the heavies. 

G. K. 

SWQ Bulletin 

On Oct. 8, 1946, six screen writ- 
ers, members of SWG, declined to 
enter the picketed Columbia lot and 
decided to do that day's work at 
home. As a result they were docked 
that day's pay. An arbitration board 
was finally appointed to decide 
whether or not the writers should be 
paid for the day they worked at home. 
The six writers were Ted Thomas, 
Brenda Weisberg, Malcolm Boylan, 
Bill Sackheim, Edward F. Huebsch 
and Morton Grant. 

On May 31 the board of arbitra- 
tion reached a decision completely 
vindicating the position of the writers 
and setting an important precedent. 
On this board Ring W. Lardner, Jr., 
represented the Screen Writers' 
Guild, Emmett P. Ward represented 

Columbia Pictures Corporation and 
Gordon S. Watkins, professor of eco- 
nomics at the University of California 
in Los Angeles acted as the impartial 
member of the board. 

The following excerpt from the 
board's decision is of particular sig- 

Although the physical condi- 
tions surrounding the employer's 
Talisman Studio on the morning 
of October 8, 1946, were not 
such as to warrant the conclusion 
of the aforementioned writers 
that physical injury or personal 
violence was imminent, never- 
theless circumstances were such 
as to provide ample grounds for 
considerable a p p r e hensiveness 
with regard to the suffering of 

personal indignity, discomfort 
and inconvenience. Such appre- 
hensiveness was, we think, a suf- 
ficient reason for the employees' 
conclusion that they could not 
perform their customary services 
at the studio with the desired de- 
gree of mental ease and effective- 
ness, and that their respective 
assignments could be executed 
with greater efficiency at their 
individual homes. 

The evidence is conclusive that 
each of the writers involved in 
the instant controversy perform- 
ed his customary services at his 
or her home; that the results of 
these services performed at home 
on October 8, 1946, were subse- 
quently accepted and used by the 



several producers concerned. Co- 
lumbia Pictures Corporation did 
not, therefore, suffer any loss 
through the conclusion of the said 
writers to work at home rather 
than at the studio, but, on the 
contrary, benefited from their 
services. The fact that the sev- 
eral producers accepted and used 
the results of work performed by 
the aforementioned writers on 
the day in question is easily as- 
certainable and suffered no refu- 
tation in testimony or written 
evidence presented at the hear- 

ings. Moreover, it is apparently 
customary in the motion picture 
industry for writers to enjoy con- 
siderable freedom and latitude in 
the matter of reporting physi- 
cally for work and as to the 
choice of working at the studio 
or at home, provided their de- 
sires are communicated to the 

Under the peculiar physical 
circumstances surrounding the 
studio on that date, the decision 
of said writers not to enter or 
remain at the studio for the pur- 

poses of performing their cus- 
tomary services on October 8, 
1946, did not constitute a clear 
and serious breach of contract. 
The Corporation in the Agree- 
ment to submit the controversy 
to arbitration stipulated that, de- 
spite the specific provisions of the 
contractual agreement, compen- 
sation would be paid in each case 
where it could be proved the 
work was actually performed at 
home. Ample proof of this fact 
was, we think, submitted by the 




The following letter has been re- 
ceived from George H. Elvin, gen- 
eral secretary of the Association of 
Cine-Technicians in England: 

Whilst I appreciate that the report 
in your May issue of Frank Laun- 
der's meeting with your members is 
necessarily curtailed I do feel that if 
it is an accurate summary of what 
Mr. Launder said he has certainly 
been pulling the wool over the eyes 
of your members. 

The Screenwriters Association is 
not a trade union and the only nego- 
tiations with employers' federations 
are undertaken by this Union, to 
which all screen writers who are 
trade unionists belong. That is the 
reason, and not the wisecrack volun- 
teered by Mr. Launder, why the 
Screenwriters have no minimum sal- 
aries laid down. 

In our new agreement with the 
British Film Producers Association, 
which is about to be signed, screen 
writers are treated the same as other 
technicians as far as providing for 
minimum salary standards, working 
conditions and so on, are concerned. 
In the same way for years we have 
covered screen writers in agreements 
reached with the appropriate employ- 
ers' federations on the shorts and spe- 
cialised side of the industry, and with 
the Government (on behalf of the 
Crown and Colonial Film Units), 
and other employers outside the em- 
ployers' federations. Whilst of course 
the Screenwriters Association has 
done useful work on the question of 
screen credits and other matters men- 

tioned by Mr. Launder we would re- 
sist any attempt by a non-trade union 
organisation today to usurp certain 
functions of a trade union organisa- 

Mr. Launder also made reference 
to the Screenwriters Association giv- 
ing its support to the admission of any 
foreign writer to work in this coun- 
try; maybe that is so, but the policy 
of the Ministry of Labour is to seek 
the views primarily of the appropriate 
trade unions. We, therefore, would 
have to be consulted, and past experi- 
ence has shown that the Ministry 
views with considerable sympathy any 
views expressed by this union. 

Further, there is a Joint Commit- 
tee, set up by the British Film Pro- 
ducers Association and ourselves, 
which considers every application for 
employment in this country and the 
Ministry of Labour invariably ac- 
cepts the advice of that Committee. 
Therefore, your members should 
think twice before acting on the im- 
plication of Mr. Launder's statement 
that any writer who turns up in this 
country will have no difficulty in 

It should of course be made clear, 
as I believe your members know, that 
this union, like the British trade un- 
ion movement generally, is interna- 
tionalist in its outlook and the main 
cause of any difficulties which arise on 
the question of Labour Permits is be- 
cause we are asked to give permission 
to admit foreign technicians over here 
whilst the countries from which those 
technicians come preclude most of the 

grades of our membership from work- 
ing in their film industries. 

The ideal solution is reciprocity 
agreements, like we have negotiated 
with the French, Swiss and Czech 
trade unions, which provide for a 
controlled flow of all technical work- 
ers from one country to the other. 
Unfortunately the American unions 
on the whole have so far failed to re- 
spond to any approaches from us for 
similar agreements. If, therefore, 
your members do experience difficulty 
in working here I hope this letter will 
explain the reason to them, and help 
them to appreciate it, but we look 
forward to the day, and any help your 
Association can give would be appre- 
ciated, when by international agree- 
ment between the trade unions of all 
film producing countries there will be 
a regular flow under trade union 
agreement of technicians in all grades 
from one country to another. 

General Secretary. 

A copy of Mr. Elvin s letter, which 
was received late in May, was sent to 
Frank Launder, president of the 
Screenwriters Association in London. 
Mr. Launder, who was recently a 
guest of the SWG and addressed a 
membership meeting in Hollywood, 
has sent the following reply: 

I thank you for sending me a copy 
of Mr. Elvin's letter. The following 
are the facts: 

The Association of Cine-Techni- 
cians represents a number of Shorts 



and Documentary writers, many of 
whom are also Shorts directors, pro- 
ducers or editors. A proportion of 
these, in their capacity as writers, are 
at the same time members of the 
Screenwriters Association. The A. C. 
T. also represents several feature 
writers, whose sole business is writ- 
ing. We have not been able to dis- 
cover the number, but we do not 
think it is more than six. The A.C.T. 
further represents a number of writ- 
er-directors and associate producer- 
writers in their capacity as directors 
or associate-producers. 

The Screenwriters Association rep- 
resents 99% of the screenwriters en- 
gaged in feature production in this 
country. It also has some two hundred 
associate members (young or new 
writers without the qualification for 
full membership). 

A recent referendum taken by the 
Screenwriters Association on the mo- 
tion that this Association should be- 
come an autonomous section of the 
A.C.T. resulted in the defeat of the 
motion by an overwhelming majority. 
I believe I made it quite clear at the 
cocktail party the Guild kindly gave 
me in Hollywood that the Screen- 
writers Association is not a trade 
union, but we are the only organisa- 
tion in this country that can claim 
(other than farcically) to represent 
the interests of British screenwriters, 
trade union or otherwise. 

Our members believe that writing 
is international, and it has always 
been the policy of this Association to 
welcome to this country writing tal- 
ent from abroad. The relevant Gov- 
ernment departments continue to con- 
sult us whenever the question arises 
of a permit being granted for a for- 
eign writer to work in this country. 
It is news to us that Government De- 
partments also refer these matters to 
the A.C.T. 

The agreement which the A.C.T. 
are negotiating with the British Film 
Producers Association contains no 
minimum salary clause for screen- 
writers, or indeed any reference to 
writers' salaries whatsoever, and we 
took the precaution at the outset of 
advising the B.F.P.A. that our mem- 
bers would not be a party to any 
agreement between the A.C.T. and 
B.F.P.A. which embraced stipula- 
tions regarding writers' salaries. 

As for the suggestion in Mr. El- 
vin's letter that only a trade union 
is empowered to negotiate agreements 

covering fees and salaries, this is a 
revelation to us, and it is a contention 
which I am sure the members of this 
Association would resist most strong- 


At this very moment, the Screen- 
writers Association has joined with 
the bodies to which it is affiliated (the 
Society of Authors and the League of 
British Dramatists) in negotiating 
with the British Broadcasting Corpo- 
ration a new scale of fees for radio 
writers, and neither the Society of 
Authors, nor the League of British 
Dramatists is a trade union in the 
accepted sense. 

I would not like the members of 
the Guild to suppose for one moment 
that the Screenwriters Association is 
a reactionary organisation. It is not 
concerned with politics and, in fact, 
embraces members of all shades of po- 
litical opinion, from the extreme 
right to the extreme left. Our first 
President was Sir Alan Herbert, who 
is somewhere in the political mid-air. 
Our second was Mr. J. B. Priestley, 
who might be described as a very in- 
dividual leftist, and our last Vice- 
President was Mr. Frederick Bellen- 
ger, now War Minister in the La- 
bour Government. If Guild members 
would like a personal view of the 
tendencies of the hard core of the 
Screenwriters Association, I would 
say that they are neither reactionary 
Conservatives nor reactionary Trade 
Unionists, but just simple, progres- 
sive, benevolent anarchists. 


Several months ago Mr. C. P. 
Wang and Mr. S. W. Shu, Chinese 
writers, were in Hollywood and were 
guests at a joint meeting of members 
of the SWG and the Hollywood 
Writers Mobilization. They describ- 
ed the suffering of writers in China, 
and several Guild members wrote 
checks which were to be forwarded to 
the Chinese Writers Association. Sub- 
sequently these checks were returned 
to the Guild by Chinese representa- 
tives in New York with the informa- 
tion that the safe transmission of the 
money to China was difficult at that 
time. So the checks were returned to 
the persons who had written them. 

has received this letter from Mr. S. T. 
Yeh, acting president of the Chinese 
Writers Association, appealing for 

help in the form of money, clothing 
and books: 

From the letter of our president 
Mr. Shu She-yu and the report of 
Mr. Wan Chia-Pao who came back 
recently, we have learnt with grati- 
tude that the Screen Writers' Guild, 
Inc. have kindly offered to help their 
Chinese colleagues who are now liv- 
ing under the most wretched condi- 
tions. We are deeply moved by the 
warmth of your friendship. 

The Chinese writers suffered 
greatly during the war years. But 
since victory, our conditions have con- 
siderably worsened even compared 
with the war years. Some can't even 
afford to have medical attendance 
when ill. Such facts can not be found 
in the daily press but they are all the 
same true. Yet we have never appeal- 
ed for help from abroad, because the 
tribulation is not confined to writers. 
The entire Chinese people are strug- 
gling below starvation line in the 
midst of chaos and interminable blood- 
shed. Determined to share the same 
fate with them, how can we attempt 
to escape? Nevertheless, we have de- 
cided to accept the assistance so vol- 
untarily offered by you and would 
wish to express our heartfelt thanks. 
Needlessly to say, we wish to keep 
still closer contact with you. 

Will you entrust the sum you wish 
to present us to our representative 
Mr. Shu She-yu, (address c/o Mr. 
George Kao, Chinese News Service, 
30 Rockefeller Plaza, N. Y. 20, N. 
Y.) or our associate Miss Yang Kang 
(address: 52, Smith Terrace, Staten 
Island, N. Y. ) They will find a way 
of sending it back to us. We would 
also welcome clothing or books. 

With renewed thanks for your 
generous assistance and friendship, 
Yours fraternally, 


No. 5, Passage 482, Kien Kwo 
Eastern Road, 
Shanghai, China. 
Acting President, S. T. Yeh. 
Secretary, Mai Lin. 

Two Letters From 

(Continued from Index Page) 

country but in the other international 
centres of film production. 

How heartily do I agree with Fritz 



Lang when he talks about the "strange 
hybrid labelled Hollywood," which is 
so far removed, as he says, not only 
from Hollywood but even from Amer- 
ican life. 

Indeed what has given British films 
the prestige that they have now ac- 
quired has been caused, more than by 
anything else, by the isolation of a 
country besieged, which has brought 
forth a type of film which is national 
in the best sense, reflecting the life 
and soul of the country of its origin. 

But art may spring from national 
character yet require the stimulus of 
the world outside. I am one of those 
British producers who refuse to be- 
come complacent about our films as 
the result of a few successes and to 
those of my colleagues in the British 
industry whom I suspect of too great 
an optimism, I have always given the 
warning that such fine American tech- 
nicians as Capra, Wyler, Stevens, 
Ford, etc., will come back to their 
civilian occupation after their war 
careers greatly stimulated by their 
contact with the world outside Amer- 
ica — a stimulus which is bound to 
reflect in their creative work. 

We are already seeing this benefit 
in American films, but how tragic to 
think that it requires a war to make 
that contact and stimulus possible. 
The plan under discussion now prom- 
ises well to provide that necessary 
broadening of horizons in times of 
peace. It should materially benefit the 
quality of films in all the countries 


The following London letter has 
been received from Guy Morgan: 

WE have enjoyed a period of con- 
siderable activity during the last 
few months. 

Our proposals for new film legisla- 
tion were presented to the Board of 
Trade in concert with those of other 
sections of the industry. Technicali- 
ties of renters' and exhibitors' quota 
do not make good transatlantic gos- 
sip, but our proposals may be roughly 
summed up as a valiant and drastic 
attempt to invert the pyramid of the 

GUY MORGAN is Honorable Secretary 
and a member of the Council of The 
Screenwriters' Association of London. His 
letter to THE SCREEN WRITER con- 
cerns recent activities of the British organ- 
ization of screenwriters. 

British film industry so that control is 
from producer to renter and exhibitor 
(as in Hollywood, so we believe), in- 
stead of as at present from renter- 
plus-exhibitor to producer. We also 
aim to encourage competition rather 
than to stifle it. 

Our new Screen Credits' Agree- 
ment has been successfully negotiated 
with the British Film Producers' As- 
sociation, the principal modification 
being to make it obligatory upon pro- 
ducers to notify all participants in the 
writing of a film and also to notify 
the Association of the provisional list 
of writing credits 28 days before the 
printing of the Title Cards. This was 
designed to prevent disputes arising 
when it was too late to rectify any 
omissions on the screen. 

The principle that the writer's 
name should be mentioned in studio 
advertising wherever the director's 
name is mentioned, and in the same- 
sized type, was reaffirmed, and we 
are now approaching the renters to 
obtain a similar agreement with re- 
gard to Lay Press advertising. Studio 
advertising is, of course, concerned 
with Trade Press only. 

Our Arbitration Committee adju- 
dicated in one case of disputed credit 
and their decision was in favour of 
the producer. (It is worth noting that 
our Arbitration Committee is chosen 
by screenwriters and consists of 
screenwriters only, but their decisions 
are accepted by the Producers' Asso- 
ciation as final.) 

We also fought a case on behalf of 
a screenwriter who received one 
month's notice after working 17 
months on a year's contract which 
had been allowed to overrun without 
renewal. Counsel's opinion was that 
we might reasonably claim "custom" 
of three months' notice, but that six 
months was doubtful. The company 
agreed to settle for three months' no- 

In order to get a little more money 
in our kitty we have instituted a levy 
on members' screen-credits on feature 
films. At present it is set at 25 dollars 
for the first credit in any year, 10 
dollars for the second, with a maxi- 
mum of 50 dollars for any one year. 

We have instituted a Registration 
Scheme for original screen material 
under the Association's stamp, mod- 
elled on the scheme current in Holly- 
wood. Up to the present any writer 
wishing to get a birth-certificate for 

a brain-child had to nominate a 
friendly producer as godfather in or- 
der to take advantage of the British 
Film Producers' Registration Bureau. 

We organised a screenwriters' quiz 
to obtain the vital statistics of the 
British field, and though the replies 
have not yet been fully collated, they 
are making very good reading. It was 
heartwarming to note that whereas 
the first return opened answered the 
question, "Would you describe your- 
self as a whole-time screenwriter?" 
with — "Yes — unfortunately," the 
second return opened answered it "No 
— unfortunately." Our admiration, 
too, went out to the screenwriter who, 
to the leading question "What in your 
opinion is the practice of current film 
production that most adversely affects 
the prestige of the screenwriter?," 
replied succinctly, "Bad screenwrit- 

But perhaps the most important 
step taken is on the social side. In the 
next six weeks we hope to add the 
legend "Screenwriters' Club" to the 
social amenities of Park Lane, and 
open our doors to all those engaged at 
the creative level in the British film 
industry. In addition to the usual 
amenities, alcoholic and gastronomic, 
we propose to hold regular meetings, 
dinners, and discussions, annual en- 
tertainments to critics etc. ; start a 
Script Library and Film Reference 
Library ; when equipment is available, 
to show old films of technical merit on 
16 mm. ; and, of course, which is most 
important, to offer suitable hospitality 
and escape from "the death by a 
thousand cuts" to visiting members of 
the Screen Writers' Guild. 

A. A. A. NOTE. 

At a recent Extraordinary General 
Meeting, a motion of sympathy with 
the aims of the American Authors 
Authority was passed by unanimous 

Points arising from the discussion: 
British screenwriters are in many 
ways more favourably placed than 
American screenwriters in the sale of 
original screen material. An increasing 
readiness by British film producers to 
purchase a licence to produce (usually 
within ten years) and to concede the 
separation of secondary rights was re- 
ported by a member of the Associa- 
tion who is also a leading agent. 

In spite of the fact that under the 
British Copyright Act of 1911 every- 
thing written under a "service con- 
tract" belongs to the employer, even 



in cases of service contracts British 
producers are frequently willing to 
grant the writer of an original screen 
story play, serial, novel, and radio 
rights, reserving only the right to 
publish up to 10,000 words for pub- 
licity purposes. American companies 

producing in England do not grant 
such rights. 

It has therefore been decided to 
organise a joint deputation represent- 
ing the Society of Authors, the 
League of Dramatists, the Composers' 
Guild, and the Screenwriters' Asso- 

ciation to approach the British Film 
Producers' Association with a view to 
establishing the principle of purchase 
of licence and separation of secondary 
rights in all contracts for the purchase 
of original screen material. 


(l^OOhd: -st lK,eview of Ljeorae rvliddieton 5 ^/rulobioaraphu 

Middleton. Macraillan $5.00. 

WRITERS can take heart from 
a lot of warm hearted things in 
George Middleton's autobiography. 
The playwright, who fought so hard 
to establish the Dramatists Guild and 
its Minimum Basic Agreement, re- 
creates the American scene — and a 
good deal of the European scene — 
with a special glow all his own. They 
are all here, from Mansfield to Mrs. 
Pat Campbell, from Shaw to Sacha 
Guitry, from Tammany Hall to Sen- 
ator Bob LaFollette and Mr. Justice 
Louis Brandeis. 

Most fascinating of all this mate- 
rial, however, are the chapters on the 
organization of the Dramatists Guild 
and Mr. Middleton's adventures 
abroad in signing up Pinero, Barrie, 
Shaw and others as members of the 
Guild. Screen writers, playwrights, 
novelists, radio writers, currently in- 
volved in the fight for the licensing 
program, can read with profit and 
exhilaration the accounts of how the 
Theatre Trust in New York literally 
precipitated the first agreement of the 
Dramatists Guild. 

Do these words sound familiar: 

"Who hung up the rules by which 
the script was cast or staged? Did 
power alone have the final say as to 
the integrity of his text? Did the cir- 
cumstances under which it was pro- 
duced bring out its essential qualities, 
help or hurt it? Did the author get 

his full penny's worth out of his oc- 
casional successes so that he could eat 
out of any of his legitimate rights? 
What were his rights anyway?" 

No, these words are not from the 
latest prospectus on the best way to 
license original material for the screen 
in 1947. These are Mr. Middleton's 
words in surveying the situation of the 
playwright as it prevailed in the 
Broadway theatre in the year 1925. 
These were the times when the Wil- 
liam A. Brady office eked out a suc- 
cessful twenty-two year run of Lottie 
Blair Parker's Way Down East and 
had rolled up the amazing total gross 
of $14,000,000. Will it be any sur- 
prise to hear Mr. Middleton's report 
that Lottie Blair Parker had disposed 
of all her rights outright for $5,000? 

It was a short fight but a merry 
one. On April 27, 1926 the first Basic 
Agreement for dramatists had been 
signed by all managers except one and 
the Dramatists Guild was an estab- 
lished fact. Everyone was satisfied — 
that is, everyone on the dramatists' 
side of the house — with the natural 
exception of George Bernard Shaw. 
Mr. Shaw, an amiable dissenter, was 
solid with the Guild all the way, but 
he had a few thoughts on separation 
of rights that are worth repeating to- 

In 1933 Mr. Shaw was writing 
Mr. Middleton in violent protest 
against any agreement which permit- 
ted the Broadway manager to share 
in anything except the returns from 

the theatre engagement. In part, Mr. 
Shaw said: 

Instead of resolutely keeping 
our various rights separate and 
independent, and giving no coun- 
tenance to the assumption that a 
manager with a performing right 
is entitled to a rake-off on the 
film rights and all the other 
rights he has ever heard of, the 
wretched League actually draws 
up a Basic Agreement in which 
this assumption is recognized, 
accepted, and regulated. 

Why is it that an American 
cannot believe in the possibility 
of any business transaction being 
possible until he has induced half 
a dozen totally unconnected and 
irrelevant persons to accept a 
rake-off on it? 

Does all this have a vaguely fa- 
miliar ring as screen writers, radio 
writers, playwrights and novelists be- 
gin to ask the producers of films some 
similar questions today? 

As Mr. Middleton wisely points 
out, there was some sound economic 
fact in the theatre which justified the 
practice of cutting the manager in for 
fifty per cent, a share which has re- 
cently been reduced to forty per cent. 
But as we here in Hollywood talk and 
fight for seven-year licensing, rever- 
sion of rights, separation of rights, and 
participation in reissues, there is a 
mocking eloquence and relevance in 
the Shaw dialogue which lingers on 
the Hollywood sound track long after 
you put down Mr. Middleton's book. 



Why, Mr. Shaw asks, should any 
right be disposed of to a man not pre- 
pared to exploit it ? Why indeed ? 

These are only a few of the many 
sparks that are struck from the wheel 
of memory as Mr. Middleton takes us 
from his boyhood days in Paterson up 
through the era of Julia Marlow in 
New York, his collaborations with 
Guy Bolton, his many campaigns for 
the Dramatists Guild, his marriage to 
Fola LaFollette, his affectionate rela- 

tionship with the great liberal from 
Wisconsin who was his father-in-law, 
and the three years he spent in Holly- 
wood as a producer. 

George Middleton has done many 
good turns for the theatre and this is 
one of them. If, as he once said of 
himself, he "always had too many in- 
dignations" it has been a good thing 
for the members of the Dramatists 
Guild and writers everywhere. We 
owe a great deal to him and we con- 

tinue to be in his debt. Today, as dur- 
ing the war years, he continues to 
serve at Washington in the Office of 
Alien Property, Department of Jus- 
tice, functioning as a trade specialist 
on international copyright problems. 

Here is a playwright who in his 
time has played many parts. All of 
them were good and the best of them 
is a superlative play on Balzac titled 
That Was Balzac. 




'pinioni on 

Writer C^mplo 



New Blood, or the Arteries Seem to be Frozen 


{Mr. Moss, who sent the following 
brief article to THE SCREEN 
WRITER, is a young novelist and 
short story writer. A copy of his arti- 
cle was submitted to several studio 
story editors, who were asked to com- 
ment on it. Their comments follow 
the article.) 

HOW sincere are the doctors of 
the movie industry? 

Just how anemic is the patient ? 

Of late, there has been a great 
to-do and noise about the need in 
Hollywood for new blood, for new 
writers, full of new ideas, new crea- 
tive talent. And the cry is heard not 
from one lone focal point, but on all 
sides. In newspapers, in magazines, 
on the radio, at Guild meetings, at 
lectures and debates. Everyone, it 
seems, is searching for this new blood ! 

But as one of the thousands of un- 
known writers in Hollywood, living 
on peanuts and waiting for a miracle, 
I'm beginning to grow just a little 
weary of these pseudo-medical con- 
fabs, to wonder if the blood transfu- 
sion is really so necessary after all, to 

suspect that this hullabaloo is just as 
much of a phase and fad as Sinatra 
bow ties in the 40s and raccoon coats 
in the 20s. I'm beginning to grow 
tired of "reading" about the need, 
knowing full well that it's merely lip 
service, that the men issuing the pleas 
are only weekend luncheon speakers, 
who, come Monday morning, will 
report back to their offices, with ex- 
plicit instructions to their two million 
secretaries to admit no one, to answer 
all letters with stock replies that say 
next to nothing. 

If Hollywood is really so com- 
pletely run down and exhausted, so 
anxious for a physical overhauling, 
why isn't someone doing something 
about it? Why hasn't someone taken 
concrete measures to set up an orga- 
nization or form an outlet for strug- 
gling writers? Not a red carpet affair, 
where we can do nothing but loaf all 
day on expensive Movieville salaries, 
or a PEC, where the courses, though 
Grade A in quality, are actually noth- 
ing but a lecture series; but a channel 
where we new blooders can earn the 
money that supplies the necessary 
nourishment to keep our corpuscles 
and plasma in running order. Some- 

thing, in other words, akin to the 
junior writer departments which the 
studios recently abolished because, for 
some strange reason, they seemed to 
feel that their health was beyond 

If we messiahs of a new literary 
era in Hollywood are really so vital, 
why are we still laboring as shoe 
clerks and stenographers, waitresses 
and soda jerks. Sure, we know all the 
familiar cliches. "Get yourself an 
agent." "You need more experience." 
"We take only trained writers." "Our 
staff is full." "Come back in six 
months." But we were under the im- 
pression, we members of the New 
Blood Society, that the internes and 
medicos of moviedom considered us 
indispensable now, not next fall or 
next winter or next year, felt that the 
hemorrhage is too acute for such long 
and unnecessary delays! 

There is no shortage of new blood 
in Hollywood, no need to bewail its 
scarcity. Rather, the shortage lies in 
the numebr of opportunities open to 
those possessing this magical liquid 
potion. There are too many blood 
clots preventing any free and uninter- 
rupted flow of talent, even though the 



pores of the city are oozing with it. 
It's here from every part of the coun- 
try, and it's good. Send out a call for 
this new blood — a definite call, mind 
you, not an abstract plea — and see 
what results take place. 

Or have the arteries of the film 
world hardened so completely and 
thoroughly that there really is no 
chance or need for "new blood?" 

Following are the comments of 
three story editors at major Holly- 
wood studios'. 

TRANSFUSIONS are performed, 
usually, a pint at a time and are 
preceded by blood-typing tests. Type 
O is relatively rare. However, War- 
ners has occasionally squeezed a pint 
or so of the stuff into its veins. 

Some months ago Mr. Moss, in a 
letter dated February 12, 1947, of- 
fered us some of his. He believes he 
has type O and he may be right. We 
answered his letter and gave him an 
interview. Since he had arrived in 
California the preceding week, the 
two million secretaries he mentions 
must not have given him too much 

There is unfortunately no auto- 
matic way of verifying a donor's self- 
appraisal. Studios in need of a quick 
pint, therefore, are apt, as a first step, 
to telephone a blood bank ( forgive us, 
agents, for burdening you with a new 
epithet, but metaphor-breakers are 
subject to penalty as noted in Section 
3, Code 6 of Palmers Correspondence 
Course, and elsewhere). 

You're still being tested, Mr. Moss. 
So far, you have A's on metaphor, 
literacy and persistence. Almost cer- 

tainly Hollywood will soon be having 
your blood. And at this point if any 
brother feels an urge to carry our 
metagore farther, he may dip pen in 
plasma and write his own tag. 

Story Editor, Warner Bros. 
Pictures, Inc. 


O Mr. David Moss and all the 
i. other young writers in Hollywood 
who are finding the going rough — 
my sincerest sympathy. Also a remind- 
er that studio story departments are 
not just chopping blocks, as new 
writers may mistakenly — yet under- 
standably believe. Story departments 
are well aware of their problems, and 
there is exactly nothing they can do 
about it — until the new writers do 
something about it themselves. 

To the charge that there is a short- 
age of opportunities for new writers 
in Hollywood, it can only be pointed 
out that there are, and always have 
been, a few young writers who make 
their own opportunities. This has al- 
ways been the case, and not only in 

Mr. Moss states that there is new 
writing blood here from every part of 
the country and that it is good. Studio 
story departments would like nothing 
better than to believe this — but they 
need proof. It is up to the new writing 
blood to furnish such proof by writ- 
ing material good enough to convince 
agents, story departments, and indi- 
vidual producers that they have some- 
thing to offer. 

There is always the old charge that 
it is almost impossible for new writers 
to submit their material, that agents 
are as tough to reach as the studios 

themselves. To this, it can only be 
pointed out that nearly every success- 
ful writer in Hollywood has at some 
time faced this situation and sur- 
mounted it. In other words, it takes 
more than just new blood to get 
ahead as a writer in Hollywood. It 
takes real writing ability — and guts. 


Story Editor, 

RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 

WITH reference to the article on 
New Blood by David Moss, 
it is indeed regrettable that Mr. Moss 
and others like him are meeting with 
such difficulty in Hollywood. 

Part of that difficulty is perhaps 
due to misinformation, because if the 
impression is current that there's a 
wild hue and cry for new blood per se 
in the industry, then that impression 
is in error. 

New writing blood in the industry 
is after all only of collateral value. 
The prime need is for new material, 
and for writers, new or old, capable 
of creating and developing it. 

Every studio in town at all times 
has very concrete needs, and will wel- 
come anyone who can meet them. One 
need only inquire to learn what they 
are. In helping to solve some of the 
studios' problems, the writer will au- 
tomatically solve his own. 

The matter of junior writers, as- 
signments of newcomers to costly 
projects, etc., would take much more 
than the 200 word limit set for this 
reply. However, I shall be glad to go 
into it at some later date. 

Head of Story Department, 
Paramount Pictures Inc. 

Views rioted 

*Current programs in the N. Y. 
Museum of Modern Art's History of 
the Motion Picture Series are: The 
Psychological Drama (II) : Crime 
and Punishment, July 4, 5, 6; The 
Moving Camera (I): Hamlet, The 
Last Laugh, July 7, 8, 9, 10; The 
Psychological Drama (III) : Nju, 
July 11, 12, 13; Pabst and Realism 
(I) : The Treasure, July 14, 15, 16, 

17; The Moving Camera (II) : Va- 
riety, July 18, 19, 20; The Films of 
Fritz Lang (III) : Metropolis, July 
21, 22, 23, 24; The Advance Guard: 
Ghosts Before Breakfast, Berlin: Die 
Sinfonie der Grosstadt, Uberfall, 
July 25, 26, 27; Pabst and Realism 
(II) : The Love of Jeanne Ney, July 
28, 29, 30, 31 ; The End of the Silent 
Era: Rasputin, August 1, 2, 3. 

*SWG member Stanley Richards' 
one-act play, Mood Piece, is sched- 
uled for publication early this summer 
by the Banner Play Bureau of San 
Francisco. Mr. Richards' one-act play 
District of Columbia, dealing with 
racial intolerance, was recently pro- 
duced at Southwestern College in 
Winfield, Kansas. 

*SWG member Donald Kent 



Stanford has a story in the June Red- 
book, and a new novel scheduled for 
publication later in the year. 

*Early South American and Brit- 
ish publication have been arranged for 
The Glass Room, recent novel by 
SWG members Edwin Rolfe and 
Lester Fuller, which Rinehart & Co. 
published early in the year. In addi- 
tion, a Bantam Book edition is sched- 
uled for publication late in 1947 or 
early in 1948, coincident with na- 
tional release of the film based on the 
book, which the authors scripted for 

*SWG member Stewart Sterling's 
new mystery novel, Dead Wrong: 
The Affair of the Virginia Widow, 
has just been published by J. B. Lip- 
pincott Co. 

*George Freedley, curator of the 
N. Y. Public Library Theatre Col- 
lection, spoke at the Assistance League 
Playhouse June 19 on the American 
national theatre and current New 
York productions. The event was 
sponsored by the Theatre Library 

^Murder in a Lighter Vein, latest 
mystery novel by SWG member Mil- 
ton M. Raison, was published June 
25 by Murray & Gee of Hollywood. 

*Whittlesey House announces that 
a new novel, White Crocus, by SWG 
member Peter Packer will be pub- 
lished in September. Mr. Packer is 
currently working on another novel, 
The Inward Voyage, for the same 

*SWG member Leo Mittler is now 
supervisor of the Dramatic Workshop 
of the New School for Social Re- 
search in N. Y. He has also been 
engaged by the United Nations to 
write a six reel documentary showing 
the new U. N. headquarters building. 

*The Bureau for Inter-cultural 
Education in its first quarter-annual 
national prize contest for the best 
published magazine stories has award- 

ed second prize and a check for $500 
to SWG member Fred Schiller for 
his McCall's-Blue Book story, Ten 
Men and a Prayer. First prize was 
won by Gentlemen's Agreement, 
written by Laura Z. Hobson, formerly 
of the SWG and now transferred to 
the Authors' Guild. 

*The Peoples Educational Center 
begins its Summer Term the week of 
July 14th, 1947. The Friday Night 
Film Series at the Screen Cartoonists 
Hall will continue. The title of the 
series is, Film Portraits : Of Coun- 
tries and Their People. The aim of 
the series is to show the reflection of 
the customs and habits of different 
countries in the treatment of real or 
fictitious characters. Among the pic- 
tures lined up are Abraham Lincoln, 
Passion of Joan of Arc, The Mar- 
seillaise, Youth of Maxim, Carneval 
in Flanders, and others. The writing 
courses include Screen I, given by Hal 
Smith; Screen II, Carl Foreman; and 
Screen III, Gordon Kahn. Radio 
Writing Comedy is a guest lecture 
course with Jack Robinson and Fred- 
erick Jackson Stanley. Other writing 
courses are Creative Writing, Basic 
Journalism, Modern Novel, Mystery 
Story and Publicity and Public Rela- 

Special courses include How To 
Read a Book, a literary appreciation 
course given by Alvah Bessie; Mod- 
ern Architecture and Community 
Planning Today; Art Appreciation 
and The Theater and Its History. 
Registration for all classes begins 
June 30th and a full descriptive cata- 
logue of all courses may be obtained 
by writing or phoning the Peoples 
Educational Center, 1717 North 
Vine St., HOllywood 6291. 

^Current issue of the Hollywood 
Quarterly, published by the Univer- 
sity of California Press under the 
joint sponsorship of the University 
and the Hollywood Writers' Mobili- 
zation, carries as its leading article 
an anlysis by Robert A. Brady, U. of 
C. (Berkeley), professor of economics, 

of monopoly drives for control of the 
mass agencies of communication, in- 
cluding motion pictures. 

Covering the film field are articles 
by Marie Rose Oliver, Abraham Po- 
lonsky, Siegfried Kracauer, Vladimir 
Pozner, Richard Rowland, Newton 
E. Meltzer, Herbert F. Margolis. In 
the radio field, Norman Corwin's 
One World Flight is published in 
script form, with an introductory 
note by Jerome Lawrence. In music, 
Frederick W. Sternfeld contributes 
an article, The Strange Music of 
Martha Ivers. 

In the foreign film field, Roger 
Manvell considers the condition of 
the cinema in England, and Chris- 
tina and Eugene CenKalski write 
about films in Poland. 

There are other contributions from 
Robert Rahtz, Albert N. Williams, 
Louis Ganton, Marcia Endore, John 
Paxton, Harry Hoijer, Franklin 
Fearing, Sam Moore, John Collier, 
L. S. Becker, Harold J. Salemson, 
and a breakdown of types of feature 
films for 1944, 1945 and 1946. 

*The second presentation of Peli- 
can Productions at the Coronet 
Theatre will be the world premiere 
of Berthold Brecht's play, Galileo, 
starring Charles Laughton in the title 
role, with T. Edward Hambleton 
producing and Joseph Losey directing, 
and scheduled to open in July. 

The play was written by Brecht 
during his residence in Denmark, 
whence he'd escaped from Germany, 
in 1939. Charles Laughton first be- 
came interested in the play about two 
years ago. Since that time he has been 
working with Brecht in the hope that 
he might be able to procure an Eng- 
lish adaptation in which he would 
appear. Ultimately, it was decided 
that Laughton himself would write 
the adaptation of the play as it will 
be presented on the Coronet stage. 

Galileo has fourteen scenes and two 
acts. Robert Davison has designed the 
sets after voluminous research in an 
effort to capture the atmosphere of 
the early 1 7th century Italy. 




ED 01 





■ - - , , 


MAY I, 1947 TO JUNE 1, 1947 


Joint Screenplay (with Ben Maddow) THE 


Joint Screenplay (with Edward Anhalt) 


Joint Screenplay (with Edna Anhalt) 



Joint Story Basis (with William Bowers) 


Sole Screenplay THE INVISIBLE WALL, 
(Sol M. Wurtzel) Fox 


Sole Screenplay GREEN GRASS OF WYO- 
MING, Fox 


Joint Story Basis (with D. D. Beauchamp) 


Sole Original Screenplay UNUSUAL OCCU- 
PATIONS, L 6-5 (S) Par 
Sole Original Screenplay POPULAR SCIENCE, 
J 6-6 (S) Par 


Novel Basis and Joint Screenplay (with 
Herbert Victor) BEDELIA (John Corfield) 


Contributor to Screenplay Construction 


Sole Original Story THE MAN FROM COLO- 
RADO, Col 


Sole Original Screenplay LAND OF THE 


Sole Original Story and Joint Screenplay 
(with Scott Darling and Crane Wilbur) 


Joint Screenplay (with Charles Moran) 

Sole Screenplay BLACKMAIL, ReD 
Joint Screenplay (with Lewis Clay, Arthur 
Hoerl and Leslie Swabacker) JACK ARM- 
STRONG (Esskay) Col 


Joint Screenplay (with Robert Churchill and 
Crane Wilbur) BORN TO SPEED, PRC 


Joint Screenplay (with Martin Rackin) 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Jack Dewitt) 


Sole Screenplay THE GHOST AND MRS. 
MUIR, Fox 


Sole Original Screenplay THE MAN FROM 

Sole Original Screenplay ROSES ARE RED, 
(Sol M. Wurtzel) Fox 


Sole Original Screenplay THE HUNTED, 
Allied Artists 

Joint Story Basis (with Howard J. Green) 
THE INVISIBLE WALL, (Sol M. Wurtzel), 


Joint Screenplay (with Frederic I. Rinaldo 
and Robert Lees) THE WISTFUL WIDOW 

Joint Story Basis (with Paul Frank) THE 
INVISIBLE WALL, (Sol M. Wurtzel) Fox 



Joint Original Screenplay (with Charles Led- 


Sole Screenplay TOMORROW YOU DIE, 


Additional Dialogue THE VOICE OF THE 



Sole Original Story LA OTRA (Mercurio 
Prod.) Clasa Films 



Sole Adaptation WHIPLASH, WB 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Ben Hecht) 


Joint Screenplay (with Frederic I. Rinaldo 



Sole Screenplay ALIAS A GENTLEMAN, 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Richard Sale) 




Joint Screenplay (with Robert D. Andrews) 

Contributor to Dialogue THE FOXES OF 



Sole Screenplay and Joint Story Basis (with 
Brenda Weisberg) THE LONE WOLF IN 


Joint Screenplay (with Frank Davis) 


Play Basis DREAM GIRL, Par 


Joint Screenplay (with Robert Lees and John 
GAP, Uni 




Joint Original Screenplay (with Edmond 
Seward and Jerry Warner) BOWERY BUCK- 
AROOS (Jan Grippo) Mono 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Mary Loos) 


Sole Screenplay DREAM GIRL, Par 

Joint Original Screenplay (with Lou Lilly) 

IN LOVE (S) Par 

Joint Original Screenplay (with Lou Lilly) 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Lou Lilly) 



Contributor to Dialogue, THE FOXES OF 




Sole Original Screenplay SUN VALLEY FUN 

(S) WB 

Sole Original Screenplay LIVING WITH 


Sole Screenplay THE FOXES OF HARROW, 



Sole Original Story COPACABANA (David 
L. Hersh) UA 

Sole Screenplay and Play Basis THE VOICE 


-Academy Bulletin Only 


Sole Screenplay THE FUGITIVE (Argosy 
Pic.) RKO 


Sole Original Story TOMORROW YOU DIE, i 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Tim Ryan 

and Edmond Seward) BOWERY BUCKA- 

ROOS, (Jan Grippo) Mono 

Joint Story Basis (with Arthur E. Orloff) 


Joint Screenplay (with Scott Darling and 

Robert Churchill) BORN TO SPEED, PRC 

In this listing of screen credits, published monthly in THE SCREEN WRITER, the following abbreviations are used: 
COL — Columbia Pictures Corporation; E-L — Eagle-Lion Studios; FOX — 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation; GOLDWYN — 
Samuel Gotdwyn Productions, Inc.; MGM — Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios; MONO — Monogram Pictures Corporation; PAR 
— Paramount Pictures, Inc.; PRC — Producers Releasing Corporation of America; REP — Republic Productions, Inc.; RKO — 
RKO Radio Studios, Inc.; ROACH — Hal E. Roach Studio, Inc.; UA — United Artists Corporation; UNMNT'L — Universal- 
International Pictures; UWP — United World Pictures; WB — Warner Brothers Studios. (S> designates screen short. 





AAA and Writers' Rights 

Toward a New Realism 

Subject: Bindle Biog 

Disunion in Vienna 

Where Credit Is Due 

Gregg Toland : the Man and His Work 

French Cinema in the U. S. 

Camera Obscura 

As I Remember Birdie 

How One Movie Sale Was Made 

Can't Scare the Movies 

What Is a License of Literary Property? 

Writers & Publishers 

What's Happening to Our Jobs? 

As the English See It 

French Motion Picture School 

And further articles by ROBERT ARDREY, SYDNEY BOX, HUGO BUTLER, I. 

Special Announcement 

• Editors of THE SCREEN WRITER are setting up a sub-committee to explore the 
subject of writer employment in the motion picture industry, and to analyze both the facts 
concerning unemployment and the factors that contribute to it. This sub-committee will 
work closely with the SWG economic program committee. 

This material will be co-ordinated and presented in an early issue as a definitive survey 
of the writer employment situation in Hollywood. 



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Hollywood 28, Calif. 

Enclosed please find $ for year(s) 

subscription to THE SCREEN WRITER, beginning with 


.issue, to be mailed to 



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Rate: 1 year (12 issues), $2.50 domestic, $3.00 foreign 

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If you do not wish to mar your copy of THE SCREEN 
WRITER you may submit your order by letter.) 



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Authors and 
Thfcir Rights 

Page 1 




.4 it Economic Primer of Screen Writing 

A Survey of Factors Affecting the Present and Future 
Economic Outlook For Writers, Including Studies of 
Employment and Markets, by LESTER COLE, RING 


t*£*o*.#4"Cj is 

ADRIAN SCOTT: You Can't Do That! 

FRANK SCULLY: Tully on Scully 

LESTER KOENIG: Conference on Thought Control 

OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN, 2ND: Reply to Bernard Shau, 

ALFRED PALCA: Drama in the Barn Belt 
JUDITH PODSELVER: Letter From Brussels 

Vol. 3, No. 3 

August, 1947 

I Editorial • Report & Comment: 

Forum on Subversion in 
Holly woodi Conference oh 

I on Reissues; Authors' League 

Licensing Committee Report 

I Summary arid AAA Committee 

Reply • Book, Rev i e av • 

■ Correspondence • Ne\ys Notes 

► Maniiscri p t Mark e t 




film critic and THE SCREEN 
WRITER'S correspondent in 
Paris, writes from Brussels about 
the international film festival re- 
cently held there. 

DEAR Screen Writer: When I 
left for Brussels, Paris seemed 
on the verge of a revolution : the heat 
was incredible, the electricity and 
the gas were gradually. being shut off, 
the trains had stopped working. Peo- 
ple were leaving town packed in army 
trucks as they had done during the 
exodus of 1940. I felt I was leaving 
before crucial events would start 

Brussels presented a startling con- 
trast. Fleets of brand-new Chevrolet 
taxis carrying banners urging people 
to "See a Good British Film" were 
rushing past street vendors selling 
oranges and bananas — fruits which 
most Europeans have not tasted in a 
long while. Stores were packed with 
American imports, frigidaires, radios, 
clothes, shoes. Belgium had not sold 
the uranium and the tin of its Congo 
for peanuts : American plenty was 
ever present in Brussels, at Amer- 
ican prices. 

The already dazed guests of the 
Festival — which very generously 
handed out 4,200 meal-tickets and 
650 room-billets for the month of 
June — became dizzier every day by 
scrupulously attending the number- 
less cocktail parties to which the va- 
rious participants and the most im- 
portant Belgian towns invited them. 
The U.S.A. entertained specially lav- 
ishly and repeatedly since they had 
their stars come in single number in- 
stead of whole bodies as the French 
and the British did. Successively 
Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth, Ray 
Milland, William Wyler and Eric 
Johnston had the privilege of being 
mobbed by rabid Belgian fans. 

Perhaps due to the fact that Bel- 
gium looks so much like a bridge- 
head of the USA in Europe, the whole 
(Continued on Page 44) 


Screen Writer 

Vol. 3, No. 3 

AUGUST, 1947 

Gordon Kahn, Editor 
Robert Shaw, Director of Publications 
Art Arthur Isobel Lennart 

Martin Field Herbert Clyde Lewis 

Harris Gable Bernard C. Schoenfeld 

Richard G. Hubler Theodore Strauss 

Lester Koenig 


GEORGE BERNARD SHAW: Authors and Their Rights 

OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN, 2nd: Reply to Bernard Shaw 

ADRIAN SCOTT: You Can't Do That! 

FRANK SCULLY: Scully on Tully 

LESTER KOENIG: Conference on Thought Control 


Economic Primer of Screen Writing 

Foreword - - 16 

RING LARDNER, JR.: First. Steps in Arithmetic 16 

LESTER COLE: A Fundamental Right? 21 

MARTIN FIELD: No Applause for These Encores 24 

PAUL GANGELIN: What's Happening to Our Jobs 26 

JOINT REPORT: The Market for Originals 28 

PHILIP STETENSON: Where Credit Is Due 31 

ALFRED PALCA: Drama in the Barn Belt 34 

Editorial 36 
Report & Comment: 

Summary of Licensing Committee Report 38 

Analysis of Report by AAA Committee 38 

Ho<w Subversive Is Hollywood? 41 

Conference on Reissues 42 


Correspondence 44 

Book Review: John Gunther's Inside U.S.A. 46 

News Notes 47 

Manuscript Market 48 

JUDITH PODSELVER: Letter From Brussels 

Inside Front Cover 




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GBS on the American Authors' Authority 

Authors and Their Rights 


of living men of letters, in this article 
•written specially for THE SCREEN 
WRITER presents a characteristically 
trenchant opinion on AAA and the 
rights of authorship. 

WHEN the Authors' League of America was 
founded I assumed that its capacity would 
be equal to its professions, and that I could 
make use of it as I do of the London Society of 

The first thing the New York League did was to 
appoint a committee, not of authors, but of theatrical 
managers. This committee immediately ordained that 
managers and publishers should have a share in all 
rights belonging to authors. 

After this proof of the League's incompetence I 
classed it as a hostile body, and took no further account 
of it, guessing that the American authors would sooner 
or later be intelligent enough to shake the dust of the 
League off their feet, and form a new professional 
association which would at least have some elementary 
knowledge of its proper business. 

I gather from your letter that this has now occurred, 
and that the new body is called the American Authors' 
Authority. I will join it if and when it disentangles 
itself from the League. 

The AAA will finally absorb the League if it proves 
a genuine fighting union. Meanwhile its membership 
should be confined to authors and playwrights who 
accept the following conditions: 

Charities of any description must be excluded from 
the Association operations. All performances must be 
paid for at standard rates. Authors' charities should 
be made by them either directly or through some sep- 
arate charitable organization like the British Royal 
Literary Fund. 

The AAA shall not interfere with the artistic work 
of its members. It shall not read nor recommend their 
works. Its specific function is to counsel and protect 
them impartially in the buying and selling by which 
they live. 

It shall no longer describe playwrights as dramatists. 
The term is now acquiring a sense in scientific aesthetics 
to which playwrights are not committed. Playwrights 
is the correct name. 

The AAA shall insist on its members retaining all 
their rights intact, and exercising them by the granting 
of licenses to perform or publish for periods not exceed- 
ing five years, renewable subject to six months notice 
of revocation if either party so desires. 

The AAA shall discountenance profit sharing agree- 
ments, tolerating them only when the disbursements 
and overheads are precisely defined and limited. 

Members shall be warned that in law authors and 
playwrights employed to contribute to dictionaries, 
encyclopedias and the like, or to superintend the rehear- 
sals of plays: in short, who are employees, acquire no 
rights. All rights belong to the employers. 

The AAA shall prescribe minimum standard fees, 
and deal with any attempt on the part of its members 
to attract business by underselling these rates as a 
grave professional misdemeanor. To novices who object 
that unless they accept lower rates established authors 
will always be preferred to them, the AAA shall reply 
that in any case, rule or no rule, no publisher or man- 
ager will accept a work by an unknown author if he 
can get one by an established celebrity. This he cannot 


always nor often do. Publishers, managers, and dealers 
in copyright works of art generally, are as obliged to 
keep their businesses afloat with new books and plays 
as authors and playwrights are to have their works 
published and performed. When no established authors 
are available at the moment, the dealers must resort 
to beginners as stopgaps. The beginner is then in as 
strong an economic position as the celebrity. It is as 
stopgaps that beginners get their chance. Nothing they 
can do nor that the AAA can do can alter this. 

The AAA shall be open to all authors and play- 
wrights who accept its rules. The unperformed and 
unpublished can join provisionally as associates. 

The following should be the minimum standard 
terms for playwrights: 

When the receipts exceed $1500, the auth- 
or s fee shall be at least 15 per cent on the 
gross; when they exceed $500 and do not 
exceed $1500, 10 per cent on the gross; when 
they exceed $250 and do not exceed $500, 7^ 
per cent on the gross; and when they do not 
exceed $250, 5 per cent on the gross. Man- 
agers will please note that this does not mean 
5 per cent on the first $251, 7% per cent on 
the next $250, etc., etc. The sliding scale is 
exactly as stated. It applies equally to reper- 
tory productions, to productions for runs and 
tours, and to all performances whether ama- 
teur or professional, commercial or charitable, 
educational or artistic alike. Discounts can be 
arranged for short plays. 

Licenses are not negotiable nor heritable 
nor transferable by any method, and may 
be withdrawn should any public statement 
to the contrary be made or inspired by the 
licensee, or should any transaction in the 
nature of subletting be effected or proposed 
on the strength of them. 

(World Copyright by 

T T is not possible to prescribe publishing contracts so 
■*• precisely. Most books are dead after eighteen months 
or less. A few outlive their copyrights. Many authors 
are so desperately in need of ready money that they 
prefer liberal advances to high royalties. High royalties 
involve high retail prices. While the present circulation 
of books is so limited and expensive it is by no means 
the case that high royalties pay the author better than 
moderate ones. A royalty of a half cent per copy on a 
book priced at 20 cents may be more lucrative for both 
author and publisher than a royalty of 20% on the two 
and a half dollars book in which the older publishers 
deal. But though the figures vary, the rules apply. 

Authors should never sign contracts without skilled 
advice and guidance. This cannot be had from lawyers, 
as copyright law is outside ordinary legal practice. A 
knowledge of it is confined to a few specialists whose 
point of view is not that of authors. Only a competent 
Professional Association can be depended on. Nearly 
all authors are temperamentally adverse to business af- 
fairs, and inept through lack of office training and legal 
knowledge. Rights which they throw away for an old 
song may be worth from twenty-five dollars to three 
hundred thousand. No other form of property has such 
potentialities, nor demands more skilled management 
and foresight. 

T HAVE conducted my own business successfully for 
"■" two-thirds of a century, and have served for ten years 
on the Executive Committee of the Society of Authors 
in London. If the AAA is conducted contra mundum 
on the lines I have indicated I will join it. 

The existing articles are inadequate and incompatible 
with the independence of the AAA. Most of them are 
ridiculously superfluous, drawn up by amateurs who 
imagine that contracts and prospectuses and by-laws 
are legislative acts. 
George Bernard Shaw) 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The article by George Bernard 
Shaw expressing his opinions concerning the American 
Authors' Authority proposal was written for THE 
SCREEN WRITER as the result of a letter sent to 
him by Emmet Lavery, chairman of the Joint Over-All 
AAA Committee and president of SWG. In this letter 
Mr. Lavery said in part: 

OCREEN writers in America, joining with their 
^brother novelists, radio writers and playwrights, 
are facing the fight of their lives. 

They are trying to establish the principle of licensing, 

as against outright sale, in the fields of radio, tele- 
vision, film — trying to extend the principle which 
has worked so well in the theatre. 

The opposition, as you can well imagine, is con- 
siderable. Motion picture studios, who still insist on 
describing themselves as the corporate "author" of all 
material written on their premises or to their order, 
see a wide variety of dangers. Similar reactions come 
from publishers who like to gobble up all the subsidiary 
rights in sight. And so it goes. . . . 

We are called crackpots, Communists, day dreamers 


because we don't like to sell our material outright, 
because we don't like to lump all copyrights together 
in one deal, because we would like our material back 
if it is not used and because we would like to share in 
any re-issues or re-makes of that material. 

Being hardy souls, the name calling does not bother 
vis. But we realize that we are in for a long struggle 
and a nasty one. Is there any word of advice that you 
would care to give us at this time — something that 
we could pass on to our members through The Screen 

We realize and we appreciate that you won your 
own personal struggle single handed because you had 
the temerity and the doggedness to stick it out person- 
ally — a thing which many of our novelists and play- 
wrights are already doing. But it will be a long battle 
if we wait for every man to win it for himself and 
so we are debating now various forms of collective 

Here in the Screen Writers' Guild we have pro- 
posed a limited trusteeship within the Authors' League, 
called the American Authors' Authority, which would 
serve as an over-all umpire-in-chief, somewhat like the 
film negotiator of the Dramatists' Guild in New York. 
Other writers are inclined to favor an over-all Mini- 
mum Basic Agreement in all fields. 

I am enclosing a special supplement of The Screen 

Writer, which analyzes in detail the proposals involved 
in AAA. 

We are, I know, a little late in this fight. The battle 
for personal identity and personal integrity should 
have been fought at the very birth of radio, television 
and films. 

And it is true that those determined enough to win 
the battle for themselves can win it and are winning 
it every day. But our problem is, as it was in the Dra- 
matists' Guild — how to win it for people who are 
not strong enough yet to win it for themselves. 

In a statement concerning Mr. Shaw's article and 
his suggestion that AAA be divorced from the Authors' 
League of America, Mr. Lavery says: 

\T TE are grateful to Mr. Shaw for his encourage- 
* * ment and stimulating analysis of the plan for 
the American Authors' Authority. But I must point 
out that we can hardly meet the condition imposed 
by Mr. Shaw. He says he will be with us all the way 
if we withdraw from the Authors' League, but that, 
of course is not possible. Our plan was conceived as an 
integral part of the League. Today, as always, the 
Screen Writers' Guild stands squarely with the other 
groups in the Authors' League — the Authors' Guild, 
the Radio Writers' Guild and the Dramatists' Guild. 

Oscar Hammerstein, 2nd, Replies to Bernard Shaw 

Oscar Hammerstein, 2nd, president of the Authors' 
League of America, comments in the following state- 
ment on George Bernard Shaw's remarks concerning 
AAA and the League: 

A^R. SHAW, declaring that he will join the Amer- 
■^'■"■ican Authors' Authority "if and when it disen- 
tangles itself from the League," thereafter adds many 
other conditions among which is elimination of the 
existing articles which he describes as "ridiculously 
superfluous and drawn up by amateurs." 

What it adds up to is that Mr. Shaw is not stating 
a real desire to join the American Authors' Authority 
as it has been planned. He is stating merely that he is 
willing to have the American Authors' Authority join 
him if they meet his conditions. He states that he has 
served for ten years on the Executive Committee of 
the Authors' Society in London. The British play- 
wrights have for many years suffered many injustices. 

Their rewards and their rights have been far below 
the standard set by the Minimum Basic Contract of 
the Dramatists' Guild. They have recently attained 
better conditions by modeling their new contracts after 
ours, but they have by no means caught up to us. 

As far as publishing contracts are concerned, Mr. 
Shaw seems to have little hope, one of his theories 
being that "most books are dead after eighteen months." 
Someone should tell him about the contract recently 
negotiated by our Authors' Guild and soon to be signed. 
If he cares to add to his somewhat meagre informa- 
tion on the Authors' League of America, he might also 
examine the advances made by our Radio Writers' 
Guild and compare them with what his Society of 
Authors in London has done. 

Thus, if an author is hesitating between joining Mr. 
Shaw's own version of the American Authors' Auth- 
ority or casting his lot with the Guilds of the Authors' 
League of America, I would suggest that we have 
better pies to sell at our counters. 

You Can't Do That! 


RKO producer of such films as Mur- 
der, My Sweet and Cornered, here dis- 
cusses the making of Crossfire, the 
soon to be released picture which he 
produced for RKO. This article is 
based on a speech given by Mr. Scott 
at the Film Panel of the Conference 
Against Thought Control in the United 
States, held in Beverly Hills in July. 

I'D like to talk about Crossfire. As many of you 
know, it is the first picture that has been made 
which deals frankly and openly with the subject of 
anti-Semitism. I would like to tell you a little of its 
history first, focussing on the behind-the-scene prob- 
lems and the pressures to which we — who made it — 
were subject. 

The project was conceived some two years ago. A 
book, The Brick Foxhole, had been written by Rich- 
ard Brooks, then in the uniform of the Marine Corps. 
The Brick Foxhole was melodrama. It was soldiers in 
wartime. It was an attack on native fascism — or the 
prejudices which exist in the American people which 
when organized lead very simply to native fascism. It 
was an angry book, written with passion rooted in 
war — "in a dislocated, neurotic moment in history." 
While it did not exclusively deal with anti-Semitism, 
it nevertheless gave an opportunity to focus simply on 
anti-Semitism. It was a subject we wanted to do some 
thing about, it was a subject that needed public airing. 
And it was melodrama. 

We had made several melodramas and were gen- 
erally dissatisfied with the emptiness of the format, 
which in many ways is the most highly developed screen 
format. The screen had done melodramas well but 
mainly they were concerned with violence in pursuit 
of a jade necklace, a bejeweled falcon. The core of 
melodrama usually concerned itself with an innocuous 
object, without concern for reality although dressed in 
highly realistic trappings. Substituting a search for an 
anti-Semite instead of a jade necklace, at the same time 
investigating anti-Semitism, seemed to us to add dimen- 
sion and meaning to melodrama, at the same time lend- 
ing outlet for conviction. 

This is all fine, theoretically. It was fine to talk 
about it, and it would be interesting to do ; but, as you 
know, the working producer doesn't have the right to 
make what he wants. Neither does a writer. Nor a 
director. The problem was the okay from the Front 

Office — that civilized monster which has no other 
concern but to think up devious ways to make you 
unhappy, or so you think. As producer, it was my job 
to go to the front office, which I did. At the time, 
William Dozier was the executive in charge. 

I outlined the scheme to him — to make this picture 
at a minimum cost ; in a short period of time, 23 days ; 
to use people that we had confidence in who had never 
been given a chance ; in brief, to make this highly con- 
troversial subject an exciting picture and an honest 
gamble. Dozier commented that he was worried about 
anti-Semitism ; and though he had no sure way of know- 
ing, he'd felt from his personal experiences that anti- 
Semitism had grown since Hitler's demise, rather than 
diminished. Dozier ordered an option taken on the 

SO far, so good. We did some more thinking about 
it. Virginia Wright of the Los Angeles Daily News 
announced the project in a column. People called me. 
They said it would be fine if we could do it, but there 
was a long way to go to get it in production. People 
called Dmytryk, the director, and Paxton, the writer 
— with the same sort of mournful note in their voices. 
Some said it was wrong to do it in a melodramatic 
format. Some said, why do it? We were young. This 
picture could come later. We were sticking our necks 
out. It could be catastrophic. People not only said this 
to us — we said it to ourselves. 

We left for England to make So Well Remembered 
and on the estate of Sir Oswald Mosely — now turned 
into a boarding house — we thought about The Brick 
Foxhole some more. We worried more about it than 
we thought about it. We wondered if they would really 
let us make it. I got a sinus attack for which a Harley 
Street specialist could not find a reason. Clearly, he 
was a quack. Johnny Paxton had some stomach trouble 
which he attributed to the English food although none 
of the rest of us had trouble at that time. Johnny 


Paxton and I continued to kick the project around — 
with Dmytryk when he was free from his chores — 
and we managed (in these conferences which were to 
create Crossfire) to find a number of reasons why 
Crossfire couldn't be made. 

First, it had never been done before. 2) They 
wouldn't let us do it. 3) Everybody says that pictures 
of this kind lose their shirts at the box office. Besides, 
motion pictures decline social responsibility. They have 
one responsibility only: to stockholders, to make them 
rich or richer. Sure-fire stuff is rule of thumb — legs, 
torsos, bosoms, shapely and magnificent, with or with- 
out talent, are the vestiture and investment of films, 
beyond which only the fool goes. Why be a fool? 4) 
This was the wrong way to do this subject. 5) Actors 
would not risk their reputations. 6) A number of 
exhibitors would refuse to play the picture. 7) This 
picture would hurt somebody's feelings. Probably some 
nice anti-Semite's. 8) This was not an effective way 
to combat anti-Semitism. It was much better not to talk 
about it. And having exhausted that, we continued dis- 
cussions on the most effective way of making it. 

We returned home in November of last year. The 
studio had gone through a change of administration. 
Peter Rathvon was in temporary charge of production, 
negotiating, as we later found out, with a new produc- 
tion head. 

. I was home from England a few days when I was 
told by the Story Department that there was a pos- 
sibility that the option on The Brick Foxhole might 
be dropped. 

About this time I had a series of X-rays on my 
stomach. Clearly, I'd fallen victim to the old producer 
complaint — ulcers. I drank horrid white liquid and 
a man with lead gloves poked me in the stomach and 
the damn fool couldn't find anything wrong. 

I felt I was the victim of a plot and I said to nobody 
at all that they couldn't do this to me. 

I was ready to have it out with Peter Rathvon. Inci- 
dentally, Rathvon is quite a man to have things out 
with — he is not only president of the production 
company, he is president of RKO theatres and also 
chairman of the board of directors of RKO. He speaks 
with some authority. 

I told him about the project and he said it was very 
interesting and this was the first he'd heard of it. We 
all had been abroad. We had no opportunity to discuss 
it with him. Familiarizing himself with the lot, he'd 
run across Brick Foxhole, and assumed that I, on my 
own, would drop the option since it was about a 
moment in history which could be better analyzed sev- 
eral years hence. He had no objections to a picture on 
anti-Semitism. As a matter of fact, he thought it was 
a good idea. The sterility of general motion picture 

production was something which bothered him — here 
was a good, useful way of introducing a new subject 
matter. He ordered the option to be renewed. 

At about this time my ulcerous condition mysteri- 
ously abated. 

\TTE started actual work on the screen play when 
™ T Dore Schary was made head of production. 
Schary's record is known to all of you. It is a record 
generously laden with progressive picture making. But 
— now something else had to be considered. Schary 
was new. He had an extremely difficult job of reorgan- 
ization facing him. Sure, he wanted to make pictures 
with a mature content. He was on record as saying 
this. But anti-Semitism was a different matter. This 
was an explosive subject. It would be highly embar- 
rassing to present him with a decision of this nature a 
few weeks after arriving on the lot. Was it right to do 
it now? Maybe a few months from now? These were 
our nightmares. 

The night after I sent Johnny Paxton's magnificent 
script to him, two sleeping pills didn't work. I arrived 
haggard the next morning — a little late. I learned 
that Mr. Schary had made an appointment with my 
secretary — I was due in his office in ten minutes. So 
I went up. 

He said, "I think this will make a good picture. 
Let's go." Overnight, the lot was transformed into a 
unit for Crossfire. Every department swung into oper- 
ation to meet the challenge of making an "A" picture 
on a "B" budget. Robert Young left Columbia at 12 
o'clock, having finished one picture, and at 1 o'clock 
started Crossfire. Robert Mitchum cut short a vaca- 
tion. Robert Ryan would have murdered anyone who 
prevented him from playing the part of the anti- 

Conferences were held with Schary who made sug- 
gestions which improved the script. This, of course, is 
revolution, when it is necessary to admit into the record 
that the contributions of a studio head were not only 
used but welcomed. The picture went into production 
on a 23-day schedule. The photography by Roy Hunt 
was painstakingly faithful to the script values. Eddie 
Dmytryk brought it in on schedule and, most impor- 
tant, achieved his finest direction to date. 

That is the story and these were the pressures we 
were subject to. 

I have gone into the history of Crossfire at this length 
not for the purpose of examining Crossfire but to exam- 
ine my colleagues and myself. For two years we feared 
not that we would not make a good picture but that 
we would not make a picture at all. Through all the 
long months before we started work fear consumed us. 
Why does this fear occur? Where does this fear come 


from? It does not require complex medical opinion 
to discover the source. 

It is a fear produced with a Hollywood trademark. 
Throughout its comparatively short history, Holly- 
wood has been the victim of an infinite variety of lobby- 
ists who claim the right to dictate what pictures shall 
be made and what the content of those pictures will 
be. As a result of these pressures a complex and subtle 
system of thought control has grown up around the 
industry. At times it is not so complex and not so 
subtle. And the newcomer, before he can successfully 
make his way, must not only become accustomed to 
this pattern, but must become a part. The producer's 
first consideration of any property is: "Can I get this 
by the Producer's Code?" Notice the wording: "Can 
I get it by?" It is not a deliberate thought process, it 
is a reflex action — that automatic. Similarly functions 
the writer and the director and the executive. And pity 
the poor cameraman who, because of the famous 
cleavage controversy, must not subvert the bosoms of 
American womanhood from two into one. 

T NCI DENTALLY, it is not my purpose here to 
•*- estimate whether the individual or the industry is 
chiefly responsible for this fear among us. I am prin- 
cipally interested in the fact that it exists, in the fact 
that it does touch the individual and transforms his 
work into something he does not want it to be. 

My colleagues and I are guilty. We imposed a 
censorship on ourselves in first considering a picture 
on anti-Semitism and during its preparation. There is 
nothing in the code of the Producers Association which 
prevents the making of Crossfire. The Producers Asso- 
ciation, Mr. Breen in particular, applauded this pic- 
ture. He felt it was a fine contribution, and went so 
far as to defend us against snide and ridiculous rumors. 
This fear — this self-imposed censorship resulting from 
fear — is not an isolated phenomenon confined to my 
colleagues and myself. It is a virus infecting all of us. 
It can cause creative senility, hackery and lousy pic- 
tures. It constitutes conservatism to the point of reac- 
tion. This creative reaction results in cliche thinking 
and cliche work and cliche pictures. 

We are not, however, the cliche that we produce on 
the screen — we are not that hero — the strong Amer- 
ican, rough, tender, witty, intelligent, unconquerable 

— except by the little school teacher from Boston. We 
are not the Clark Gable we write, direct and produce, 
who with his bare hands tears rich dynasties apart, 
with only Hedy Lamarr by his side. We are — rather 

— the wish fulfillment of this creation. We are, in 
fact, cliches compounding further cliches. 

This fear is a state of mind and like a state of mind 
it is subject to change. It is not easy to change; it is 

sometimes not profitable; on the other hand, it is 
sometimes immensely profitable. The enormous success 
of pictures honestly dealing with their subject is proof 
enough. But, I repeat, it is subject to change. It has 
changed in the past. Behind us, we have a record of 
picture making which has dignity and courage. 

WOULD like briefly to cite a few cases — pic- 
tures which were made in spite of the taboos: 

The Story of Louis Pasteur, the great French sci- 
entist, was a realistic appraisal of the scientist. At the 
time it was held that you could not make a picture 
about a bug — about diseased cows — about hydro- 
phobia and mad dogs and children suffering the rav- 
ages of the disease. Aspects of Pasteur were seized upon 
and made highly unattractive. The result we know — 
a biography of dignity, entertainingly telling the story 
of a man who in his day fought medical reaction. 

Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. I do not know 
whether Darryl Zanuck, who produced this, was sub- 
ject to pressure. It is quite conceivable that he was, 
but the mere fact of making this picture caused Mr. 
Zanuck to take a stand — against the abuse of people. 
That it was attacked when it was released is an estab- 
lished fact. That it was a fine and successful picture 
needs no elaboration. 

There are others made in opposition to pressure: 
Confessions of a Nazi Spy, Mission to Moscow and the 
pictures which depicted the gangster era. The part the 
gangster pictures played in causing legislation against 
prohibition is well known. 

More recently, Boomerang and The Farmer's 
Daughter have been attacked, and Best Years of Our 
Lives — and to their everlasting credit, Samuel Gold- 
wyn and Dore Schary have answered their attackers. 
During the preparation of The Best Years, it is con- 
ceivable that Mr. Goldwyn was told that he shouldn't 
make a picture about returning veterans — the people 
were tired of war, of soldiers in uniform, they wanted 
to forget, they wanted to think about something else — 
to be happy, joyful. If Mr. Goldwyn had listened he 
would not only have done himself and the public a rare 
disservice, he also would not have had the biggest 
grosser of the year. 

These pictures, all of them, did not ask for revo- 
lution. They merely asked for an extension of demo- 
cracy. They treated humanity with compassion — and 
this today is becoming a crime. This crime is some- 
thing which the American people want. Their support 
of Farmer's Daughter and The Best Years of Our 
Lives, Kingsblood Royal and Gentleman's Agreement 
I submit as evidence. I have it on my own personal 
record from two preview audiences of Crossfire. 

We received the largest number of cards ever 


accorded an RKO picture in its two previews. Over 
500 were received from the preview held at the RKO 
86th Street Theatre — on the fringe of Yorkville, the 
old Fritz Kuhn district. Over 500 were received at 
RKO Hillstreet. 95% of the cards heartily approved 
Crossfire. An overwhelming majority liked those scenes 
best which directly come to grips with anti-Semitism. 
A great majority asked the screen to treat more sub- 
jects like this. 

' I 'HAT tired, dreary ghost who has been haunting 
**• our halls, clanking his chains and moaning, "The 
people want only entertainment," can be laid to rest, 
once and for all. The American people have always 
wanted, and today more than ever want pictures which 
touch their lives, illuminate them, bring understand- 
ing. If we retreat now, because of our own doubts, not 
only do we do a great disservice to the American audi- 
ence, but we do a most profound disservice to ourselves. 
For this Fear we've become accustomed to — this 

adjustment we have made to taboos — are the allies 
of the Thomas Committee, the Tenney Committee, and 
their stooges within and without the industry. Our 
Fear makes us beautiful targets — we are in the proper 
state of mind for the operation of these committees 
which, in pretending to defend, actually subvert our 
democratic way. We are magnificently adjusted to bans 
and ripe for more bans which inevitably will result if 
we allow it. There are supercilious cynics among us 
who conceivably could derive a singular pleasure from 
further bans on what we write, direct and produce. 
Further bans extend an already flourishing martyr com- 
plex — more reason to sit by, substituting luxury and 
creative locomotor ataxia for honest creative effort. 

I believe we have a job to combat the controls which 
can lead only to more sterility in motion pictures and 
reaction generally. If we allow ourselves to be con- 
sumed by our fears, this can happen. While this mar- 
riage of reaction is going on, we've got to speak now — 
or we'll be forced to forever hold our peace. 

A World Audience for The Screen Writer 

SWG member Jean Renoir's article, Chaplin Among the Immortals, published in the July 
issue of this magazine, is being widely reprinted in France. 

William Wyler's article in the February issue, No Magic Wand, has been reprinted with 
credit in England, France, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Argentina and is ap- 
pearing next month in Filme, the new Brazilian screen quarterly, for Brazilian and Portuguese 

Robert Shaw's article in the March issue, A Package Deal in Film Opinions, concerning Dr. 
George Gallup's movie audience research methods, has been reprinted with credit in two British 
magazines, in Czechoslovakia, Switzerland and Mexico. 

Jay Richard Kennedy's article, An Approach to Pictures, in the June issue has aroused unusual 
interest both in the United States and abroad, and will probably be reprinted in several foreign film 

I. A. L. Diamond's Hollywood Jabberwocky, published in the June issue of this magazine, was 
reprinted with credit to Mr. Diamond and The Screen Writer in the June 23 issue of Time. 

Other recent articles widely quoted or reprinted in the U.S.A. and abroad are I. G. Gold- 
smith's Made in England, James M. Cain's Vincent Sargent Lawrence, Millen Brand's The Book 
Burners, Vladimir Pozner's Adult or Adulterated, Harold Salemson's The Camera as Narrator, 
Rouben Mamoulian's Stage fcf Screen, Roland Kibbee's Stop Me If You Wrote This Before, and 
many parts of the Freedom of the Screen Section in the June issue. 

Scully on Tully 


FRANK SCULLY, a member of SWG, 
is the author of many books including 
the Fun In Bed series and Rogues' Gal- 
lery. He has been a foreign correspon- 
dent and is now Hollywood correspon- 
dent and columnist for the New York 
edition of Variety. His friendship with 
Jim Tully was of long standing. 

HE was a red-haired, red-faced Danton of the 
French Revolution cut down to a California 
commercial acre — the original hard-boiled Mr. 
Five by Five of life — but by the time he gave up the 
ghost and the boutonniered planters of the dead got 
their hands on him, he was bleached white and down 
to proportions nearer a sand swept city lot. 

In his prime, his magnificent voice could talk your 
ears off, but for the last two years, he was down to 
whispers — most of his body paralyzed by Parkinson's 
disease and arteriosclerosis. He would stare for hours 
at the ceiling. When the nurse would approach him with 
a hypo he'd brush her off. All his life he had been a 
fighter, but an hour before he died on the Fourth Sun- 
day after Pentecost, Anno 1947, he finally decided to 
go quietly. 

Contrary to general opinion Emmett Lawler was 
not Tully's first piece of creative writing. His fight re- 
cord was. Boxers normally begin as preliminary boys 
and work up. Jim Tully began as a semi-finalist by the 
simple formula of having printed up a record of ten 
fights which had not taken place yet. They were all 

What he took later in the ring must have left a 
permanent trauma. He had a perpetually blood-shot 
eye and his story of a slug-nutty fighter in The Bruiser 
wasn't creative writing in the least. Black Boy, a play 
he wrote for Paul Robeson, also showed how serious 
he could be about the ring. 

Of those fights not in the record books, John Gilbert's 
was the most hilarious. Upbraided for hitting a mati- 
nee idol, Tully said Gilbert was fanning himself to 
death. "So I put him to sleep for his own protection." 

Today they lie on the same slope of Forest Lawn. 
Dreiser is there, too. This is really funny, because the 
writers at least had as much affinity for the place as Red 
Lewis when writing Babbitt. Maybe by now Lewis 
would love to be planted there too. People change. 

The minister read The House By The Side of The 
Road and similar items hardly culled from Laughter 

In Hell. I thought of a line of Jim's at the Strong 
Woman's funeral: "The audience looked bored with 

Afterward Fritz Tidden said to me : "It would have 
been a better service if the minister had read that chap- 
ter from Circus Parade." 

But Jim's soul wasn't there, anyway, and his body 
didn't belong there either, because he had received the 
last rites of the Catholic Church and should have been 
buried in Calvary, or back in St. Mary's, Ohio, where 
he was born. 

' I 'HAT was where he had his six years of schooling 
•*• in an orphanage. Blasphemic on most issues, he was 
forever grateful to the nuns who had given him that 
much. They taught him to write sentences as short as 
a prison haircut. He kept them that way. 

That he was unique among $1000-a-week scenario- 
writers in quitting school at the age of twelve, I doubt. 
But he was unique in his admittance of how little he 
contributed to a picture. "All I did for Trader Horn, 
he said, "was to tell Thalberg that animals were afraid 
of fire." He had a standing offer to become one of Irv- 
ing Thalberg's writers. He looked on it as a stooge role 
and refused to do it regularly. 

One of the most mixed up men in this town, Rupert 
Hughes, helped Tully most when a dollar and some 
guidance made all of the difference. It was Hughes who 
made possible the completion of Emmett Lawler. 

Tully raised the lowest form of writing, fan maga- 
zines, to its highest level and dragged the writing of 
novels from the lofty heights of Lord Fauntleroy 
down to the realism of Shanty Irish. He was the first 
Hollywood writer to release an unretouched portrait 
of a director. That was Jarnegan who could be Jack 
Ford, Jim Cruze, Rex Ingraham or Jim Tully. 

For Beggars of Life, Circus Parade, The Bruiser, 
and Shadows of Men, he received a lot of praise. 
For Ladies In The Parlor he got suppressed by Sum- 



ner. His books got him listed all over the world 
as the hobo author, despite the fact that he hadn't been 
in a boxcar in more than 25 years. When I first met 
him he owned a three-acre, $100,000 estate on Toluca 
Lake, over the hill from Hollywood. A brick mansion, 
modeled on the lines of George Borrow's, and hidden 
among dozens of giant eucalyptus trees, it housed Holly- 
wood's best library. In those days there weren't more 
than three civilized homes in that land of magnificent 
mansions, and Jim Tully's was one of the three. 

Fifteen miles beyond this retreat which became too 
hemmed in for him, what with the Crosbys, Powells, 
Astors, Twelvetrees, Brians, Bruces, Brents, Disneys, 
and other picture personalities building on all sides of 
him, Tully bought a 100-acre ranch at Chatsworth so 
that he might retreat farther from the civilization that 
attacked him from the west, where he found his fame, 
and the east, where he had none to lose. 

He grew alfalfa on his acres and thought that when 
the revolution came he could live off his land, because 
land, in his curiously innocent opinion, is the last thing 
the revolutionists, whether from left or right, will take. 
The revolution, to hear him tell it, was just beyond the 
10th hill and several leagues this side of the horizon, al- 

"Let's have another drink!" 

If you didn't let him have another drink, you'd find 
his wrath swerving from the generality to the particu- 
lar, and you'd soon be writhing under the lash of his in- 
credible candor.. It was a curious mixture of Billings- 
gate and Shakespeare — a poet pelting you with manure. 

If you didn't let him have another drink, his voice 
got more basso profundo, and deeper truths came out — 
all of them about you and all of them destined to make 
others grin, and you squirm. Naturally, such a talker 
shocked the more cautious. 

TLT E wrote all over the place. In one and the same 
■*■ •*■ month he appeared in Vanity Fair, Scribner's, 
True Confessions, the American Mercury, and Photo- 
play. And if that isn't getting a feel of the public pulse, 
Lydia Pinkham never had it either. 

Nobody has ever been quite so willing to go into dog- 
houses as Tully, feeling certain he'd bark his way out 
before dawn. And his bark, more's the pity, was far 
worse than his bite. He had a compassion for men, which 
hobbled him at every turn ; that compassion, of course, 
took him out of the running in the Superman Sweep- 
stakes, the Nietzschean dope sheet which drove it's 
author crazy, Mencken to beer, and Shaw to clowning. 

When Mencken sent Tully to San Quentin to report 
the hanging of a youth, Tully stood by the scaffold and 
watched the lad's neck pop, then sat down without a 

quaver of emotion or a break in a line and wrote his 
most hard-boiled report. Without even one aside, A 
California Holiday remains the most terrible indict- 
ment against capital punishment ever written in Amer- 

Of those who do manage to get their quota of noto- 
riety which passes for fame, he was proudest of Jack 
Dempsey, who incidentally was in town but wasn't at 
the funeral. Both were road kids ; both made the grade. 
Dempsey made more money, but Dempsey sensed that 
Tully did more with what talent he brought out of the 
ring. Jim's wife was Myrtle Zwetow. She was as beauti- 
ful as a Brenda print. The only lady in surroundings 
where all try to play the part, she protected the ex-road- 
kid in the social clinches, and kept him from those who 
would put him back in the chain gang from which he 
was the world's most eminent fugitive. She babied him 
till the end. 

He used to go to New York twice a year just to see 
Dempsey, Mencken, Nathan, Winchell, Runyon, and 
others of the old mob, but after a week or two he began 
to die every night, waiting for the dawn, and then sud- 
denly he would hop a rattler or a plane and blow for his 
Hollywood hideaway. 

The people he wrote about — hoboes, prize fighters, 
circus troupers, prostitutes, fugitives from chain gangs, 
and beggars of life generally — are what the trade 
knows as money pictures, but Tully's treatment of them 
was too tough, in the main, for the censors. Producers 
found it easier to steal his raw material and dress it up 
as society drama, a seduction on a drawing-room couch 
being easier to condone, presumably, than one in a box- 
car or haymow. 

At lunch once with Walter Winchell, he asked the 
latter for the loan of his column. 

"What for?" asked Winchell. 

"To keep a road kid from burning," was the answer. 

"Okay," said Winchell. 

Between the two they saved the kid from the electric 
chair. He later studied journalism. 

"I'm sorry now I didn't let him burn," said Tully. 

How he could hold on to the roots of his serious writ- 
ing in such an atmosphere was the most enigmatic thing 
about Tully. Writers with as much industry, leaving 
out entirely the issue of talent, say, to a man, that they 
can't work in California. Tully on the other hand, swore 
by Hollywood. He couldn't work in New York. 

f*\ NE of those incredible accidents of history turned 
^-^ him from working to writing for a living. He was 
22 at the time, and had been sent by Martin Davey, the 
famous tree surgeon who rose to be governor of Ohio, 
into the south in command of 10 men. His letters to 


Davey were so interesting the tree surgeon asked him to 
write something for the company's bulletin. 

That was his first published piece, and though he 
didn't make much money at writing for a long time, he 
had averaged $80,000 a year between 1926 and 1936. 

Wilson Mizner once questioned his talent and be- 
came crazed with Tully's own appraisal. Tully claimed 
he was a better writer than O. Henry. 

Mizner 's eyes popped. "You — oh God in Heaven, 
guide me ! What do I hear ? You digger in the garbage 
of literature!" 

"As you will, Wilson," demurred Jim, "I'm built to 
go far places." 

"On a freight!" Mizner's paunch heaved. "Why, 
you never took a bath till you were thirty." 

"That may be — but anyone'll tell you I can write 
O. Henry's ears off," insisted Tully. 

Mizner's wrath boiled over. "Why, you impudent 
red-headed cur! You porter in the bawdy house of 
words. My God!" He rose. "I'm leaving here right 
now." He walked toward the door but turned to add : 
"You low rat, you befouler of the great dead, you slime 
of the underworld, you shady reprehensible rogue." 

He paused for breath and added in scorn: "You a 
better writer than O. Henry! Why, you couldn't sign 
his tax receipts! You're as illiterate as a publisher. If 
you had a Roman nose you'd be a courtesan!" 

He began to act like bubble gum. He trembled. "I'm 
leaving your house right now, you damned brainless 
jazzer of decent English, before you claim you wrote 
O. Henry's stories." 

Tully calmly replied. "No, Wilson, I wouldn't say 

Mizner, deflated with relief, paused at the door. 

"Well," he said, "that's decent of you." 

"Not exactly decent," replied the stocky little David 
to the big fat Goliath, "I'd be ashamed to." 

Mizner relapsed. He fell to the rug and crawled to- 
ward the door. "Good God in Heaven, deliver me from 
this lousy literary hobo," he screamed. 

f~*\ N the other hand, he could bury his talent for 
^^ the glorification of others. I am not thinking par- 
ticularly of his writings for Chaplin or other ghostings. 
I am thinking of a time ten or twelve years ago when 
it looked as if I would bow out myself. He offered to 
fulfill any of my writing commitments. I remember one 
he completed by stealing freely from his own files and 
putting my name on the finished product. He assured 
the mother of our little fleas from heaven not to worry, 
that he would take care of them till they were able to 
fly off on their own. 

Politically, he claimed to be neither of the left wing 
nor the right wing, but all wings. I pray that he was 
right in this. He deserved to be accepted by the wing 
commanders of heaven for one thing alone: the silent 
agony of his last years on earth. 

"I pity everything that lives," he used to say,"because 
it has to die." I do not want to go into the real tragedy 
of his life. He has confessed that he only broke once in 
his life and that I was with him when it happened. I 
pitied him then, but I do not pity him now. All I ask 
is that since he now rests in peace he extend his help to 
those of us still this side of purgatory. 

An Old Frenchman With a New Idea 

SWG member Leonard Hoffman notes that it might interest some critics of the American 
Authors' Authority plan to know that the precedent for AAA is over a hundred years old. 

Mr. Hoffman quotes from Matthew Josephson's biography of Victor Hugo to prove his point. 

Josephson emphasized that Hugo insisted on the principle of licensing rather than outright 
sale. He always limited to a ten year period the time covered by the contract for the right to publish 
his books. After ten years he renewed the publishing contract at more favorable terms. He insisted 
that the title to a literary property must remain under the control of that property's creator or his 
heirs. As a result, Josephson reminds us that Hugo was a very rich man, with a pyramiding income 
after 1838 from the sale of reprint rights for limited periods of time. 

Mr. Hoffman adds: "If a French author were able to secure such advantageous terms in the 
19th century, would it not be more correct to term the AAA a traditional rather than a revolution- 
ary development? In the pattern of the past often lies progress." 


Conference on Thought Control 


LESTER KOENIG, member of the 
editorial committee of The Screen 
Writer, ivas assigned by the editor to 
report on the proceedings of the recent 
Beverly Hills Conference Against 
Thought Control, in which many 
SfVG members played leading roles. 

^^"¥^OR the past five days," said Chairman How- 
'f* ard Koch, "we have participated in a unique 
event: the first conference against thought 
control in the history of the world." Koch was address- 
ing almost five hundred earnest and applauding writ- 
ers, actors, newspapermen, radio and film and pro- 
fessional people who crowded the Palm Room of the 
Beverly Hills Hotel Sunday evening, July 13th, for 
the closing session of that conference. 

"There's no mistaking it," said Robert Kenney, 
Chairman of the Progressive Citizens of America, 
whose Hollywood Arts, Sciences and Professions Coun- 
cil sponsored the conference, "a war has been declared 
on culture." 

"It is a war," Koch had said, "to control the people, 
in spite of the people, against the people." 

There was no attempt made to imply that there is 
absolute thought control, of the kind imposed by force 
under the Gestapo or the Japanese "thought police." 
Obviously the existence of the conference, the fact that 
the speakers could get up and speak as freely as they 
did, is proof of that. However, the general theme of 
the conference, as it emerged to this reporter, was that 
there is danger of losing some of our basic freedoms, 
and that the "eternal vigilance" of the familiar text- 
book quotation means the citizen of a democracy must 
be concerned with the least violation of his liberty. It 
is easy to legislate away and lose freedom; it is not so 
easy to win it back. 

This was the note sounded at all nine of the panels 
on Press, Fine Arts, Literature, Health & Medicine, 
Law, Radio, Science & Education, The Film, The 
Actor. Having been asked to report on the proceedings, 
or those sections of specific interest to screen writers, 
I attended the Literature and Film panels only. How- 
ever, I realized as I listened to the summaries given at 
the closing session, that many of the facts given by 
apparently competent authorities were also of interest 
because they throw light on similar developments in 
other professions, and in science. 

Summarizing the work of the arts panels, Donald 
Ogden Stewart pointed out that thought control was 
imposed by political and economic pressures on the 
artist. J. Parnell Thomas, he said, was the name most 
frequently mentioned in all the panels and he went on 
to give a few examples of thought control which were 
brought out in the discussions: the attack on modern 
painting as "radical art containing subversive prop- 
aganda dangerous to our way of life" at the Los Angeles 
Museum; the closing down by General Marshall of 
the State Department's art show of leading American 
contemporary paintings which was to be sent abroad 
as a cultural gesture of good will; the refusal of an 
entry visa to a leading Mexican artist because of his 
political views. 

The Press panel quoted the University of Chicago's 
report on Freedom of the Press, a report sponsored 
by Henry Luce, as indicating that freedom to be in 
grave danger. Newspapers as big business, and as 
monopolies, made it impractical, it was stated, for 
minority or opposition views to be printed and given 
wide circulation. 

The Radio panel claimed four networks and twenty 
advertising agencies now control broadcasts to 130,- 
000,000 people and have the right to say what those 
people should hear and what they should not hear. 
The "climate" on Broadway, which makes it terribly 
difficult for any play of social meaning to be produced, 
was described by Arthur Laurents and Arnaud 
d'Usseau. In music, it was said that no performer could 
be booked on any major circuit except through one of 
two major agencies. New composers find it very difficult 
to be heard. In city planning, the development of new 
and improved techniques by architects and designers 
have been frustrated by the control which the banks 
and lending agencies exert on real estate and building. 

A CCORDING to Stewart, there are wider and 
■^ ^wider restrictions on the artist ; subtle censorship, 
self-imposed, through fear of political attack or loss 



of livelihood, is resulting in artists retreating into "art 
for art's sake," or "ivory towers." The parallel to the 
fate of the artists under German fascism was indicated. 
There is a need, Stewart said, for the artist to find new 
ways and new media outside commercial control to 
reach people and fulfill their role as the conscience of 
the people. 

The same trends were stressed by Dr. Harold 
Orr, President of the American Federation of Teachers, 
in summarizing the five papers delivered at the Science 
and Education panels. The militarization of science, 
resulting in restrictions on the exchange of data neces- 
sary to scientific advance was cited. It was charged that 
information necessary to students is being denied them, 
and that they were receiving a "watered down, army 
approved" version of scientific knowledge. Our destruc- 
tion of the Japanese cyclotrons was scored as a crime 
against mankind, as much of a crime as the burning 
of Japanese libraries would have been, according to 
the Association of Oak Ridge Scientists, since the 
cyclotrons were not necessary to the manufacture of 
atomic bombs, but were vital to the development of 
atomic energy for peaceful industrial and medical use. 
Dr. Orr indicated that the treatment of the teacher 
in many sections of the country was that of a second 
class citizen and was part of the pattern of the degrada- 
tion of the cultural workers. In the colleges and high 
schools, he charged, the situation was often shocking, 
with a reported instance of armed spies hired to report 
on what students were saying and thinking. 

Ben Margolis, Los Angeles attorney, whom Hugh 
De Lacy, former Seattle Congressman introduced as 
a "fighting lawyer and friend of progress," summar- 
ized the panels on Law and Medicine. Margolis stated 
the investigations in his panels indicated a "direct rela- 
tionship between the concentration of economic power 
in monopoly and the suppression of freedom of 
thought." Medicine was characterized as a "big indus- 
try." It was stated that an alliance between the Amer- 
ican Medical Association, representing organized medi- 
cine, and the drug manufacturing industry was a major 
force in keeping quack cures and nostrums on the 
market, controlling hospital appointments, and deny- 
ing the people such benefits as adequate medical care 
for all. 

Margolis then moved on to the subject of the law, 
by the application or "mis-application" of which thought 
;ontrol was exercised. In discussing the failure of the 
law to "conform to our changing social structure," 
Margolis described President Truman's executive order 
on "loyalty" of government employees, under which 
one man, the Attorney General of the United States, 
is given the power to define any organization as "sub- 
versive." This, Margolis said, in effect invalidated 

the time-honored and democratic principle that within 
the limits of the penal codes, every citizen may think 
and preach what he believes. 

Margolis also summarized a paper by Morris Cohn, 
the legal counsel of the Screen Writers' Guild, who 
discussed the legal basis of committees such as the 
House Committee on Un-American Activities. He 
called its very existence "a challenge to constitutional 
safeguards of freedom." Like all congressional com- 
mittees, he explained, its power of investigation is 
directed toward, and limited to, fields which can result 
in legislation. There is no precedent at law for trials 
without indictment, representation by counsel, juries, 
all of which are denied by some committees which 
subpoena witnesses and subject them to a form of trial. 
Throughout the conference resolutions were passed 
condemning this type of congressional or legislative 
committee, and specifically asking for the abolition of 
the two committees headed by Congressman J. Parnell 
Thomas and California State Senator Jack Tenney. 

' I 'HIS, in brief, was the substance of the Thought 
"** Control Conference. The material of specific inter- 
est to writers was presented on Friday evening, July 
11th, at the Literature panel, Saturday afternoon, 
July 12th, at the Film panel. 

The audience of over five hundred and fifty which 
crowded the Literature panel applauded Donald Ogden 
Stewart's introductory remarks, in which he said he 
felt many writers were not writing what they knew 
they should write because they knew no one would pro- 
duce or buy it. "We mustn't make our own censorship," 
Stewart said, pointing out there was a huge audience 
"wanting to be reached." In proof of this, he mentioned 
the recent success of Kingsblood Royal, Gentleman's 
Agreement, and Inside U. S. A. 

Philip Stevenson discussed thought control patterns 
during the period of the Alien and Sedition Acts, in 
the closing years of the eighteenth century. Parallels 
to present trends were shown in describing how the 
Federalists, who were in office, used every means at 
their disposal to defeat the rising democratic party 
of Thomas Jefferson. The Sedition Act, for example, 
named the French people as our enemies, even though 
we were not at war with France. On the contrary 
France had been our only European ally in the Amer- 
ican Revolution. By this law, criticism of any act of 
any government official was a criminal libel, punish- 
able by fine and imprisonment. Stevenson's historical 
resume was of interest to the writers in his audience, 
since during the first three months after the act was 
passed, 21 Democratic editors were jailed. Among 
others, Matthew Lyon, the Congressman from Ver- 
mont was also jailed, and it even became a crime for 



a New York State Senator to circulate petitions against 
the Act, calling for its repeal. But, Stevenson pointed 
out, in the campaign of 1800, the people demonstrated 
their indignation by electing the vilified Jefferson, and 
defeating the Federalists so thoroughly they never again 
won an election. The Federalists had succeeded in 
"postponing democracy for a few years," and then 
they achieved oblivion. 

The second paper, What the Europeans Expect From 
American Writers, was presented by novelist George 
Tabori. He warned of the vicious cycle which thought 
control sets up, for it creates new demands for free- 
dom, which in turn engenders more thought control. 
He described the vast European audience which wants 
to know about the world and about themselves. This 
audience looks toward the United States, where they 
expect to find the new novels emerging in the tradition 
of realism which will arise out of our conflicts. The 
American writer, Tabori warned, cannot be silent 
today, for "silence would be suicide for him, and pos- 
sibly for humanity." 

The third paper, The Writer As the Conscience of 
the People, was read by Albert Maltz, and its presen- 
tation brought the author an enthusiastic response from 
the packed hall. It was a long, documented paper, and 
can scarcely be treated in the limited space of this 
report. Maltz began by describing Zola's defense of 
Dreyfus, and the courageous support he received at 
that time from other men of letters, who risked their 
liberty to defend him. Proust, for example, went from 
door to door with petitions to aid Zola after his con- 
viction and imprisonment. In tracing the reason why 
Zola, a successful novelist, should have concerned him- 
self with the fate of a man he had never met, Maltz 
analyzed the relation of the writer to society and life. 
He discussed four major attitudes the writer has open 
to him: a) cynicism, b) concern with self, c) cool 
impartiality, and finally, d) a compassionate and 
partisan espousal of forward-looking social values. 

"\ XALTZ did not deny that there were examples 
■*■*■*■ of literary art which had come from the first 
three named attitudes, but he expressed his firm con- 
viction that the best in literature had come from authors 
who adhered to the latter view. In support of this, 
he cited Victor Hugo, exiled for 17 years for partici- 
pation in the Republican uprising of 1848, and who 
later aided the Paris Commune; Stendhal, who was 
banned from Lombardy for "holding the most perni- 
cious political ideas;" Byron, who volunteered in the 
Greek rebel army, fought for Greek independence; 
Dostoievsky, who served a term in Siberia ; Gorki, who 
was jailed; and Chekhov, who came to Gorki's defense. 
Maltz described how Tolstov faced the threat of im- 

prisonment for revealing the truth about a famine which 
the Czarist state tried to keep quiet. And finally Maltz 
turned to the American authors who also faced and 
defeated attempts to silence them because of their 
espousal of the abolitionist cause. There was a rope 
around William Lloyd Garrison's neck, and the Rev- 
erend Lovejoy was shot and killed, Maltz said, indi- 
cating that it took no little courage for Thoreau to 
refuse to pay his taxes as a protest against slavery or 
for William Cullen Bryant to write his anti-slavery 
editorials, or for Whittier, Lowell, Dana and Emerson 
to raise their voices in protest. In Philadelphia, Emer- 
son was denied the right to speak in 1856. A Boston 
mob prevented him from speaking in 1861. Walt 
Whitman was fired from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle 
for "radical political sentiments." 

Maltz concluded by describing the conviction of 
Howard Fast, Herman Shumlin, and a dozen other 
members of the executive board of the Joint Anti- 
Fascist Refugee Committee in a Federal Court recently 
for conspiracy to commit contempt of the House Un- 
American Activities Committee. He told how Fast's 
Citizen Tom Paine had been banned from public 
school libraries of New York and Detroit. "If they 
can do this to Fast," Maltz stated, "the shadow of 
Rankin has fallen across the desk of every other honest 
American writer." 

The panel concluded with brief statements by Arthur 
Laurents and Arnaud D'Usseau on the New York 
theatre. George Sklar described the history of the 
Federal Theater Project, which he described as a 
"people's theatre" which produced 1000 plays in four 
years, plays which were seen by 25,000,000 people. 
When the Dies Committee investigated the Project, 
the question was asked, "Is Christopher Marlowe a 
Communist?" Sklar indicated the humor in that ques- 
tion was not very funny, for it revealed the kind of 
men who seek to exercise political censorship in the arts. 

Other speakers included Millen Brand, who spoke 
on the Hearst anti-obscenity campaign, an extension 
of an article which appeared in the January, 1947 
issue of The Screen Writer. Barclay Tobey, publish- 
er's representative, described the growing thought con- 
trol in the publishing field. Milton Merlin, who 
described himself as a literary critic "whimsically con- 
nected with the Los Angeles Times," said the Times 
apparently viewed neither literature nor himself as 
very important, for they had exercised no influence 
on his reviews. "They just don't care," Merlin said. 
Dorothy Hughes said she had not been subjected to 
any restrictions in her work, but voiced the opinion 
that the novelist would find a much wider audience 
if he had something to say. Wilma Shore, magazine 
writer, spoke of the connection between advertising and 



the content of stories. The preference of editors for 
the story with the happy ending, she said, tended to 
remove the reader from the realities of life. 

HP HE Film Panel, the following afternoon in the 
"*■ same room, was equally crowded. John Cromwell, 
noted motion picture director, chaired the session, 
which heard the following papers: The Areas of 
Silence by Irving Pichel; The Right to Fail, or With 
Whom is the Alliance Allied, by Carey McWilliams; 
The Relation of the Actor to Content in Films by 
Howard Da Silva; You Can't Do That by Adrian 
Scott.* The Screenwriter and Censorship by Richard 
Collins*, and finally, The Time of Your Life, by Paul 

Pichel spoke of the "great mandate for reality" 
which the film received during the war. The value of 
real films for morale and training purposes was then 
obvious. Now, Pichel claimed, the film has been 
"caponized," separated from reality, as though the 
war was really over, instead of continuing in the form 
of many unresolved conflicts. 

He likened the screen to "an accomplished actor 
memorizing and repeating words that have been ap- 
plauded in other media, and have been pre-censored, 
sifted, filtered against deviation from the most com- 
monly accepted and widely held social generalizations." 
In concluding, Pichel warned: "It is possible that film 
makers can, by repeated and discriminate attack, be 
frightened into an even greater reticence and evasion. 
But the greater danger is that the thoughts and feelings 
of the mass of American theater-goers will be frag- 
mented in the hope of rewelding them by raising a new 
enemy into a new unity — a unity of apprehension, 
of suspicion, of fear, a unity which will be only a 
caricature of the characteristic hopefulness and love 
of freedom which have marked the growth of this 
country to its present power and influence. Should this 
calamity befall, American thought will be indeed under 
an iron control which will rigidly clamp itself upon 
every medium by which thought is communicated. The 
screen, utterly dependent upon popular response, will 
be the first to fall." 

The relations between the Motion Picture Alliance 
and the House Committee on Un-American Activities 
was the subject of Carey McWilliams' paper. Accord- 
ing to McWilliams, the MPA announced its forma- 
tion in 1944 to counter the impression that Hollywood 
was "a hotbed of sedition and subversion." McWilliams 
pointed out that the assertion a charge is not true is 
a time-honored propaganda device to give wider cur- 

♦Neither Mr. Scott's nor Mr. Collins' speeches are fully 
described in this report, since Mr. Scott's paper is printed 
in full in this issue, and an article on this subject by Mr. 
Collins will appear in the September issue of The Screen 

rency to the charge itself. He referred to the leaders 
of the MPA, analyzing their motivations, and said 
that if they hadn't existed, it would have been neces- 
sary to invent them to aid forces outside the motion 
picture industry to attack it and control it for partisan 
propaganda. McWilliams traced the history of con- 
tinuing attacks on Hollywood's "red domination" from 
Congressman Martin Dies, through Senators Gerald 
Nye and Burton K. Wheeler, the Chicago Tribune 
and up to the present time. 

He stated the motion picture producers "were ob- 
viously unconcerned about the MPA as long as it 
concentrated its fire on the screenwriters, but that 
some producers realized that such attacks would not 
end with the writers. He mentioned Walter Wanger 
and Samuel Goldwyn as two producers who had dis- 
avowed the MPA, and said that Louis B. Mayer has 
"expressed less than complete enthusiasm" for actor 
Robert Taylor's charge the MGM film Song of Russia 
was loaded with subversive notions. 

I" N discussing the relation of the actor to thought 
-■-control, Howard Da Silva said that actors are often 
subject to attack for using their enormous popularity 
to "interfere" in politics. Da Silva pointed out, "It's 
not that an actor can't be a citizen, it's what side he's 
on." It is only the actor or actress who espouses a 
"progressive" cause who is the recipient of such attack, 
he said, and mentioned specifically the criticism of 
Katharine Hepburn for her speech at a meeting 
addressed by Henry Wallace in Hollywood last May 

Da Silva stressed what he called the "duties" of an 
actor. An actor, he felt, should speak up honestly on 
decisive issues: he should also realize he has wide 
influence because of the parts he plays, and how he 
plays them, and the actor, therefore, should refrain 
from being a party to the "stereotype" characteriza- 
tion of Negroes, or "foreign types," since the "stereo- 
type" is a way to evade the truth. 

Following Adrian Scott's description of the making 
of Crossfire, and his discussion of self-imposed censor- 
ship which results from the fear of criticism and per- 
sonal attack, Richard Collins outlined other forms of 
censorship imposed upon the screenwriter. 

The final speaker on the Film panel was Paul 
Draper, well-known dancer, who did not present a 
written paper, but told what he described as "a story 
of factual observation" of something which has already 
happened to the script of William Saroyan's play, The 
Time of Your Life, as a result of the activities of the 
House Committee on Un-American Activities. Draper 
began by saying that he was able to make his livelihood 



elsewhere, and therefore could speak more freely than 
other members of the panel whose economic security 
depended on the film industry. 

He recognized that the changes in the play were 
scarcely "world-shaking," and did not basically affect 
the content of the film, but he offered them in evidence 
as an instance of how fear is currently imposing its own 
censorship. According to Draper, in one of Saroyan's 
scenes, there was a reference to Hitler, who was the 
menace to world security at the time the play was writ- 
ten. The line went, in part, "No, the headline isn't 
about me, it's about Hitler." Since that reference was 
dated, it was suggested to Draper that he substitute 
Stalin for Hitler. Draper objected, and eventually it 

was suggested as a form of compromise that the name 
of Molotov be substituted. However, when Draper 
told the producer that Sidney Bernstein, who repre- 
sented J. Arthur Rank, said his organization would 
not distribute a film which had a line in it derogatory 
to the Soviet Union, "there was flashing action." An 
alternate take was made for "protection" in which the 
line became, "No, the headline isn't about me, it's 
about Kilroy!" 

Draper stated the line "I haven't the heart to be a 
heel so I'm a worker," was deleted, and he was 
assured one couldn't use the word worker today in a 
Hollywood film "because of the Thomas-Rankin com- 
mittee investigation." 

A Few Comments on the New Format 

Since changing from its "little magazine" style to its present format, The Screen Writer has 
received a great number of comments on the June and July issues. Here are a few of them: 

"The magazine looks swell in its new format!" — Bennet Cerf , publisher. 

"In its handsome new format it is as bright now in appearance as it is stimulating in content . . . 
Thanks for hours of entertaining and informative reading." — Virginia Wright, Drama Editor, Los 
Angeles Daily News. 

"I like the new format." — Raymond Chandler, novelist and screen writer. 

"I feel the magazine is now beginning to realize its true potentialities." — Jay Richard Kennedy, 

"Important in content." — Vincent Sherman, director. 

"With that last issue we joined the big league." — Malvin Wald, screen writer and play- 

"A lot of essential reading in the new Screen Writer." — Sidney Skolsky, columnist and pro- 

"The editor, the director of publications and the entire editorial committee are all due an 
orchid apiece for the new Screen Writer, up to standard size for the first time. . . . The mag has 
always been grand reading, but now in full dress and with good makeup it's a real treat. . . . The 
format is particularly distinctive." — Hollywood Review. 

"A wealth of information for writers." — Harry Crocker in the Los Angeles Examiner. 


Hum incomE tri 



Jumpfron> S**> '<" t ' 94 6-47 

$1,130, 000, OOJff g jjyjjj-j 

'W 46 







payment's new statisi « es fof ft^UM 

?ive-year research P^ end 8 0US 

in^stry also show,tst he 


industry aiso snu™--- . ncome 

The figures show th ^ nea 

, the picture industry ine . d . 

Iv 300 percent in trie i o » j, 

'/rom $432^00.000 m '929 »» 

130.000.000 '" V£?- w „ in 1932. 
or the '8-Year penod «« d 
when 'he income of^he .n ^ 

pe d to $ , 91,00.ouu. n . 

or we GROSS 

— -_...»»• nf Screen Writing* 

** w .„ primer of Screen Writing 

*?°":r, e »-,n income, with the exce p^ ^^-— 



'iett^/i/tci tn»* VorUty and Rt/ort-er July 21st 

A That art httj/incs •&»** Vor/'tfy «ntf Rt/orftr July 21st 

Washington, July 20.— w ■ 

■ , ' „ i recreation according 

na "-T, h« the US Department of w. 

*° Tfere Uthe sVory of the amusement 

, 9 !?r$U 30.000 000 thenar 

,.,,, or, vo, in 1946 as the 
y ^on°national income .ssued 

Our present share of theatre admissions in theUnited States alone is one per cent — much less if 
computed on the world gross of american pictures. does it seem preposterous to suggest that screen 
writers actually provide as much as, say, two per cent of what the movie goer gets for his money? 

This is another special section of The Screen Writer, prepared to high- 
light the more important factors in the current decrease of screen writing em- 
ployment, and to survey briefly the problems of the original story market 
and other questions affecting the economic and professional welfare of writers 
in Hollywood. 

First Steps in Arithmetic 


ACCORDING to Hollywood legend it was a 
common practice ten or fifteen years ago for 
armed studio scouts to snatch some defenseless 
writer out of the Algonquin or the Poets' Rest on 

RING LARDNER, JR., is a former vice-president and pres- 
ently a member of the Executive Board of SWG. He is holder 
of screen writing awards from the Academy of Motion Pic- 
ture Arts and Sciences and from the Hollywood Writers 


Sheridan Square and rush him in a sealed train to a 
suite in the Beverly-Wilshire, an oak-paneled office 
in Culver City and oblivion. Then for six months or 
a year he would see no one except his beautiful secre- 
tary and the boy who delivered the weekly fistful of 

It may have occurred to you — especially if you're 
out of a job and exposed to such random thoughts ■ — 


that anecdotes of this sort are not making the rounds 
the way they used to. Some rather drastic changes have 
taken place in the profession of screenwriting over the 
years, and the last six months, in particular, have seen 
such a rapid and steep decline in job opportunities that 
even the most rugged minds among the individualists 
are beginning to sense that the gravy is thinning out. 

One reason this realization has come so slowly to the 
more prosperous writers — who have always contrib- 
uted a disproportionate share of the Guild leadership — 
is that the thinning process has occurred for the most 
part beneath the thick upper layer from which they 
feed. Salaries in the top levels are actually higher than 
they have ever been; there is a larger body of writers 
earning 1500 dollars a week and up than ever before; 
and the highly paid minority has more job security 
than any other section of the membership. 

These facts serve to intensify the competition for 
jobs among the less fortunate majority and to explain 
why there is more acute consciousness of unemploy- 
ment than a first glance at the actual statistics would 
justify. For, while the situation is bad enough if you 
think of approximately 1500 writers competing for 
some 421 jobs (as of July 1), consider how it looks 
if you estimate that at least 200 of our members are 
almost constantly employed. Then we have the far 
grimmer picture of about 1300 writers competing for 
a little over 200 jobs. Thus no bare statement of the 
decline in employment by figures or percentages will 
present the real rise in the odds against the average 
writer's attempt to get on a studio payroll. This must 
be borne in mind as we proceed to such a bare statement. 

The figures above are partly guesswork. Those I am 
now going to cite are from Guild records. The real drop 
in major studio employment figures became apparent 
last March, when the total number of writers employed 
(eight studios exclusive of independents) was 331 as 
opposed to 434 in March, 1946, a decline of 23%%. 
In April, always a month of comparatively high em- 
ployment, the drop had risen to 32%% before 1946 
and 28% below the average for April during the last 
six years. By June the figure had dropped to 263, 35% 
below 1946 and 32%% below the six year average 
for June. As of July 1, it was 262, 32% below 1946 
and also 32% below the July average. 

In addition to the major warning above, certain 
other facts should be cited in order to provide a fuller 
understanding of these statistics. The figures for past 
years include writers on layoff or leave of absence and 
so, therefore, for comparative purposes, do the current 
ones. Subtracting these and a few on loan-out to inde- 
pendents, the number of writers actually being paid a 
salary by the eight major studios on July 1 was 243. 
Also it is pertinent that the number working for inde- 

pendents is greater this year than ever before. The only 
comparative figures we have are 168 in March, 1947 
as compared to 145 in March, 1946. In July, 1947, 
the number was about 175. But this increase of 25 or 
so in the independent field has very little effect on the 


1947 1946 1945 

August 364 366 

September 364 353 

October 346 351 

November 361 347 

December 328 378 

January 335 407 325 

February 339 426 369 

March 348 443 387 

April 310 440 381 

May 293 427 370 

June 259 411 369 

July 262 394 361 


June, 1938 60 

March, 1946 _ 145 

March, 1947 168 

July, 1947 178 

Total Number Writers Employed at Majors 
and Independents 

June, 1938 419 

March, 1946 588 

March, 1947 516 

July, 1947 440 

job situation in the critical middle section of our mem- 
bership. As of last April, more than a third of the 
writers in the independent field were making over 
$1250 a week (11 of them producers-owners), and 
21% working for less than $250 or at flat deal mini- 

A N overall drop in employment of about 30% 
•*■ ^ would be a pretty serious problem in any employee 
organization at any time. But the writer job situation 
of 1947 is a sudden crisis imposed upon a critical situa- 
tion which has been intensifying for ten years. Our 
reactions to it have been cushioned by the fact that 277 
Guild members were in the armed services during the 
period of greatest new writer influx, but the fact is 
that the number of writers competing for jobs has 
approximately doubled since the rebirth of the Guild in 
1937. We have become painfully aware of this statistic 
during the past year because of the combined circum- 
stances of our veterans' returning and the sharp cur- 
tailment of studio production. 

There is another factor, too, less easy to measure 



and less important statistically, but definitely a con- 
tributing cause of our present dilemma. That is the 
growing efficiency of screenwriters in their craft and 
of the processes of production in general. I've mentioned 
the fact that the writer who is kept on salary without 
assignment is a phenomenon of the past, and, without 
any figures to back it up, I am sure that a much 
smaller percentage of stories are shelved than was true 
in the Thalberg era. Certainly, too, the number of 
writers working on a single picture has decreased. All 
of these are trends we should applaud — as long as our 
indorsement of them doesn't mean that we bear the sole 
cost of the consequent reduction in studio overhead. 
But it verges on the suicidal for writers to create better 
pictures in less time for what would be the sole benefit 
of the stockholders if this were a business in which the 
stockholders received what they naively regarded as 
their due. 

Though there is likely to be considerable argument 
about the proper remedies, there can hardly be any 
concerning the situation with which we are faced — a 
situation of severe and growing unemployment. There 
is no direct means open to us of solving this problem: 
we can neither persuade the studios to make more pic- 
tures nor make it a Guild responsibility to see that a 
single individual member gets a job. Most of the de- 
vices to which trade unions generally resort to combat 
unemployment are impractical for our purposes because 
of the special nature of our craft. No system of seniority 
rights, automatic upgrading or spreading of work by 
shorter hours can be made to apply to screenwriting. 
Spreading the work by putting more men on the indivi- 
dual job is also out of the question; even when it was 
proposed as an emergency measure to help returning 
veterans get a first assignment, it was rejected by the 
membership and the veterans themselves as being in 
conflict with the development of screenwriting as a 
creative art. Spreading the work by limiting the num- 
ber of weeks in a year a man may work is a method 
that makes a little more sense on the surface, but even 
if it could ever be practical in a field with such sharp 
differences in talent, it would require a complete closed 
shop, which is not only unrealizable but temporarily 

YET the essence of the problem lies in the fact 
there are too many candidates for the available 
jobs. William Pomerance, our former and still unre- 
placed executive secretary, performed one of his many 
valuable services to the Guild when he urged us in the 
second issue of this magazine two years ago, to face 
the economic facts of the industry. He pointed out 
that the difference between the writers' pool and the 
other pools of workers in the business "is the fact that 

there is no recognition of any obligation toward this 
pool of writers upon which the industry depends. . . . 
So long as the producer does not have to recognize that 
he depends upon this pool of writers, he is careless and 
constantly enlarges it, since he has no responsibility 
toward it." 

Nine months later, at a meeting on April 29, 1946, 
the membership overwhelmingly approved a report 
delivered by Arthur Strawn, chairman of the veterans' 
committee, which stated that "the importance of a 
guaranteed annual wage cannot be over-emphasized 
at this time because the producers have flooded the 
writers' market in Hollywood without assuming any 
responsibility whatsoever for the new writers they 
imported during our absence." 

Then in August of last year the discussion retro- 
gressed several decades in a piece by Mary C. McCall, 
Jr., called The Unlick'd Bear Whelp. Miss McCall 
poised at the far end of a rainbow the laudable objec- 
tives of screenplays written originally for the screen, 
leasing the rights, profit-sharing and control of mate- 
rial. Then, skipping over the methods by which these 
reforms were to be achieved and the interim arrange- 
ments which would have to be instituted during the 
transition period, she urged us to "turn our backs on 
economic security" and discovered a mystical contradic- 
tion between the goals she was advocating and the prin- 
ciple of minimum security guaranteed in advance, which 
she maintained could only be justified during the eco- 
nomic paralysis of depression. On this question, at least, 
Miss McCall's position seems more conservative than 
that of such men as Guggenheim, Carnegie and Rocke- 
feller, who discarded the notion that artists and sci- 
entists do their best work while suffering, proposing 
instead that they be subsidized in order to transfer 
their concentration from the rent to their creative 

The subject was restored to realistic level when 
Lester Cole pointed out in the October issue that we 
were faced with an existing system of making pictures 
which was not apt to be overturned in the immediate 
future by our efforts or anyone else's. He reminded 
Miss McCall that more than half our members were 
engaged in the highly specialized field of low-budget 
formula pictures and rarely found the time to consider 
the impression of the mother bear on its young. What 
was implied in his somewhat too gentle refutation was 
that if we held out for Utopia or nothing, we would 
be forced by the pressure of existing circumstances into 
wholesale salary-cutting and an economic bondage 
more severe than the one deplored by Miss McCall. 

Shortly after the present executive board was elected, 
an economic program committee was set up under the 
chairmanship of Mr. Cole to consider both the imme- 



diate and long-range measures which lay within the 
scope and power of the Guild. That committee will 
make a full report of its findings and its proposals to 
a membership meeting scheduled to take place shortly 
after this article is published. But the field is wide 
open for amendments and additional ideas from any 
member concerned by the present crisis. From my own 
random sampling, that covers practically every writer 
who is not firmly ensconced in a producer's lap. 

As of this writing the committee's report has yet to 
be formulated in detail and submitted to the executive 
board, but just to furnish food for thought, attack or 
what have you, I would like to outline here the main 
proposals which have been discussed so far. 

The initial offensive, of course, is against the ever- 
expanding pool. Because no one has seriously suggested 
that we try to shut off the infusion of new writing tal- 
ent, the emphasis has been on how to reduce the studios' 
irresponsibility toward it. As Lester Cole has pointed 
out, it isn't a question of initiating something new 
called an annual minimum wage. We already have 
one. The present figure is $375 a year : our minimum 
weekly wage doubled by a two-week minimum guar- 
antee. But even this doesn't apply to writers hired 
for the first time by a studio. Until he qualifies for the 
minimum, a writer, if he wants to, can accept $100 
for two weeks work and become a permanent part of 
the available pool. And it is hardly inconceivable that 
a studio might be willing to invest many thousands 
of dollars in trying out many hundreds of bright young 
men and women on the chance that two or three of 
them might be worth far more than the total invest- 
ment. We can never be secure against this sort of 
reckless assault on our living standards until the 
apprentice category is abolished and the minimum fig- 
ures are set high enough to impose a judicious caution 
on the producers' experiments with new talent. A min- 
imum guarantee of 15 weeks at a salary of $400 a 
week — or a minimum annual wage of $6000 for 
every writer engaged by a studio — has been suggested. 

OUCH a reform would not only reduce the number 
^of new writers brought in every year. Inevitably 
it would also force a considerable percentage of the 
present membership out of the pool. In the twelve- 
month period between November 1, 1945 and October 
31, 1946, an exceptionally prosperous year, 37% of 
our active members earned less than $5000 from studio 
employment. This doesn't mean, of course, that nearly 
that many would be excluded under the new system. 
If a third or a half of that 37% were eliminated, the 
remainder would presumably be able to qualify for 
the minimum. In any case, whatever element of ruth- 
lessness exists in the program must be weighed against 

the alternative of continuing the present trend toward 

Ideally these new minimums should be put into effect 
at the earliest possible moment, but we have to face 
the fact that they are technically barred until the 
expiration of our Minimum Basic Agreement in May, 
1949. If both the Guild and the producers insist on 
sticking to the letter of that contract, the benefits of 
the change will be dangerously delayed. One way to 
avoid that delay would be to convince the producers 
that the greater harmony and efficiency under the new 
system would work to their advantage. 

But even if we have to wait until 1949 to revise 
our minimums, there are other more immediate steps 
which can be taken both within the Guild itself and, 
because they lie outside the area of our present agree- 
ment, in conjunction with the producers. One of the 
gravest dangers of a period of declining employment 
is that of salary cuts. The individual writer, in need 
of a job and bargaining in solitary weakness, needs 
the support of his Guild in refusing to accept a cut. At 
the least a pledge by every member not to reduce his 
salary without consultation with a small committee 
of the executive board would bolster his bargaining 
position and serve to bring present practices out into 
the open. And a blanket prohibition against flat sum 
deals designed to give the writer less than his normal 
salary would check one of the most prevalent methods 
of cutting salaries. 

At lower income levels the process is reversed and 
a concealed violation of the Minimum Basic Agreement 
is effected when the producer persuades the writer to 
work on a salary basis in order to undercut the flat 
deal minimums. A writer may be hired, for example, 
at the minimum salary of $187.50 or close to it, on 
the understanding that he must complete the job in 
three or four weeks. 

The necessity of additional compensation for reis- 
sued pictures has been widely discussed not only in 
our Guild but among other guilds and unions in Holly- 
wood. The writers alone have the added problem of 
pictures which are remade from the same stories and 
essentially the same screenplays as the original version. 
The time to face the inequities of these practices is 
overdue. During the first decade of talking pictures 
there was such a steady development in our mastery 
of the medium that the average release of 1932 seemed 
ridiculously old-fashioned in 1940. This is not true of 
1940 pictures reissued today. Some of the leading legi- 
timate theatres in the world have devoted themselves 
mainly to a repertory of timeless classics. It is not fan- 
tastic to anticipate the day when there is such an accu- 
mulation of successful films that the theatres of the 
world will require only a small number of new pic- 



tures each year to refresh their programs. And it is 
only the people who make the pictures that will suffer. 
The companies are protected in two ways : first, because 
they are theatre owners as well, and, second, because 
they never sell their property as we do. They keep on 
leasing it. 

In demanding payment for the reissues and remakes 
of today and a licensing system for the future, we are 
merely seeking an equitable share of the enormous 
extra profits which our employers derive from these 
practices. Even more basic and immediate is the ques- 
tion of increasing our total share of the normal industry 
take. We know that the net profits after taxes of seven 
studios increased 230.2% between 1940 and 1945, and 
that there was another jump of about 100% last year. 
But in the year of the industry's greatest profits the 
total amount paid to employed writers was $18,000,000, 
or an even 1% of the 1946 box-office gross. 

"\yfARY McCALL, Joseph L. Mankiewicz and 
■*"'-*-others have suggested one method of boosting 
our share. The more original screenplays that are pro- 
duced in proportion to adaptations, the greater per- 
centage of initial story cost will be paid to members 
of this Guild, and the greater the claim of the indivi- 
dual writer to royalties. I think it should be a definite 
part of the function of the Guild to stimulate in every 
possible way the writing of stories and screenplays con- 
ceived originally for the screen. We should also discuss 
with the producers how they might provide the same 
sort of stimulation to original writing for the screen 
as is afforded, for instance, by the MGM novel contest. 

But it is only of indirect aid to the unemployed writer 

to increase the individual earnings of writers who do 
work. Probably the most provocative and constructive 
of all the proposals advanced by the economic program 
committee is the demand for an overall percentage of 
the box-office gross. It is important when we consider 
this idea not to be led away from the basic point by the 
details of how such a sum might be distributed. It is 
perfectly possible that the Guild might prescribe a 
different method each year depending on the economic 
circumstances then obtaining. The essential point is 
that the question of such distribution would be irrele- 
vant to our negotiations with the producers; it would 
be solely the concern of the Guild according to the 
democratic determination of its members. 

Such a levy could go into effect in the immediate 
future, provided only that we and whatever allied 
groups we enlisted in the program — and I would like 
to call particular attention to our close community of 
interest with the Screen Directors Guild — were 
united in our conviction that it was necessary and just, 
and in our determination to fight for it. The screen- 
writers of France already collect a percentage directly 
from the box-office. Our employers are well acquainted 
with this practice for it is they, because of the legal 
fiction by which we endow them with "authorship," 
who pocket the authors' royalties on American pictures 
distributed in France. 

Our present share of theatre admissions in the 
United States alone is one per cent — much less if 
computed on the world gross of American pictures. 
Does it seem preposterous to suggest that we actually 
provide as much as, say, two per cent of what the 
moviegoer gets for his money? 

Production costs have gone up 63% over a year ago. . . . Costs that have been hiked embrace 
every facet of film-making: Demands of writers, salaries of cast and crevj and construction 

— From a recent 20th-Fox Statement. 


A Fundamental Right? 


WHENEVER, in the period of the Guild's 
existence, virtual unanimity of thought has 
resulted in concerted action, notable gains, 
economically and professionally, have been achieved. 

True, this has been infrequent — but three or four 
times in fifteen years — yet it would be rather ideal- 
istic to have hoped for much more, considering the 
varied backgrounds, intellectual interests, social and 
political, of fourteen hundred members now compris- 
ing our membership. 

Yet it is interesting to note that despite the diversi- 
fied individual interests ; despite all disparities, political, 
esthetic and economic, the great majority of writers 
forget such differences and make common defense with 
energy and courage when a fundamental right is under 
attack. That is a fact which cannot be disputed; a 
glance at our history as a Guild will quickly prove it. 

In 1933, the Producer's Association instituted a 
fifty percent cut in writers' salaries. Out of that 
primitive method of arbitrarily reducing a writer's 
financial return for his productiveness, the Screen 
Writers' Guild was born. 

Then for eight years the Producer's Association 
refused to recognize the S.W.G. as the legitimate bar- 
gaining agent for writers. 

The result was a strike vote, which was practically 
unanimous. And the result of this overwhelming expres- 
sion of opinion, and willingness to back it up with 
concerted action, was the initiation of negotiations — 
within two weeks after the vote was taken. 

During the five years that have passed since the 
signing of the Minimum Basic Agreement, writers 
have become aware of many "discrepancies" in their 
economic relationship with their employers. Some of 
these were known at the time the Minimum Basic 
Agreement was entered into, and others have become 
known since, due to many factors which only became 
clearer with the passage of time. 

James M. Cain and the committee with which he 
worked contributed a notable analysis of what amounts 
to grand larceny, practiced boldly in broad daylight. 
Once enlightened, unanimity again was achieved within 
the Guild — always excepting, of course, those perennial 

LESTER COLE is chairman of the SWG Economic Program 
Committee and a member of the SWG Executive Board. 

dissidents who years ago actively sought the Guild's 

The enlightenment brought about by the under- 
standing of what happens in the field of copyright — 
of property rights — has caused another area, too long 
under wraps, to arouse active curiosity. It is that field 
in which the majority of the screenwriters have an 
even greater stake than they have in book publishing 
and play production; the fundamental rights of the 
salaried screen writer. 

The question, "Does the salaried writer, however 
much money he received, get his just reward for his 
work?" is one which has been painfully discussed since 
the earliest days. This sore wound has been permitted 
to fester so long, undiagnosed, because there has been 
no genuine, organized Guild attention paid it, except 
in the field of minimum salaries, an area which, at best, 
directly affects a minority of our membership. Because 
no real diagnosis has been made of the wound, no one 
has been willing to venture prescribing the cure. Be- 
cause there is no real understanding of the nature of 
the ailment, no one has yet wished even to peek under 
the bandages, to see whether what remains covered is 
merely an annoying writers' itch or an economic cancer. 

Self-interest and curiosity have caused me to lift up 
the gauze, and take a look. I'm no specialist in the field, 
and I'm looking for consultation at once, with all inter- 
ested parties, for to my unpracticed eye what I saw 
there looked for all the world like a slowly rotting 
fundamental right, eating its way through the body of 
the Guild. 

A DMITTEDLY the economic relationship of the 
^ ^-screenwriter to the industry in which he works is 
highly complex, and varies in many respects from that 
of writers in other fields to their sources of revenue. 
Equally obvious is the fact that the relationship of 
screen writers to each other is quite unlike that of 
members of most trade unions, where the members 
do not compete for jobs with each other as we do, 

(directly and indirectly) and where salaries do not have 
such an enormous range. Our difficulty, therefore, is 
in reaching agreement on what is a fundamental right, 
common to us all. Until that understanding is reached, 
we go our different ways on all issues. Many of the 



writers who have "arrived," professionally and econ- 
omically, believe they have nothing more to gain by 
looking under the bandages," and many of those who 
are insecure — the vast majority — also look the other 
way, doubting whether they will be supported in any 
action decided upon — should their discoveries demand 
action — by their more successful and more indifferent 
colleagues. The result is complacency in one section 
of our membership and fear of that complacency in the 

Today screenwriters face the gravest economic crisis 
since the advent of sound films. 

Elsewhere in this issue other aspects of the economic 
situation are examined: the effect of reissues upon 
employment, and the ever-increasing writers pool at 
the disposal of the producers; a pool which constantly 
limits our annual period of employment to their advan- 
tage without their assuming any responsibility for the 
severe economic dislocation it causes innumerable quali- 
fied, proven writers. These conditions are well known 
to us; they will be further studied, and I hope, acted 
upon by the entire membership. But at their present 
worst, they affect all of the writers only some of the 
time, and only some of the writers all of the time. 

There has been in existence for some time another 
situation; one which, in my opinion, affects all of the 
writers all of the time. It relates to unemployment in 
the most critical way; it is a question not of condi- 
tions of unemployment, but rather, conditions of em- 

Since writers first came to Hollywood on a salary 
arrangement, they have accepted, either through indif- 
ference, or ignorance, the written words of their con- 
tracts as unchangeable law. The essence of the section 
of the contract to which I refer is that which places 
the salaried writer's relationship to the producer on a 
completely different basis than that of a novelist to his 
publisher or a playwright to his producer. We have, 
over the years, become so accustomed to this state of 
affairs that we actually believe it is so, that the relation- 
ship is completely different. 

So deeply has this become ingrained, that even those 
most successful writers, who have been able to com- 
mand percentages, settle for percentages of profits, 
rather than royalties on gross receipts. Obviously a 
percentage of profits is better than no percentage, but 
it is at best a bad bargain, so long as the writer does 
not have a voice in production, and the difference in 
his return on a shrewdly produced picture and on one 
wastefully, extravagantly produced, can be consid- 
erable. The same picture might gross three million 
dollars, whether it's made for one million, or two mil- 
lion eight. The difference to the writer who waits for 
his percentage of profit would be great. In the publish- 

ing field, writers are only concerned with royalties, not 
with profits. They don't care whether the book costs 
the publisher sixty cents or ninety; their return is the 
same. Similarly in the theatre. 

Is it true, as we have so long been told, that our 
relationship to the producer is different from that of 
writers in the other fields mentioned above? Or is it 
what we have been led to believe? Are those writers 
correct who say, "You can't ask for royalties unless 
you are willing to forego salaries." Or are they merely 
thoughtlessly repeating what is both unprofitable 
and/or politic for them to repeat? 

I T is my opinion, which I hope is correct, that the 
"*• relationship of the screenwriter to the motion pic- 
ture company is almost identical to that of the play- 
wright to the producer. I say "almost" because of one 
extremely minor difference. When a play producer 
pays the minimum of six hundred dollars (maximum 
many thousands) for an option on production, he relin- 
quishes all rights in a stipulated time if he fails to pro- 
duce the play. In motion picture production the writer 
is paid a legal minimum of twenty-two hundred and 
fifty dollars (illegal minimum, less than six hundred) 
and a maximum of as many thousands as the writer 
can bargain for, just as in the theatre. Here is the 
difference : at the option of the producer the screenplay 
may not be produced, and the rights remain with the 
producer. This is unavoidable, as things are at present, 
since the screenwriters' rights in his work are generally 
inextricable from other rights owned by the producer. 
The disparity between the screenwriter's salary and 
the traditional six hundred dollar advance to the play- 
wright may be held roughly to compensate for his 
relinquishment of opportunities to market his work 
elsewhere. The similarity, however, is greater and 
more fundamental than the difference. 

Both producers have the right, utterly beyond your 
control, not to produce. In the case of motion picture 
management, at present you sell, for your salary, not 
only the right not to produce but the right to produce. 
This is the error. I believe for the salary received writ- 
ers should sell the script and the right not to produce. 
But that the agreement should not cover the right to 
produce. That's a completely different matter, and 
should require a completely different consideration as 
with the playwrights' royalties. 

It should be obvious to all working screenwriters 
who have been here longer than a year that scripts 
are rarely written for production ; they are written for 
producers, or for a producing company, in which rests 
the sole decision as to whether or not the screenplay 
will be produced. 

Your salary for writing a screenplay is based solely 



upon delivery of the finished work, and is in no way 
contingent upon production or any conditions relating 
to production. (This point could be amplified indefi- 
nitely, but a single illustration should make it clear, 
if it is not already so. Excellent screenplays have been 
shelved for a variety of reasons ranging from unavail- 
ability of actors to management myopia; similarly 
inferior screenplays have been produced for as many 
reasons, ranging from availability of actors to man- 
agement myopia.) 

But the point is that any and all conditions which 
cause the screenplay either to be produced or to be 
shelved are completely outside the authority of the 

No matter how tenderly we cherish the hope that 
we are writing for the screen, it is in fact an illusion; 
we are merely writing for a producer who may, or 
may not, depending upon a variety of circumstances, 
whims, policies, etc., actually produce it. Studio statis- 
tics will prove we are not writing for the screen, but 
at least for half a screen. Records will show that every 
major studio prepares at least twice as many screen- 
plays as it will produce in any given year. Then, with 
a surplus of properties, it will decide, without your 
knowledge, much less consent, which it will produce. 

This is not unique to our medium. Theatre man- 
agers take options annually on two, three or more 
plays, and usually end up producing only one. As in 
motion pictures, availability of cast, director, cost of 
production, etc., guide his choice. Similarly, in the 
theatre and in films; the discarded play in the former 
field begins to make the rounds, and the discarded 
writer in films does likewise. 

In each case, their property is again put up for hire. 
One in the form of a written play, the other in the 
form of the ability to write the play. 

The ^similarity, the one which needs quick cor- 
rection, is with the other screenplay, the one that is 
to be produced. For here, in reality, the screenwriter 

enters a new relationship with the producing company, 
even as the playwright whose play is to be produced 
enters a new relationship with the play producer. For 
now, the screen play has a new and added value ; a new 
and added value for which, unlike his colleague in the 
theatre, he receives no compensation. There can be 
no argument, I feel sure, over whether or not his 
screenplay is worth more produced than unproduced. 
And there can be no argument over the established 
fact that he is in no way compensated for this addi- 
tional value that has been created. No, the arguments 
take another tack. 

Opponents of the proposition will ask, "What about 
the loss incurred by the studio in screenplays not pro- 
duced ?" The answer to that question is two-fold ; first, 
they bought the services of the writer, and if they 
choose not to use his material, it is a matter of sole 
concern to themselves. And second, who says the stu- 
dio incurred a loss? Every piece of literary property 
owned by a studio is put upon their books as an asset, 
not a liability. If you think an unproduced screenplay 
has no value, ask the executive head of any studio to 
give you one. Go farther, try to buy back a screenplay 
you have written for the amount of salary you have 
received. You'll soon discover whether unproduced 
screenplays have any value. 

To me, it is apparent that a screenplay in most in- 
stances, is worth at least as much as it cost in its unpro- 
duced state; therefore, it is worth countless times as 
much when produced. How much more is it worth? 
How much of that added worth is the writer entitled 
to since it was he who created both the original and 
the added value ? 

In conclusion, I want to say this brief exploration 
makes no pretensions at being definitive. But I believe 
a fundamental right is being violated, and recalling 
how, in the past, the members of the Guild rallied under 
such circumstances, I hopefully bring it to your atten- 

"The Guild should demand a minimum guarantee for people who have worked many years 
and acquired standing in the industry. Writers are not getting their share of motion picture 
money. No qualified new writer should be paid less than $400 or $500 a week." 

— Statement of unemployed SWG member polled 
for opinion on unemployment situation. 


No Applause for These Encores 


THE motion picture tenaciously clings to its 
uniqueness. Today, in direct contradiction to 
other industries in which employment is in ratio 
to prosperity, the film industry is at its most prosperous 
and at the same time the unemployment of its workers 
is most severe. 

Apparently ordinary statistical analyses do not apply 
when it comes to Hollywood. An orthodox economist, 
unacquainted with the peculiarities of our industry, 
can only be baffled by its contradictions. It's a case of 
needing to know the special conditions that character- 
ize the motion picture business and then, and only 
then, can the true picture of Hollywood be seen. This 
is not to imply that sound economic logic does not 
motivate the operations of the industry. During depres- 
sion, when competition for the reduced box office 
dollar was keenest, more pictures were produced. Con- 
versely, during the prosperous war period, when long 
theatre runs became common and movie attendance 
jumped, less pictures were produced and were more 
profitable than the former great number. 

When the major film companies scrapped B pictures 
and began making twenty pictures a year apiece instead 
of fifty or sixty, there wasn't much that the guilds 
and unions could do about the reduced employment 
that resulted. 

However, in the past the producers could not afford 
to ignore B production because small companies and 
independent producers would be sure to rush into the 
vacuum with their own product. The explanation for 
the current lack of fear of competitive B product lies 
in reissues, whose zero cost of production makes them 

When sound first came to the screen in 1926 it was 
a pretty scratchy, crude affair. Only the novelty of its 
addition to sight kept production of the early sound 
films highly profitable. In a few years the sound en- 
gineers brought the quality of the sound up to the 
level of photography. For some seventeen years since, 
a backlog of some 6,000 feature films has been piled 
up. Of these thousands of pictures, at least a few thou- 
sand can be revived and shown to the new audiences 

MARTIN FIELD is a member of the SWG Editorial Com- 
mittee and a frequent contributor to this magazine. 

that have grown up or been developed since these films 
were first made. 

In short, the pictures made by Hollywood's workers 
have become a Frankenstein's monster so far as their 
employment, or lack of it, is concerned. Such a situa- 
tion could only hold true in the film industry, where a 
living, dramatic performance can be preserved on film 
and stored away in cans for many years. Ordinary 
articles of manufacture, like automobiles, tin cans, 
radios, or refrigerators deteriorate with use and once 
they are sold they can bring no further profit to the 
manufacturers. If a book is reissued, the author receives 
additional royalties and the printers and papermakers 
receive wages. If a stage play is revived, the playwright 
gets royalties, the actors are reemployed, the stage 
hands, in fact, every one connected with the show is 
reimbursed on the same basis as if it were a new play. 
The same applies to a repeat of a radio show. Reissues 
of books and plays and radio shows are welcomed as 
fostering employment of the people involved. 

The reissue of motion pictures fosters employment 
in the distribution and exhibition branches of our indus- 
try, but in the production end the very creators of 
these reissues, writers, directors, actors, technicians 
and other personnel, are deprived of employment. 

A man who runs a film exchange stated he will keep 
busy for three years handling 300 Universal reissues. 
It is no concern of his that these reissues will take the 
place of 300 possible current features. The costs of 
these reissues were written off the corporation books 
long ago. Whatever additional revenue these reissues 
provide is clear profit to the film companies. 

It remains to be seen whether or not the Federal 
Trade Commission may become concerned with the 
exhibition of re-issues under the guise of new films. 

' I 'HE welfare of all employees of the industry is 
■*- affected by reissues. Actors, for example, are 
harmed in many ways. Aside from the question of 
reducing the employment of actors generally, six 
Deanna Durbin reissues in one year, for instance, 
could hurt the box office of a new Durbin picture. 

Musicians, who have made notable progress in pro- 
tecting themselves regarding radio and recordings, 



are vitally affected by reissues. Although Mr. Petrillo 
has not as yet asked that musicians be paid again on 
reissues, the American Federation of Musicians, it is 
safe to say, will take up that matter in due time. 

The reissue problem has become more and more 
urgent in the last few years as more film companies 
have jumped on the clear profit bandwagon. Last 
year, of approximately 400 films released, more than 
100, or 25 per cent, were reissues. As a result, between 
200 and 300 writers, several hundred directors and 
producers, and thousands of actors, musicians and 
skilled studio workers were not employed. A state of 
affairs in which about 25 per cent of Hollywood's film 
workers are displaced from employment is too critical 
and unhealthy a condition to be accepted or ignored. 

In terms of money and people, here's the way it 
stacks up: According to the latest available Depart- 
ment of Commerce figures, the salaries of 43,322 pro- 
duction people employed in Hollywood in 1945 amount- 
ed to a total of $139,077,053. One-fourth of that ap- 
proximates 10,000 production people who were not 
paid $35,000,000. 

A few months ago, in May, it was reported that 
reissues had flooded New York screens. Of 224 pic- 
tures playing in the metropolitan area, 105 were reis- 
sues and 29 were foreign films. Of the foreign films, 
several were reissues also, so we have a situation 

wherein 50 per cent of the product in the richest 
exhibiting area in the world was composed of reissues 

It is heartening to realize that this threat of reissues 
to the welfare of the industry's workers has created 
almost complete unanimity of opinion among the 
guilds and unions. It is a situation so grave that all 
factions of Hollywood labor, no matter how they may 
disagree on other issues, have come together in an 
unprecedented move to share in the profits of these 
reissued films. 

Interestingly enough, the producers themselves cued 
this concerted effort. The Screen Writers' Guild and 
the Screen Actors' Guild were both told by the pro- 
ducers that if their membership were compensated for 
reissues, then all the people who made these films would 
be entitled to payment. Agreeing with the producers 
on this logical point, many guilds and unions are plan- 
ning to act together and are drawing up a mutual 
program of action.* 

In an industry which has its own exceptional char- 
acteristics, the organized groups of film makers are 
forced to plan accordingly. The satisfactory solution 
to the reissue problem will not come quickly or easily, 
but it can be solved and it will be solved for the benefit 
of all of us. 

*For report on inter-guild and union conference called by 
SWG to discuss reissues, see page 42. 

"I believe the Guild should insist that agents give us better representation. For several months 
my agent has had chapters of a novel and letter from a major publisher showing great interest 
in the material, and I learned the other day he had not told story editors about publisher's 

— Another SWG member's statement. 


What's Happening to Our Jobs? 


THESE are rough times for the screen writer. 
The word goes around that Metro's staff is 
down to sixty from a normal of a hundred and 
eight. Republic is down to twelve, or fourteen, or some- 
thing. Paramount's down to . . . They're all down. 
To borrow a current wisecrack, unemployed writers 
are roaming the Boulevard like buffalo. 

Periods of low unemployment in a chancy business 
like ours are to be expected and have occurred from 
time to time. It seems to me, however, that this one 
is different in kind from any of its predecessors. The 
elements that go into its making are enormously com- 
plex, reflecting the disturbed world situation as well 
as internal uncertainty and need for revising values. 
A radical change in the approach to making pictures 
is signalized. 

It is my opinion that as time goes on the professional 
or journeyman screen writer will find fewer oppor- 
tunities for salaried employment. I am not speaking 
of those people who have fitted themselves successfully 
into the high places of the industry. It is the large mid- 
dle group I am concerned with, the men and women 
who are able, who know their trade, but have achieved 
no outstanding credits and are dependent on routine 
studio assignments for economic survival. There will, 
I think be fewer routine studio assignments, and the 
screen writer will find himself in a narrowing field, 
already overcrowded, with his one asset, his skill in 
the film medium, losing much of its importance. 

The latter part of the preceding statement, I am 
aware, comes under the head of fighting words. It is 
the belief of good men that the writer who masters the 
form of the screen becomes increasingly important to 
the industry with experience. I question that as being 
only superficially true. 

These expressions, and the reflections which follow, 
make it necessary, I think, or at least desirable, for me 
to produce a certificate of qualification. 

I have written for the screen for twenty-five years, 
and only for the screen, slugging it out, originals, adap- 
tations, screen plays, here in Hollywood, in New York, 

PAUL GANGELIN, for many years a screenwriter in Holly- 
wood and London, has served as a member both of the SWG 
Executive Board and of the Council of the British Screen- 
writer's Association. 


and in London. I may safely be called a screen writer. 
On occasion I have even been a "film author." 

My observation over the years has led me to certain 
conclusions, which I grant are controversial, but they're 
the only ones I've got. Let me set them down in order. 

First, that the trained, Hollywood-bred film writer 
is not the source of the best original material for the 

Second, that long service in the industry is as likely 
to keep a writer out of work as to get him jobs, and 
this sometimes applies even to the people who have had 
substantial success. 

Third, that mastering the technique of writing for 
the screen is not as important as it is made out to be, 
and is far from an assurance of a long and prosperous 
professional life. 

I'll give reasons for all this while you're getting 
the tar and feathers warmed up. 

TOURING its nonage, which is drawing to a slow 
*~* and reluctant close, the motion picture industry 
made its pictures indiscriminately. It bayed along the 
scent of a publicity-conditioned popular taste, eager as 
a pack of beagles with a sure hare at the end of the 
run. Writers, or artificers, were required who could 
put stories into the terms of the medium. It was not 
terribly exacting work and there was plenty of it. 
Volume counted, and, what with block booking and 
monopolistic control, the returns were in the bag before 
anyone wrote "Fade In." 

Today the appetite of the audience is growing 
sharper, there are consent decrees and other brakes on 
the gravy train. It requires vast sums of money to make 
a picture, and even then the returns are not assured. 
In this market it is necessary for the producer to look 
not to the man who can fill a reliable formula, but to 
the one who presents a fresh titillation that will keep 
people coming into theatres. Fresh ideas, fresh patterns, 
come from writers who are not writing for the screen. 

Let us take Lost Week End, the most unusual Amer- 
ican film of recent years, as a handy example. Much tal- 
ent went into the making of the picture, much daring 
imagination was required to see in it a film possibility, 
but all that was merely contributory, even if admirably 


contributory. What distinguished Lost Week End and 
what won it its Oscars, was, basically, the fact that a 
man, a novelist, unsubsidized, on his own time, had writ- 
ten an arresting chronicle of alcoholism, not with motion 
pictures in mind but probably, as Sheridan Gibney put 
it in his article last month, because of "some inner 
necessity to objectify the turmoil and conflict of sub- 
jective life." 

Now try to conceive the creation of the premise of 
Lost Week End if it had been left to us in Hollywood. 
Try to imagine the screen writer, indoctrinated in the 
prejudices, foibles, and shibboleths of the motion pic- 
ture business, hoping to achieve a job and a contract 
by writing something saleable, turning out a study of 
a drunk. And then go a bit further and imagine his 
attributing the drunk's plight to unresolved homo- 
sexual conflicts. I can hear the screams of the story 
editors ringing from Burbank to Culver City, and 
so can you. 

It is deplorable but true and probably inevitable that 
we writers who have long been stall-fed in Hollywood 
do not think in terms of expressing our inner neces- 
sities or reflecting our experience of life. Our terms 
are simpler — and defeat their own ends. We try to 
play safe. We say, "I hear they need a story for Rosa- 
lind Russell," or, "Paramount's in the market for a 
comedy for Goddard," and so we pour into the studios 
annually hundreds of "originals," following trends, 
trying to anticipate markets, trying to tailor stars, 
and the Academy Awards for the best original story 
and the best original screen play are given shamefacedly, 
faute de mieux. 

That, I should say, is telling 'em — or us. 

T^OINT Number Two, and you may have to turn 
■*- back to find out what it was, is directly related 
to what has preceded. The writer who has been long 
in Hollywood, who has conscientiously learned his 
trade and is good at it, must realize that he can fall 
from grace very quickly. A bad picture or two, whether 
it is his fault or not, a conflict with a producer, or just 
simple tough luck, can throw him into what is known 
with grim understatement as a "dry spell." Dry spells, 
or a condition of earning no money, can last an awfully 
long time. I've known them to last right into the 
bankruptcy court. 

Into this consideration enters the fact that producers 
tend to become bored with writers whom they have 
seen around too long. As they yearn for new faces on 
film, they yearn for new presences in story conferences, 
the reassurance of the "fresh mind", of new ideas. 

The fresh mind, however, is not safe. On his induc- 
tion into the picture business because of, say, a novel 
or a play, he is greeted with enthusiasm, respect, and 

hope by the producer. He, on his side, for the first time 
in his life, usually, is paid a salary for practicing his 
craft of writing. He says, and I've known it to happen 
a dozen times, "How long has this been going on?" 
He falls to with a will, the money rolls in, and he 
makes a payment on a house and dreams of a swimming 
pool. He neglects the field which first brought him 
distinction. He becomes chained to the job, he has to 
meet installments, he becomes dependent on the good 
will of those few sources of employment which the 
studios represent. 

Time passes. He circulates among the studios, trying 
to out-guess or please producers. His original accom- 
plishment is forgotten, and he becomes just another 
name on an agent's list. 

It may be well to state here that I know that this 
is not the inevitable development, that there are notable 
and many exceptions. My point, though, is that the 
exceptions should not be taken to be the general rule. 
There are many more writers who came to Hollywood 
with high expectations wondering what hit them than 
there are members of the Screen Writers' Guild living 
in Bel-Air. 

A^Y third contention was that learning the knack 
" i "~'*-or art of screen dramatizing is not of final impor- 
tance. That is easy to substantiate. Too many people 
have done it. Over the years I have seen hundreds of 
neophytes who didn't know a dissolve from a parallel 
come into the business. Assuming they could write at 
all and were normally bright, one could take it for 
granted that in reasonable time they would master the 
technical requirements of our medium. I would be hard 
put to it to think of any writer, brought in from 
another field, who did not achieve reasonable and ade- 
quate competence in writing for pictures. There are, 
of course, differences between those who are merely 
competent and those who are excellent, but the man 
who cannot learn to turn out a useful and satisfactory 
script by present standards cannot have been very good 
in whatever he undertook in the first place. 

All this may sound very discouraging. It is not meant 
to be. I consider it constructive to make a realistic 
appraisal of the unhappy side of writing for pictures. 
I have talked to many bewildered and disheartened 
writers. An approach to a general understanding of 
the problems that face us may help them orient them- 

To those outside the industry who may read this 
and are being tempted by Hollywood salaries, let me 
point out that there is in the best of times an excess 
of three hundred in the available labor pool of writers. 
You, too, may wind up unhonored and undistinguished 
on the agent's list if you burn your bridges behind you. 


What of the Market for Originals? 

The following article was prepared by members of 
the Editorial Committee from material furnished by 
Stanley Roberts, chairman of the SWG Economic 
Program Sub-Committee on employment problems. 

IN an editorial of July 5, 1947, the Los Angeles 
Daily News spoke sadly of "an enfeeblement of the 
creative spirit in the American motion picture indus- 
try." It told how hothouse characters were "given 
words to speak most folks never utter." Although the 
latter criticism was pointless in the same ratio as an art 
critic complaining that a painting is not a photographic 
reproduction of a person or place, the whole anxiety 
of the editorial specifies a problem. It is giving those 
who take films seriously some worry — especially 

Writers are in an unhappy position — people who 
get no credit when what they produce is praised and 
are passed the blame when anything they are remotely 
connected with is damned. They are used to it. It has 
become something of a Hollywood habit not only to 
take the dirty end of the stick but also rub it around 
in the hair with a kind of gloomy masochism. Writers 
are hacks ; cobblers ; serfs ; tools ; human dictaphones ; 
people without integrity' or talent. This may be true : 
the screenwriters are the first to admit it. And the 
poverty of their inspiration and execution is nowhere 
more evident than in the almost non-existence of major 
motion picture originals. 

The lure of writing Hollywood originals should be 
both artistic and financial. But it must be considered 
that before engaging in such an occupation a writer 
must ask himself some questions. 

The first is: can motion picture writers, so long 
derided as creators, write originals? 

The answer to this seems to be an unqualified aye. 
Hollywood represents the greatest pool of variously 
qualified writers in the world — nearly two thousand 
of them. They have appeared in the business of writing 
films because they have succeeded, more or less, in 
allied sorts of writing and have been convinced they 
can make more in doing films. Yet something has 
harassed them into the repression of those creative 
abilities for which they originally staked themselves. 

James Gow and Arnaud D'Usseau, two of the most 
distinguished playwrights in the country, spent years 
in Hollywood apprenticeship. They did nothing but B 
pictures for Twentieth Century-Fox until they escaped 
to New York. Emmet Lavery, himself a dramatist, 
had abandoned Hollywood for teaching at Smith 
College when a picture called Hitler's Children 
which he had adapted from a book, suddenly came in 
under the box-office wire. Well-known novelists such 
as Robert Wilder, poets such as Robert Nathan, have 
languished in Hollywood without producing any no- 
ticeable literature for the screen. 

' I "HE "something" which has built this impasse con- 
-*■ sists of the facts of the situation. There is no 
writer for motion pictures who has not felt the urge 
to write an original. What has deterred him is his 
better and more sensible self. An author concocting 
an original knows it will pass through readers, story 
editors, executives, producers, story consultants, rela- 
tives, and even studio story-tellers. Each of these people 
have a virtual veto over his creation, a being which 
is as dear to the writer — for at least a few months — 
as the child of his flesh. It is, literally, his brain-child 
and has the affection thereof. He knows the general 
intellectual level of the studio hierarchies. He knows it 
is both useless and dangerous to present anything orig- 
inal — as witness the comment of a story-editor at a 
major studio who refused to believe an original com- 
posed from unpublished sources. He said it was "not 
authentic" because he had never heard of the facts 
before. Thus the author is put in the position of a 
rather stupid hoaxter. 

But suppose an original gets to the selling stage. 
Then, the writer knows, the story will never in the 
world be considered on its merit. The head of a major 
studio, presented with an original recently which was 
priced at $75,000, turned over the 75 pages and said 
incredulously: "Why, that's a thousand dollars a 
page !", a critical position from which he did not recede. 
Had the original been triple-spaced, it might have 
sold. An original will be considered on the basis of 
the stars available, timeliness, pre-sold audience appeal, 
the influence of its sponsors (as in the case of one 
major producer who took up the cudgels for an original 



which had been turned down by all responsible people 
at the studio — except the owner — at an asking price 
of $30,000. The producer sold it to the owner for 
$50,000). The story itself will be almost negligible in 
determining the final sale. 

But suppose it is sold. Then agents, the director, the 
star, the distributor representatives, the international 
releases, the Johnston Office, and a host of other grem- 
lins — not the least of them the producer and his 
associates — take up the script. Other writers super- 
impose their ideas. What finally emerges, in the very 
nature of things, if it retains any resemblance at all 
to the original, is a miracle beyond that of Sebastian 
who was pierced with a thousand arrows and still 
survived. Perhaps this happens, once in a thousand 
times — the final insult is applied by the publicity and 
advertising which is, as often as not, misleading or 
downright mendacious — as exampled in the suit 
against the distributors of Colonel Blimp in this coun- 
try who plugged it as the sex-secrets of a British gen- 

All this is equivalent to making your three-year-old 
infant run an Apache gantlet. Is it any wonder that 
creative writers — accustomed by contrast to the royal 
treatment accorded by publishers, magazines, and other 
media of writing — should shrink from the ordeal? 

Still, the motion picture industry yowls like a rut- 
ting tomcat for new, original, creative material. And 
they buy items like Annie Get Your Gun, {without 
Ethel Merman, mind) for $650,000; an outright flop 
like Sidney Kingsley's The Patriot for $100,000; and 
such resounding nosedives as Christopher Blake for 
$240,000. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer offers up to $600,- 
000 a year in two prize novel contests. The effort is all 
toward adapting the impetus given by publicity and 
advertising and success (if any) to the mills of the 
motion picture. Not a single effort has been made to 
subsidize or aid the creation of original material for 
the screen. 

It is true that, despite the terrible weight of incubi, 
some originals have come through. But their very 
rarity is a warning, not a challenge. It is notable that 
few of those who have sold originals to the films repeat 
their chore. It simply isn't worth it, no matter how 
much they get. Isobel Lennart sold Lost Angel to 
MGM. Val Davies sold Miracle on 34-th Street to 
20th; Ring Lardner, Jr., and Michael Kanin sold 
Woman of the Year to MGM. But, be it noted, these 
were not sold on the value of the story alone. Without 
the persisting backing of George Seaton Miracle might 
have needed one to have been sold. Without the spon- 
sorship and willingness of Katharine Hepburn to play 
in Woman it is to be doubted that it would have ever 
appeared on the screen. 

"C RANK SCULLY, noting that "practically no orig- 
■*• inals are being bought" in a weekly Variety dis- 
patch of June 27, pointed out that out of 30 top 
grossers during the past 40 years, ten were from orig- 
inals. (It should be remembered, however, that in the 
early days of motion pictures there was mostly noth- 
ing else but originals in cuff shorthand.) Scully also 
points out that "prior judgment" such as acceptance 
by a book firm and "the magic of print" can over- 
night reverse a studio judgment. He quotes only one 
instance from hundreds : The Chair For Martin Rome, 
an original which went the Hollywood rounds for two 
years, was turned down flat — until recent publication. 
Now the price for scripting it alone is $100,000. 

Under such circumstances, why in the name of either 
creative integrity or financial reimbursement, should 
writers do originals? There is no incentive whatsoever 
unless it be a sentimental attachment to the old school 
tie of Paramount or 20th (black with a thin bar of 
blue, diagonal). If what Ellingwood Kay, story de- 
partment head of Warner's, says in weekly Variety 
is true — that only one out of every 500 original stor- 
ies is suitable for purchase — then the fault lies across 
the thresholds of the studios themselves. 

A report coincident with the Kay downbeat was 
that out of 463 screenplays currently being prepared 
for release, about 235 — better than 50 per cent — are 
originals. This unchecked and un-brokendown state- 
ment presents a curious contrast to Kay. It means that 
117,500 originals have been submitted within, say, 
the last three years to the studios. An extraordinary 
number, to say the least, but perhaps Kay has said the 
least. Perhaps what it all means is that no one knows 
the exact state of the original market. 

At any rate, the facts substantiate the conclusion 
that it simply does not pay a working writer, one who 
has to make his living from a hot typewriter either at 
motion pictures or other kinds of writing, to do orig- 
inals. There is always the chance of the big pay-off, 
of course. But the man who depends upon the slot 
machines at Las Vegas to provide bread and butter 
is a fool. 

Admittedly, under the restrictions now imposed 
arbitrarily upon original writing for the screen despite 
the ballyhoo for more of it and the propaganda as to 
how often such writing reaches the screen, the time 
and effort spent upon creative ideas for motion pictures 
is usually wasted. It would be much better spent in 
doing work for other media such as novels or plays. 
In a ten year run such a procedure might or might not 
bring less money but it will bring indubitably more 

The final question is: what can be done about it? 
The answer is that given to the workers in any field 



of the arts where the conditions, artificial or otherwise, 
are such that independent enterprise cannot succeed. 
The writers and studios — the Guild and the MPAA 
— to mention the respective authorities, might join in 
a subsidized program of original production. This 
PPMPO — Project for the Production of Motion 
Picture Originals — might result in a renaissance of 
the whole screen technique, much as the Federal Thea- 
tre once did for the New York theatre. Costs could 
be allocated; returns might be split in a predetermined 

ratio to the studios, guild, and writer. 

But, of course, if nearly 50 percent of the stuff now 
coming off the screen is original anyway, then there 
is no need for such a program. The writers have 
money; the studios have their pictures; the public has 
the best motion pictures possible. In that case, the 
writers need only spend their money; the studios to 
cease their clamor for originals, contests, and outside 
purchases; and the public to settle down in the general 
admission seats for the motion picture millennium. 

"The Guild should emphasize in every way possible the importance of original stories, and 
the fact that the best films are made from originals. Also, please print articles in The Screen 
Writer discussing advisability for members of writing novels, short stories, etc., in interim 


— Statement of SWG member. 



JULY 12, 


Total Number 


Less than 







A dives 




































































































•Including 11 producer owners. 


Where Credit Is Due 


Because of the importance of credits to screen writers 
and to all contributors of creative talent to motion pic- 
tures, this article by Philip Stevenson on the credits 
system is included in this economic survey. 

FOR years a conscientious committee of the Screen 
Writers' Guild has been whittling away at the 
problems of credits for writers, constantly refining 
its rules in accord with the dictates of day-to-day expe- 
rience. Yet credits continue to be a source of hilarity 
to critics and writers outside the industry, of friction 
and dissatisfaction among screen writers. 

Both groups seem to agree that the system of 
apportioning credits makes it difficult if not impossible 
to determine with any accuracy (except in the case of 
solo credits) the contribution made by any writer to 
to film. This the outsiders find funny, the insiders 

This is a serious situation because it is not the result 
of negligence. The committee has tried hard to present 
the contributions of screen writers in a dignified light 
and with justice to all concerned. Its failure should 
therefore be examined seriously, abandoning hilarity 
to those who are not so closely concerned. 

At a Guild membership meeting last year, the theory 
underlying the Credits Committee's work was clearly 
indicated. Dignity, it was said, was best served by sim- 
plicity — by restricting credits as much as possible — 
while justice demanded a multiplicity of credits inas- 
much as credits largely determine the economic position 
of any writer in the industry. 

The committee's task has been to compromise between 
these two contradictory demands. It has therefore re- 
stricted screenplay credits to three, in the name of dig- 
nity, and created such minor credits as "Additional 
scenes by," "Contribution to screenplay by," and the 
evasive Academy credit which does not even appear on 
the screen, to satisfy the demands of justice. Forced to 
try to eat its cake and have it too, it has done neither. 

This is borne out by the melancholy fact that some 

PHILIP STEVENSON is a member of SWG. Now under 
contract in Hollywood as a screen writer, he is also a play- 
wright and author, in collaboration with Janet Stevenson of 
the recent Broadway success, Counterattack. 

fifty times a year its highly refined rules prove inade- 
quate, and it resorts to arbitration panels to hear con- 
flicting claims and make decisions from which there is 
no appeal. 

Examination of a typical arbitration case may be use- 
ful for checking theory against practice — as simple 
and average a problem as we can devise. 

Let's say a best-selling novel is bought by a studio 
although it presents certain features objectionable to 
the censors of the Breen Office, so that turning it into a 
screeplay is a challenging problem. Many writers are 
interviewed and probed for their "angle" on how to 
adapt the story. To simplify, we'll say that Writer A 
comes up with a practical evasion and writes the adapta- 
tion — though in practice the adaptation may be the 
work of several writers. So far there is no difficulty 
about credits. There will be a line, "From the best- 
selling novel by," and another line, "Adaptation by." 

A LEGITIMATE question might be asked here by 
^ ^-outsiders : Since Writer A succeeded in adapting a 
difficult story, why is he not kept on to develop it into 
a screenplay? But the answer would take us too far 
afield. The point is, we know that in many cases, if not 
in most, that part of the job is handed to Writer B. 

There's many a slip 'twixt treatment and shooting 
script, and we will suppose that one occurs here. For an> 
one of a dozen all-too-familiar reasons having nothing 
to do with B's competence or talent, he is taken off the 
assignment; Writer C is hired; and a second version 
of the script is written. To simplify again, we'll assume 
that in general the result is satisfactory. There are 
"just a few little things to fix." Again for reasons that 
are no reflection on C's ability, the producer hires 
Writer D to do the tightening and polishing. 

Commonly, the polish writer is one whose record of 
success is unquestioned. But precisely because his crea- 
tive gifts are unusual he finds it difficult to fit his style 
to that of his predecessors. The more conscientious a 
craftsman he is, the more he is forced to rewrite this 
and that scene, this and that line of dialogue, to give the 
work homogeneity and consistence. I say "forced" ad- 
visedly, for being conscientious, D is aware that he has 
not been employed to transform the work of B and C, 
but only to refine it, and that every time he alters their 



product he is diminishing their contribution and in- 
creasing his own. So the result is a compromise between 
artistic and economic responsibility. 

Leaving aside the questionable aesthetic results of 
such a compromise, what does it do to the credit situa- 

Writer B wrote the first draft — a trial draft, as 
any writer knows — in the course of which several flaws 
developed which could not be seen clearly till the whole 
was finished. But B had no chance to correct these flaws. 
C saw them at once, straightened them out, and added 
the stamp of his creative personality to the whole. By 
this time the outlines of B's structure were blurred; 
many of his scenes had been cut or transformed; the 
style of his dialogue had changed. In D's version the 
script underwent further alteration, though less in 
structure than in dramatization and individualization. 

The arbiters have no doubts about D's credit. His 
contribution is seen to have made all the difference be- 
tween, say, an average good picture and an outstanding 
one. By comparison of the three drafts he is determined 
to have contributed 50% or more of the shooting script. 

Nor is C's portion too troublesome. His general 
structure and some of his dialogue have survived in the 
shooting script, and he is estimated to have contributed 
at least 35% — more than enough for a screenplay 
credit — leaving B 1 5% or less — well short of the 
25% required by the rules for a credit. 

B raises a squawk heard from the Crossroads of the 
World to Cornpatch Corners. He points out with heat 
that he attacked a tough script at its toughest stage ; the 
producer had certain pet scenes he insisted on including 
though anyone could tell they stank ; all the essentials of 
the final script were already in B's first draft ; all C did 
was to make corrections B would have made himself 
if he'd had a chance — and to rewrite B's dialogue into 
slightly different words; in short, C and D are taking 
the bread out of the mouths of his babies by stealing 
his economically indispensable credit; etc., etc. 

B's situation is a common dilemma of arbitration 
committees. Is it serving justice to deprive him of any 
credit? Is it serving dignity to trot out the meaningless 
"Contribution to screenplay?" Is a first draft no part 
of the process of creation, even though no line survives 
in the final version? But if B gets screenplay credit, is 
this fair to D who contributed three times as much? 
And wouldn't the citing of three authors suggest a 
hodge-podge picture? reduce the dignity of authorship? 
and cause the critics to throw up their hands? 

Of such iffy questions are the headaches of arbitra- 
tion committees. In practice they may be much more 
complicated than this. There have been cases involving 
half a dozen or more writers with approximately equal 
claims, and it is not unusual for a dozen or fifteen to 

work on a single story. Whatever the committee decides, 
it is bound to offend dignity by a multiplicity of credits, 
or justice by austere restriction, or both by a compro- 

"\ KY proposal, which may shock some Guild mem- 
**-*-*-bers, is that we marry justice and turn the jade 
dignity out. 

After all, what dignity is there in the profession of 
screenwriting? As much as inheres in the opportunity to 
carry through a creative job. In our not exceptional 
example, none of the writers had that opportunity — 
not even D, who could employ only part of his cre- 
ative powers in covering an already created body with 
more seductive rondures. 

It is time to remind ourselves that writing is the cre- 
ation of wholeness and symmetry. Its reduction to piece- 
work in Hollywood is the fundamental indignity. 

I propose, therefore, that we cease striving for an 
appearance of dignity that is all too seldom real and 
that we give credit to every writer who has contributed 
even one line or one week's work to any screenplay. 
Then films in which the writer enjoyed the dignity of 
whole creation will be revealed in the credit-frame, and 
those in which writing was treated as piecework will 
be exposed for the potpourri they are. The critics will 
know what they are talking about in their reviews. The 
public will begin to distinguish one writer from another 
as it does in the literary and theatrical worlds. Writers 
and producers will tend to shy away from piecework 
type of production as being a debit rather than a credit 
in the public eye. 

Paradoxically, exposure of indignity can only result 
in greater dignity. Credit arbitrations, because of the 
high economic stake, are often bitter things. Occasion- 
ally they assume the intensity of feuds between fellow 
Guild members that weaken the organization intern- 
ally and forfeit the respect of outsiders. The percentage 
system of determining a writer's contribution is funda- 
mentally absurd — as everyone except screen writers 
seems quick to perceive. The attempt to conceal these 
indignities is self-defeating — the result to date being 
that whenever a critic confesses himself bewildered by 
our credits system he encounters the resentment of 
screen writers who chide him with failing to understand 
their problems. To this writer it seems that it is we, in 
the first instance, who have failed to understand or 
anyhow to acknowledge what our real problem is: not 
multiplicity of credits but multiplicity of employment. 

It may be objected that the proposal to give credit 
where credit is due is an impossible one, since Schedule 
A of our Minimum Basic Agreement restricts credits. 
But Schedule A, according to the 1946 report of the 



Credits Committee, is subject to renegotiation at or be- 
fore the expiration of the current Agreement. 

HP HE indignities endured by screen writers are many, 
■*• and it will take not only the AAA but some similar 
long-term plan for the employed writer to cope with 
them. My proposal is not intended as a cure-all. Simply, 
it will help expose the real problem instead of helping 

conceal it. At least, it will abolish the comic practice of 
reducing creative work to quantitative terms and will 
end the intramural strife engendered in credit arbitra- 
tions. At best, it may discourage piecework and en- 
courage integrated films. Finally, it will carry out the 
Guild's primary obligation of protecting the economic 
interests of all its members by insisting that no contri- 
butor be denied the credit that is economically valuable 
to him. 

This Special Section on the economic back- 
ground of screen writing has been presented here 
as information vital to writers and of interest 
to the motion picture industry and the public. 

The material in this section was prepared by 
individual writers under the direction of the 
Editorial and Economic Program Committees. 

Members of the SWG Economic Program 
Committee include'. 
Lester Cole, Chairman 
Melville Baker 
Hugo Butler 
John Collier 
Walter Doniger 
Frank Gabrielson 
Morton Grant 

Ring Lardner, Jr. 

Maurice Rapf 

Stanley Roberts 

Sol Shor 

Earle Snell 

Arthur Strawn 

Leo Townsend 

This material has been presented with the 
clear recognition that far from being the last 
word on the subject, it is in fact only an incom- 
plete and opening word. But it is the hope of the 
Editorial and the Economic Program Commit- 
tees that it will be at least a provocative word, 
stimulating a more active interest in screen writ- 
ing problems of employment and marketing. 

All SWG members are urged to attend the 
important membership meeting to be held early 
in August, when these problems will be discussed. 
The Editorial Committee also urges members 
who have something additional to say on the 
subjects of employment, marketing and other 
economic factors to write to the editors in order 
that we may have further exploration of this field. 

t T' 

Screen Writers' Guild Studio Chairmen 

(July 23, 1947) 

Columbia — Louella MacFarlane, acting chairman. 
MGM — Anne Chapin; alternates, Sidney Boehm, 

Marvin Borowsky, Margaret Fitts, Charles 

Republic — Franklin Adreon; alternate, John K. 


20th Century-Fox — Richard Murphy. 

Warner Brothers — James Webb; alternate, Ruth 

Paramount — Arthur Sheekman; alternate, Jesse 
Lasky, Jr. 

Universal-International — Silvia Richards. 

RKO — John Twist. 


Drama in the Barn Belt 


ALFRED PALCA, a member of SWG, 
and novo living in New York, says: 
"I was graduated from college in 1940, 
•worked in radio tivo and a half years, 
in pictures half a year, and in the 
armed services four years. You can 
imagine what I think of Hitler!" 

IF you think you can get an opportunity to see your 
play done in a summer theater before rewriting it 
for Broadway, think again. There are about 135 
straw-hat auditoriums stretching from Cape Cod to 
La Jolla, but if in the thirteen-week season this year 
they manage to try out a grand total of 30 new pro- 
ductions, it will break all records for height, weight 
and existing weather conditions. The safest wager in 
town is that they will not. 

It is common knowledge that Broadway has sunk 
into a morass of higher costs, fewer theaters and more 
wary producers. All agree that new plays and new 
playwrights are needed desperately, but no one has 
figured out how to discover them. New playwrights 
can only be developed by producing their plays and 
encouraging them to write more plays. Yet anything 
that is not sure-fire box office or an easy movie sale is 
a risky proposition in these days of high producing costs 
and stop-clauses on legitimate theaters. 

Which way, then, is one to turn ? A national theater, 
of course, is out of the question. True, the Federal 
Theater of depression days sustained many members 
of the SWG through a rough period. It also aided 
card-holders in the Screen Actors' Guild, the Amer- 
ican Federation of Musicians, Actors' Equity and 
other professional guilds, as well as bringing legitimate 
theater to people who had never seen it before. But 
in these days such monies must be used for other na- 
tional expenditures: veterans' housing, for example.* 

With Broadway and a national theater running 
against stone walls, I thought of the barn belt as the 
only possible remaining proving ground for new plays. 
I thought of Skowhegan, Maine, which had tried out 
Life With Father; Westport, Connecticut, where 
Pursuit of Happiness first saw the light of day ; Thea- 
ter '47 in Dallas, Texas, which opened this year with 
a new Tennessee Williams play. And I thought of the 
Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts, which had 
given Bette Davis and Henry Fonda their first chances 
at acting. 

Yet when the New York Times printed the open- 

•Please don't quibble; Congress is bound to spend some 
money on GI housing. 

ing bills on the summer circuit last June, this trust 
seemed misplaced. Out of well over one hundred thea- 
ters listed, 26 were scheduled to debut with Elmer 
Rice's Dream Girl, 19 with Norman Krasna's Dear 
Ruth, and the rest with Maxwell Anderson's Joan of 
Lorraine. Or so it seemed. 

This, of course, could have been simply a desire on 
the parts of the fresh air entrepreneurs to open with 
sure-fire attractions. But when a similar schedule was 
posted for the second week, I began to wonder. I 
asked a few questions. 

Roughly speaking, summer theaters may be divided 
into two categories: the largest number run by people 
whose other theatrical connections are tenuous, and 
the rest run by well-known Broadway producers. The 
former stick pretty carefully to Springtime For Henry 
and tried and true comedies and dramas. The latter — 
Dennis, Westport, Bucks County, et al — have been 
known to go out on a production limb every now and 

\\ 7ESTPORT, which is run by Lawrence Langner, 
* * Armina Marshall Langner and John C. Wilson, 
is fairly typical of the latter group. Dennis and Skow- 
hegan have longer histories and Bucks County has 
presented more opulent productions, but Westport is 
somewhere in the upper crust of the summer circuit. 
The Langners are directors of the Theater Guild and 
Mr. Wilson, too, is a top Broadway producer in his 
own right. 

I phoned Mrs. Langner at the Guild office one 
Thursday afternoon and we agreed to meet at West- 
port the following Saturday. The New York, New 
Haven and Hartford accepted my terms and I arrived 
in Connecticut on schedule. 

Mrs. Langner had not yet arrived when I did, but 
the theater's press representative, Ralph Lycett, offered 
to give me some background material about Westport. 

"The theater," he said, "opened July 1, 1931, with 
Dion Boucicault's Streets of New York, starring Dor- 
othy Gish and Roland Peters. It was a new play and 
we followed it later in the season with another new 



one, The Bride the Sun Shines On, by Will Cotton. 
In '32 we did If This Be Treason, which had been 
written by John Haynes Holmes and Reginald Law- 
rence and starred Armina Marshall and George 
Coulouris. . . ." 

I had told Mr. Lycett that I was interested pri- 
marily in the new plays which had received their pre- 
B roadway tryouts at Westport. In addition to the 
above-named he mentioned Pursuit of Happiness and 
Suzanna And the Elders, both by the Langners; Dream 
Child by J. C. Nugent, Kill That Story by Harry 
Madden and Philip Dunning, Love On An Island by 
Helen Deutsch, and others. Out of 117 productions 
in thirteen seasons, the Westport Country Playhouse 
had presented about 20 new plays. (From 1942-45 the 
theater had not been in operation.) 

When Mrs. Langner arrived I asked her what 
Westport was doing that other summer theaters were 
not doing. She smiled as though I could not have 
asked a more apt question. 

"Oh," she said, "we try to stay away from the 
revolving stock that appears at all the other summer 
theaters. We feel there's no point in duplicating here 
what you can get in town. This week we've been 
playing David Belasco's Girl of the Golden West and 
the audiences have loved it." 

This was exactly what I was looking for, a theater 
that was willing to go off the beaten track. I asked 
Mrs. Langner eagerly what was to be the following 
week's production. 

"Well," and again she favored me with the smile, 
"our usual practice is to present only one sophisticated 
comedy per season and so next week's bill is French 
Without Tears." 

I nodded in understanding agreement. 

"But then," Mrs. Langner continued, "we discov- 
ered that Tallulah Bankhead is taking Private Lives 
to Chicago for a run. Since Tallulah is a dear friend 
of ours, we prevailed upon her to do a week here prior 
to Chicago." 

That was understandable. Two sophisticated come- 
dies do not necessarily ruin a season. But what follows 

"Why, we're doing a fine old play called The Male 

Hmmm. And the week after that? 

"The Man Who Came To Dinner." 

"\TRS. LANGNER maintained that good new 
■" *• scripts would always be welcomed and produced 
on Broadway and on the summer circuit. But she said 
that one difficulty lies in the fact that you only have a 
week or so to rehearse in a summer theater. This may 
be all right for an old and familiar play, but it is 

something else again with a script you've never seen 

"Still, we did Devil Take A Whittler by Weldon 
Stone last year," Mrs. Langner recalled. "It was an 
experimental drama and interesting to do, but I'm 
afraid it was not for Broadway." 

Ralph Lycett broke in to make a point. "We have 
to remember our audiences," he said. "Fifty percent 
of them here at Westport are artists, the other fifty 
percent want Tallulah's autograph. 

"And, too," Mrs. Langner added, "costs are high 
here just as they are in the city." 

We then moved on to the topic of apprentices, of 
whom there are 22 at Westport. Apprentices are young 
boys and girls who work at summer theaters for the 
entire season during which time they appear as extras, 
play small roles, work as ushers, help build, erect and 
strike sets, iron costumes, sew, shift scenery, sweep 
out dressing rooms, take tickets at the door, etc. In 
short, apprentices learn and work at every aspect of 
the theater. 

Later in the day I had a chance to chat with one 
of them, Tom King, who, as head of the Princeton 
University Triangle Club, will write the book for 
next year's varsity show. "Gosh," said Tom, "they let 
us do everything here at Westport. And the best part 
of it all is that they don't charge us a cent! I mean, 
good grief, some summer theaters charge apprentices 
four and five hundred dollars for the season!" 

Of the 22 apprentices at Westport this season, two 
of them (Tom is one) have ambitions as writers. There 
is no doubt that they are getting the finest possible 
schooling in the fundamentals of the theater. They 
have the opportunity of working with the finest artisans 
in the craft and of learning their secrets. 

I saw the last performance that evening of Girl of 
the Golden West and went backstage afterwards to 
say hello to an actor-friend who appeared in it. The 
celebrities who went back with me for similar reasons 
would have lent dignity to any big opening on Broad- 
way and from the "Dears!" and "Darlings!" and "I 
have nevers" that rent the air you would have thought 
that Mme. Sarah Bernhardt had opened in a new 
drama by Wm. Shakespeare. Actually the kindest 
thing one can say about the play is that it will do 
nothing to hurt Mr. Belasco's reputation as a pro- 

My actor-friend invited me to drive back to the city 
with him and as we piled into the car he sighed deeply 
out of weariness. 

"Well," he said as he shifted into first, "next week 
East Lynne." 

"No," I demurred naively, "French Without Tears." 

But maybe he was right. 





D I T O R 

THE Taft-Hartley Bill has become the law of the land. It replaces the 
Wagner Act, with the aid of which our Guild obtained recognition and 
a contract from the producers, as the law which governs the relation- 
ship between the producers and ourselves. Unless there is a major political 
reversal in 1948, it is likely that its provisions will remain in effect during the 
period of our negotiations for a new contract. 

It is difficult to predict exactly how the new law will affect the trade 
union movement in general and the Screen Writers' Guild in particular. There 
are many imponderables, a few of which may be listed here: 

(1) The attitude of employers: in our case the motion picture 
producers. If they desire, they can use some of the many gimmicks in 
the new law effectively to destroy the collective bargaining rights once 
guaranteed us by the Wagner Act. 

(2) The temper of the new NLRB, and particularly of the 
General Counsel set up by the Act. This official will be America's 
first labor czar, with powers far transcending those of any individual 
or board in the history of American labor legislation. Under the Act, 
the General Counsel can in effect destroy the rights of any trade union 
by ruling or simply by failure to act. His appointment must be ap- 
proved by the Senate, which means, in cold fact, those Senators who 
led the fight for this particular law. 

(3) The questionable constitutionality of large sections of the 
Act. It is possible if not probable that several of the new law's provis- 
ions will be found to violate basic constitutional liberties. 



TTHE Guild's counsel is currently preparing an analysis of the law for dis- 
tribution to the membership. It is proving to be a long and tedious task. 
Physically, the new law is of epic proportions, and almost every one of its 
many pages contains fine-printed clauses which will give lawyers food for 
argument for years to come. In fact, a distinguished local attorney has referred 
to it as "The Full Employment for Lawyers Bill." 

It is from this fine print, little publicized in press reports, that we may ex- 
pect the Guild's major headaches to materialize. Our Guild has always been 
something of a model union, conservative in its attitude and impeccably demo- 
cratic in its government. We have not indulged in any of the practices which 
the most-publicized sections of the law profess to curb. We are not bossed in 
any way. We have never asked for the closed shop, nor have we made political 
contributions. We have never called a strike, and our constitution hedges such 
a course of action with safeguards. But we must not fall into the trap of assum- 
ing that our conservatism in these particulars means that we have nothing to 
fear from the new law. It is full of hidden traps for any union which sets out 
to protect its members with any degree of militancy. 

The Executive Board is unanimously of the opinion that President Truman 
was correct when he called this a shocking bill. As a Guild, we are in grave 
danger, how grave we do not yet know. At the very least, we have lost the legal 
shield behind which we were able to organize and force the producers to bar- 
gain. Conditions have largely reverted to those prevailing before 1937, when 
the Wagner Act was declared constitutional by the United States Supreme 
Court. It was then, and only then, that employers in general, including the 
motion picture producers, decided to comply with the provisions of the law. 
What our own course is to be as far as compliance is concerned must be decided 
by the membership, which must choose between a policy of strict obedience 
and one of the deliberate violation of certain sections, looking to constitutional 
tests in the courts. In either event, it is obvious that our efforts must be bent 
towards obtaining the Act's repeal. 

"VOUR Executive Board does not counsel pessimism. Only a comparatively 
few years ago, collective bargaining was in effect outlawed in the United 
States. Captive courts, injunctions, strike-breaking agencies and company unions 
were only a few of the devices used by employers to cripple the union move- 
ment. Yet the movement grew and prospered. History has proved that it can- 
not be legislated or enjoined out of business. 

Legally and historically, we are a part of that movement. Our guild has 
prospered when organized labor has prospered, suffered when it suffered. We 
can learn from its example in the past. 

In losing the protection of federal law, in the defeat of complacency and 
smugness, perhaps we shall be the gainers after all. In being forced to depend 
upon ourselves, we may discover our real strength. Now, above all, is the time 
to close ranks and move forward. 




epori an 

id C^< 



Summary of Authors' 
League Licensing 
Committee Report 

The Licensing Committee of the 
Authors' League of America recently 
issued "a confidential report not for 
publication" on the American Auth- 
ors' Authority plan. 

Since this report was made to the 
Authors' League Council, it has been 
given much space in the trade and 
commercial press. A summary of the 
ALA Licensing Committee report on 
AAA followss 

THE report recognizes as meri- 
torious many of the objectives an- 
nounced in the special AAA Supple- 
ment of The Screen Writer. It points 
out that these objectives are the estab- 
lished ones of the League and its 
member Guilds. From the standpoint 
of duplication of effort it criticizes 
the setting up of a new organization 
to achieve objectives recognized as 
important to writers. 

It outlines briefly the Licensing 
Committee's interpretation of the 
main proposals of the AAA plan. 

The report lists elements besides 
duplication of effort in the AAA plan 
which give concern to the Licensing 
Committee. These are: (a) "the 
vague proposal that the Authority is 
to 'preserve, enforce and protect rights 
arising out of or under copyright, 
title or other interests in literary 
property;" (b) "the proposal that 
the Authority in respect to deals, will 
'keep the bidding open' and follow 
unstated rules;" (c) "the undefined 
right of the Authority as indicated 
in Mr. Cain's article in the Supple- 
ment to the 'handling of writers' 
problems as a whole;" (d) "the 
right to take legal steps apparently 
with or without authors' consent in 
connection with rights arising under 
materials assigned, and in this con- 
nection to settle, give releases, etc.;" 
(e) "the right to censor material and 

refuse to approve its sale if the board 
decides that it violates any law;" (f) 
"the right to collect and disburse 
money which presumably includes the 
proceeds of literary material;" (g) 
"the extent to which some of the ac- 
tivities may conflict with statutes 
against the practice of law;" (h) 
"the legal status of the plan under 
anti-trust acts;" (i) "the power of 
the Authority's National Director 
who, under the By-laws, must ap- 
prove the nomination of all impor- 
tant members of the corporation be- 
fore they can be voted upon;" (j) 
"the situation under which important 
rights of authors, dramatists, or radio 
writers respectively, could be decided 
by a majority of directors, which ma- 
jority could all belong to other 
Guilds;" (k) "the ineffectiveness of 
assignments withdrawable in 30 
days;" (1) "the potential risk in 
vesting copyright ownership in an- 

The report then goes on to discuss 
the problems of each of the member 
Guilds in regard to major rights from 
which such members derive their 
principal income. 

It points out that the Dramatists' 
Guild has ample protection under 
the Basic Agreement binding until 
March 1, 1951, and that there is no 
apparent reason for a change in this 

In the case of the Radio Writers' 
Guild, the Licensing Committee re- 
port recognizes that the radio writers 
have suffered from many abuses in 
their relationship with users of their 
material. It points out that these 
problems may be best overcome 
through contract negotiations. 

In the case of the Authors' Guild, 
the report emphasizes the variety and 
complexity of relations between auth- 
ors and publishers, and finds nothing 
in the AAA proposal which could be 
of help to authors or which offers any 
remedy as effective as action within 
the Guild. 

As for the Screen Writers' Guild, 
the report points out the distinction 

between SWG members, who sell 
material directly to motion picture 
studios, and other writers, from whom 
the studios acquire screen rights sub- 
sidiary to the basic form of the mate- 
rial. Any special problems affecting 
screen writers can, in the opinion of 
the League Licensing Committee, 
best be met through direct contract 
negotiation by the SWG, or by an 
over-all contract negotiated by the 
League and the SWG. The report 
characterizes as indefensible the prac- 
tice of the motion picture industry 
in acquiring rights of unlimited dura- 
tion in the field of film production, 
and a wide group of allied and sub- 
sidiary rights outside that field. It 
urges that the League seek to achieve 
by direct negotiation with the studios 
a better deal for screen writers. If 
unsuccessful in such negotiations, it 
recommends that the League "use 
the power of its unified strength to 
such ends." 

The Licensing Committee reports 
that it will continue to study the prob- 
lems of licensing and the separation 
of rights. 

Following are the comments of 
the Joint Over-All AAA Committee 
and the Executive Board of the Screen 
Writers' Guild on the report of Auth- 
ors' League Licensing Committee: 

THE Joint Overall Committee has 
considered the report of the 
Licensing Committee of the Authors 
League with great interest. We are 
grateful to the Licensing Committee 
for thus progressing the discussion of 
the proposed AAA a further step. 
Whether such discussion will lead to- 
wards eventual acceptance or rejection 
on the part of writers as a whole of 
the AAA proposal, still it is such dis- 
cussion which tends to clarify not only 
the strengths and weaknesses of the 
AAA as an instrument of the Auth- 
ors League, but to clarify the prob- 
lems of the writing profession. 

May we reply first to two com- 
ments of the Licensing Committee: 



(1) that the AAA brings about a 
duplication of groups striving to the 
same ends; and (2) that the AAA 
contemplates an oversimplified single 
approach to writers' objectives in as- 
signment to a new organization with 
certain powers of control. 

First, duplication. Whatever has 
been the interpretation of the Licens- 
ing Committee concerning the By- 
Laws and Articles of Incorporation, 
it has still been the intent of the Joint 
Committee to set up an organization 
which is subordinate to the Authors 
League. If there is ambiguity in the 
proposal as we have set it forth, then 
such ambiguity must be clarified. The 
AAA is intended — and must be — 
an instrument of the Authors League, 
or more, to effect the solution of prob- 
lems which in our opinion are beyond 
the scope of the individual Guilds. 

These problems lie essentially out- 
side of the special fields in which the 
Guilds work at their best. Licensing 
of rights, for instance, is a problem 
of copyright laws. It would be unfair 
to expect any single Guild to assume 
the costs and responsibilities of such 
problems in behalf of all writers. The 
outcome, likewise, would in all prob- 
ability be failure. 

Province of League 

We say, then, that this is a prov- 
ince of the Authors League, and on 
this we are all agreed. But even as 
we say it we move into the problem 
of duplication of groups. If there has 
been no such duplication so far, it is 
simply because the League has repre- 
sented little other than a co-ordinat- 
ing agency in regard to the Guilds. 

It is the opinion of the Joint Com- 
mittee that the League cannot attack 
those almost unattacked problems 
without setting up machinery for the 
attack. It is our proposal that the 
AAA be that machinery. But what- 
ever the machinery which the League 
chooses, duplication will be a prob- 
lem, and jurisdiction a matter of 
prolonged consideration. 

It is our opinion, therefore, that 
duplication of energy and jurisdic- 
tion of control are not problems con- 
fined to consideration of the AAA. 
The same problems must be faced, dis- 
cussed, clarified, and settled just as 
soon as the League establishes any 
machinery which will effectively sat- 
isfy the writer's needs outside of his 
special field. Duplication seems a prob- 

lem at present only because so little 
has so far been done in the direction 
of satisfying those needs. 

Second, the particular "oversimpli- 
fied" approach of the AAA to all 
general objectives. We consider here 
the choice of the machinery which 
the Authors League may use. It has 
seemed to the Committee that the 
simplicity of the AAA approach to 
the various problems is part of its 
strength. If one tool may be used for 
several purposes, then it seems prob- 
able to us that it is a better choice 
than several tools each adapted to 
only one purpose. ~'^ussion of the 
AAA, though, \r ' -^ther pos- 

sible machiner at this 

time inasmuc' iery 

exists. If in ef- 

fecting lice 
tion, or a n 

fashion than ; jiAA were 

in existence. aien there would be 
has:;, for comparison. 

Until such alternative plans are 
drawn, then the AAA proposal must 
stand with all the strength — and 
weakness — of being the only plan. 
In the meantime, it seems useless to 
speak of the AAA as taking over 
such League functions as copyright 
law and tax law, as if this were an 
objection. The AAA as any other 
machinery would be part of the Auth- 
ors League and can hardly be de- 
scribed as "taking over" a function, 
any more than comparable machin- 
ery. Similarly, even though the argu- 
ment may be quite sound — it is dif- 
ficult to reason that the AAA in its 
need for funds will be in a poorer 
position to raise them than any alter- 
native project of the Authors League. 
Until such alternative plans are 
drawn, these arguments are difficult 
to follow. It may, perhaps, turn out 
that the AAA, as the simpler tool, 
will be the more economical one, so 
that despite the newness of the ap- 
proach it will be the cheaper one for 
the Authors League to adopt. 

Analysis of Objections 

Many of the objections we find in 
the report are not truly objections to 
the idea of an AAA so much as sug- 
gestions for revision and clarification 
in the proposal which has been made. 
Some other objections disappear if we 
clearly approach the AAA idea as a 
subsidiary organization of the Auth- 
ors League. 

May we reply to your specific ob- 

jections to the AAA as they appear 
in the Licensing Committee's Report : 

(a) "The vague proposal that 
the authority is to 'protect, en- 
force and preserve rights arising 
out of copyright, etc' "... It 
must be understood that vague- 
ness or ominous too-comprehen- 
sive powers is not the objective 
of the Joint Overall Committee 
in the work it has done. The 
AAA is a proposal to other writ- 
ers. It is a proposal subject to 
modification. If a proposed pow- 
er seems vague, then obviously 
suggestions for crystallizing that 
power are in order. If a proposed 
power is subject to dangerously 
broad interpretation, then the 
committee is as interested as any 
other writers in limitation of 
that power. The Committee will 
welcome a clearer definition of 
this proposal. 

(b) " . . . Keeping the bidding 
open . . ." It is possible that this 
proposal is entirely out of place 
in the AAA set-up. It is certain- 
ly no part of the essential pur- 
pose of the AAA. On all such 
matters as this, there should be 
careful discussion to discover 
whether existing Guild machin- 
ery, or proposed Guild machin- 
ery can do the job. If it does or 
can, then there is no point in the 
AAA assuming the function. 

(c) "... Handling of writ- 
ers problems as a whole." Mr. 
Cain's article is an individual 
opinion. It is not the intent of 
the Committee that the AAA 
will assume any function prop- 
erly residing in a Guild. Limita- 
tion of jurisdiction should be ar- 
rived at and clearly defined 
through discussion. It would 
seem to the Committee that 
"handling of problems of writ- 
ers as a whole" might be a clear- 
er approach to the functions of 
the AAA. 

(d) "... Legal steps appar- 
ently with or without the auth- 
or s consent . . " The AAA is 
a voluntary organization. Its 
rights are those assigned to it by 
the author at the time of deposit 
of his copyright. They are sub- 
ject to revocability by withdraw- 
al of copyright, and further 
checked by the necessity of hav- 
ing the author's signature on all 



transactions. The Committee 
does not understand how any 
transaction can be interpreted as 
"with or without the author's 
consent." If any ambiguity, how- 
ever, has penetrated the pro- 
posal, the Committee not only 
welcomes but demands criticism 
and clarification. 

(e) . . . The right to cen- 
sor material . . ." It must be re- 
membered that the AAA is not 
a monopoly. Since an author has 
the perfect right to market ma- 
terial which is not subject to 
AAA restrictions, the right to re- 
fuse material on grounds of ob- 
scenity, etc., can hardly be de- 
scribed as censorship. It is diffi- 
cult for the Committee to visual- 
ize a market in which non-AAA 
material will not be in demand. 
It would seem, therefore, that 
rejection of material cannot in 
any sense be construed as prejud- 
icing its marketability. In con- 
nection with this subject the 
Committee has had to bear in 
mind the possibility that obscene 
material would be purposely 
placed with the AAA for the 
sake of involving the AAA in 
destructive litigation. 

Financial Machinery 

(f) "... The right to col- 
lect and disburse money . . ." 
As long as it is proper for the 
Dramatist Guild to collect and 
disburse money, the Committee 
sees no reason why another ag- 
ency of the Authors League, the 
AAA, should be questioned in 
that function. The Committee 
has attempted to set up the prop- 
er machinery and safeguards for 
this function. If this machinery 
and these safeguards seem in- 
adequate, then the Committee 
welcomes further suggestions. 

(g)./'. . . Conflict with stat- 
utes against the practice of law 
. . ." The Committee has drawn 
all its proposals with what we 
believe to be sound legal advice. 
It would be unwise, however, to 
activate the AAA without the 
broadest possible legal opinion 
on all its activities. It is hardly 
the intent of the Committee to 
propose unlawful measures. 

(b) "Legal status of the plan 
under the anti-trust acts." The 
Committee has spent a large 

measure of its energy in the ef- 
fort to draw up a proposal which 
would be acceptable to the anti- 
trust acts. It is our opinion that 
the AAA, an organization of a 
voluntary, non-monopoly nature, 
subject to withdrawal of mem- 
bership, possessed of no powers 
direct or indirect to enforce a 
"closed shop" or in otherwise to 
restrain trade, is on sound legal 
footing in regard to the anti- 
trust acts. 

(i) "... The power of the 
Authority's National Director 
. . ." Th" "rnittee emphas- 
izes ar- re of its proj- 
ect better pro- 
c the Direc- 

x... t elcome 

(j) "Rights . . . derided by a 
majority of directors, which ma- 
jority could all belong to other 
Guilds." Again, this is a pro- 
posal. If the balance of power in 
the directorate seems improper, 
then a proper balance must be 

(k) "Ineffectiveness of as- 
signments withdrawable in thir- 
ty days." It has been the intent 
of the committee to find a form- 
ula which will be acceptable to 
depositing writers and a sufficient 
check on AAA powers, and at 
the same time will provide an 
effective basis for AAA activity. 
Again, once more, this is a pro- 
posal. If writers believe a longer 
period of notice would be wiser, 
then let the matter be discussed. 
There is only one intent : to find 
an effective formula. 

(1) "Risk of vesting copy- 
right." The Committee has spent 
much of its energy on this par- 
ticular subject. We recognize this 
as the greatest risk in the AAA, 
and the major argument against 
it. Few of the members of this 
Committee would entrust their 
copyrights to an organization 
which is any degree irresponsi- 
ble, unchecked, or unlimited in 
its powers, or from which copy- 
rights could not be withdrawn. 
We therefore have done all in 
our power to develop machinery 
to enforce responsibility and lim- 
itation of power, and as a last 
resource of the individual author 

we have introduced the power of 
revocability. We cannot our- 
selves visualize any remaining 
risk in the vesting of copyright. 
If other writers, however, can 
still discover such risk, then it 
is our positive duty by discussion 
to evolve further safeguards. In 
connection with this point it 
should be mentioned that the 
members of the Joint Overall 
Committee are themselves copy- 
right owners ; that we are as con- 
cerned as any other writers in 
America with the safety of copy- 
right ; that the risk of losing con- 
trol of our copyrights is as ap- 
palling to us as it is to any oth- 
ers. But we, perhaps more than 
the Eastern members of the Li- 
censing Committee, have been 
impressed with the emptiness of a 
copyright from which all the sub- 
sidiary rights have been sold. We 
have come to believe that a copy- 
right with all its subsidiary rights 
intact jointly controlled by the 
AAA is a better copyright than 
one entirely stripped of its pow- 
ers and still solely in the author's 
name. And so we, through our 
work on the Overall Committee, 
have necessarily discussed and 
profoundly considered this theory 
of voluntary limited assignment 
of copyright for almost a year. 
And it is our conclusion that the 
possibilities of this theory can be 
of such benefit to writers in the 
solution of problems yet unsolved 
— and to great measure unat- 
tacked — that the theory and all 
its risks warrant unprejudiced, 
unceasing investigation by all 
writers in America. 

IT is difficult in the scope of a 
report which is a reply to a report, 
prepared under pressure of time, to 
enter into the complex relationships 
of an AAA, which is merely a fluid 
proposal, to four different Guilds 
which are going concerns beset with 
all the day to day complications of 
any going concerns. There are vast 
problems, such as that of the existing 
Minimum Basic Agreement of the 
Dramatists Guild. It would seem to 
the Joint Overall Committee, how- 
ever, that vast and imponderable 
though many of the problems are, 
still with energy and goodwill they 
can be solved. We, in the ensuing 
months, will do our part towards 
that end. And we have every hope 



that the Licensing Committee will 
perhaps find solutions where we can- 

In conclusion, may we emphasize 
once again that the concern of this 
Committee is not with the AAA, but 
with the needs of writers which in 
our opinion the AAA can meet. We 
are not chained to an idea, to a 
phrase, or to a slogan. We make no 
religion of the AAA, nor are we ded- 
icated to any such other limited 
crusade. What we are convinced of 
— and it is a conviction from which 
we cannot be shaken — is the inequity 
that a writer .faces in certain fields 
of his professional life. Help us to de- 
stroy these inequities, and we will 
help you, with courage, with imag- 
ination, with unceasing determina- 
tion. What road we take is a matter 
of indifference — so long as we take 
it together, and it takes us there. 

How Subversive 
Is Hollywood? 

ON the evening of July 6 Emmet 
Lavery, president, and Garrett 
Graham, member of SWG, debated 
over Station KM PC with Upton 
Close and Rupert Hughes on the sub- 
ject: "Should we belittle communist 
influence in U. S. motion pictures?" 

Mr. Graham opened the forum 
discussion with a personal tribute to 
Rupert Hughes, and then said: "Mr. 
Hughes has written and directed a 
number of motion pictures. He knows 
as well as I that the industry is just 
as much Big Business as General 
Motors and U. S. Steel — that it is 
controlled completely from Wall 
Street. He knows from his own ex- 
perience the many hands through 
which a completed script has to pass 
before it ever goes into production. 
It has to be read and approved by an 
associate producer, by the studio's 
legal department, by an executive or 
editorial board, and finally by Joseph 
Breen's sharp-eyed censors of the 
Producers' Association. 

"If a writer were diabolically clever 
enough to slide subversive propaganda 
past all these, he still wouldn't be 
getting anywhere. Each day's work 
before the cameras is carefully scrut- 
inized by studio executives in the 
projection room. If a scene or se- 
quence is not to their liking, it is 

thrown away, rewritten and shot over 

"The Bank of America in Califor- 
nia and the Chase National Bank in 
New York handle most motion pic- 
ture financing. Until these two con- 
servative institutions go Communistic 
— until the Wall Street Journal 
starts whooping it up for Moscow — 
and the Hammer and Sickle flies above 
the ramparts of San Simeon, America 
need fear nothing worse from Holly- 
wood than possible death by bore- 

Mr. Hughes, the next speaker on 
the program, pointed to the recent 
Henry A. Wallace-Katharine Hep- 
burn meeting at the Gilmore Stadium 
as evidence of communist influence 
in Hollywood. He wanted to know 
why Mr. Wallace did not register 
as an "enemy agent," and deplored 
the fact that when he came to town 
he was met by a "mob of motion pic- 
ture people." He said: "Some time 
ago the communists took over the 
Screen Writers' Guild, and the AAA 
plan put forward by the Guild in an 
attempt to take over all writers. If 
your friends and partners are com- 
munists I don't care what you call 
yourself — you are a communist." 

Mr. Lavery, the next speaker ob- 
served that if we have a true demo- 
cracy we have nothing to fear from 
communism — except the fear of com- 
munism. He said: "Fear is not the 
weapon of free men. It is a tyrant's 
tool. And we ought to know that by 
now for we saw what happened in 
Germany with Hitler, in Italy with 
Mussolini, in Spain with Franco. In 
each country the fear of communism 
was used to divide and destroy all 
semblance of representative govern- 
ment. And it will happen here if we 
give way to this kind of mass hys- 

Emphasizing that he held no brief 
for Marxian communism and that his 
social conscience derived from the 
gospels of the apostles, Mr. Lavery 
said that hysterical witchhunts and 
infringements of civil liberties played 
into the hands of the communists. He 
quoted a recent Film Daily report 
from Russia to the effect that the Rus- 
sian regarded the Hollywood product 
as "reactionary and decadent." He 
said: "It doesn't look as if American 
communists were doing very well by 
the Kremlin." 

Upton Close said he was tired of 
apologies for communism. He quoted 

what he described as a communist di- 
rective of 22 years ago: "We must 
wrest the screen from the ruling class 
and turn it against them." 

He advanced the opinion that this 
directive is being followed. He said 
society women, bankers and rich per- 
sons in general were usually dealt 
with unsympathetically on the screen, 
while working people were portrayed 
in a pleasant light. He described the 
recent RKO picture, The Farmer's 
Daughter , as an example of subversive 
propaganda. "The propaganda in this 
picture grits like sand in the gravy," 
said Mr. Close. "A conservative poli- 
tician is attacked as being against the 
free distribution of milk. The League 
of Nations is upheld — what right has 
a film of this kind to raise a point 
about the League of Nations? This 
is the sort of stuff handed out in our 
movies, and I say it is time to stop 
belittling this kind of stuff." 

In the discussion period following 
the formal statements, Mr. Lavery 
said that more than 400 pictures are 
produced in Hollywood in a year, 
and wanted to know what other pic- 
tures were regarded as loaded with 
subversive propaganda. 

Mr. Hughes mentioned Mission to 
Moscow, and Mr. Close named Ac- 
tion in the North Atlantic, Hitler's 
Children, The Ox-Bow Incident, 
Song of Russia and Wilson. 

In the course of the discussion Mr. 
Hughes, who had attacked the Amer- 
ican Authors' Authority plan, admit- 
ted that he is a loyal and long-stand- 
ing member of the American Society 
of Composers, Authors and Publish- 

{Editor's Note:Mr. Hughes' ad- 
mission that he is a member of 
ASCAP is interesting. For ASCAP 
and AAA have many essential points 
in common, especially the points on 
which he has been attacking AAA as 
"communistic" and "totalitarian." 

He could not have become a mem- 
ber of ASCAP unless he executed an 
outright, complete and irrevocable as- 
signment to ASCAP exclusively to 
license throughout the world the non- 
dramatic public performing rights of 
every musical composition of which 
he might be the author of the words 
and/or music. 

Moreover, under the by-laws of 
ASCAP, Mr. Hughes relinquishes 
to the organization the sole and ex- 



elusive rights to determine the rates 
which shall be paid for the use of his 
works. He agrees that what they earn 
shall be pooled with the revenue earn- 
ed by the collective repertoire of the 
works of all the members find that he 
will accept without question such 
participation as may be awarded him 
by the Writers Classification Commit- 
tee, in the aggregate of distributable 

Furthermore, Mr. Hughes agrees 
to be bound absolutely by the Arti- 
cles of the Association, and by the 
by-laws, under which its policies are 
determined and its affairs managed 
exclusively by its board of directors, 
zvhick must at all times consist of 12 
writers and 12 publishers. 

Most of the important authors and 
composers of musical works in the 
U.S.A. have signed with ASCAP, 
which is much more rigorous in its 
conditions than the proposed AAA 
plan for safeguarding writers' prop- 
erty interests.) 

Conference on 

CURRENT exhibition of old films 
and the effect of this increasing 
practice on motion picture studio em- 
ployment has brought dissident fac- 
tions of Hollywood organizations to- 
gether in an unprecedented move to 
share in the profits of these re-issued 

Meeting in the board room of the 
Screen Writers' Guild on July 9, 
representatives of the talent groups 
and the warring Conference of Studio 
Unions and International Alliance of 
Theatrical Stage Employees locals un- 
animously approved a plan for an im- 
mediate economic survey of the re-is- 
sue problem, subject to the ratifica- 
tion of the guilds and unions involved. 

It was pointed out that of approxi- 
mately 400 films released for exhibi- 
tion in the last year, more than 100 or 
upwards of 25 per cent were old films 
made in previous years. 

Lester Cole, chairman of the Screen 
Writers' Guild Economic Program 
Committee, said that these 100 re-is- 
sued films displaced from employment 
at least two or 300 writers, a couple 
of hundred directors and producers, 
and thousands of actors and skilled 
studio workers. 

"Our industry is one of the few in 
the world where talents and skills of 
its workers, preserved on strips of 
celluloid, can be used repeatedly with- 
out any remuneration to the pos- 
sessors of those talents and skills," 
said Cole. "This fact must be recog- 
nized, and some plan is called for 
whereby compensation will be paid 
for the repeated use of the creative 
and technical work of those who make 
our motion pictures." 

"Compare motion pictures with the 
book publishing industry. Writers of 
books are protected by copyright law, 
and when their books are re-issued 
they are compensated for it. Probably 
the only workers who are not com- 
pensated in the reprinting of a book 
are the original type-setters. If new 
plates are made, even the type-setters 
are paid." 

Representatives of the Screen Ac- 
tors' Guild, present at the meeting as 
observers, pointed out that 35mm. 
feature and short subject films are 
being increasingly reprinted in the 
16mm. size, and that the original 
makers of the film should derive some 
compensation from the exhibition and 
sale of these 16mm. pictures. 

It developed at the meeting that 
the question of compensation for re- 
issued films had been brought up in 
contract negotiations by various Hol- 
lywood guilds and unions, and that 
studio management had always re- 
plied that if such compensation were 
granted to one group all the other 
organized labor groups in Hollywood 
would demand it. 

It was generally agreed that the 
executive producers were correct in 
this attitude, and that all Hollywood 
labor groups deserved to share in some 
way in the profits from re-issued films. 
It was agreed that distribution of 
such compensation was a problem that 
would have to be taken up by the 
individual guilds and unions. 

Hugo Butler of the Screen Writ- 
ers' Guild chaired the meeting. Among 
the guilds and unions represented 
were the Screen Actors' Guild and 
the Production Managers' Guild, 
which sent observers ; the Screen 
Directors' Guild, the Film Editors, 
the Script Clerks, the Costumers' 
Union, the Screen Story Analysts' 
Guild, the Screen Publicists' Guild, 
the Society of Motion Picture Art 
Directors, the Screen Set Designers 

Local 1421, the Screen Cartoonists 
Guild, Local 70 of the Plumbers' 
Union, the I.B.E.W. Local 40, the 
Screen Extras' Guild, and Local 946 
of the Carpenters Union. 

These groups appointed a tempo- 
rary steering committee to deal with 
the re-issue question. Members of this 
committee are Hugo Butler and 
Lester Cole of the Screen Writers' 
Guild; Herb Drake of the Screen 
Publicists' Guild; W. R. Higbie of 
the Carpenters' Union, and Bernard 
Vorhaus of the Screen Directors' 

Comments From 
Two Critics 

Two of the most distinguished 
drama and motion picture editors in 
the United States comment on The 
Screen Writer in its new format. 

In the East, Archer Winsten de- 
votes his New York Post column of 
July 7 to the SWG magazine. Mr. 
Winsten says in part: 

MONTH in and month out for 
the past two or three years a 
pocket-sized magazine out of Holly- 
wood, The Screen Writer frankly 
devoted to the interests of the screen 
writers who publish, write and read 
it, has been running circles around 
around all competition. In any given 
issue it is apt to print more of the 
well-written, clearly thought "inside'' 
of the Hollywood problems than all 
other magazines publish in a year. 

This should not be surprising. If 
anyone could get out such a magazine 
it would be the writers who are al- 
ready inside the gates, clanking about 
in their chains of gold, actual or pros- 

Last month the magazine expand- 
ed from pocket to arm-size. Not yet 
comparable to a weekly giant of the 
circulation leaders, it is larger. 
though, than the staid monthlies. And 
this month it matches its size with a 
vigorous treatment of the problems 
attendant on "Motion Pictures as a 
Free Medium of Artistic Expression." 
It hits the big problem of American 
movies from several points of view, 
with ideas from a variety of heads, 
and without the gentle emptiness of 
the apologist. The reproduction of a 
small contribution bv this reviewer 



has had no effect upon an interest 
of long duration. The Screen Writ- 
er never fails to be original and in- 
teresting. Frequently, as in this July 
issue, it is vital and fascinating. 

For instance, in addition to the 
"Freedom' 'symposium, the Jean Ren- 
oir article on Charles Chaplin, Mon- 
sieur Verdoux, and the parallel he 
draws between Chaplin's early periods 
and his latest, and Moliere's similar 
descent from easily acceptable popu- 
larity to critical vilification, is very 
stimulating. Renoir's emphasis on the 
value of the individual creator, so 
clearly seen in every aspect of Ver- 
doux, so rarely seen in all American 
films, is an exceedingly gratifying ob- 
servation since it was also made in 
this department's first review of the 

A second article in the magazine, 
Writing and Realization, by Meyer 
Levin, tells about his writing and 
helping produce a documentary in 
Palestine. If the picture "realizes" 
anything of the quality he has writ- 
ten in his analysis of its making, it 
will be worth watching for. In the 
meantime, the article can also serve 
an unusually sound instruction on 
the making of such films and how 
to think of the component parts. 

A third article, The Future of 
Screen Writing, by Sheridan Gib- 
ney, faces up to Code vs. Truth. 
Writes he, "This is the ultimate ab- 
surdity to say that profits depend on 

a more honest artistic effort but writ- 
ers must not be given the freedom 
to make that effort for fear of losing 
profits." His answer is, in part, "a 
gradual divorcement of the art from 
the industry." 

Thus far The Screen Writer 
has achieved an admirable balance 
between readability, which implies 
certain elements of entertainment and 
humor, and serious thought taken for 
the good of the industry and all peo- 
ple concerned with it. Although its 
approach is purely professional, it 
can be read with pleasure and profit 
by almost anyone capable of thinking 
about movies as well as feeling with 

(Copyright 19+7 New York Post Cor- 
poration. Reproduced by Permission of 
Copyright Owner. Further Reproduction 

In the West, Virginia Wright, 
drama editor of the Los Angeles 
Daily News, recently devoted her 
widely read column to The Screen 
Writer. Miss Wright said in part : 

THE Screen Writer is three 
years old this month, and con- 
gratulations are in order. From a 
little six by nine periodical this of- 
ficial voice of the Screen Writers' 
Guild has grown now, with its hand- 
some new format, into a magazine as 

bright in appearance as it is stim- 
ulating in content. 

The chief success of the magazine, 
and something of a marvel, too, is the 
continuing ability of its editorial staff 
to give its strictly trade material gen- 
eral interest. Evidence of enthusiasm 
outside the motion picture industry 
is its sale at bookstands in five states, 
and distribution in England, Eire, 
Australia, New Zealand, Swed en an d 

While The Screen Writer has 
grown in stature during the past two 
years its objective has not changed. 
The magazine was founded for the 
purpose of giving wider recognition 
to the craft of screen writing, and in 
that it has succeeded admirably. For 
along with its discussion of craft prob- 
lems, screenwriters have been articu- 
late on subjects ranging from "what's 
wrong with move critics" to Gallup 
polls and red-baiting. 

The writing is on the same high 
quality level of its first issue, and the 
pitfall of pedantry still is being side- 
stepped skillfully. The serious dis- 
cussions have been balanced with 
humorous exposes of the foibles of 
the business, and along with righteous, 
indignant outbursts at abuses some 
neat incisive satire has brightened 
the organ's pages. 

Again, congratulations, and thanks 
to The Screen Writer for hours of 
entertaining and informative reading. 







Mr. Tom Tracey, 1885 Veteran 
Avenue, Los Angeles, writes: 

I am sending a copy of a letter 
which I wrote to Time Magazine. I 
felt The Screen Writer would be in- 
terested in this instance of a non-in- 
dustry individual asking for adequate 
press coverage of the achievements of 
screen writers, especially since this 
is in regard to an especially flagrant 
example of withholding credit. 

My letter to Time follows : 

"In the June 16th issue more than 
one column is given to a generally 
laudatory review of a new film, Pos- 
sessed, in which it is stated, ' . . . the 
picture's writers, director and musi- 
cians have done some effective things 
with sound . . . and with story tell- 
ing . . .' But, then, in spite of the 
fact that lavish attention is given to 
the actors in the film — by name, of 
course — the reviewer does not con- 
descend to mention who the praise- 
worthy writers, director and composer 
are. THAT, Time Magazine, con- 
stitutes an incompetent job of report- 

"Besides that, your subtle implica- 
tion — in the above quotation — that 
the achievements of the picture's writ- 
ers and director may be equated with 
the performances of the background 
musicians is patently ridiculous. 

"It is my considered guess that the 
long noticeable — and exasperating — 
tendency on the part of your Cinema 
Department to consider it unnecessary 
to name the directors and writers of 
the pictures it reviews is nothing else 
than a direct — and faintly neurotic 
— result of the gnawing frustration 
which your reviewers must feel at 
their having to work in near-anony- 
mity. As a Tzme-reader and movie- 
goer, I consider it a damned sight 
more important to know who writes 
and directs the more outstanding mov- 

ies than to know who reviews them 
in Time. 

"Best wishes for a competent job 
of cinema reporting." 


Mr. Tracey received the following 
reply from the editors of Time Maga- 
zine : 

"Dear Mr. Tracey: 

"Our reviewer felt that the names 
of the writers, directors and com- 
posers of Possessed should be men- 
tioned, but they were later edited out. 
Time does not like to pad a review 
with a string of names when space is 
so valuable, since such a list does not 
interest all our readers. We mention 
the men behind the scenes only when 
their contribution is unusually good 
— or bad." 

The following letter has been re- 
ceived from Peter Noble, editor of 
The Britsh Film Yearbook, 15 Arnos 
Grove Court, London, N. 11 : 

I am preparing for publication 
shortly a book called The Man You 
Love To Hate, a biography of Erich 
von Stroheim, now acting in French 
films. I should be grateful if you 
would publish this letter in order that 
any of your readers who possess cut- 
tings, articles or photographs of Stro- 
heim, or of films directed and written 
by Stroheim, might lend me their 
material for use in my book. All such 
material will be acknowledged and 
returned immediately to the people 

I hope you are able to help me in 
this matter since although there have 
been books on Stroheim published in 
French and also in Italian, there has 
up to now, been no published appre- 
ciation in English of the work and 
influence of one of the most remark- 
able personalities in the history of 
the cinema. 

Letter From 

{Continued from Inside Front Cover) 
Festival seemed to be directed by 
American hands. According to cer- 
tain journalists, that was the reason 
for the Russian abstention from Brus- 
sels; it seems more probable that the 
Russians, having produced no good 
films this year, thought it safer for 
their prestige to keep away from 
Brussels. The list of awards which 
last September at the Cannes Fest- 
ival had seemed partial to Russia, 
proved this year a considerable amount 
of diplomacy on the part of the all- 
Belgian jury of Brussels. It was point- 
ed out that the awards were honoring 
only the pictures to which they were 
attributed, disregarding the whole of 
the national production ; and indeed 
the American and French productions 
which received two awards each were 
not as uniformly good as the Brit- 
ish or the Italian. 

With Hue and Cry, Great Expec- 
tations, The Overlanders, A Matter 
of Life and Death, and Odd Man 
Out — which received the award for 
the best realization — the British 
proved the variety and range of their 
qualities. Though each of these pic- 
tures has some weak parts, the whole 
British production is easily the most 
impressive ensemble. The Italians 
presented four wonderful pictures: 
Paisa, Vivere in Pace, II Sole Sorge 
Ancora, Sciuscia, each of which draws 
its inspiration directly from reality. 
Neither the Americans nor the 
French, to whom the same sources 
were available, have succeeded yet in 
transferring those themes to the 
screen with such breathless realism 
and emotion; however, one wonders 
where the Italian film makers will 
turn to when the use of such sub- 
jects is no longer timely. 

The Mexican production which 
was also given an award, that of the 
best photography, for Gabriel Fig- 
ueroa's work in Enamorada — he al- 



ready received that award in Cannes 
for Maria Candelaria — brought no 
revelation. In La Perla it renewed 
some well-worn themes by putting 
them in new sceneries. 

THE award of the Grand Prix du 
Festival to Rene Clair's Le Silence 
Est d'Or (Man About Town) 
crowns both the American and the 
French productions, since it is a joint 
Pathe (French) and RKO undertak- 
ing: Rene Clair had his screenplay ap- 
proved in Hollywood before shooting 
it in France, and American funds 
frozen in Paris contributed to supply 
him with the best conditions for a 
perfect production. Beside, Clair now 
combines in himself a Hollywood 
technique with a French imagination 
and he succeeded in making Le Silence 
Est d'Or a delightful picture, some- 
thing like a perfectly orchestrated 
ballet where each theme is being re- 
peated by all the characters with 
varied shades of humaneness and 
irony. The France it presents is very 
much the kind Hollywood producers 
like to see on the screen, but there is 
more to it than flirtations at -the 
Folies-Bergeres and cafe terraces. 
With a running commentary in Eng- 
lish spoken by Maurice Chevalier, Le 
Silence Est d'Or is bound to be a 
success in the States as it is in Europe. 
Such a successful instance of Franco- 
American collaboration may show the 
way to further productions and in- 
fuse a new blood in both Hollywood 
and European productions. 

Le Silence Est d'Or is a technically 
perfect picture, but not a powerful 
one. The motion picture critics felt 
more attracted to the other good 
French movie, Le Diable au Corps, 
from Raymond Radiguet's famous 
novel of the '20s, to which they gave 
their own award. That stirring por- 
trayal of adolescent love fulfilling it- 
self in spite of society and rushing 
headlong towards disaster might have 
gotten the main award if it were 
not for the unconventional ideas scat- 
tered through the dialogue which, in 
spite of its moral conclusion may 
cause the film to be condemned by the 
more puritanical critics. 

The interference of morals with 
motion picture making has been high- 
lighted by a lecture given at the 
Catholic Film Congress held in Brus- 
sels at the same time as the Festival, 
by Mr. William H. Mooring, of the 
Tidings, Los Angeles Catholic pub- 

lication. The instances Mr. Mooring 
gave ... of advices offered to direc- 
tors seem to indicate that propaganda 
can be used in films, as long as it is 
Catholic propaganda — for the moral 
principles he upholds as necessary es- 
sentially amount to that. When a 
journalist tried to obtain from Eric 
Johnston some enlightenment about 
the distinction between propaganda 
and moral principles which must be 
expounded in movies, Mr. Johnston 
very adroitly eluded the question and 
no one will know what principles are 
to be considered propaganda and must 
be avoided, and what others are 
moral and must be upheld. 

Mr. Johnston's reputation as a dip- 
lomat grew on another occasion when 
a journalist asked him whether the 
American pictures shown at the Fest- 
ival were really the best ones. Mr. 
Johnston answered that he was an 
amateur and couldn't judge. To the 
rest of the public the selection shown 
didn't seem representative of the 
American production and one wonders 
whether there might not be a better 
way of choosing pictures than to take 
one from each of the major studios. 
Of all the films shown The Best Years 
of Our Lives and The Yearling were 
unanimously approved. As for It's a 
Wonderful Life which was thought 
somewhat childishly optimistic, it 
found an unexpected support in Ital- 
ian journalists who thought it was 
the only Christian picture of the 
Festival. The messages which most 
well-meaning American pictures try 
to convey are generally lost on Euro- 
pean audiences who are weary of any 
indoctrination and scoff at senti- 
mentality as well as at preaching. The 
lesson should come out of the facts, 
of each significant detail ; and there 
is no need for piling them up, either : 
the Italian pictures which are fraught 
with meaning are breathlessly paced. 
It is because William Wyler aims 
towards that goal that he received 
such an enthusiastic reception in Brus- 
sels. People saluted him for his tech- 
nique, and also for his choice of a 
good subject: the Best Years of Our 
Lives was thought the most impor- 
tant and timely topic. 

ed the award for the best screen 



That was the only time a screen 
writer was mentioned at the Festival. 
The organizers seemed completely 

unaware of the importance of screen- 
plays: on the programs which gave 
the list of films to be seen and which 
displayed the names of their directors 
and their stars, no screen writer's 
name ever appeared. 

Also, to guide the jury in their ap- 
preciation of each film, a special chart 
had been established ascribing a cer- 
tain coefficient to the various elements 
which make a movie: direction, pho- 
tography, music, acting, etc. In that 
chart, the screenplay was supposed to 
count only as 10 percent, and the 
dialogue as 5 percent. Only 15 percent 
of the components of a movie ascribed 
to the screen writer! 

The films shown at the Festival 
proved abundantly that there is no 
good movie without a good subject, 
and that the best films are those 
where the screenplay has been care- 
fully worked out because the writer 
and the director had worked closely 
together, or were the same person: 
viz : Rene Clair, Carol Reed, Roberto 

Unfortunately there was no one in 
Brussels to uphold the writer's rights. 
The only screen writer officially pres- 
ent was Charles Spaak, the co-author 
of La Grande Illusion and other suc- 
cesses. One day he was introduced to 
someone as the brother of Jean-Paul 
Spaak, Belgium's Prime Minister — 
which he is — and he was heard to 
mutter: "What's the use of having 
written 92 screenplays, and be still 
introduced as someone's brother?" 

What's the use for screen writers 
to write if they don't make themselves 
known? The Festival might have 
given them such an opportunity. The 
conference of motion picture techni- 
cians which is going to take place 
in Prague had been invited to Brus- 
sels, but refused on the ground that 
the atmosphere wouldn't be suitable. 
Indeed the Festival, mostly intended 
for commercial purposes, became a 
publicity stunt and the opportunity 
for producers and exhibitors from all 
over the world to talk shop. A con- 
siderable amount of business was 
transacted in Brussels this June. 
However, a Festival's first aim should 
be a gathering neither of the critics 
or the buyers of films, but of the 
makers of pictures. It is a unique op- 
portunity for them to see the world 
production, compare notes, get new 
ideas, learn different techniques. Thus 
should a Festival really promote the 
making of motion pictures. 



Letter From Paris 

The Syndicat des Scenaristes of 
Paris, representing the organized 
screen writers of France, has written 
the Screen Writers' Guild concerning 
the attitude of the Brussels Film Fest- 
ival promoters toward writers, and 
has asked the SWG join in the inter- 
national protest. SWG has responded 
to this request for joint action. The 
letter from the French screen writers 
follows : 

We have decided to boycott by all 
the means which are at our disposal 
the affairs or festivals where no rec- 
ognition is accorded to the authors of 
scenarios and dialogues. 

The further means which we plan 
to utilize to gain recognition for the 
names of scenarists have been envis- 
aged. One of these means which is in 
our power is to act on the committee 
of selection which chooses the French 
films and where we are represented; 
for example, if we should resign from 
the committee, the selection would be 
tainted with irregularity. 

In fact, we believe that the action 
by the press is already sufficient, espe- 
cially if it is supported by interna- 
tional action on the part of English 
and American scenarists. 

I believe it would be useful to draw 
up with the least possible delay a 
communication protesting against the 
manner in which the scenarists are 
treated at these festivals. It would be 
expedient if the communication were 
passed on at the same time to the 
English and American journals. 

Here is the text of the communica- 
tion which we have drawn up apropos 
the Brussels Film Festival; we think 
that it would serve as a basic state- 
ment for this tri-partite protest: 

"The Syndicate of Scenarists is as- 
tonished and regretful that the names 
of the authors of films, that is to say 
of the scenarists and dialogueists, do 
not figure anywhere on the publicity 
placards, or anywhere on the hand- 
bills, or anywhere on the programs 
edited by the organizers of the Bel- 
gian World Film Festival. 

"In any case in the future, where 
these acts are repeated in regard to 
other film festivals, the scenarists have 
decided to prohibit the projection of 
their films." 


General Secretary. 


U^oohs: John Gunther's Notes on the 

Hollywood Scene 

H' I 'HE first of the important 


Hollywood guilds, and still 
one of the strongest and best run, 
is the Screen Writers' Guild, of 
which Dudley Nichols was president 
for two stormy years. The producers 
tried to break it up with a company 
union called the Screen Playwrights; 
this perished after a vote under the 
Wagner Act." 

So writes John Gunther in his new 
reportorial encyclopedia of contem- 
porary America. {Inside U. S. A. 
Harper & Brothers. $5.) 

He says other things about Holly- 
wood — shrewd, witty, acute and 
sometimes over-simplified observa- 
tions. His definition of the motion 
picture colony: "That fabulous world 
of profit hunger, agents, ulcers, all 
the power and vitality and talent and 
craftsmanship with so little genius, 
options, dynastic confusions, goona- 
goona, the vulgarization of most per- 
sonal relationships, and 8000 man 
hours spent on a sequence that takes 
three minutes." 

His ideological division of Holly- 
wood seems a trifle arbitrary: on one 
side the Motion Picture Alliance for 
the Preservation of American Ideals, 
and on the other the Arts, Sciences 
and Professions Committee group, 
which, he says, "has a considerably 
more distinguished list of members." 
He asked a Hollywood friend who 
was the "brains" of the MPA; the 
answer: "the College of Cardinals 
in MGM." 

He gives considerable space to the 
studio labor situation, which he de- 
scribes as "difficult and sinuous." 

He writes: "All the big studios are 
antilabor, even the most 'liberal'." 
After paying tribute to the Screen 
Writers' Guild as one of the strong- 
est and best run organizations in 
Hollywood, he says : "Actors also have 
a powerful guild, as do the camera 
men and technicians; directors have 
a guild too, but it is weak, largely 
because they do not need as much 
protection as actors, and so pay less 
attention to their own organization. 
Beyond all this is the celebrated In- 
ternational Alliance of Theatrical and 
Stage Employees (IATSE), an AF 
of L union which has had a highly 
disagreeable past to say the least." 

He observes that while the produc- 
ers are "almost helpless" in disputes 
between the IATSE and CSU, "they 
naturally like the IATSE, much as 
they hated it before, better than they 
like the CSU." 

Behind the politico-economic-so- 
cial stresses Gunther feels in Holly- 
wood he discerns two explanations. 
One is that "a fantastic number of 
people receive fantastic salaries." They 
only reached the high brackets at the 
time taxation began to bite hard, and 
this made them detest Roosevelt and 
liberalism. The other is that many 
others, both talent people and exec- 
utives, receive "tidy salaries like a 
thousand dollars a week, feel a sense 
of subconscious guilt at earning so 
much money, and so tend to submerge 
or deflect their bad conscience by 
generosity to all kinds of leftist causes 
and escape valve politics." 

This physically heavy ( 1024 pages) 
volume does not make for heavy 
reading. It is done with the light 
touch. It has no pretensions to pro- 
fundity. It is a reporter's heterogen- 
eous portrait of the U. S. A. But it 
is a documented report, enlivened by 
personal anecdote and enriched with 
a tolerant understanding. It is as con- 
temporary as a daily newspaper and 
parts of it already seem a little dated. 
But in this fourth volume of his 
best-selling "Inside" series, Mr. Gun- 
ther is more than amusing and com- 
petent. He shows considerable forth- 
right courage in dealing with race 
relations, especially in the deep South, 
and in exposing some of the unpleasant 
running sores in city, state and federal 
governments. He turns the light on 
some dark places in our national life; 
the effect will be antiseptic. 

You will find in the book a good 
quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald: 
"France was a land, England was a 
people, but America, having about it 
still the quality of the idea, was harder 
to utter — it was the graves at Shiloh, 
and the tired, drawn, nervous faces 
of its great men, and the country boys 
dying in the Argonne for a phrase 
that was empty before their bodies 
withered. It was a willingness of the 
heart. . . ." 

R. S. 

r leu/5 ifoted 

* Current programs in the N. Y. 
Museum of Modern Art's History 
of the Motion Picture Series are: 
Pabst and Realism (III) : Die Drei- 
groschenoper, August 4, 5, 6, 7 ; The 
Films of Fritz Lang (IV) : M, Aug- 
ust 8, 9, 10; The Psychological Dra- 
ma (IV): Maedchen in Uniform, 
August 11, 12, 13, 14; A German 
Comedy: Emil and the Detectives, 
August 15, 16, 17; Legend and Fan- 
tasy (V) : Fahrmann Maria, August 

18, 19, 20, 21; The Psychological 
Drama (V) : The Eternal Mask, 
August 22, 23, 24; The German 
Documentary Film (I) : Olympia, 
Part 1, August 25, 26, 27, 28; The 
German Documentary Film (II) : 
Olympia Part II August 29, 30, 31. 

* Under the chairmanship of Her- 
bert Biberman, Edward Dmytryk, 
Fritz Lang, Kenneth Macgowan and 
Dudley Nichols, American Gallery 
Films and the People's Educational 
Center are presenting a series of film 
portraits of different countries and 
their people. The films are being 
shown at the Screen Cartoonists' 
Guild hall, Yucca and Vine. The 
current schedule follows: August 1, 
Mexico : The Wave; August 8, Unit- 
ed States: Abraham Lincoln; August 
15, Germany: Variety; August 22, 
Germany: Kamaradschaft ; August 
29, Sweden: The Atonement of Gosta 
Berling; September 5, Holland: 
Carnival in Flanders; September 12, 
France: La Marseillaise; September 

19, France: Passion of Joan of Arc. 
Admission will be by membership 
subscription and information can be 
obtained by calling HOllywood 6291. 

* SWG member Meyer Levin, 
whose article in the July issue of 
The Screen Writer on film making in 
Palestine aroused national interest, re- 
ports that the documentary feature 
film he described will be ready for 
release this month under the title 
Survivors. At the same time Viking 
Press will publish Levin's novel, based 
on the film story, but titled My Fath- 
er's House. 

* SWG member Leonide Moguy, 
who has been working in Paris on 

the adaptation and screen play of 
Pierre Benoit's novel, Bethsabee, re- 
ports keen interest among members 
of the French Syndicat des Scenaristes 
in the methods and projects of SWG. 

* Recent additions to the Holly- 
wood exodus to France are SWG 
members Edward Eliscu and Henry 
Meyers, who are now in Paris work- 
ing on Alice in Wonderland. 

* Actors Lab is putting on a series 
of experimental one act plays. SWG 
member Malvin Wald's Talk in 
Darkness was presented recently. 
Mary Tarcai, Lab secretary, asks 
writers of one act plays to submit 
scripts. Some of the plays are produced 
in veterans' hospitals after premier- 
ing at the Lab Workshop, 1455 N. 

*On July 17th, 18th and 19th 
the Pasadena Playhouse Patio Thea- 
tre staged Operation Peace, a fantasy 
written by Malvin Wald and Eli 

* In his contribution to the June 
issue of The Screen Writer, Niven 
Busch referred to the University of 
Southern California motion picture 
department as "Clara Beranger's Cin- 
ema Workshop." In a note to the 
editor Clara Beranger writes that 
while she teaches courses in screen 
writing at USC, she disclaims credit 
for the whole department, which is 
called The Cinema Workshop. 

*The Olga Shapiro Play Contest 
Committee announces August 1 as 
the date for publication of the Award. 
Members of the committee are John 
Gassner, Margaret Webster and Ker- 
mit Bloomgarden. 

* Pasadena Community Playhouse 
announces James M. Barrie's Alice- 
Sit-By -T he-Fire for August 5-10. 

* Erskine Caldwell's new novel, 
The Sure Hand of God, will be pub- 
lished by Duell Sloan & Pearce in 
October. The same firm announces 
Dorothy B. Hughes' In a Lonely 
Place, a mystery novel, for fall pub- 
lication, and Theodore Pratt's Mr. 
Thurtle's Trolly for August. 

* SWG member Robert Carson's 
new novel, Stranger in Our Midst, 
published by Putnam's in July, is his 
first book since World War II, in 
which he served for 39 months in 
the air corps. 

* SWG member Eugene Vale's 
book, The Technique of Screenplay 
Writing, is being published in a Span- 
ish language edition by the Sociedad 
de Autores de Mexico. 

* The new novel by Alfred Hayes, 
a recent contributor to The Screen 
Writer and author of the best-selling 
novel All Thy Conquests, is Shadow 
of Heaven. Howell & Soskin will pub- 
lish it in October. 

* SWG member Marc Connelly is 
now associate professor of playwrit- 
ing in Yale University's Graduate 
School of Fine Arts. 

*The Raymond MacDonald Aid- 
en Award of the Dramatists' Al- 
liance of Stanford University for 
1947 was won by Dutch Courage, a 
short play by SWG member Alan 

*The Modern Theater, 1545 
Broadway, N. Y. C, which an- 
nounces its opening, states its policy 
includes the encouragement of new 
ideas, an equality of importance 
among all personnel, the maintenance 
of high quality entertainment, and 
an unbiased choice of employees. 

* Emmet Lavery, President of the 
Screen Writers' Guild, received word 
recently of a special grant of honor 
from the Catholic Theater Confer- 
ence, meeting in its tenth year at Cath- 
olic University in Washington, D.C. 
He is the holder of the first Life 
Membership ever granted by the Con- 

The Conference acompanied the 
Award with this statement: 

"The Conference is happy to count 
the most successful Catholic play- 
wright as one of its most energetic 
workers now just as he was ten years 
ago when he was instrumental in its 


Manuscript Market 

MARCH 1, 1947 TO JULY 1, 1947 



ARNOLD B. ARMSTRONG (with Audrey Ash- 
ley) Corkscrew Alley, Unpublished Story 

AUDREY ASHLEY (with Arnold B. Armstrong) 
Corkscrew Alley, Unpublished Story 

IRVING G. BARRY, Dealer's Choice, Unpub- 
lished Story 

TOM W. BLACKBURN (with Fenton Earn- 
shaw) Gangway For Murder, Unpublished 

DORCAS COCHRAN, Angel With An Anklet, 
Unpublished Story 

MONTE F. COLLINS (with Julian Peyser) 
Broadway Ballad, Unpublished Story 

Lanier) The Miracle Of Jeremiah Jimson, 
Unpublished Story 

ALBERT DEUTSCH, Catch Me Before I Kill, 

FENTON EARNSHAW (with Tom W. Black- 
burn) Gangway For Murder, Unpublished 

ABEN KANDEL, Career In Manhattan, Screen- 

Comic Strip 

KATHERINE LANIER (with Paul de Sainte 
Colombe) The Miracle of Jeremiah Jimson, 
Unpublished Story 

JULIAN PEYSER (with Monte F. Collins) 
Broadway Ballad, Unpublished Story 

ERIC TAYLOR, Manacled Lady, Unpublished 

IRENE WINSTON, Bury Me Dead, Radio Script 


LION FEUCHTWANGER, Proud Destiny. Novel 
LADISLAS FODOR, Eugene Aram, Adaptation 

of Novel by Buiwer Lytton 
NANCY MITFORD, Pursuit Of Love, Novel 
FRANCIS WICKWARE, Tuesday To Bed, Novel 


Bridal Hill, Novel 

JULIUS EVANS, It Comes Naturally, Unpub- 
lished Story 

David Balfour, Novels 

LESLIE WHITE, Harness Bull, Book 


FREDERICK NEBEL, The Bribe, Unpublished 
Short Story 

I. A. R. WYLIE, A Quarter For An Angel, Un- 
published Story 


FRANK BRACHT, A Tale Of Two Girls, Un- 
published Story 
ROY CHANSLOR, Hazard, Novel 
EDNA LEE, The Web Of Days, Novel 


REX BEACH, Don Careless, Novel 

EARL FELTON, Another Dawn, Unpublished 

CHARLES LARSON, The Miracle Of Charlie 

Dakin, Unpublished Story 
ROBERT E. McATEE, It's Murder, She Says, 

Unpublished Story 


AENEAS MacKENZIE.The Black Knight, Screen- 
play and Treatment 

ALBERT MALTZ, Evening In Modesto, Unpub- 
lished Story and Treatment 


DORE SCHARY (with George Seaton) Lewis 
& Clark Expedition, Unpublished Story 

BUDD SCHULBERG, The Harder They Fall, Book 

GEORGE SEATON (with Dore Schary) Lewis & 
Clark Expedition, Unpublished Story 

IRWIN SHAW, Education Of The Heart, Un- 
published Story 

CORNELL WOOLRICH, The Boy Cried Murder, 
Published Story 

T. R. YBARRA, Bolivar The Passionate Warrior, 


CARL FOREMAN, Ada, Unproduced Play 


FRANCIS SWANN, Hold It, Please, Unpub- 
lished Story 

JULIAN ZIMET, The Unloved, Unpublished 


FAITH BALDWIN, An Apartment For Jenny, 

EARL FELTON, Lady From Laredo, Unpublished 


I. GOUZENKO, I Was Inside Stalin's Spy Ring, 

T. E. HELSETH, The Chair For Martin Rome, 

CONSTANCE JONES (with Guy Jones) Untit- 
eled, Novel 

GUY JONES (with Constance Jones) Untitled, 


GEORGE M. MOORAD, Behind The Iron Cur- 
tain, Book 

DOROTHY THOMAS, My Heart Is Like A Sing- 
ing Bird, Short Story 


SARAH B. SMITH (with Lucille S. Prumbs) 
Ever The Beginning, Unproduced Play 

LUCILLE S. PRUMBS (with Sarah B. Smith) 
Ever The Beginning, Unproduced Play 

PETER VIERTEL, The Children, Unpublished 


ROBERT CARSON, Come Be My Love, Unpub- 
lished Story 
THOMAS DUNCAN, Gus The Great, Novel 
BAYNARD KENDRICK, Lights Out. Novel 
ARTHUR MILLER, All My Sons. Play 



ALECK BLOCK (with Dietrich Hanneken) Sun- 
burst, Unpublished Story 

DIETRICH HANNEKEN (with Aleck Block), 
Sunburst, Unpublished Story 

SIDNEY KINGSLEY, The Patriots, Play 

GEORGE SKLAR, Two Worlds Of Johnny Truro, 


PAUL FRANK (with Howard J. Green) I Am 
Not Frederick Ellsfield, Unpublished Story 

HOWARD J. GREEN (with Paul Frank), I Am 
Not Frederick Ellsfield, Unpublished Story 

In identifying the form of literary material acquired, the following descriptions are used: 
Book, a published or unpublished full-length work of nonfiction; Book of Stories, a collection of pub- 
lished stories or articles; Novel, a work of fiction of book length, whether published, in proof or in manuscript; 
Novelette, the same, but of lesser length; Play, produced or unproduced work in theatrical form; Published 
Story, a published short story or article; Radio Script, material originally written for radio production; 
Screenplay, material already in shooting script form; Short Story, short fiction still in manuscript; Treatment, 
preliminary screen adaptation of material already published in some other form. 




Subject: Bindle Biog 

The Taft-Hartley Law 

Toward a New Realism 

Disunion in Vienna 

Some of My Worst Friends 

"Darling! You Mean 

Love in Hopewell 

As I Remember Birdie 

Gregg Toland: the Man and His Work 

Can't Scare the Movies 

What Is a License of Literary Property? 

French Cinema in the U. S. 

As the British See It 

Some English Questions 

How One Movie Sale Was Made 

French Motion Picture School 

And further articles by ROBERT ARDREY, SYDNEY BOX, HUGO BUTLER, 
WINSOR and others. 



1655 No. Cherokee Ave., 
Hollywood 28, Calif. 

Enclosed please find $ for year(s) 

subscription to THE SCREEN WRITER, beginning with 

the issue, to be mailed to 

Name.... _ 


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Rate: 1 year (12 issues), $2.50 domestic, $3.00 foreign 

If you do not wish to mar your copy of the magazine, your 
personal letter can be used in place of this blank. 


1655 No. Cherokee, 

Hollywood 28, Calif. (Dept. C) 

Accept my order for copy(ies) of the Official 





.Zone State. 

(Enclose $2 in cash, check or money order. Members of 
the SWG will be billed if they so choose.) 

(The SWG Credit Annual is now in preparation and is 
scheduled for publication in December.) 



is now on sale at the follow- 
ing bookstores and newsstands : 


American Contemporary Gallery, 6772^2 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood 28 

Campbell's Book Store, 10918 Le Conte Ave., Westwood Village 

Paul Elder & Company, 239 Post Street, San Francisco 8 

C. R. Graves — Farmers' Market, 6901 West 3rd St., Los Angeles 36 

Hollywood Book Store, 1749 N. Highland, Hollywood 28 

Hollywood News Service, Whitley & Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood 28 

Martindale Book Shop, 9477 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills 

People's Educational Center, 1717 N. Vine St., Hollywood 28 

Pickwick Bookshop, 6743 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood 28 

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Book Clearing House, 423 Boylston Street, Boston, Mass. 


Books 'n' Things, 73 Fourth Ave., New York 3 

Brentano's — Periodical Department, 586 Fifth Ave., New York 19 

44th St. Bookfair, 133 W. 44th St., New York 19 

Gotham Book Mart, 51 W. 47th St., New York 19 

Kamin Dance Bookshop and Gallery, 1365 Sixth Ave., at 56th St., New York 19 

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Books of the Theatre — R. Rowland Dearden, P. O. Box 245, Jenkintown 


Roher's Bookshop, 9 Bloor St., Toronto 


Eason & Son, Ltd., 79-82 Middle Abbey Street, P. O. Box 42, Dublin 


Carter's Bookshop, 51 Willesden Lane, London N.W. 6 
Literature Kiosk, Unity Theatre, London 


Philip Firestein, 82 King Edward's Road, Hackney, London E9, England 


Bjorn W. Holmstrom, Lenkart Aktiebolag, Sveavagen 35-37, Stockholm 

EFG English and Foreign Library and Book Shop, 28 Martin PL, Sydney, N.S.W. 

• 1 '•• • - 


Absolutely, Rep. Hartley — Positively, Sen* Taft! 


I. A. L. DIAMOND: Darling! You Mean....? 

GEORGE SEATON: One Track Mind on a Two Way Ticket 

RICHARD G. HUBLER: As I Remember Birdie 

F. HUGH HERBERT: Subject: Bindle Biog 

LILLIAN BOS ROSS: Hon- One Movie Sale Was Made 

NOEL MEADOW: French Cinema in the U.S.A. 

MORRIS E. COHN: What Is a License to Literary Property? 


Comments on The Economics of Screen Writing By SAMUEL 



and MILLEN BRAND . . . . Pay* 29 

Vol. 3, No. 4 September, 1947 25c 

Editor a Lb-/* Report and 
Comment • Correspondence* 

News Notes • Screen Credits 




From France HENRY MYERS 
writes this letter, co-signed by 
LEJVIN. All art members of 
SWG and are on a screen play 
assignment in Paris. 

TO President and Board of SWG : 
Recently we met the President 
and Board of the Syndicat des Scenar- 
isteSj at what turned out be be a special 
meeting which they had called for 
the purpose. 

It seems that we three are the 
first American screen writers to profit 
by the new reciprocal agreement 
which they told us is going into effect, 
by which we are under the protection 
of their organization and its rules. 
Their president, Henri Jeanson, toast- 
ed us in some of the most delicious 
champagne I ever had, stating that 
they considered it a historic occasion, 
the first of many such to follow, and 
expressing the hope that they them- 
selves would similarly go to Holly- 
wood and have the pleasure of meet- 
ing their American colleagues. I re- 
sponded in English, after realizing 
with horror that I had been speaking 
my broken French to the greatest 
word-experts in Paris. I do believe, 
and Eliscu and Lewin agree, that a 
very friendly relationship exists, which 
we can be instrumental in strengthen- 

We should like to convey to you 
something which is not generally un- 
derstood in Hollywood: that the 
French writers have a standing, a 
tradition, and a resulting strength 
which has been somewhat beyond 
our reach, and which make them very 
desirable and valuable friends to have. 
Also, their organization is patently 
extremely prosperous; actually they 
themselves are a wealthy, vested in- 
terest. They own two palaces — the 
word is used literally, not as a figure 
of speech — one of which dates back to 
their founder, Beaumarchais; in these 
they meet and transact their business. 
We have an appointment with their 
(Continued on Page 41) 


Vol. 3 

Screen Writer/ 

J, No. 4 


Gordon Kahn, Editor 
Robert Shaw, Director of Publications 
Art Arthur Isobel Lennart 

Martin Field Herbert Clyde Lewis 

Harris Gable Bernard C. Schoenfeld 

Richard G. Hubler Theodore Strauss 

Lester Koenig 


PHILIP DUNNE and M. E. COHN-: Absolutely, Rep. Hartley — 

Positively, Sen. Taft 
I. A. L. DIAMOND: Darling.' You Mean . . .? 
GEORGE SEATON: One Track Mind on a Two Way Ticket 
RICHARD G. HUBLER: As I Remember Birdie 
F. HUGH HERBERT: Subject: Bindle Biog. 
NOEL MEADOW: Evolution of French Cinema in the U. S. 
MORRIS E. COHN: What Is a License of Literary Property? 

Comments on Economics of 

Screen Writing: 


Report & Comment: 

LILLIAN BOS ROSS: How One Movie Sale Was Made 
"No Evidence" — Editorial From Westwood Hills Press 
S. R. : More Comment on New Writing Blood 


News Notes 
Screen Credits 
Letter From Paris 






Inside Front Cover 




FOREIGN 30c). 



©CIB 9 232 

Booby-Traps in the New Labor Law 

Absolutely, Rep* Hartley- 
Positively, Sen* Taft 


PHILIP DUNNE is a member of the 
SWG Executive Board and a con- 
tributor of previous articles on labor 
policy. MORRIS E. COHN is counsel 
for the SWG and has contributed 
several articles on the legal and tax 
problems of luriters. 

AN ANALYSIS of the extraordinary statutory 
omnibus commonly called the Taft-Hartley 
Act can be no more exact in a legal or scientific 
sense than the interpretation of a dream. Indeed, the 
Act has a strong dream-like quality; it is a rendering 
in cold legal prose of the voluptuous fantasies which 
beguiled the slumbers of the most reactionary elements 
in American life during their long and dreadful night. 
It is a law which solemnly sets out to resist the irresist- 
ible, to correct the incorrigible, and to fashion order 
out of the raw materials of disorder. 

No one knows exactly what all of it means. No one 
even knows who wrote it, though it is widely believed 
that Senator Taft and Representative Hartley would 
have difficulty defending their claim to screen credit 
against the rival contention of the National Association 
of Manufacturers (if that organization desired to 
publicize its contribution). 

Senator Taft and Mr. Hartley have already flatly 
disagreed on the meaning of the Act. The latter says 
that the new coal agreement is a violation, the former 
says it is not. Perhaps it would be unkind to seek 
a political explanation for this difference of opinion, 
though Mr. Hartley counts few coal miners among 
his suburban New Jersey constituents and Senator Taft 
may have pressing need of miners' votes, come the 
fall of '48. But it is not the purpose of this article to 
discuss the political gyrations of legislators, nor even 
to attempt a general analysis of the Act. What interests 
us is how the new law affects the Screen Writers' 

Guild, and specifically how it will work for or against 
us during our negotiations for a new contract in 1949. 

Even to this extent, we cannot be as specific as we 
should like to be. In fact, the co-authors of this article, 
even as Mr. Hartley and Senator Taft, found them- 
selves disagreeing as often as they agreed on the mean- 
ing of this paragraph or that. 

We are not dealing with infallible oracles here. 
We are concerned with language, intent, legal interpre- 
tations and thousands of judicial decisions to come. 
And this is the sort of law which turns even the highest 
courts into juridical Donnybrooks. On one point we 
do agree: the Taft-Hartley Act provides no help for 
peaceful law-abiding unions in obtaining fair contracts 
through collective bargaining. Its machinery is so 
patently misdirected, its provisions so burdensome, that 
it virtually invites a union to resort to the old primitive 
rule of force. The natural corollary to this is that it 
is precisely the small, weak union which must suffer, 
precisely the tough, militant union which can afford 
lo laugh at the legislators and obtain its contract by 
other methods, precisely the rapacious, union-hating 
employer who stands to gain the most. 

A S A CASE in point, consider the recent coal 
■*■ *• agreement. It was largely a hysterical desire to 
"get" John L. Lewis which drove the bill by a large 
majority through both houses of Congress and over 
President Truman's veto. Yet Mr. Lewis has lost 


no sleep — and little time. He has negotiated the 
best contract in the history of the United Mine Work- 
ers, and has even managed to include provisions bar- 
ring the application of punitive sections of the Act. 
Within a month of the law's passage, the miners have 
made a joke of it. The United Automobile Workers 
and similar powerful outfits are joining in the fun. 

Unfortunately, though we see the point of the joke, 
we are not in a position to share in the laughter. We 
have yet to resort to an open trial of brute strength 
with our employers. We needed law to help us obtain 
our present contract. That law, the Wagner Act, has 
now been distorted beyond recognition. We must face 
the possibility that our new contract will have to be 
obtained without recourse to the protection of law. 

Prentice-Hall, Inc., which is not noted for its pro- 
labor bias, has put out some interesting circulars ex- 
plaining the Taft-Hartley Act to managerial clients. 
We quote: "(The Act is) far-reaching in its control 
of labor relations. Almost every relationship with em- 
ployees is affected. . . . The new labor law gives you 
(management) new and powerful advantages which 
you should begin to use at once, but the law is un- 
usually tricky, with many of its benefits buried in a 
maze of complicated clauses. . . ." 

We have been in the maze for several weeks, and 
have emerged with a few pertinent facts. First, it should 
be understood that, since we are operating under an 
old contract, not all of the "new and powerful ad- 
vantages" given our employers affect us immediately. 
But they will begin to affect us the moment we open 
negotiations for a new contract. 

Our Guild Shop, The law strikes hard at the vital 
matter of union security. There is no historical justi- 
fication for the "union shop" limitations which the 
new law puts on trade unions. Few strikes have been 
called on this issue. Employers in general have recog- 
nized the wisdom of the union shop and have enjoyed 
the stability and responsibility it promotes. 

Yet the Taft-Hartley Act levels its heaviest guns 
on union security clauses. The outlawing of the closed 
shop does not affect us. But let us consider Section 9 
(e). This requires any union which wishes to obtain 
union shop (or Guild shop) first to show that 30 
percent of the employees within the bargaining unit 
desire such a shop, and then to petition for an NLRB 
election to decide the matter, by majority vote of all 
qualified employees (not merely union members), if no 
question of representation exists. The last clause is im- 
portant. A claim by a rival union, however weak, may 
be found sufficient cause to delay the election. Add to 
this the probability that the new NLRB will be so 

swamped with employee and employer complaints that 
to bring about an election may require anywhere from 
six months to a year, and it begins to resemble so many 
bear traps. 

And that isn't all. Subsection (2) provides that at 
any time after a year from the last certification, 30 
percent of the employees within the unit can force a 
new election on this issue. This is virtually an invitation 
to employers and dissident minorities to keep a union 
in turmoil on the fundamental issue of its own security. 

Filing of Information. Section 9 (f) requires any 
union desiring certification under the Act to file certain 
information with the Secretary of Labor: a detailed 
statement of its constitution and by-laws, method of 
calling meeting, disbursing funds, salaries, etc. etc. 
Section 9 (g) further requires a union desiring certi- 
fication to prove that it and any organization with 
which it is affiliated have furnished every one of their 
members with annual financial reports. In other words, 
the certification of the Screen Writers' Guild could 
presumably be postponed at a critical time, if the pro- 
ducers could get one member, any member, of the 
Authors' League to say he had not received his financial 

And now hear this. Section 9 (h) stipulates that a 
union may not be certified unless each of its officers 
and the officers of its parent group has filed an affidavit 
that he "is not a member of the Communist Party or 
affiliated with such party." The penalties for false 
statements under this section are extreme. Note the 
tricky phrase we have underlined. "Affiliated" (appar- 
ently something different from membership) might 
mean anything, depending on the political climate of 
the moment and on the whim of the individual who 
has the power to define the word. One does not have 
to be a Communist or a Communist sympathizer to 
resent this section, nor to understand how it might be 
used to deny bargaining rights to a union any of whose 
officers have been politically active anywhere to the 
left of center, or whose notions of civil liberties are at 
variance with those of Representative Hartley and 
Senator Taft. This section has nothing to do with 
sound labor relations or industrial peace. It is entirely 
political, impudent, and probably unconstitutional. 

To a public which has been told that the Act was 
designed to correct abuses it is startling to note that 
no mention is made of rightist extremism, or of racial 
or religious discrimination by employer or union. 

Discrimination. Section 8 (a) 3 could be subtitled 
"Promotion of Union Disloyalty." Boiled down, this is 
what it says: if a member of a union is suspended or 


expelled for any reason other than failure to pay his 
dues (there is no mention of assessments) it is an unfair 
labor practice, if the employer fires him or refuses to 
hire him on the grounds that it would mean violation 
of a union shop agreement. Thus, if a group of Guild 
members formed a dual union or a company union, and 
were forthwith expelled from the Guild, the studios 
would be compelled by law to keep them on the pay- 
roll. Under this section, the democratically inspired 
and controlled discipline of our Guild can no longer 
be enforced. This paragraph, ironically, falls under 
the general heading of "Unfair Labor Practices by 
Employers." The new law then goes on to define 
"Unfair Labor Practices by Unions." These at least 
have the merit of directness. 

Jurisdictional Strikes. Section 8 (b) 4 is apparently 
concerned with jurisdictional strikes and secondary boy- 
cotts. It looks straight-forward if you don't happen to 
relish these practices, but it fails to distinguish between a 
jurisdictional strike cooked up by a union and one 
forced on the union by an employer. The law elsewhere 
provides for a 60-day cooling-off period before any 
strike can be called. During this period, the employer 
can recognize a dual union, he can promote a company 
union, he can do almost anything in an effort to split 
the union. No matter what he does, no matter how 
illegal his own actions, a strike called in retaliation or 
self defense by the union is illegal and the strikers 
iose their status as employees. This kind of "jurisdic- 
tional" strike is almost endemic in the motion picture 
industry. This section of the Act can only aggravate 
the condition and may drastically affect our Guild. 

Free Speech. Section 8 (c) affirms the right of a 
union to free speech, but contains a curious wording 
which denies a union the right to "promise benefit" 
to employees it seeks to represent. Presumably this 
means bribes, but it could easily be construed to mean 
a promise of higher wages or better working conditions. 

on something of the aspect of a standard studio writing 
contract: the writer is bound for the full term, but 
the producer gets options. 

Had enough ? There are still a few more points 
which should be made. 

Political Contributions. The Guild has not been in 
the habit of making contributions to political candi- 
dates, but that isn't all that Sec. 304 prohibits. It 
forbids contribution or expenditure in connection with 
any election at which political candidates are to be 
chosen. This could easily mean expenditure, such as 
the mimeographing of a Guild bulletin advising our 
membership to vote against an anti-union proposition 
which will be voted on a ballot along with political 

Statute of Limitations. Under the new law, the 
NLRB will not act on a charge based on unfair labor 
practices that are more than six months old. In other 
words, if the employer can conceal the act for six 
months, he is in the clear. It could take, for instance, 
several years to obtain proof of company domination 
of or collusion with a dual union which might be set 
up against us under other elastic sections of the Act. 

Suits. Section 301-C, permits a union to be sued in 
"any district in which its duly authorized officers or 
agents are engaged in representing or acting for em- 
ployee members." In other words, we could be sued in 
New York because we frequently send officers there 
on Authors' League business. This is only one of many 
similar inconveniences to unions which the Act en- 
courages employers to use. 

Procedure. For tedious hot weather reading, we 
recommend the sections of the new law pertaining 
to procedure. Boiled down, they amount to repeal of 
the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the proclamation of an 
open season to use injunctions on the unions. 

Disruption. Section 9 (c) 1 defines the conditions 
under which a petition for bargaining rights can be 
filed. The answer is that anyone can file one, at any 
time, whether or not a union already has a contract 
in the field, though no election can be held until a year 
has elapsed since the last one. Another union, a single 
employee, the employer himself (if he "alleges" that 
"one or more individuals" among his employees have 
presented a claim), any one of them can force a union 
into long and expensive litigation at any time, regard- 
less of the duration and validity of the union's contract. 
By virtue of this paragraph, a Guild contract takes 

Penalties. The Taft-Hartley Act democratically 
provides equal fines for violations of its provisions. The 
Screen Writers' Guild and its members are assessed 
on the same scale as, say, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer or 
20th Century-Fox. Fines are not deductible for tax 
purposes but can be charged off to the stockholders. 

TTTE CAN assure you that we have not enjoyed 

* * preparing this analysis. Aside from the mental 

strain induced by following the nimble minds of NAM's 

lawyers, we have found the subject matter dishearten- 


ing. We can only recommend to the members of the 
Guild that they prepare for contract negotiations with 
the understanding that anything the Guild obtains it 
can obtain only by its own unaided efforts. The law 
is now weighted heavily against us. 

As is often the case the most grievous burdens are 
imposed on those who obey the law as a matter of course. 
There are loopholes and detours, not forbidden, but 

not available to guilds which do not have the power 
of coal, steel, or automobiles behind them. But for all 
guilds and unions, little or big, and for all guild mem- 
bers one remedy is equally available. 

These burdens were put on us by way of a law. 
They can be removed in the same way. Regardless 
of party, regardless of general guild policy, access to 
the ballot is every individual's sovereign remedy. 


Ben Scribbling Faces Life — and Budgets 

The following Radio Writers Guild brief treatise on membership problems may be of general interest 
to other writers : 







Look, Ben, I need some cooperation. 


I got a budget of ten thousand on this show, and here's the way it breaks down. The 

star — supporting cast — orchestra — guests. Sounds like a great show, don't it? 

You bet. 

Now this leaves me a little cramped on my writing budget. I hate to offer you a 

lousy fifty bucks a week, but I've got to have that Scribbling touch ! 

Fifty bucks ! 

Just till we get started. And there isn't much to write. A few topical jokes at the 

opening, a little crossfire between the star and the band leader. A spot with the guest. 

How about it? 

But — fifty bucks! On a ten thousand dollar show? 

Look at the budget, and show me where I can trim. Remember — AFRA, and the 

musicians are organized ! 

Darling! You Mean***? 


J. A. L. DIAMOND, a member of 
SfVG, is a contract writer at a major 
studio. He is a previous contributor to 
this magazine, and his poem, Holly- 
wood Jabberwocky, in the June issue, 
has been widely reprinted and quoted. 

IT WAS a tense moment in one of the better war 
pictures. The remnants of an American patrol 
were moving cautiously through the Jap-infested 
jungle. The green lieutenant in charge of the group, 
obviously uneasy, fell in beside the veteran sergeant. 

"It's quiet," he said. 

"Yeah," grumbled the sergeant. "Too quiet!" 

At that point, they lost me. As a youthful devotee 
of the Saturday matinee, I had seen too many covered- 
wagon epics which featured the same exchange of 
dialogue between the young scout and the seasoned old 
Indian-fighter. (This was the tip-off that all hell 
would break loose before they reached the Little 
Big Horn — someone, it seemed, had been selling brand 
new Winchesters to the Shoshones.) To come across 
the identical lines in a drama carved out of raw history 
was like witnessing the comeback performance of a 
superannuated shimmy-dancer. An experience which 
can be described as nostalgic, but disillusioning. 

In a recent article in The Screen Writer, in which 
he examined several of the hardier movie cliches, 
Roland Kibbee suggested that someone ought to cata- 
logue the field. I am not foolhardy enough to attempt 
this task, but I should like to indicate a few avenues 
of inquiry to the future encyclopedist. 

A special and continuing study will have to be made 
of those old standbys which periodically emerge into 
the Big Time. 

One such threadbare formula has been resurrected 
in the current spate of pictures loosely labeled "psycho- 
logical mysteries." Here we have the scene in which 
an expendable young starlet, stumbling across an im- 
portant clue, unwittingly communicates her find to 
the murderer. "Have you told anyone else about this?" 
asks the gentleman, casually locking the door. "No," 
says the girl. The heavy starts walking slowly toward 
her. We go to a big head-closeup of the girl. Her 
eyes widen, as she asks: "Why are you looking at 
me like that?" 

This is a good question. 

Another good, if familiar, question is posed in the 
hard-bitten school of melodrama, where the cynical 
hero picks up a rain-soaked girl on the street and 
takes her to his apartment. The girl is generally 
Lizbeth Scott, who's tired of being pushed around. 
Sooner or later she will inquire: " Why are you, a 
stranger, doing this for me?" 

Subsequently, when the hero elects to spend the 
night on the couch, I begin to wonder myself. 

In the old spy dramas — where this scene originated — 
you could at least be sure of a rousing pay-off. At 
three in the morning the girl would stagger in from 
the other room with a dagger in her back, and fall 
dead across a convenient table. But not before she 
had whispered to our hero the closely guarded secret 
of the Book-of-the-Month Club selection for April. 

IN his amusing and instructive essay, Mr. Kibbee 
mentioned the scene in which a couple of unapprecia- 
tive townspeople scoff at Young Tom Edison. This 
brings up the fascinating topic of historical hindsight 
in pictures. The foregoing episode illustrates the nega- 
tive approach, as opposed to the positive — or "Mark 
my words, there'll be war in Europe before 1915" — 

By paying close attention to dates in a period piece, 
you can predict just about every twist in the plot. 
If the subject is a British financial institution, facing 
bankruptcy during the Napoleonic Wars, it's a cinch 
that all will be saved by the fortuitous arrival of a 
pigeon bearing the news of Waterloo. While a scene 
portraying a plantation party in the Old South is 
bound to be interrupted by the announcement that 
Fort Sumter has just fired on Southern womanhood. 
And what do you suppose the* small-town banker, on 
his way to work in the early Thirties, will discover 
outside his bank! 

As you get closer to the present, beware of a radio 
playing unobtrusively in the background. If the setting 


is a Mayfair drawing room, it's six-two-and-even 
that there will be a flash reporting Hitler's invasion 
of Poland. (This is the cue for the young couple to 
step out onto the balcony, and watch the searchlights 
combing the sky. After a while the young man will 
remark gravely: "Tonight the lights are going out 
all over Europe.") And if you find yourself in an 
American home, on a Sunday afternoon, with the 
kids reading the comics and dad listening to the sym- 
phony broadcast — well, you've seen it as often as I 

Historical films, on the whole, are characterized 
by the most flagrant type of name-dropping. Some- 
times it is intended to provide atmosphere; at other 
times the purpose is to make the audience feel smug, 
by letting it in on something the characters themselves 
don't realize. 

For instance, during an Embassy Ball in Washington, 
a couple of dowagers will be spotlighted, gossiping 
about the guests. 

"Who is that handsome young man dancing with 
the Senator's daughter?" one of them will ask. 

"Oh — that's Lieutenant Eisenhower." 

Similarly, if you are in pith-helmet country, the 
earnest young man scribbling by the camp-fire will 
be described as "some journalist chap — name of Kip- 
ling." While the eager young reporter in Virginia 
City will be brushed off with "he writes funny pieces 
for the paper — calls himself Mark Twain." 

The same self-conscious air invests the scene in 
which an historic personage is brought into the world. 
The setting is generally a log cabin, and a doctor is 
bending over the mother's bed. 

"It's a fine, healthy boy you have, Mrs. Arnold. 
Picked out a name for him yet?" 

"We've decided to call him — Benedict." 

Every so often there is a purely gratuitous scene, 
like the one in which a couple of extras pass each 
other on a London street, tip hats, and exchange greet- 

"Good morning, Gilbert." 

"Good morning, Sullivan." 

Then there is the type of name-dropping which 
capitalizes on the audience's prescience to achieve an 
ironic effect. Take the scene in which a weary Union 
regiment is slogging through a small Pennsylvania 
town, on its way to the front. 

"What's the name of this hole, anyway?" 

"I heard somebody say it was called — Gettysburg." 

Another variation runs : 

"You're tired, Mr. President. Why don't you stay 
home and rest?" 

"No. It would disappoint too many people. I'm 
expected at Ford's Theater tonight." 


When we get into the field of literary biography, 
there is the awkward problem of presenting the birth 
of the author's well-known works. The usual solution 
runs something like this: — 

The moody young girl, in a night-gown and wrap- 
per, slips into her sister's room. "I've finished my 
novel," she announces breathlessly. 

"Wonderful!" says sis. "Have you got a title for 

"I'm thinking of calling it — Wuthering Heights." 

(That this was an unfortunate choice is confirmed by 
Dr. Gallup. A posthumous survey reveals that the 
book could have achieved twice the audience penetra- 
tion if the title had been changed to "Drop Dead, 
My Love.") 

The genesis of a musical masterpiece is somewhat 
more fully portrayed. The inspiration is invariably 
supplied by a passing chimney-sweep, who is whistling 
a quartet of notes which everybody recognizes as the 
introduction to Tschaikowsky's First Piano Concerto — 
except Tschaikowsky. For the next seven reels, Peter 
Ilich is shown playing the same four notes over and 
over again. At this rate, it is obviously going to take 
him thirty years to finish the composition. But one 
afternoon, as he is sitting at the piano, sweating over 
his four notes, the camera moves in to a closeup of 
his hands on the keyboard. When the camera pulls 
back, the master is attired in evening clothes, and sur- 
rounded by a 99-piece symphony orchestra. In the 
interim, it seems, he has dashed off an additional twelve 
thousand notes, orchestrated the work, copied it, re- 
hearsed the musicians, and had his dress-suit cleaned. 

A distinguishing feature of the run-of-DeMille 
biographical epic is the character who makes Sweeping 
Statements about complex historical subjects. A good 
illustration is afforded by the scene in Cuba, where a 
group of Army doctors is being addressed by a Colonel 
of Engineers. 

"Gentlemen, I can only say to you what I have 
already said to Washington — give us the answer to 
yellow fever, and we will give you the Panama Canal!" 

This speech has a tendency to get twisted in my 
mind, emerging as: "Give us the answer to the Panama 
Canal, and we will give you the yellow fever!" That's 
what comes of being out too long in that hot tropical 

' I 'HE road to Cliche Heaven is strewn with props. 
■*" The commonest and most versatile of these is the 
cigarette. It serves to endow the character with pic- 
turesque traits (he lights his cigarettes three at a 
time, or by striking a wooden match across the seat 
of his pants), and it provides an unfailing gambit for 


the sultry heroine who never carries matches. While 
the manner in which a cigarette is stabbed out has 
at various times been used to express every emotion 
from impatience to nymphomania. 

My favorite cigarette trick is the one which used 
to crop up frequently in gangster movies. This is the 
scene in which the mob gets together to confront a 
stool-pigeon in their midst. The room is oppresively 
silent, while the suspect fidgets uncomfortably in a 
corner. Finally the boss takes out a cigarette, asks 
the informer for a match. The latter lights one, with 
trembling fingers. The boss looks at him, narroweyed. 
"Whattsamatter — you nervous?" He steadies the cul- 
prit's hand. The stoolie glances around at the circle 
of hardened faces, lets the match burn down between 
his fingers. Then he starts to back away slowly. "Hon- 
est, boss, I didn't do it! I didn't do it, I tellya!" You 
know what happens to him. 

Another prop, which is de r'tgueur for romantic 
scenes, is a man's large pocket handkerchief. This 
comes in very handy when the heroine bursts into 
tears (she always cries when she's happy). 

"I know I'm being silly," she sniffles, "but I can't 
help it." 

"Here," says the man, producing his handkerchief 
with a flourish. "Blow!" 

And strangely enough — she does. 

One character who is never happy without a prop 
is the kid who's too young to die. Early in the picture 
he must be shown fondling a snapshot of his sweet- 
heart, a lock of his schnauzer's hair, or a high school 
medal for chinning. Then, when he stops the bullet 
with his name on it, the keepsake is either found 
clutched in his hand, or discovered by his buddies when 
they pack his effects for shipment back home. 

Indispensable to the average whodunit is a grand- 
father clock — which generally turns in a better per- 
formance than the actors. It strikes thirteen just before 
someone is killed; stops running the moment its owner 
kicks off; and twenty years later, to the minute, starts 
up again — just as the will is being read. In a pinch, 
it also serves as a repository for bodies and other 

A special category should be reserved for those props 
which are used to express symbolism. Most familiar 
among them are the curtains which billow and the 
candle which goes out when somebody dies; the rag 
doll which tumbles over with its neck twisted when 
a character meets a violent end ; and the rose which 
wilts when somebody suffers a fate worse than the 
Breen Office will allow. 

Nor must we forget the listless canary, which sud- 
denly bursts into song when its mistress — a cloistered 
princess, or poor little rich girl — finally falls in love. 

This is the signal for the girl to open the cage, and 
give the canary its freedom. (As soon as the bird 
discovers that people on the outside don't feed it but- 
tered zwieback for breakfast, it will come winging 
right back, of course. But that's another story.) 

A rewarding study for the cliche collector is the 
subject of screenplay construction — with special 
emphasis on openings, endings, and transitions between 

The conventional movie opens with an "establishing 
shot," culled from the studio's film library. You see 
a series of quick flashes — Big Ben, London Bridge, 
the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buck- 
ingham Palace, the British Museum, the Tower of 
London, Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park, and Picadilly 
Circus — and just to make sure you don't miss the 
point, a title informs you that you are in London. 

In protest against this type of redundancy, I have 
always wanted to fade in on a stock shot of the New 
York skyline — superimpose on it the title Chicago — 
and underscore it with the song San Francisco. 
This would prove once and for all whether one pic- 
ture is really worth a thousand words, and the rela- 
tive effectiveness of aural and visual imagery. 

Another frequent starter is the banner headline. 
There are various methods of presentation: — the 
string of newspapers coming off the press; the bundle 
of newspapers being dumped on a street corner by a 
delivery truck; and the newspaper which whirls at 
you from a distance, and socks you in the eye with 
some such startling revelation as "Tomorrow, Fair 
and Warmer." 

The "must" opening for the picturization of a 
classic is a volume bound in hand-tooled leather, which 
unfolds to page one, while a voice intones the first 
paragraph. Subsequent gaps in the story are bridged 
simply by flipping through a few pages of the book. 

Screenwriters are constantly seeking a fresh approach 
to the problem of transition between scenes. But inno- 
vations are quickly run into the ground, and yester- 
day's novelty becomes tomorrow's standard operational 
procedure. One such formula, which enjoyed quite a 
vogue a few years ago, had a character saying: "No! 
I will not go to Estelle Huckaboy's party!" — and the 
next time you saw him, where should he be but at 
Estelle Huckaboy's. 

Recently there has been a growing tendency to 
match all dissolves — by overlapping similar objects 
or similar sounds. I don't particularly mind the transi- 
tion from an evening gown on a rack to the same 
gown filled, from a spinning automobile tire to a 


spinning roulette wheel, or from a whistling tea-kettle 
to a steamboat whistle. But when it becomes necessary 
for one character to squirt another in the face with 
a seltzer bottle, just to give the director a clever dis- 
solve to Niagara Falls, that's going too far. 

Dissolves which indicate a passage of time have, 
paradoxically enough, been little affected by the passage 
of time. Still with us are such tired devices as the 
moving clock hands, the ashtray which fills with 
cigarette butts, and the alternately snow-covered and 
blooming tree. Within my memory, only one advance 
has been made in the field — calendar leaves now drop 
off automatically, whereas in the old days a gentleman 
with a white beard and scythe used to slice them off. 

In stories which take a character from childhood 
to manhood, the writer is confronted with the neces- 
sity of changing actors in mid-stream. This is usually 
accomplished by following the kid up to the day he 
gets his first pair of long pants. The camera then 
pans down his trouser-legs to his shoes, and when it 
pans up again — lo and behold, Jimmy Stewart! That's 
one of the advantages of living in a democracy — any 
competent youngster with a good agent can grow up 
to be Jimmy Stewart. 

Movie endings admit of so few variations, that they 
are comparatively easy to classify. 

There is the unabashedly romantic ending, where 
two characters walk off into the sunset, hand-in-hand 
(or ride off, flank-to-flank). Complementing it is 
the hope-for-the-future ending, in which a lone char- 
acter goes off into the sunrn^. (Get the symbolic 

Closely allied with these is the celestial ending, 
where the camera leaves an earthbound scene and 
pans up to the sky. The sun's rays obligingly emerge 
from behind a cloud, and a swelling chorus of angel 
voices practically blasts you out of your seat. 

Then there is the bitter-sweet ending, which uses 
"ghost" devices of one sort or another. Thus the young 
man who has just lost his understanding grandfather 
hears excerpts from the old man's philosophy on the 
soundtrack; while the boy who has undergone an 
experience which made a man of him, recalls (in 
double exposure) the carefree days of his youth when 
he used to romp barefoot through the woods. Simi- 
larly, the operetta heroine starts to reprise the sock 
ballad, and is joined in a duet by the ghost voice of 
her departed lover; and the aviator's widow hears 
the faint drone of his plane in the sky, and knows 
that he'll always be with her. 

Pictures with an institutional background invari- 
ably resort to a ring-around-the-rosie ending. If the 
setting is a theatrical boarding house, the ingenue 
who has finally made the grade leaves just as another 

young hopeful is arriving. And a story laid in a hos- 
pital will have one character expiring just as the wail 
of a new-born baby is heard down the corridor. Life, 
it seems, goes on. 

Farce comedies have their stock fadeout, too. There 
is the final twist which causes the protagonist to clap 
his hand to his forehead, and exclaim: "This is the 
end!" Over which is superimposed: "The End." 

When everything else fails, there is always the 
treadmill ending, which has a boy and girl running 
toward each other with outstretched arms, across a 
large expanse of beach or flooring. I keep waiting for 
the day when one of the sprinters will miss the other, 
and fall flat on his face; or when they'll meet, take 
a good look at each other, and decide to continue run- 
ning. But I don't suppose the public is quite ready 
for it. 

! ' AST year, Hollywood produced 425 feature-length 
■*-* / pictures. Of these, 419 contained one or more of 
the following lines: (a) "What are you doing here?" 

(b) "Well, if that's the way you feel about it . . ." 

(c) "I can explain the whole thing." 

These lines are significant not in themselves, but 
as an indication of the similarity of most movie plots. 

For instance, how many of these boy-girl lines have 
you heard recently? "I love you because you're you." 
"They're playing our song." "I'm sure Roger would 
have wanted it this way." "That's what gives me the 
courage to go on." "With you I've known real happi- 
ness, Pam." "You're back — that's all that matters." 
"I know you don't want to talk about it." "The only 
decent thing I ever did in my life was to love you." 
"I've been blind." "I wanted everything to be beauti- 
ful for us." "He spoiled me for any other man." "I'm 
no good for you." "Oh, darling, hold me close — and 
never let me go." "Then this is — goodbye?" 

Not to mention such other by-products of man- 
woman madness as: "Don't shut me out of your life." 
"But you're different." "From the first moment I saw 
you I knew we were meant for each other." "But why 
am I telling you all this?" "For me?" "This is so sud- 
den." "I know you don't love me, but marry me now, 
and love will come later." "For the sake of the chil- 
dren." "You old fool — you didn't really think I loved 
you." "It's better this way." "Anything that hap- 
pened before we were married, doesn't count." "I've 
been living a lie." "But you don't know anything about 
me." "Don't try to fight it." "How can you do this — 
after all we've been to each other?" and one of my 
all-time favorites, "Why you poor, mixed-up little 
thing — you're trembling." 



Lack of space (Move over, Kibbee!) prevents me 
from going into other movie-subjects in similar detail. 
But every type of picture has produced its quota of 
trade-marked lines. To take a few examples at random : 

The Drama of Strong Passion. "Yes, I killed him. 
And I'm glad, do you hear me, glad, glad, GLAD!" 

The Epic of Empire: "Those drums! Those infer- 
nal drums! They're driving me mad, I tell you, mad, 
mad, MAD !" And as his superior officer slaps the kid in 
the face, he bites his lower lip and adds: "Sorry I 

The U. S. Cavalry Opus. The white-faced teleg- 
rapher who announces: "I can't get through to Fort 
Blix, sir. The lines must be down." And the captain 
who grips the edge of the table and says: "That can 
mean only one thing — Geronimo!" 

The Private-Eye Melodrama. "Another crack like 
that, and you'll be spittin' teeth." "Lay off — or you 
and me is gonna tangle, see?" "Bright Boy here talks 
like he's tired of living." And the tight-lipped final 
scene (lifted straight from the classic in the field) 
between the shamus and the girl who smells of night- 
blooming jasmine: "Sure, I'll have some bad nights 
after I've turned you in. But when a man's buddy is 
killed, he's gonna do something about it. And if they 
send you to the hot-seat — well, I'll always think of 

To reverse the procedure — how many of these scenes 
do you recognize from their key lines? "Look at that 
grip! He's gonna grow up to be another Babe Ruth." 
"It's a symphony I'm writing — a symphony about the 
big city — the crowds — the subways . . ." "Johnson, 
if this is one of your gags, I'll see to it that you never 
work for another paper in this town." "He's just a 
big, overgrown kid." "They say to go beyond this 
point is dangerous. There's some silly native supersti- 
tion about a white goddess who rules this part of the 
jungle." "Did he have any enemies?" "I'm comin' out, 
and I'm comin' out a-shootin'!" "It's bigger than 
you, bigger than me, bigger than all of us." "He's 
got a great fighting heart." "Who you getting your 
Kleenex from? Well, from now on you're taking six 
cases a week from me, see?" "He was just trying to 
shield me — that's why he refused to testify." "It means 
you'll never have a baby again." "He doesn't want to 
recover — he's lost the will to live." 

If there's a point to all this, it's that movie dialogue 
will keep repeating itself as long as pictures are based 
on stock situations and peopled by stereotyped char- 

If only someone would write a story about a boss 
whose initials are not J.P., a fiance who is not a 
stuffed shirt, and a secretary who does not become a 
raving beauty by sweeping back her hair and discard- 
ing her horn-rimmed spectacles. . . . 

Maybe I'll do it myself — as soon as I finish the one 
about the frontier marshal, the schoolmarm, and the 
dance-hall queen. 

A Cheerful Thought From a Screenwriter 
Long Unemployed 

AN advantage to being a penniless lout 
Like myself and my friends in the same circumstance 
Is that we can lie down on a sofa without 
Any fear any coins will roll out of our pants. 

— Anonymous 

One Track Mind on a 
Two Way Ticket 


GEORGE SEATON is a member of 
the SWG Executive Board. He is the 
author of numerous screen plays, many 
of which he has also directed. This 
article is presented as an extended 
and carefully considered contribution 
to this magazine's recent symposium 
on the evolution of screen writers into 
•what Joseph L. Mankiewicz described 
as "genuine film authors." 

ON APRIL 28th I received a telegram from the 
Editorial Board of The Screen Writer asking me 
to contribute a few hundred words to a sym- 
posium on how newer writers could become genuine 
film authors under present conditions. 

On April 29th I set down, under several neatly 
numbered paragraphs, about four hundred words of 

On April 30th I read it over and threw it in the 
waste basket. I realized that in giving advice one must 
necessarily run the risk of seeming patronizing, but 
I never knew how much brevity increased that risk. 
I hope that now, having been permitted to go into the 
subject a little more fully, I will not be found guilty 
of looking down from any lofty heights — for, although 
Mr. Mankiewicz placed me in some rather fast com- 
pany and named me as one who has learned his trade 
thoroughly, I certainly do not consider myself, even 
after fifteen years, a genuine film author. I only hope 
that after another fifteen I might be able to sit through 
one of my pictures without wincing too many times. 
However, directing my own screen plays for the past 
four years has taught me a lot — not only about direc- 
tion but more importantly about screenwriting. It is 
solely from a standpoint of experience, then, that I 
venture a few opinions. 

As for Mr. Mankiewicz' critique — I liked it. I have 
always believed that far too many of us know far too 
little about the medium. But more than appreciating 
what it said, I like what it did. With the exception 
of the opening salvos on AAA., I have never seen 
an article in our magazine cause so healthy a contro- 

versy. Seminars and symposiums were held under the 
sponsorship of the Guild; every studio commissary 
became a debating platform ; and the traditional battle- 
field, Schwab's soda fountain, got its best workout. 
I was impressed by the sincerity of the comments and 
suggestions that poured in, for, although they both 
blasted and praised, they all had one thing in common — 
an honest desire to improve the lot of the writer in 

This piece is written in the same spirit for screen 
writers who respect their craft. So if you are a novel- 
ist who is a little contemptuous of the medium, using 
Hollywood merely as a comfortable motel on your 
travels between one book and another, this piece will 
be of little interest. If you are a playwright who is 
here "to knock out a quick screenplay and pick up a 
few bucks" while your producer tries to find some 
picture name for your new show, you'll find glancing 
at a casting directory much more profitable. Or if you 
are one who looks upon motion pictures as nothing 
more than the bastard offspring of the theater and a 
2A Brownie and considers a script just a hundred and 
twenty pages of "gimmicks," "twists," "formulas," 
"weenies," "heart," "routines," "boffs," "yaks," "top- 
pers," "bleeders" and "chases" — please go home. 

If, on the other hand, you agree as I do with Sheri- 
dan Gibney that "screenwriting is a new form of 
dramatic art," and are willing to give it the respect 
and effort that such a definition commands, then 
maybe what I have to suggest might be of value. Not 
that I recommend what follows as the only solution, nor 
do I claim that by heeding my advice you will become 



a Dudley Nichols overnight. I merely state that it 
helped me and, all other things being equal, it might 
help you. 

TPO MY way of thinking there are two ways of 
-*- acquiring that technical facility, that awareness 
of the medium, which help to make a competent writer 
a genuine film author. The first method is by the 
process of osmosis: a gradual absorption of knowledge 
from any number of sources — discussions with directors 
and competent producers, working with experienced 
collaborators, seeing countless pictures, studying bales 
of scripts, trial and error, etc. The second is by watch- 
ing pictures being shot. Having tried the "osmosis" 
school for ten years, I heartily recommend the second 
method, not because those ten years were without 
activity and reward (as a matter of fact I think I re- 
ceived as many credits and as much employment as 
most), but because that period was without satisfaction. 
It was filled with insecurity and fear — fear, I imagine, 
that someone was going to discover what I knew all 
along — that I didn't know what the hell I was doing. 

I was able to hold my own in conferences and salt 
my conversation with phrases like "Mat shots," "Dolly 
back," "Zoom in" and "Traveling inserts," but it 
didn't help. I felt like one of those Benchley Americans 
in Paris. I knew just enough of the language to get 
around and impress other Americans but I felt that 
the French were laughing at me. I had picked up a 
few key words but I hadn't bothered (or been given 
the opportunity) to learn those all-important irregular 
verbs. So, deciding to go back and cram, I took up 
residence on a set. Believe me, in three months I learned 
more than I had in the preceding ten years. 

The first suggestion, then, is watch a picture being 
shot. If it happens to be one of your own scripts, so 
much the better — if not, any script will do provided 
you've studied it sufficiently. Now by watching shoot- 
ing I don't mean dropping in on the set for a few 
minutes on your way back from the commissary. I 
mean sitting behind the camera all day every day. 
(Okay — we might as well stop right here and settle 
the question of "How do I get on a set?") 

I know that some of the studios won't allow you to 
observe production. But let's be honest — why should 
they allow it? Why should they pay you while you 
learn something you were supposed to have known 
when you took the assignment in the first place? You 
shouldn't expect it any more than you should be ex- 
pected to pay a secretary while she takes a course in 
typing. The answer then, though simple to give and 
difficult to follow, is — go off salary. I have never heard 
of any studio that closed a set to a writer if the writer 
was willing to visit it without being paid for the privi- 

lege. I realize that giving up six to twelve weeks of 
employment or the chance of it, is not without sacrifice 
— but I'm sure that before you learned the technique 
of writing a short story, a play or a novel, you went 
a lot longer without remuneration. And if we agree 
that screenwriting is a new dramatic art form, then 
achieving a greater knowledge of it becomes well worth 
the time, sacrifice and effort. 

An author who chooses to write for motion pictures 
is very much like a general medical practitioner who 
decides to become a specialist. To accomplish it the 
doctor gives up his practice, takes a residency at a 
hospital, and studies his specialty for a couple of years. 
To a lesser degree the would-be screenwriter must 
study in the same way and the place to do it is on the 
set. Although there will be no salary coming in, the 
period of observation will not be without compensation. 
What you will learn will make you a better screen- 
writer and consequently place you in a position to de- 
mand more money. 

\\ THAT will you learn on a set? The same things 
* * a playwright learns during an out-of-town try- 
out. No matter how beautiful the script sounded when 
you read it to your wife you'll discover, by seeing it 
on its feet, that it has many shortcomings. The count- 
less rehearsals and takes will magnify the little faults 
you thought unimportant. Scenes will be overlong and 
static. At first you'll blame it on the actors, the director 
or anybody else who happens to be handy. But after a 
time, if you're able to look at the whole thing objec- 
tively, you'll have to admit that when you wrote the 
script you did not concern yourself with the possibili- 
ties of the camera. You depended too much on dia- 
logue to score your points. You'll discover you're both 
showing and telling and consequently the scenes appear 
obvious and overwritten. Gradually you'll begin to 
think in terms of the camera — you'll visualize scenes 
not as framed by a proscenium arch or the margins of 
a printed page but as seen through the "finder" — that 
little black box that tells you exactly what you're going 
to get on the screen. If your values are not in the 
finder you're a dead duck and no amount of brilliantly 
written stage direction will help you. If you le&rn 
nothing else, your time will not be wasted because, 
all other things being equal, the ability to use the 
camera as a collaborator is the primary difference 
between a good screen craftsman and a bad one. But 
you will learn more — dozens of things which you 
never thought essential but which will prove invaluable 
when you tackle your next script. 

After the picture is shot sit in with the film editor. 
Most of them whom I have met are only too anxious 
to answer questions and help in any way possible. Here 



again you will be reminded of the importance of the 
camera. When you see all of the film put together you'll 
notice that many lines of dialogue — yes, even entire 
scenes — are unnecessary. When you wrote the script 
you fought for them — the story, you felt, would never 
get across without them. Even on the set you were 
against cutting too drastically. Now you find, with 
some expert use of a couple of close-ups and reactions, 
that a three-page scene can be told in a dozen lines 
and with no values lost. It might even be more subtle 
and have better tempo than when you first conceived 
it. A good cutter is as much an artist as you are — 
don't avoid him. 

My only other suggestion is one which no one else 
has deemed important enough to mention. Maybe 
I'm overestimating its value but since it has been of 
tremendous help to me, here it is: while preparing a 
script consult one of the studio's art directors. He will 
show you how you can get the maximum of production 
with the minimum of construction and probably make 
your scenes photographically more interesting. Economy 
of construction, as well as economy of words, is a 
writer's problem and the art director will help you 
achieve it. I mention this for your self-protection. If 
you disregard the number and size of your sets you'll 
discover that the production will be cut down later 
anyway, and most likely without any consideration 
for the import of the scenes. Furthermore, by working 
closely with an art director you're not so apt to go 
to the preview and find your professor-hero living in 
a twelve room penthouse. If he's consulted at an early 
stage and sees what you're trying to achieve 3'ou'll 
get a much more realistic production. Lastly, you will 
know what your sets will look like and consequently 
will be able to devise pieces of business that will height- 
en and make for less static scenes. 

' I 'HERE will be many who will argue that the above 
*"" suggestions are not sound, principally because they 
contend that a writer is a story-teller, no more, no less, 
and his mind should not be cluttered with a lot of 
technical mumbo-jumbo. They maintain that that is the 
director's province and we should keep out of it. I 
might agree if this business were run differently. If 
a writer and a director were assigned simultaneously 
and worked together, each contributing his particular 
talents in a collaborative effort, that would be one 
thing. But I was asked : "How can newer writers 

become genuine film authors under present conditions" 
— and that is quite another. Aside from a few teams 
in the tradition of Capra-Riskin and Ruggles-Binyon, 
present conditions means that a writer finishes a script 
one week and a director starts shooting the next. More 
often than not the two never meet. Under such an 
arrangement it behooves the writer to become more 
than a story-teller. Because a hundred and twenty 
pages of story, no matter how beautifully told, is not 
a shooting script, and a director with budgets and 
schedules staring him in the face has no alternative but 
to make changes as he goes along. Since this method 
of operation has proved at least financially successful 
I have little hope that it will be altered. The change 
must come then in the writer's concept of screenwriting. 

The phrase "present conditions" also implies another 
glaring fault. The studios cry for "fresh" writing 
talent, men and women with "new ideas." These 
walking panaceas are brought out from New York by 
the dozens. Most of them, quite honestly, admit they 
know nothing about writing for motion pictures. The 
answer is always the same: "Don't worry about that. 
What we want is your great feel for character and 
your sparkling dialogue." Somehow this "feel" and 
"sparkle" seldom face a camera because most of the 
time the scripts never turn out the way the producer 
dreamed they would. Could it be that the studios have 
been crying and searching for the wrong thing all 
the time? I think so. I think what they've really been 
praying for are genuine film authors. Men and women 
who not only feel and sparkle but who know the medi- 
um and are able to get it on the screen. 

Although "present conditions" is a brick wall in 
many ways, it also offers an opportunity. Two studios 
have thrown open their stages to writers who want to 
learn. At 20th Century-Fox, Darryl F. Zanuck has 
promised that any writer who wishes to observe pro- 
duction may do so. The only conditions are that you 
do not expect remuneration and are not on an assign- 
ment at any other studio. You will not be herded from 
stage to stage like visitors. You may pick your director 
and, if agreeable with him, will be allowed to remain 
on his set for the entire production. Every effort will 
be made to help you achieve a greater understanding 
and knowledge of the medium. At R-K-O, Dore Schary 
makes the same offer. All you have to do is call the 
Guild office and arrangements will be made. Any 


As I Remember Birdie 


RICHARD G. HUBLER, a member of 
The Screen Writer Editorial Commit- 
tee, is the author of several books. His 
new novel, The Quiet Kingdom, will 
soon be published by Rinehart & Co. 

AS I dipped my ostrich quill pen into the brown 
gall ink of an eighteenth century coffee-house at 
the corner of Hollywood and Vine to write 
my Book of the Month novel the other day, I hap- 
pened to see some words emerge from the palimpsest 
manuscript I was using for a scratch pad. The words 
were these : "Russell Birdwell has retired." * 

Perhaps never in the history of mankind have so 
few words meant so little to so many but to me they 
were pregnant with the fruity odors of a whole era. 
It is true that few will care but to the discerning that 
sentence meant that motion picture advertising and 
publicity had at last passed its rococo peak. After you 
have reached the top, as Amy Lowell used to take 
the cigar out of her mouth to say, where can you go 
except down? In a world grown old and cold and 
dreary, Birdie — as I knew him — chose to take the 
honorable way out. 

These days when six out of ten selected psychiatrists 
assure me that Rogetomania — the illusion of grandeur 
induced by tearing words out of thesauri — is on the 
wane and when more than eight exclamation points 
after words like stupendous and terrific and insur- 
passable are considered vulgar the thing is clear: the 
flamboyant, freebooting, feckless, cavalier days of pub- 
licity are over. 

When a man shot five adjectives from the hip — 
he kept the hammer on an empty one for safety, as any 
student of that period will tell you — without looking ; 
snapped "Smile, when you say that!" if he was called 
a press agent instead of a public relations counsellor; 
and got inflammation of the forefinger from inserting 
it into the lapel buttonhole of many a freelance writer 
— ah, those were the days indeed. 

Among these swashbucklers of swill, Birdie — as I 
remember him — was supreme. In the Cave of Winds 
which was motion picture exploitation, a demesne 

•Mr. Birdwell has recently emerged from his brief retire- 

where the most brash would hesitate to enter, Birdie 
slew the dragon with his own chubby hands. It was 
he who drew to its state of ultimate perfection the 
two distinguishing policies of motion picture publicity 
today: to wit, the treasure hunt and the singleton 

The treasure hunt was simple. Its technique was 
simply to ask of the human race such questions as 
"Will Bridget Schrumpledonck be Scarlett O'Hara?" 
and wait for a reaction, like a doctor injecting insulin 
for shock treatment. The rest was routine — false clues, 
contests, red herrings, Cinderella stories, and so on. 

But it was to a world confused with tensions, vexed 
with cross-currents and conflicting ideologies that 
Birdie gave the classic example of the second tenet, 
the exercise in dogged singlemindedness. Not even the 
most horrendous war in history could force Birdie 
from his motif. Now that his drum-beating has died 
down after six years, the substance of his work can 
be evaluated and classified. I must confess that it was 
while I was munching a Jane Russell Special — two 
poached eggs on toast — that I got to noting down 
my memories of Birdie and his work on the publicity 
phenomenon of our time. 

T TNDOUBTEDLY the finest bit of his obsessive 
^-s boobery ever foisted upon the great American 
public in recent years was back in 1941, the publicity 
campaign conducted by Russell Birdwell around the 
bosom of Jane Russell in ballyhooing the Howard 
Hughes picture, The Outlaw. In saying this I am not 
unmindful of such stunts as the Westinghouse Time 
Capsule (in which solemn japery I, God forgive me, 
had a hand), the registered rest rooms of the Texas 
Company's filling stations, Jim Moran's sitting on 
an ostrich egg to build up The Egg and I, and the 
same fellow's reported deals with Eskimos over refriger- 
ators and hunting needles in a haystack. Perhaps it 
was Moran who first painted advertisements on 



barber-shop ceilings and put mirrors on the floor of 
a notorious lecher's bedroom, I don't know. But not 
even painting "Gilda" on the Bikini atom bomb — a 
device which failed because of its immense and rancid 
bad taste — gives me the thrill I get when I think of 
Birdie and his bust. I used to fancy myself a fairly 
clever fellow because I once made page three of the 
New York W orld-T elegram. I was then punting long 
ones for the International Casino and who the hell 
can say anything new about a nightclub? That item 
was the one that informed the readers that the nation- 
ality of a girl could be told by merely looking at her 
legs. Don't ask me the way it was done, not now, 
but I got a picture of twenty legs or ten half-girls 
in a row on that lovely page three. 

Nevertheless after a fair investigation of all the 
black arts of publicity I must take the pewter mustache 
cup away from my ego and give it to Birdie. A cute 
little roll, in a number of ways, who liked to pay for 
full-page ads to give his opinions on world topics, 
Birdie could sell a sow's ear to Bergdorf. Goodman for 
a silk purse. Not that thirty-seven and a half inches 
of glandular development is not a considerable item on 
which to base hot news releases. I shudder to think on 
what back pages the United Nations would be today 
if Birdie were still touting the Hughes production. 
Even the rolypoly maestro himself, who did at least 
a colossal job on Gone With The Wind and had every- 
body in the country looking under chairs for three 
years for Vivian Leigh, found that the Civil War 
was nothing, positively nothing, when it came to mam- 
miferous precocity. 

This is how it all came about for a handsome fee. 
Birdie started slow, merely giving Miss Russell a 
thousand-dollar bill and telling her to "go out and get 
some duds." This was a cunning feeler as to the kind 
of material he had to mold. He spat on his typewriter 
and waited. Miss Russell bought herself blind for 
three days, returned, and gave Birdie $300 back. Evi- 
dently she was going to be a problem. Birdie blew the 

Across the country the public prints came running. 
In their wake panted the most famous lads available 
for cash within reason. It was William Early Singer 
that Birdie first slapped on the back. Singer, a painter 
who had daubed the portraits of King Albert of Bel- 
gium, Archbishop Sinnott of Canada, and the Duke of 
Windsor, fitted on his helmet and dashed out onto 
the field. It was he who pronounced the original 
mouthful on Miss Russell's eyeful. 

"The ideal exciting girl," he said excitedly, "because 
she is so tall. Not many short women are exciting," 
a statement that didn't do Singer any good with the 
Midget's Cap-a-Pie Protective Association. Birdie 

tried to hush him up but Singer kept running off at 
the mouth. "Her lips," he babbled, evidently trying 
to give Birdie the most for his money, "are the most 
kissable in the world. Because they are beautifully 
molded, softly appealing, silently inviting and not too 
easily kissed." This master of anti-climax had obvi- 
ously spent the best years of his life bussing his way 
around the world. But Singer's day was over. Birdie 
knew where he could get the same stuff wholesale. 

Chaim Gross, whom Birdie described as one of the 
most famous of living sculptors, put in a plug for the 
real issue. Singer had beat all around the bush but 
Gross put his finger right on it. "She has the most 
perfect bust in the world," he said in level tones. "She 
is the ideal of young American womanhood." Birdie was 
getting down to cold turkey. He followed this coup 
of Gross with a hard-hitting release from his research 
staff of two drugstore cowboys. "Murder," said Birdie, 
in a fine sequitur, "glints from an angry woman's 
eye like electric sparks. Miss Russell has such eyes." 

That covered the top half of the agenda. The best 
was yet to come. From New York, Mayor Fiorello 
LaGuardia proclaimed "Cinderella Day" in honor of 
Miss Russell who rose from obscurity to be unknown. 
In the courts of Los Angeles, as her sub-21 contract 
came up for approval, the judge peered over his glasses, 
ordered her to remove her studio makeup and return 
looking like a decent woman." Miss Russell did so 
and returned to win approval not only of her contract 
but also of most of the nation's rotogravure sections. 
Her picture, on a traffic Safety First poster, was re- 
ported to have cut rather than increased traffic accidents 
by 30 per cent. 

A T army camps, Miss Russell stabbed dummies 
■^ ^with bayonets, tossed hand grenades and rode in 
a tight red sweater. A lovesick private named Albert 
Goertz began to knit another sweater for her, egged on 
by Birdie's insatiable camera cads. 

The Navy selected Miss Russell as "the girl we 
would most like to have waiting for us in every port." 
The Air Corps flying cadets adopted her as their 
mascot and named a Stockton Field, Calif., squadron 
"Russell's Raiders." The Navy came back slugging 
with a recruiting slogan: JOIN THE NAVY 7 AND 
MEET JANE RUSSELL ! They also forwarded 
six silver loving cups to her. The Marines made no 
official gestures. 

Prof. A. J. Haagen-Smit of the California Institute 
of Technology invented a perfume which he dedicated 
to Miss Russell's "tempestuous allure." He called it, 
surprise!, The Outlaw. The magazine Life and the 
Sigma Nu fraternity selected Miss Russell as "the 
most promising star of 1941." They were grievously 



deceived. Miss Russell remained a film incognito for 
quite some while. 

Pictures of Miss Russell, in every conceivable pose, 
swept the country. Birdie could not supply the demand. 
A survey taken by a trade paper during a random 
three-week period in 1941 showed 532 papers put out 
4256 pages on Miss Russell and 448 Sunday papers 
published 2016 columns about her. Her picture ap- 
peared on the covers of eleven national magazines and 
she was awarded spreads of 196 pages in said magazines. 

Esquire ran a double-page truck in color of Miss 
Russell. Circulation leaped 186,000 copies. Spot, with 
approximately 150,000 circulation, ran a picture of 
Miss Russell on the cover and jumped 200,000. It 
hopefully ran another picture of her the next month 
and duplicated the feat. 

The Fawcett Publishing Company, with five maga- 
zines, ran a picture of Miss Russell on the cover of 
one publication or another every month. Even the staid 
Ladies' Home Journal came through with a full page 
of Russell in color. 

Birdie, desperate for new poses, finally took his 
own sport coat off and put it around the acquiescent 
Miss Russell. Little else was visible beside her lovely 
torso. The picture appeared in 3000 newspapers and 
a majority of magazines in the spring of 1941. The 
expenses of Birdie's clipping bureau, at a nickel a clip, 
bulged above $2500 a month. He canceled the service. 

Deliciously frightened by his own success, Birdie 
Birdwell decided to gear down the torrent of pub- 
licity. He gave Miss Russell a staple line to pass on to 
newspapers: "I don't smoke, drink, swear, neck or use 
narcotics." She got a wire from Princeton: DEAR 
LIKE YOU SO DO WE. It invited her to a house 
party. Birdie turned it down. 

As a special favor, James Montgomery Flagg was 
allowed to paint her portrait and he remarked she 
was "as swarthy as a pirate's daughter." He quizzed 
her about her sultry look. Under orders, she told him 
it was because she had been a "whiney, disagreeable 
child," a Birdie master-stroke because Miss Russell 
was really very amiable as a youngster. 

Oddly enough, in spite of Birdie's build-down, the 
rush for the Russell publicity bandwagon continued. 

Harpers Bazaar ran a photograph of her, titling it: 
The Return of the Full Bosom. Life, Liberty, Look, 
Pic, American stayed aboard with revealing shots of 
the Hughes discovery every so often. Sigma Phi Epsilon 
chose her Girl of the Year. The juveniles of Hotch- 
kiss School and the military of Battery B, 250th Coast 
Artillery, alike fawned upon her bust. 

Even her mother titillated interviewers by revealing 
that Jane, at the tender age of eight, used to constantly 
recite with great dramatic fervor, a poem: 

"You are stiff and cold as a stone, 

Little cat; 
I often wonder how you ever got 

Like that" 

A LL right. I get off here. This is as far as I go with 
•*• *-my memories. Maybe Miss Russell doesn't know 
how the cat got stiff and cold but I know how / got that 
way. I don't know how it all ended, all I know is 
that The Outlaw profits are being baled at a well- 
known mint in Philadelphia headed by a woman whose 
name is Nellie. Miss Russell, married to a professional 
football player named Waterfield, has not titillated 
the public much lately. This is of course because Hughes 
has flung off the gorgeous mantle of Birdie's publicity 
and put on the old, drab, dignified cloak of Carl 
Byoir's agency. 

However, I have had my revenge. When my chil- 
dren gather round my gnarled old knees in the fire- 
light and press me for a pre-war story, I shall pat 
them gently upon their tousled bur-filled little heads 
and look deep into the fire. If I just see combustion, 
the chances are I'll scream and squirt the extinguisher 
on it — but I don't anticipate that. What I expect to 
see will be the glorious roseate contours of ripe woman- 

"Kids," I'll say dreamily. "Spread out. Slump up 
against that ottoman covered with the skin of a pub- 
licity fellow I used to know. Soft and white, isn't it? 
Let me tell you how I got it." 

And I'll tell them, too, giving each a little Time 
Capsule to swallow afterwards so they can go to sleep 
and forget the horror of it all. 



A Biographical Epic at Imperial Pix 

Subject: Bindle Biog 


Writer-Director F. HUGH HERBERT 
is Secretary of the Screen Writers' 
Guild. He is the author of many screen 
and radio plays, and of such famous 
stage plays as Kiss and Tell, The 
Poseur, There You Are and Carry Me 


West Coast Studios 


FROM: Herbert Keeler DATE: February 5th, 1947 

TO: J. K. Hoffheimer SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

Dear J.K. 

In view of the current terrific vogue for screen 
biographies (The Jolson Story, The Dolly Sisters and 
so forth), it occurs to me that we might be very smart 
to make a picture based on the life of Jonathan Bindle. 
The commercial tie-ups alone would be terrific. Let 
me know what you think. 

Scenario Editor 
hk :mal 


West Coast Studios 


FROM: J. K. Hoffheimer DATE: February 6th, 1947 

TO: Herbert Keeler SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

Dear Herb: 

Who the hell is Jonathan Bindle? 

Vice President in 
charge of Production 


West Coast Studios 


FROM: Herbert Keeler DATE: February 7th, 1947 

TO: J. K. Hoffheimer SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

Dear J.K. 

I am really amazed that you have never heard of 
Jonathan Bindle. All the papers were full of him only 
a few days ago. He received during 1946 an income 
of $4,596,289.14 according to the figures released by 
the U.S. Treasury Department. Bindle is President 
of General Candy Corporation and is rated the third 
richest man in the world. Eight years ago he was on 
relief. Today he is reported worth over $500,000,000. 
A success story if there ever was one. I am convinced 
that the life of such a man would be an inspiring 
screen document which would appeal to every red- 

blooded 100% American man, woman and child. And 
don't forget the commercial tie-ups. 


Scenario Editor 



West Coast Studios 


FROM: J. K. Hoffheimer DATE: February 7th, 1947 

TO: Herbert Keeler SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

Dear Herb: 

I am deeply impressed by what you tell me. Find 
out if Mr. Bindle would co-operate with us. If he 
approves I would consider making his life one of our 
super-specials for 1948. Get me all the information you 

Vice President in 
charge of Production 
jkh :by 


r l McCarthy 

imperial pictures radio center new york city ny 

february 8 1947 
hoffheimer okays your bindle biography suggestion 
stop would advise your contacting bindle directly 
stop make him realize that this would be a super 
special possibly in technicolor stop worth millions 
to him in prestige and publicity stop regards 


Radio Center 
New York City, New York 
Mr. Jonathan Bindle, President 
General Candy Corporation 
Titanic Building, New York City 

February 10th, 1947 
Dear Sir: 

The suggestion has been made by our Mr. J. K. 
Hoffheimer, one of the most brilliant motion picture 
producers in the industry, that a motion picture be 
made by our company based upon your life and spec- 
tacular success and achievements. We feel that we could 
undertake this production in a spirit of patriotic service 



and national duty — make it, so to speak, a saga of 
rugged Americanism. It would be personally super- 
vised by Mr. Hoffheimer. 

If this suggestion appeals to you, I would be most 
happy to call upon you, at your convenience, to discuss 
all details. 

Very truly yours 
roger l. McCarthy 

Imperial Pictures 
rim :ce 


Titanic Building 

New York City, New York 

February 12th, 1947 
Mr. Roger L. McCarthy 
Vice-President Imperial Pictures 
Radio Center, New York City 
Dear Sir: 

In reply to your letter of February 10th, I am 
directed by Mr. Bindle to inform you that he has 
always been averse to personal publicity of any kind, 
and that consequently he could not entertain your sug- 
gestion for a moment. 

I might add that, personally, I was very much in 
favor of it and urged Mr. Bindle to reconsider the 
matter, but he is, I regret to say, quite adamant. 
Very trulv yours, 
Secretary to Mr. Bindle 


Radio Center 

New York City, New York 

February 14th, 1947 
Miss Kathleen Shane 
Secretary to Mr. Jonathan Bindle 
General Candy Corporation 
My dear Miss Shane: 

Thank you for your courteous note regarding our 
projected screen biography of Mr. Bindle. 

In view of your own interest in the matter, I am 
not unhopeful that Mr. Bindle may yet reconsider 
his refusal. I have been in communication with our 
studios on the coast and they have tentatively budgeted 
the picture we plan to make at $3,000,000. You might 
mention this to Mr. Bindle and point out that such 
tremendous publicity would be of incalculable benefit 
to all products of General Candy Corporation. 
Very truly yours, 

roger l. McCarthy 

Vice-President, Imperial Pictures 
rim :ce 


Radio Center 

New York City, New York 

February 16th, 1947 
Miss Kathleen Shane 
Secretary to Mr. Jonathan Bindle 
General Candy Corporation 
Titanic Building, New York City 
Dear Miss Shane: 

I enjoyed our luncheon together so much, and I 
feel quite sure that, armed with all the additional facts 

I presented, you will be able to overcome Mr. Bindle's 
objections. You have, if I may say so, a most engaging 
and persuasive personality. 

I enclose a permanent pass to the Imperial Theater 
where all our pictures are shown, and if I can be of 
any further service to you whatsoever, please let me 

roger l. McCarthy 

Vice-President, Imperial Pictures 
rim :ce 

encl. 1 courtesy pass 


herbert keeler imperial studios hollywood 

february 17 1947 
tell hoffheimer bindle deal looks fairly hot stop have 
not contacted bindle personally yet but am in con- 
stant touch with his secretary stop are you having 
a script prepared query 

r l McCarthy 


r l McCarthy imperial pictures radio center new york 
city february 18 1947 

practically no information available here regarding 
bindle stop all we can find are three lines in who's 
who stop newspaper morgues have no pictures of 
bindle later than nineteen thirty nine stop since 
no script can be readied until we get some facts please 
have someone in your office prepare a digest of his 
life where he was born educated so forth also get 
us some recent pictures so we can cast tentatively 
stop regards 


Radio Center 
New York Cits', New York 
FROM: R. L. McCarthy DATE: February 19th, 19+7 

TO: Alfred Hines, Publicity Dept. SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 
We contemplate making a super special for 1948 
based on the life of Jonathan Bindle, President of 
General Candy Corporation. Drop everything else 
and get all available facts regarding Mr. Bindle. Please 
note that Mr. Bindle has not yet signed any agreement 
with us. He refuses to grant interviews and is averse 
to personal publicity so you will have to use all dis- 
cretion and diplomacy in getting the information we 

r. l. McCarthy 

rim :ce 


Radio Center 

New York Citv, New York 


FROM: Alfred Hines DATE: February 22nd, 1947 

TO: R. L. McCarthy SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

I have spent three days digging up Bindle material 

but there is not much to be found. 

He is fifty-three, bald and rather stout. Was born 
in Eggleston, Vermont, educated in public schools 
there. He is not married and has no relatives. Parents 
died when he was in school. Lives at Rosslyn, Long 
Island alone in a 28 room house with eleven servants. 
Never entertains. Attends Baptist Church. He refuses 
interviews and won't be photographed. Appears to be 
cordially disliked by most employees of General Candy 
Corp., likewise by his servants. Estimated wealth of 
half billion dollars is well authenticated. Does not 
drink or smoke. There has never been anv romance 



or scandal in his life that I can discover, and I have 
spoken to half a dozen newspapermen who have covered 
him at various times. 

ah :mt 

r l McCarthy imperial pictures radio center new york 
city february 23 1947 

have registered bindle idea with producers association 
claiming priority stop keeler tells me you will soon 
have bindle deal in bag stop am dickering with mgm 
for loan of clark gable to play bindle stop what 
do you think query 

j k hoffheimer 

j k hoffheimer imperial studios hollywood 
gable not the type for bindle 

r l McCarthy 


FEBRUARY 23 1947 

r l McCarthy imperial pictures radio center new york 
city february 23 1947 

if you can close bindle deal by friday think i can 
arrange with zanuck to borrow tyrone power stop 
might also work out deal for loan of hedy lamarr 
to play bindles wife stop please reply 
j k hoffheimer 


j k hoffheimer imperial studios hollywood 

february 25 1947 
bindle has no wife stop power not the type stop 
please do not rush me bindle has not signed yet stop 
am working on him from every angle stop have you 
got a story yet query 

r l McCarthy 





Titanic Building 
New York City, New York 

February 26th, 1947 
Mr. L. E. Buzzard, President 
Imperial Pictures Corporation 
Radio Center, New York City 
Dear Louie: 

Some half-witted imbecile in your employ by the 
name of McCarthy is wasting my time, and that of 
my secretary, by writing and telephoning and telegragh- 
ing constantly regarding some fat-head scheme cooked 
up by one of your other morons to the effect that your 
company wants to make a screen biography of me. 

Kindly tell him not to be a fool and suggest that 
he stop bothering me. 




Radio Center 


FROM: L. E. Buzzard DATE: February 28th, 1947 

TO: R. L. McCarthy SUBJECT: Jonathan Bindle 

Attached is a letter from Jonathan Bindle. What 

the hell is all this about? 


Vice-President Imperial Pictures 


Radio Center 
New York City, New York 
FROM: R. L. McCarthy DATE: February 28th, 1947 

TO: L. E. Buzzard SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

I suggested to Keeler who suggested to Hoffheimer 
that a motion picture based on the life of Jonathan 
Bindle would be a good idea. Biographs are clicking 
everywhere. They are the current trend. Since Ford 
is dead and Morgan unavailable Bindle seemed like 
a good bet to us. I'm delighted to see by his letter to 
you that you are personally acquainted. You must 
help us swing this. 

We are the only major company who have not made 
an outstanding biography, and I think it is high time 
we went to bat. Bindle is rated worth more than 
$500,000,000.00. If that's not a success story and good 
box-office, I'll eat my hat. 

r. l. McCarthy 

Imperial Pictures 



Radio Center 

New York City, New York 

March 1st, 1947 
Mr. Jonathan Bindle, President 
General Candy Corporation 
Titanic Building, New York City 
Dear Jonathan : 

Thanks for your letter which gave me a great kick. 
You always were a great kidder, you know. 

On the level, Jonathan, we are all very enthusiastic 
here about our Mr. McCarthy's suggestion of a screen 
biography of you, and I feel sure that it could be an 
outstanding epic of our modern age, a transcendental 
monument to American resource, industry and stick- 

Please give the matter your very serious considera- 
tion. I have just spoken by long distance telephone 
to Mr. Hoffheimer, our Vice-President In Charge of 
Production at the coast, and I have never known him 
to be so excited over any contemplated production. 
He has already increased the budget from two million 
to two and a half million dollars and has cabled George 
Bernard Shaw a tempting offer to write the screenplay. 
I suggest we play golf and have lunch tomorrow 
to discuss the matter further. 



Imperial Pictures Corp. 




MARCH 2 1947 

McCarthy and i lunched with bindle today and went 
into the biography matter stop bindle wants half 
million dollars for rights to his life and insists 
every detail of story and production must have his 
okay stop otherwise no dice stop do you feel that the 
public can be made sufficiently binlde conscious to 
justify such an investment query 
l e buzzard 


CITY MARCH 3 1947 





From Louella Parsons' Column Los Angeles Examiner, 

March 4th, 1947 

. . . Saw Imperial's wizard producer, Jerry Hoff- 
heimer, at The Hullabaloo last night . . . He told 
me that he planned a stupendous life of Johnson 
Birrell, and you all know <who he is . . . It should 
be a terrific success. . . . 

From Hedda Hopper's Column, Los Angeles Times, March 

4th, 1947 

. . . Trust Jerry Hoffheimer to bring home the 
bacon. I understand he has an option on "The 
Life Of George Bingham" which he plans to 
make for Imperial as a super special. "The Life 
Of George Bingham," he tells me, is reported to 
have sold 50,000,000 copies in ten years. . . . 

From Daily Variety, March 4th, 1947 

It is rumored that Imperial Pictures will screen 
an epic based on the current vogue for Bingo. 
500,000,000 people play Bingo and constitute a 
ready made audience, according to Jerry Hoff- 
heimer, who will produce. 

From The Hollywood Reporter's Rambling Reporter Col- 
umn, March 4th, 1947 

. . . And now, girls, who do you think is the new 
heartbeat of dynamic young Jerry Hoffheimer of 
Imperial Pictures? Her name is Josephine 
Beadle, and she is closely related to General 
Candy, U. S. Army. At least that's what Jerry 
told me himself last night. He's going to star her 
in Imperial Pictures, too, so I gathered. . . . 


MARCH 6 1947 

bindle pact may be inked this week stop only a few 
details remain to be ironed out stop in order to 
swing deal it will be necessary to give contract to 
bindles secretary kathleen shane stop have had tests 
of shane made here and they are being airmailed 
to you stop let me know what you think 
r l McCarthy 


r l McCarthy imperial pictures radio center new york 
city march 8 1947 

have seen tests of shane stop she is a wow stop do 
you really want to know what i think query 
j k hoffheimer 


West Coast Studios 


FROM: J. K. Hoffheimer DATE: March 9th, 1947 

TO: A. T. Freulich, Legal Dept. SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

Please prepare immediately standard stock contract 

for seven 3?ears with options for Kathleen Shane as 

per attached correspondence. Air-mail these to R. L. 

McCarthy at Radio Center. 

In Charge Of Production 


Times Square 
New York City, New York 

March 11th, 1947 
Mr. William Grady 
Constitution Club 
New York City 
Dear Bill: 

After the deplorable scene you made last night in 

the lobby, I feel that the only course open to me is to 
return your ring and to wish you good-bye and good 

Mr. McCarthy, whom you attacked in such a brutal 
and cowardly fashion and without provocation, hap- 
pens to be just a business acquaintance, not that this 
is any concern of yours. 

Please do not attempt to see me again. 
encl. 1 ring 



MARCH 12 1947 


West Coast Studios 
FROM: J. K. Hoffheimer DATE: March 12th, 1947 

TO: H. V. Cradall SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

Publicity Director 
The Bindle deal will be set in a few days. I want 
you to give this Bindle Biography the works. It will 
be our aim to make a picture worthy of this tremendous 
subject; how a man, down and out only eight years 
ago, by sheer genius, sweat and honesty built up an 
industrial empire and made himself half a billion dol- 
lars. Go to town on this. 

In Charge of Production 
jkh :by 


West Coast Studios 


FROM: Herbert Keeler DATE: March 13th, 1947 

TO: H. V. Crandall SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

Dear J.K. 

Bernard Shaw has not answered any of my cables 
or letters, and I think we may assume he is not inter- 
ested in scripting the Bindle Biog. This is a pity be- 
cause he did a fairly good job on Pygmalion. I have 
been considering Robert Sherwood and Ben Hecht, 
but I do not think they have quite the right approach 
for us. 

Meanwhile until we can get a name writer I have 
assigned Phoebe Quillan and Bertram Parch to pre- 
pare a treatment. Quillan and Parch just finished the 
screenplay of a western for the B unit. We have al- 
ready exhausted all their lay-off period and no other 
producers have assignments for them, so we may as 
well use them on this until we get a big name. 
Scenario Editor 


West Coast Studios 


FROM: Bertram Parch and DATE: March 17th, 1947 

Phoebe Quillan SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

TO: J. K. Hoffheimer 

We have an angle on Bindle which we would like 



to discuss with you personally, if you can spare the time. 

West Coast Studios 
FROM: J. K. Hoffheimer DATE: March 17th, 1947 

TO: Bertram Parch and SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

Phoebe Quillan 
Mr. Hoffheimer will be tied up for several days 
cutting "Love's Heritage." He has requested me to 
send your memo of even date to Mr. Keeler with 
whom, as you are aware, all story angles should first 
be discussed. 

Secretary to 
Mr. Hoffheimer 



West Coast Studios 
FROM: Herbert Keeler DATE: March 18th, 1947 

TO: Bertram Parch and SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

Phoebe Quillan 
Please be advised that as of today you are both re- 
lieved of the Bindle biog. assignment. You will report 
to Mr. Gipfel who will assign you to a serial. 

It should not be necessary to point out to contract 
writers, who, presumably, know our methods that we 
frown upon attempts by writers to go directly to the 
Executive Producer with story angles, all of which 
should be handled through this office. 

Scenario Editor 
hk :mal 

From The Hollywood Reporter, March 20th, 1947 

Gilbert Gripes, ace scrivener at Paramount, has 
been loaned to Imperial to screenplay the Bindle 
Biog. Reported he will collab with Herbert 
Keeler, Imperial's own Scenario Editor <who, for 
this chore, deserts exec desk and dusts off his 
typewriter. Four contract writers at Imperial 
also reported assigned to get material for Bindle 

From Variety, March 24th, 1947 

Although a number of writers are already work- 
ing at Imperial on "The Life Of Jonathan Bin- 
dle," it is rumored that Jerry Hoffheimer, Execu- 
tive Producer, would like to get Emil Ludwig, 
noted biog. expert, for a final brush-up on script, 
when ready. 

From The Los Angeles Examiner, Screen and Drama Page, 

March 27th, 1947 


Exhaustive tests have started at Imperial to find 
a suitable actor to portray the romantic role of 
Jonathan Bindle in the sensational life story of 
the magnate which is expected to go before the 
cameras early in July. Twenty-three ranking 
luminaries have already been tested. 

From The Los Angeles Times, March 28th, 1947 
Three major studios are attempting to beat Im- 

perial to the gun with stories based on the fan- 
tastic life of Jonathan Bindle, billionaire candy 
tycoon. While Imperial executives claim to have 
signed Mr. Bindle and state that script is nearly 
completed, rumors are current that the negoti- 
ations have hit a snag and that he is considering 
better offers from other sources. 


r l McCarthy imperial pictures radio center new york 
city march 28 1947 

delay in signing bindle holding up all production 
stop if deal falls through now effect would be 
disastrous stop vast exploitation campaign already 
in full swing stop twenty million school children 
await this picture as unique saga americanism stop 
estimate bindle picture will out gross the jolson 
story both at box office and in romantic interest 
stop must have bindle at the studio before april 
6th for conferences on story casting costumes sets 
stop whats holding things up query 
j k hoffheimer 


MARCH 29 1947 

sorry about delay stop only returned to my desk this 
morning after distressing siege of illness stop bindle 
signed contracts this afternoon stop he will arrive 
hollywood wednesday evening stop i will follow 
personally as soon as urgent dental work completed 
stop regards 

r l McCarthy 

West Coast Studios 

FROM: J. K. Hoffheimer DATE: April 4th, 1947 

TO: All stars, executives, SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

directors, writers 
We are giving a mammoth banquet at the Biltmore 
on Tuesday, April 8th, in honor of Jonathan Bindle 
whose life story we are going to film. Please arrange 
to keep this date free. I expect all of you to be present. 

From Daily Variety, April 9th, 1947 

Imperial stars, execs and big shots gathered last 
night at Biltmore Bowl to honor Jonathan Bin- 
dle. A good time was had by all — except the 
guest of honor who failed to show. Bindle re- 
ported to have been in conference with writers 
and director on biog. details and too busy to 

Los Angeles 

April 12th, 1974 
Mr. J. K. Hoffheimer 
Imperial Studios 
Hollywood, California 
Dear Mr. Hoffheimer: 

Mr. Bindle has read the five "story outlines" which 
you sent to us by special messenger and desires me to 
say that they are all completely unacceptable. He does 
not wish the slightest departure from the known facts 
of his life. 

Personally I thought they were all very good, but 
Mr. Bindle is hard to please. 

I will be very busy for a few more days breaking 
in a new secretary for Mr. Bindle, but my resignation 
will be effective as of next Monday, and thereafter 



I will gladly co-operate with you, as you suggested in 
our interview which I enjoyed very much. 
Thank you so much for the lovely flowers. 

Secretary to Mr. Bindle 
P.S. I am so thrilled with Hollywood. I know I am 
going to love it here. 


West Coast Studios 

April 14th, 1947 
Mr. Jonathan Bindle 
Ambassador Hotel 
Los Angeles, California 
Dear Mr. Bindle: 

Further to our telephone conversation just con- 
cluded, I can only assure you that I personally had 
nothing whatsoever to do with the resignation of your 
secretary, Miss Shane. The details of her contract were 
handled in New York City by our Mr. McCarthy, 
and I naturally assumed that you were acquainted 
with all the facts. 

I deeply regret that you have been caused any annoy- 
ance and trust that this will in no way affect your 
feeling toward our studio. 

I am sending you a new treatment which I feel sure 
is a tremendous improvement over those you have al- 
ready rejected. Please let me have your opinion as soon 
as possible. 


In Charge of Production 

Los Angeles 

April 15th, 1947 

Mr. J. K. Hoffheimer 

Imperial Studios 

Hollywood, California 

Dear Mr. Hoffheimer : 

Mr. Bindle has read the mss. you sent him entitled 

"Bindle Story, Treatment by Gilbert Gripes, Herbert 

Keeler, Beatrice Carraway and Donald Wade." He 

has instructed me to say, specifically, that he has never 

read such revolting rubbish in his life. 

Very truly yours, 
Secretary to Mr. Bindle 



West Coast Studios 

April 16th, 1947 
R. L. McCarthy, Vice-President 
Imperial Pictures Corporation 
Radio Center, New York City 
Dear R. L. 

As you will have judged from my various night 
letters during the past few days, I am not happy about 
the Bindle biog. I regret to say that I find Mr. Bindle 
definitely unco-operative. We have finally prepared a 
splendid treatment, one of the best I have ever okayed, 

and he has rejected it completely, and, I might add, 
very rudely. 

It was a beautiful story and even Miss Shane, Mr. 
Bindle's former secretary, who read it at my request, 
told me she thought it was superb. She seems to be 
a very nice girl, incidentally, and I plan to give her 
a bit in the picture, since we have her under contract 

I hope you will be out here soon so that perhaps 
you can reason with Bindle. 


In Charge of Production 
jkh :by 


West Coast Studios 


FROM: J. K. Hoffheimer DATE April 16th, 1947 

TO: Herbert Keeler SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

I have just returned from a rather unsatisfactory 

conference with Mr. Bindle at the Ambassador. 

I like this last treament very much, but Bindle 
doesn't, and I'm afraid we will have to make a few 
little changes, which you will please note: 

(a) The wife and 4 children must come out. I 
have pointed out to Bindle that marriage and 
family are sound American institutions with 
which he should be proud to be identified, but 
he insists that he has never been married and 
has never had any children and refuses to be 
misrepresented in the picture. Perhaps they 
could be somebody else's wife and children. I 
hate to lose them. Confer with the writers on 

(b) The party sequence where Bindle rescues the 
child from the burning Christmas tree must 
come out. He says he never did it and anyway 
he hates children and never goes to parties. 

(c) The character of Clarice, the devoted secre- 
tary who loves Bindle with unselfish secret 
adoration and helps him achieve success must 
come out. He insists that nobody ever helped 
him to anything. Moreover, his former secre- 
tary just quit her job, and he is rather sore 
about this. 

(d) The really moving sequence where Bindle 
charters eighteen B-29s, over the protests of 
the State Department, in order to parachute 
candy to the starving refugee children in 
Europe must come out. 

(e) The opening sequences in which we show 
Bindle as a boy, with all that good comedy 
business for his parents, must come out. Bindle 
says his parents were never comic. His mother 
died when he was a baby and his father was a 
pain in the neck. 

Please have these changes made as quickly as 
possible. Put more writers on it if necessary. 
In Charge of Production 


APRIL 18 1947 





l e buzzard imperial pictures radio center new york 
city april 19 1947 

impossible give even approximate starting date bindle 
picture stop script being rewritten stop bindle not 
at all helpful stop meanwhile i have shifted our pro- 
duction schedule and jeepers creepers hits cameras 
tomorrow stop gloria varney not available for in- 
genue lead therefore at telegraphed suggestion from 
McCarthy in Washington have put Kathleen shane 
IN her place stop this girl has plenty on the ball 



Washington, D. C. 

April 20th, 1947 

Mr. L. E. Buzzard, President 
Imperial Pictures Corporation 
Radio Center, New York Citv 
Dear L. E. 

I'm afraid our idea of Imperial-Bindle Week is 
out. Polkington has done his best, but it is harder to 
set a National Week than it used to be. 

I just spoke to Hoffheimer on long distance, and 
he seems very worried about the Bindle picture. He 
asked me to hop a plane to the coast, and I am leaving 
in a couple of hours. 


r. l. McCarthy 

rim :jg 

r l McCarthy imperial studios Hollywood 

APRIL 26 1947 



l e buzzard imperial pictures radio center new york 
city april 26 1947 

nothing to worry about stop jeepers creepers looks 
terrific stop my discovery the little shane girl a 
sensation stop regards 

r l McCarthy 

r l McCarthy imperial studios Hollywood 

APRIL 27 1947 

l e buzzard imperial pictures radio center new york 
city april 28 1947 

hoffheimer bindle director and writers in seclusion 
palm springs cannot be reached by phone stop they 
are polishing up bindle story stop have ordered in- 
creased budget jeepers creepers stop all dailies with 
little shane girl sensational stop regards 
r l McCarthy 

From Daily Variety, April 29th, 1947 

L. E. Buzzard, Imperial's prexy, planed in today 
from N.Y. to confer with studio execs on Bindle 
biog. Reports have been current for some days 
that yarn has hit snag. After a stay of only 

twelve hours Mr. Buzzard flew back to Manhat- 
tan. Before boarding the plane he issued the fol- 
lowing statement: "Contrary to malicious ru- 
mors, preparations for the filmization of the 
Life Of Jonathan Bindle are now practically 
completed. This epochal film, with a cast of 
thousands, will be the greatest picture ever to 
be made at our great studios." 

From Rambling Reporter Column The Hollywood Reporter, 

April 30th, 1947 

. . . That cute red-head with R. L. McCarthy at 
the Cocoanut Grove last night is Kathleen Shane, 
former sec. to J. Bindle, whose biography Im- 
perial will shortly screen. She's playing the in- 
genue lead in Jeepers Creepers, and they say 
R. L. McC. is on the set all the time. . . . 


MAY 1 1947 

CITY MAY 3 1947 




MAY 5 1947 



CITY MAY 5 1947 


Associated Press Dispatch, May 5th, 1947 

SEATTLE, Wash, May 6, 1947 {AP)— Jona- 
than Bindle, president of General Candy Cor- 
poration, blew out his brains in a hotel here 
today after flying to this city from Hollywood, 
Cal. Only five minutes after the shocking suicide 
F.B.I, men arrived in the lobby of the hotel with 
a warrant for the arrest of Bindle in connection 
with gigantic stock frauds attributed to the late 
magnate. Sensational developments are expected. 
Mr. Bindle's former secretary, Kathleen Shane, 
believed to be in Hollywood, is to be questioned 
by the authorities. 

r l McCarthy imperial studios Hollywood 

MAY 6 1947 




CITY MAY 6 1947 


r l McCarthy 



MAY 7 1947 


CITY MAY 8 1947 



From the New York Daily Mirror, May 9, 1947 

HOLLYWOOD, Col., May 9, (AP)— Kathleen 
Shane, lovely red-haired private secretary to the 
late Jonathan Bindle, was questioned for three 
hours today by officials of the Federal Bureau 
of Investigation. Miss Shane, now under contract 
to Imperial Pictures, was comforted throughout 
the trying ordeal by R. L. McCarthy, film execu- 
tive. Miss Shane, it was revealed, knevj nothing 
of Bindlc's vast peculations. (Pictures on pages 
1, 4, 5, 6, and 7.) 


MAY 10 1947 



West Coast Studios 

May 11, 1947 
Mr. L. E. Buzzard, President 
Imperial Pictures Corporation 
Radio Center, New York City 
Dear L.E. 

I wish you would stop worrying. Everything is 
under control. I spent the last three days and nights 
working with seven of our best writers, and the Bindle 
biog. is licked. It will be known now as "THE BIN- 
DLE SWINDLE," and will be the biggest expose 
of crooked business and graft that this industry has 
ever seen. It will be timely, terrific and tremendous. 

Moreover, since Bindle is now dead and a proven 

crook, he is in the public domain, and we are going 
to town on the story of his life. Miss Shane is giving 
us all the low-down. 

Also I have called off "JEEPERS CREEPERS" 
and am going to use the dance footage already shot in 
that picture — the stuff with Shane — as a night club 
sequence in "THE BINDLE SWINDLE." I guar- 
antee it will be a wow. 

We will give Shane a terrific build-up as "The Girl 
Who Knew Bindle Best." It will be terrific. 

In Charge of Production 

From the Hollywood Reporter, June 26, 1947 

A preview audience stood on its feet and cheered 
for ten minutes last night at the first preview of 
Imperial's mightly new achievement "THE 

Under the superb, unerring, guiding hand of 
that master showman, Jerry Hoffheimer, director 
Kemble, and a magnificent cast have made 
screen history. There emerges from the shambles 
of fraud and trickery a mighty sermon on Ameri- 
canism, a document that every man, woman and 
child should see and must see. 

The film which is an authentic life of the late 
Bindle abounds in drama and human situations. 
Outstanding are the scenes of the rescue of a 
child from a burning Christmas tree and the 
breath-taking sequence with the eighteen B-29s. 

And a new star emerges, too. Lovely Kathleen 
Shane {Mrs. R. L. McCarthy) gives to the role 
of loyal secretary (a part she played in real 
life) a touching beautiful sincerity. . . . 


West Coast Studios 


FROM: J. K. Hoffheimer DATE: June 27th, 1947 

TO: All Concerned SUBJECT: Bindle Biog. 

The World Premier of "THE BINDLE SWIN- 
DLE" will take place at the Carthay Circle on July 
9th. We want this to be the greatest premiere ever held 
in Hollywood. Tickets will be, for this night of nights 
alone, S15.00 each, plus tax. A large block in being 
reserved for the studio personnel. 

I expect every Imperial star, featured player, exec- 
utive, director and writer to attend this premiere. 



Evolution of the French Cinema in the LL S* 


NOEL MEADOW is a New York 
magazine editor, film producer and 
exhibitor, and a previous contributor 
to The Screen Writer. 

THE principal medium of cultural exchange 
between nations has always been the one in which 
the greatest numbers can participate. It is there- 
fore to be expected that the most popular medium 
existing between France and the United States is the 

American enthusiasm for the French film is now at 
a higher point than it has been in the eight years 
elapsed since Harvest took the fancy of filmgoers in 
1939. In 1940 Marcel Pagnol's The Bakers Wife cut 
deeply into the American's deep reluctance to struggle 
with the French language or even English titles on 
French films, which he found most distracting. 

Nevertheless, prejudice was slowly reduced, and to 
a large degree because of the success of other, non- 
French, foreign films. The war, although it cut off 
imports, marked the turning point in popular accept- 
ance. All available French films were successfully 

Some 12,000,000 American men and women went 
into military service, and a large proportion of them 
passed through France at one time or another. Some 
were unquestionably beguiled by the charm and versa- 
tility of the French language, but there can be no doubt 
that an even greater number experienced a new and 
growing conviction that isolationism was futile and 
that the keynote of the immediate future must be a 
high degree of internationalism. That 'would require 
an intimate knowledge of people of other lands, and 
a prerequisite must be the comprehension of their 
languages. Being then in France, and aware of the 
international character of the French tongue, that was 
the place to start. 

That they were able thus to acquire, in most instances, 
only the scantiest phrases, is not so important as the 
fact that they abandoned their resistance against learn- 
ing anything. It was a hopeful sign. Some hundreds of 
thousands of those young men and women returned 
home to enter universities, under the government-sub- 

sidized educational program known as the G.I. Bill 
of Rights. No statistics are yet available, but it may 
safely be assumed that French language study in uni- 
versities has become a more popular subject than ever 

Since the new approach in language study emphasizes 
the conversational method, attendance at French motion 
pictures has been very considerably broadened by these 

Another factor has been those Americans who may 
not have been at war, but who also have become freshly 
aware of the importance of French, and are seeking 
through the French film to refresh the faded memory 
of their own earlier language study. 

T T OWEVER, when all are added together, they 
*- ■*= do not constitute a large proportion of the popu- 
lation. But the United States has some 140,000,000 
inhabitants, and even five percent of the number is 

To accommodate the demand for non-English films, 
there has been, until a year or two ago, fewer than a 
dozen theatres in all of the United States devoted exclu- 
sively to them, and less than half of that number had 
been in New York City. 

During the latter part of the war, they showed a 
large proportionate increase, but actually few in num- 
ber, so that by the end of 1946 there were from 35 
to 40 such theatres in the United States, most of them 
devoted to French films. A large share of them remained 
in New York, but many of the new ones appeared in 
California — and there, principally in Los Angeles and 
San Francisco. It is significant that they appeared — 
and continue to appear — only in the largest cities. 
Still, a number of other theatres show foreign films 

But since the beginning of 1947, there has been an 
upward surge in the number of theatres over the nation 



that have changed policy to foreign-language films 
exclusively, with French predominating. 

The prospect that these films will conquer America 
completely is, however, not very likely. The demand 
will remain in the largest cities, which contain the cos- 
mopolitan groups of various shades. 

"PINAL proof that insularity in the American provin- 
•*■ cial areas is a highly resistant state of mind comes 
from theatre operators there. They refuse to give any 
thought to foreign-language films for a very practicable 
reason : Even British-made films, they report, are 
occasionally unpopular because of their audience's impa- 
tience with the British accent! 

If the war has spurred interest in the French film, 
it is also the war that even now prevents their wider 
exhibition. While America is commonly believed to be 
a cornucopia capable of producing material things of 
all kinds in endless abundance, there are presently, of 
course, many outstanding exceptions. One of them is 
building materials, and it is such a mundane thing that 
is hampering the French film in America. 

To understand the relationship of these two condi- 
tions, some slight explanation is necessary. 

No film can be brought impressively to the attention 
of an American audience, it is commonly believed, unless 
it bears the imprimatur of a New York theatre. 

Virtually no new theatres have been built in New 
York in the past decade, and every property suitable 
for French films has already been acquired. Some con- 
version has been necessary in many instances, and this 
has been acomplished only at high cost. 

Even those properties that are suitably situated, and 
can be converted within bounds of economic reason, 
have apparently been exhausted. 

In the meantime, French film importers have been 
busy. Most of them seem to have been under the impres- 
sion that some special saint would take care of the 
premiere problem. Perhaps the saints had postwar prob- 
lems of their own that diverted all their energies. 

The result: From 50 to 60 French films now repose 
in storage vaults in New York, awaiting a suitable 
theatre for launching. It might take two years to intro- 
duce that number properly to American audiences — 
considering the present American capacity to absorb 
foreign films — but even that circumstance would pre- 
suppose that there would be no further imports within 
the two-year period, to permit the lists to be cleared. 

However, the trade estimates that at least 50 more 
foreign films will be imported in 1947! 

Some of the more enterprising distributors have come 
to realize that the theatre problem is an immovable 

object against which they cannot send an irresistible 
force, and are seeking to circumvent it. 

They have begun by making a major alteration in 
their first premise — that a premiere in a theatre 
directly within the Times Square theatrical area is a 
sine qua non. 

Thus, one of the newer distributing companies, Vog 
Films, led the way by giving a first showing in America 
to Resistance, originally Peleton d'Execution, at the 
Irving Place Theatre, on 14th Street. The unorthodox 
occurrence seemed to have had small effect on the 
demand for the film out of town. 

Then Vog did it again. They decided it was needless 
to postpone further the opening of their film, Francis 
The First, which stars Fernandel. 

With experimental confidence in its merit, they 
decided that a good film really did not require the 
prestige of a New York first showing. They selected 
the best of the three foreign film houses in Washing- 
ton, D. C, and arranged for the American premiere 
there. It still awaits a New York showing. 

With that precedent, the American sponsors of 
Clandestine held its first American showing in a Bos- 
ton theatre. But even before that, a film later to run 
successfully in New York, Les Enfants Du Paradis 
(Children of Paradise) had first been shown in Los 

The Broadway-premiere legend thus punctured, the 
Mage distributing office has, in a very recent move, 
taken over a theatre on Broadway, near 65th Street, 
well outside of the Times Square perimeter, renamed 
it Studio 65, in the London tradition, and with the 
premiere of The Bellman has launched a foreign film 
theatre that defies a time-honored legend of geography. 

IT should be noted in passing that establishing a 
foreign film theatre presents more than the mere 
problem of acquiring an existing theatre and converting 
it to the desired use. The foreign film theatre, for 
sound and economic and psychological reasons, should 
be "intimate" — that is, seat from 300 to 400 persons. 
Some are unavoidably larger. But small theatres have 
never been easy to find ready-made anywhere because, 
to satisfy the demand for Hollywood films, they would 
be inadequate. 

Thus, in the frantic scrambling for foreign film show- 
houses, there is indeed in evidence a tendency to develop 
properties that will be found to be much too small for 
economical operation. 

Still, substantial capital investment, like love, seems 
to conquer all. Two major French film companies, 
Pathe and Gaumont, oppressed by the theatre scarcity 



and unwilling to compromise by use of expedients, are 
about to begin construction of suitable theatres in an 
area technically outside the Times Square theatre belt, 
but considered very favorably situated because it is in 
New York's counterpart of the Champs Elysees. One 
theatre will go up on West 57th Street, opposite Carne- 
gie Hall, the nation's most prominent concert hall ; 
the other will be erected on Park Avenue, at 58th 
Street, near the juncture of New York's fashionable 
residential street and a high-quality business thorough- 

It might be pointed out that the average-sized "inti- 
mate" theatre is intended to accommodate the demand 
for average-quality films. A film of poor quality will 
"die" in a theatre of any size. But one received with 
unusual enthusiasm taxes the capacity of the "intimate" 

Thus, we find that the Italian film, Open City, which 
was greeted with wide acclaim, has begun its second 
consecutive year without evidence of any depletion of 
patronage, while The Well-Digger s Daughter, French 
film written, directed and produced by Marcel Pagnol. 
has passed the seven-month mark at the present writing. 

No consideration of French films in the United States 
can omit reference to the entrepreneurs of distribution. 

Foremost among them is Siritzky International Pic- 
tures, which is in an enviable position of being Pagnol's 
exclusive American representative. The concern is plan- 
ning to release a dozen new motion pictures. Among 
them are five or six of Pagnol's, which include the nine- 
liour trilogy, Fanny, Cesar and Marius. His Nais will 
be the first film shown at the new theatre the Siritzky 
firm will open on West 44th Street, in the Times 
Square area in September. Christened the Guild Cin- 
ema, the theatre will seat 450, and will be situated in 
the newly-acquired building of the New York News- 
paper Guild. 

The Siritzky organization owns more than three- 
score film theatres in France and is headed by Leon 
Siritzky, who is associated with his sons, Sam and 
Joseph. They are now developing a plan to produce their 
own films in Hollywood, using prominent French play- 
ers. Thus, they hope to combine the technique and 
intangible qualities of the French film with the mech- 
anical production excellence of Hollywood. 

A relative newcomer to French film importing, but 
one that promises intensive activity in the future, is 
Distinguished Films, a new arm of the Brandt inter- 
ests, which owns or operates some 130 theatres in New 
York, including a number in the Times Square area. 

The organization has the facilities and capital that 
could permit it to become a leader in the field, and it 
intends to use these advantages to that end. 


Its Apollo Theatre is, and for some time has been, 
probably the most successful foreign film theatre in 
New York City — and that would mean the nation, as 
well — from the standpoint of patronage. Film engage- 
ments there are not measured in months, but in weeks, 
because the theatre has a loyal clientele which cannot 
wait for months for a new film to appear. It is not an 
"intimate" house and accommodates large audiences. 

The Apollo seldom continues a film for more than 
four weeks, as it recently did with Les Miserables and 
Lucrezia Borgia. 

All French films must, of course, carry English sub- 
titles for American presentation, and that appears a 
satisfactory arrangement for those who do not under- 
stand French. Those who do, simply ignore the titles. 

IT is very unlikely that the technique of "dubbing" 
English dialogue into foreign-language films may 
prove as successful as the practice appears to have been 
abroad. The disparity thus created between the lip 
movements and the speech emanating from the sound- 
track will doubtless prove too much an obstacle to the 
American sense of sj-nchronization. One such film. 
dubbed with English dialogue, was recently shown 
experimentally to a small audience of film trade critics. 
They were utterly bewildered by it, but their displeasure 
could be attributed in large part to the fact that the 
job was an artless one. A thin, youthful voice appeared 
to come from the lips of an old man, and British accents 
were freely mixed with American, without regard to 
plausibility. In an}' event, it will be a long time before 
the experiment is repeated. 

For the future, the situation will be considerably 
affected by the 16mm. film, which now promises a wide 
growth in popularity in the very immediate future. It 
appears to strike at the very economic basis of the entire 
business of film exhibiting because it offers economy in 
producing printed films, in exhibiting them by use of 
inexpensive projecting equipment and employment of 
operators who need very little skill, and in the equip- 
ping of theatres at greatly reduced cost. 

Economically, too, an advantage in the French film's 
distribution appears to be its failure to lose appeal after 
a first showing. While even the best Hollywood films 
are highly perishable, living a moth's existence, the 
good Gallic film appears to be of much hardier stock. 
While the new foreign film always makes a somewhat 
broader appeal, a good one seems to have the rugged 
quality that permits its successful revival after a hiatus 
of four or five years. 

On the whole, the future of the French film in 
America appears very bright. 

What Is a License of 
Literary Property? 


MORRIS E. COHN, SfVG counsel and 
a specialist in literary property lair, 
here analyzes some phases of licensing. 

ONE of the most important things to understand 
about the economics of literary work is that it is 
the writer who creates, not only the story, but 
also all of the rights in it. The moment the story is on 
paper all rights in it come into being. The transaction 
by which the story is sold or leased does not create 
rights in the work ; it takes them away. 

The significance of this is that the question of "sale" 
or "license" is not one of the creation of new rights for 
anybody. These rights always exist. The question is 
who gets them. Once this is understood a great clarity 
illuminates the current argument. Accusations and 
counter-charges, whether they appear in state papers or 
in trade papers, whether dignified or scurrilous, sound 
or false, are merely manifestations of the desire to get 
the most out of the transaction. This is, if not always 
wholesome, at least honest. For the creator, the man 
who does the work, this is a good position to be put 
into. Since it is he who creates the rights, as well as the 
work, it is good morals as well as sound economics that 
he should determine which he wishes to part with and 
which to keep. 

When a film is completed it is ordinarily not sold. 
It is rented to theatre owners for a specific purpose: 
exhibition at a designated time and place. When the 
purpose has been served the exhibitor has no further 
rights whatever so far as the film is concerned. Pro- 
ducing companies seem to have tolerated the practice 
of leasing with a minimum of complaint and have in 
recent years managed their overhead and fixed charges 
in spite of it. 

So with a story. A license would merely give a right 
to use it for a limited time and for a specified purpose. 
When the time has run the licensee has no further 
rights so far as the story is concerned. On the other 
hand, if a story is sold, say, to a motion picture pro- 

ducer, then as to all rights other than those necessary 
to the production and exhibition of the film the pur- 
chaser is a broker, a jobber in literary rights. This is to 
say that as to those rights he deals for profit in the labor 
of others. And in that light the question, — who shall 
have what out of a transaction involving a man's labor, 
— indicates its own answer. 

A license then is a transaction the cloth of which is 
cut and trimmed to fit the particular use. All that is 
left over belongs to the author. But a sale gives away 
the bolt. To keep at least the thread of his story the 
author, in a license transaction, should consider the 
following : 

The nature of the use to be made of the work ; 
The duration of the license; 
The place where it may be exercised ; 
By whom, whether the immediate licensee or 
anyone whom he designates ; 

Who shall have the copyright of it and of its 
derivatives ; 

The rights during the license and especially 
afterward of the parties in the product derived 
from the use of the story ; 
The compensation; 

The rights of the parties to other uses of the 
work for the duration of the license ; 
Credits for authorship. 

' I "HERE is enough in the foregoing for a treatise. 
■*■ But since the transaction itself is lawyer's work, 
this piece will comment briefly on a few of the fore- 
going. We suppose a licensing of an original story for 
motion pictures. 

The use. The story itself may be changed before 



being put on film. Cast and personnel for production 
will be selected. Budget will be made up. And the 
releasing organization will be selected. The right to 
use may be made to depend on the author's approval, 
limited or absolute, of some one or more of these fac- 
tors. In any event the licensee's right to use the author's 
name should not be given unconditionally. The licen- 
see's right to change the story, which is commonly given, 
should be buffered by the writer's privilege to withdraw 
his name. The story may no longer be his. Though 
honor may be appeased by the jingle of the guinea, the 
hurt is easiest endured anonymously. 

Use for motion pictures should carry with it, in 
addition to exhibition, rights necessary for exploitation, 
as the right to publish abridgements and condensations 
for advertising purposes. Competing uses of the work 
may be limited in order to give the licensee the full 
value of his license; and for this reason a license to 
produce a film is customarily an exclusive license, deny- 
ing the right to others. Unless, however, the film is 
actually produced, this exclusivity may serve to shelve 
the work for the duration of the license. Exclusivity, 
unless properly conditioned, may be a death sentence. 
Again, it should be recognized that other uses, such as 
radio, television, and publication, are separate exploita- 
tions, and they should be treated as such. 

A license does not ordinarily obligate the producer 
to exercise it. But compensation, author's credits, and 
the exploitation of the story through other media may 
depend on whether the film is made. A license should 
not leave this to construction by silence, but should say 
whether the licensee is obligated to make and distribute 
the film, and if not what the consequences are to be. 
Here again delay in production may be paid for in cash, 
but there is often a point at which compensation for 
delay becomes the price for silence. 

Duration. Because of the large sums involved the 
process of making a film is often by steps, with no com- 
mitments by the producing company until absolutely 
necessary. The company wants the right to quit at any 
point. Accordingly the duration of the license should 
depend on continued activity by the company. A system 
of options for extending the duration is frequently 
employed, and these can be made to depend not only on 
additional payments to the author but also on the prog- 
ress which is being made on the film. 

By whom. A transfer of rights under a license is 
often useful to a company which has independent oper- 
ating units. But take care. If you are counting on a 
production by Great Pictures, Ltd., its right to transfer 
the license may defeat your expectation. 

Whose copyright. The film is almost invariably 
copyrighted in the company's name. But the film can- 
not be shown after the license expires. It would be 
wasteful to shelve the film unconditionally on the expi- 
ration of the license. Options for the further showing 
of the film, upon specified division of the proceeds, may 
be made to commence on the expiration of the license. 
The film embodies many valuable rights other than 
story, and songs, music, and sets can be extracted for 
later use by the company. Sometimes it is difficult to 
sever these from the story of the film, and problems of 
ownership of the different rights can arise. For the 
security of the writer the copyright in the film can be 
transferred to him when the last right to exhibit has 

Compensation. Flat payments, percentages of pro- 
ceeds, stock in the production company, extension by 
option payments, and all permutations and combina- 
tions of the foregoing are possible. Each transaction 
must be treated as an individual case, though the phi- 
losophy of royalties has a satisfying history. A percent- 
age of the net leans toward joint proprietorship of the 
film. An interest in the gross has the appearance of a 
graduated labor cost because it takes the payment off 
the top, regardless of "profit," and it avoids some 
accounting complexities. 

ICENSING will not descend on the motion picture 
"^■"'or publishing industries like a rain of manna in 
answer to prayer. Until the advent of AAA or some 
other industry understanding, licensing will come in 
isolated transactions and then only by the efforts of 
informed and insistent authors. This brief comment 
seeks to help the process get started. Some of the provi- 
sions referred to would fit sales (transfer of rights to 
production, obligation to produce, compensation) as 
well as licensing transactions. The use of such provi- 
sions in any transactions extends beyond benefit to the 
immediate writer ; it helps to cut a link in the chains of 
industry practices. 





Some Comments on the 
Contribution of Writers 
to the Screen Industry, 
and Vice Versa 

In the August issue The Sreen Writer presented a special section 
under the heading: "1% OF THE GROSS— An Economic Primer of 
Screen Writing." In his article in this section Ring Lardner, Ir. wrote 
that the screen writers' present share of theatre admissions in the United 
States alone is one per cent, and he asked: "Does it seem preposterous to 
suggest that we actually provide as much as, say, two per cent of what 
the movie goer gets for his money?" The Editorial Committee asked 
several writers, producers, actors and directors to comment on this question. 
Following are a few representative replies: 

of them, and I believe that that condi- 
tion is due in large measure to the 
writer's failure to discipline himself, 
his failure to look at his talent as a 
responsibility to be nurtured and de- 
veloped, rather than as a means of 
enabling him to keep up with the 
Hollywood Joneses. 

Hollywood is hungry for new and 
fresh material and Hollywood still 
pays the highest monetary reward in 
the world for creative writing. 

But let's have more attention paid 
to fine ideas and vibrant words than 
to percentage figures. 


I AM glad to reply to your request 
for my comments on writers' com- 
pensation in relation to a percentage 
of film earnings. 

Unfortunately, I do not have 
enough of the instincts of a book- 
keeper to be able to reply directly to 
your question. Furthermore, if I may 
say so, I think you are doing a very 
great disservice to a great field of art 
when you lump all Hollywood writ- 
ers — the few capable ones and the 
many hacks — into one "average" and 
talk of them in terms of an indis- 
tinguishable mass. This is a glorifica- 
tion of mediocrity in a medium which 
calls for the highest degree of indi- 

There has been no individual in 
the motion picture industry who has 
espoused the cause of the writer more 
vigorously than I. I think so much 
of good writing that many years ago 
I even tried to institute the system of 
billing writers above stars. If that 
were feasible, I would do it today. 

The fact is that nowhere else in 
America, in the world, do writers, no 
matter how successful or how able, 
earn a thousand, two thousand, five 
thousand dollars a week, with- 
out themselves taking any risk at all. 
It is true young and untried writers 
are not handed anything on a silver 
platter here. They must struggle for 
recognition the same as anyone else 
in our competitive system. 

I feel deeply that too many writers 
who once had talent and who have 

made fortunes in Hollywood spend 
more of their time today in a variety 
of other pursuits than they put in at 
a typewriter, even when they are 
working on pictures. Slickness has tak- 
en the place of genuine devotion to 
art and real pride in craftsmanship. 
I assure you that more great litera- 
ture has been written in modest homes 
than in country clubs. 

As a result it has become a lamen- 
table fact that it is a virtual impossi- 
bility in Hollywood to assign a writer 
to a script and to get from him a work 
that can be put on the screen. An- 
guished cries have in the past gone 
up from writers that producers have 
called in additional writers to work 
on their scripts. For all the fact that 
producers may be equally at fault in 
this respect, I assure you that this 
is due largely to only one cause — the 
inferior quality of scripts as they are 
turned in. No producer likes to spend 
more money for writers if he has a 
good script to begin with. 

Just look at the entire roster of 
pictures made here in the last twelve 
months, listen to the dialogue, read 
the script — and see if you can have 
any reason for pride in what your 
craft has produced. Please remember 
that I do not by any means want to 
ascribe all blame for that state of 
affairs to the writers, for I have 
nothing but equal blame for producers 
who put anything but the very finest 
work on the screen. 

Certainly, what I have said is not 
meant to imply that there are no fine 
artists among our Hollywood writers. 
My point is that there are not enough 

(Novelist and Screen Writer) 

WITHOUT statistics of total 
industry personnel and an item- 
ized breakdown of the movie dollar, 
the fact that only one cent of that 
dollar went to writers during the 
past year is impossible to judge either 
equitably or economically. But it looks 
bad and whether the one should have 
been two reveals a nauseatingly abject 
angle of discussion. 

Perhaps, however, the salaries of 
scientists represented only a fraction 
of one per cent of the total atom bomb 
project cost, and the atom bomb was 
a horrible success. Is Hollywood 
that? Or is it just a success? And 
is it satisfied to be that and nothing 

Personally I think Hollywood 
would be a bigger and certainly a 
better success if writers had more 
share in production and responsibility 
— as in England. That would make 
more sense — and probably also more 


(Novelist and Screen Writer) 

THE trouble with the writer in 
Hollywood is that he is always so 
damn modest. This talk of hiking one 
percent to two percent is nonsense. 
When a publisher like Bennett Cerf 
pats me on the head and tells me he 
can always afford to give me 15 per- 
cent of the take on one of my novels 
I want to dropkick him across the 
room (the only thing that stops me 
is that the old jokes may drop out of 
his pockets). I know damn well Sin- 
clair Lewis gets twenty five percent 
of the take. 

No author in his right mind would 
work for two percent no matter how 
hungry. Yet the screen writer in try- 



ing to better himself is trembling 
when he asks for two percent of the 
take. Habit is really habit-forming. 
The writer having been brought into 
the film business by a group of men 
who didn't want him was tossed a 
little cash, and in thirty years the 
writer made an art talk, think and 
make sense. But his price never went 
up. The film studios expanded, grew 
bigger, grew into trusts, grew into 
huge and able dealers in stories on 
films. They took when the taking was 
good. They no longer wore caps, lived 
in tents or smoked dime cigars. They 
got the bigger cuts . . . but the writer ? 
Well just remember that twenty- five 
years ago good title writers were get- 
ting three thousand dollars a week. 
But the average wage was about the 
same as today. Today a few . . . 
very few . . . top writers are getting 
three thousand dollars a week . . . 
the rest? The same average wage 
they were getting twenty-five years 

Broadway writers, working in a 
field that is not as gold plated as Hol- 
lywood would snicker at a take of two 
percent. I have just returned from 
New York where I am doing a play 
with George Abbott and Jerry Rob- 
bins. It is a musical which means that 
song writer, lyric writer and the book 
writer divide the take. We writers get 
seven and a half percent of the box 
office. Of the motion picture rights 
we get sixty percent. 

How did we get all this? What 
throats did we cut? How much battle 
and howl did we have to put up ? We 
didn't do anything. A producer on 
Broadway expects to pay that kind of 

Of course, a bigger percentage 
helps the screen writer; I am talking 
of respect. The bigger the percentage 
the film writer gets on his product the 
bigger respect he will get from the 
studio. I came out here with the idea : 
the hell with the respect, give me the 
money. But after several conferences 
with people who thought all writers 
were returned under a stone at night, 
I came to the simple conclusion that 
only with respect for the writer would 
not only he but the whole industry 
amount to anything in the modern 

LET'S not kid ourselves; the stu- 
dios are making the worst pictures 
in the whole history of the film busi- 

ness. Times, events, turmoils and 
troubles are against us ... we must 
admit that. We sit (and I invite in 
the whole industry . . . directors and 
cameramen and actors to sit in with 
us) we sit among ash in a time of 
flux and don't know where to turn. 
And to keep the wheels moving we 
go on grinding out what was good 
last year and the year before and the 
year before that. But the world is 
not crazy for our products, and across 
the sea the English and the French 
and the Italians and the Russians are 
making better pictures than we are. 
Not a lot of them, and they can't get 
much of an outlet here as yet. But 
they will. Crossing this nation this 
last month I stood around a lot and 
looked over the motion picture the- 
atres. Nobody was fighting their way 
into the picture palaces. Nobody was 
panting to go in and see the same old 
grind of boy and girl and dance rou- 
tine and the same close up of the 
same horse, and the same actress 
breathing through her notrils. No, 
they were staying home by the radio, 
drinking beer, or watching television 
at the corner bar. 

MY advice to the studios is to 
bring the screen writer out of the 
cold. Invite him in to the fire. Set a 
good table for him above the salt, give 
him a cut of beef without too much 
bone in it, put a fatherly arm around 
the screen writer and say, "Well, fella, 
how about some great ideas for great 
motion pictures, some of those ideas 
we never let you get to first base with? 
We've been kind of heels to you writ- 
ing guys . . . we admit it now. We 
see Red a lot because its a great little 
gag to keep you in line. Sure, we 
swipe your ideas and murder them 
. . . and we don't let you talk much 
with the director and the camera man 
and the set designer and the actor. 
That's all over, guy. You're one of 
us . . . hell, if it weren't for writers, we 
could be growing mushrooms in the 
stages. And just to show you we mean 
it . . . from now on we divide every- 
thing fair. Twenty-five percent to 
the studio . . . just to keep the stock- 
holders happy, twenty-five percent to 
the actors, twenty-five percent to the 
directors and twenty-five percent to 
the writers. How does that sound 
to you?" 

IT SOUNDS fine to me. I think 
I've earned it. I've injected story ma- 
terial into motion pictures where my 
share of what the film made was 
certainly more than twenty-five per- 
cent. I've created story for turkeys 
that couldn't get off the floor when 
the producer left them in my hands. 
I've had a studio turn over to me a 
problem actor, a problem property 
and I've made the damn thing work. 
I've made millions for the Hollywood 
film studios and been well paid for it 
. . . but now I want them to admit 
it. Not to me. To my fellow writers. 
And I want them to admit it where 
it will count. In that form we fill out 
for old Uncle Whiskers, in which we 
state proudly how much a part we 
are of the motion picture business, 
and how much we get for our work. 

Remember, the studios will howl 
in pain just as much when you ask 
two percent as when you ask for 
twenty-five percent. Let's really exer- 
cise their throats. I love them all 
(some of my best friends are studios) 
and a little yelling will clear their 


I AGREE heartily with your sug- 
gestion that one percent of the 
proceeds of motion picture production 
is a small return to the writers who 
constitute the primary creative force 
of the motion picture industry. How- 
ever, I am not sure that this statistic 
is a very instructive one, isolated from 
an examination of what happens to 
the other 99%. There are variables 
in the splitting up of theatre grosses 
which I am not mathematician enough 
to compute. 

Some pictures play some houses on 
percentage, others on flat rentals. The 
percentages differ with seating capa- 
city and location; so do the rentals. 
The proceeds from retail sales of 
pictures are as mysterious to me as 
the proceeds from the retail sale of 
women's clothes. In neither commodi- 
ty does there seem to be a constant 
relationship between cost of produc- 
tion, retail yield and yield to the 

Something more accurate might be 
derived from considering the propor- 
tion of picture costs that go to writers. 
At least, this is the point at which 



controls can operate. If you include 
in your estimate of what writers re- 
ceive, the sums paid for the plays or 
novels from which most pictures are 
adapted, something between ten and 
fifteen percent of production cost goes 
to writers, if my recent experience is 
typical. I have known of budgets in 
which story and screen play repre- 
sented as high as twenty-seven per- 
cent of the budget. 

This is a way of looking at things 
that seems instructive and, possibly, 


(Actor and Playwright) 

IT SEEMS to me that the heart 
of the screen writer-studio employ- 
er problem is not basically one of 
financial returns. It is the lack of re- 
spect the studios have for the writers 
and the corresponding lack of self- 
respect on the part of the writers. 

I do not think the creative instinct 
flourishes best in a soil of weekly pay- 

There is no final solution to this 
relationship in so highly organized an 
industry, but I would prefer to have 
the screen writer accept a lower sal- 
ary plus a royalty against the picture's 
gross after negative costs have been 

I believe a stake in the financial 
success of the picture would make for 
better writing. The studio would 
gain by lower story costs on less suc- 
cessful pictures. On the large grossing 
pictures they could afford to share 
the profit with the writer. 


I AM in receipt of your inquiry of 
August 6th concerning the per- 
centage of the "all-time highest earn- 
ings of the film companies" allegedly 
received by the writers. 

I feel that the comment concerning 
earnings came at an unfortunate time, 
when the situation in relation to the 
British tax has been threatening the 
entire industry, and may quickly turn 
expected earnings into very severe 
losses, both on pictures already com- 
pleted, and on those which the studios 
are committed to complete. 

However, this situation and its 
eventual outcome aside, I should like 
to point out that the contributions of 
writers to motion pictures are not suf- 
ficiently uniform, in relation to the 
pictures in their entirety, to warrant 
any arbitrary allocation of the share 
of the earnings as the proper share 
of the writers, either real or merely 
credited. This is even more true of 
the commercial aspects, on which the 
earnings, of course, depend. 

A layman, unfamiliar with the 
business, would undoubtedly regard 
it as axiomatic that the principal cre- 
ator of a motion picture is its writer. 
Yet we know that this is far from 
being uniformly true. We know that 
even the writing of a motion picture 
often is very largely traceable to the 
director, or the producer, or both. 
I am not saying that this is as it 
should be; I am merely stating it as 
a fact to be considered in relation to 
your inquiry. 

Whatever the reasons for the contri- 
bution of the writer not being of 
more uniform and primary impor- 
tance, not the least of these is the 
fact that so many alleged screenplay 
writers have not bothered to become 
masters of the medium, or even to 
learn much about it. Contrary to 
practicing playwrights of the so-called 
legitimate theatre, many men who are 
credited with the writing of a film 
understand all too little about the 
craft of getting a screenplay on to the 
screen — and therefore, most regret- 
tably, too little about how to write 
a screenplay so that it can be staged. 
The consequence is that what should 
be the part of writing, and what is 
assumed in the credits, is the work 
of others than the writers ; and this 
must be taken into consideration in 
weighing the worth of, and the com- 
parative compensation for the credited 

Perhaps the opportunities for most 
writers to learn their craft have been 
limited ; perhaps, where the opportuni- 
ties have existed, advantage has not 
been taken of them. . . . The experi- 
enced writer of plays for the legiti- 
mate theatre understands the problems 
of stagecraft, which are few when 
compared to the diversified and multi- 
ple techniques, and to the varied 
mechanical and artistic talents, which 
go into the production of a motion 
picture. But since very few scenarists 

understand either film cutting, for 
example, or how and when to move 
a camera, or even the basic funda- 
mentals of the construction of indi- 
vidual scenes, the function of the 
writer must, in most cases, be sup- 
plied in large part by the producer 
and/or other members of the studio 

Also, and importantly, since you 
are dealing in terms of economics and 
especially of earnings, I have known 
very few writers who have had the 
remotest conception of the most basic 
economics of the industry. Indeed, 
I have known very few writers who 
have considered even the cost factor 
in the preparation of a script. It might 
be argued that costs are not the prob- 
lem of artistic creators ; but when the 
question of earnings is brought into 
the picture surely costs are corollary. 
Since it now appears that the industry 
is about to face a crisis in costs, I for 
one would welcome a greater assump- 
tion of responsibility for costs by the 

INCREASINGLY, production de- 
signers and film editors have had 
to supply what, in my opinion, should 
be functions of the writer, both in 
pre-production planning and in film 
editing, as a consequence of the lack 
of technique in the equipment of many 
screen writers. Properly, both the 
Academy and the Guild might col- 
laborate with producers in establish- 
ing schools for men of undoubted 
writing talent who are unable to 
translate this talent, because of lack 
of experience and knowledge, into 
screenplay terms. I am not saying that 
writers should usurp what has become 
the function of other members of this 
business, notably the director (this 
is perhaps more properly the subject 
of another and separate debate), but 
I am saying that at least a basic un- 
derstanding of the construction of a 
film play as a whole, and of its indi- 
vidual scenes, should be expected to 
be part of what a screenplay writer 
brings to his task ; that today this 
understanding and knowledge is pos- 
sessed by only a minority of those who 
offer themselves as screen writers ; and 
that until this understanding and 
knowledge is more widespread among 
writers, it is not accurate to measure 
the contribution of screenplay writers 
in terms of the work with which they 
are credited, without reference to 



how little or how much they have 
actually contributed. 

And quite apart from the limited 
contribution, in too many cases, of the 
writer to the scenarios (using this 
term in the sense that it used to be 
used in the days when writers could 
not lean to such an extent upon dia- 
logue), it is no secret that the actual 
story and scene content of most 
screenplays, as photographed, is the 
result of collaboration between pro- 
ducer and/or director with the writer 
— and in many cases constitute the 
creative efforts of the director and/or 
the producer after the writer has 
finished. ( In this business the day that 
a writer is "finished" means the day 
that he goes off the payroll. As of 
the date of the closing notice, or as 
of the date that the writer has moved 
to another assignment, the producer 
feels that the writer is no longer a 
part of the production. The writer, 
on his part, feels that he should not 
even be expected to think about the 
picture any further, because he is off 
payroll, or because he is being paid 
to do some other job. I believe that 
the cases where this is not true, on 
both sides, are few and far between. 
I must say that I think both producers 
and writers are at fault in this regard ; 
and that sooner or later the writer 
will have a continuing concern with 
a picture until it is edited. But this 
too is the subject of another long de- 

The story developments, the char- 
acterizations, the character of rela- 
tionships, the construction of a piece 
as a whole and of the individual 
scenes (certainly from a cinematic 
viewpoint), the little "touches," and 
all the other contributions to treat- 
ment which can and often do convert 
conventional writing into acceptable 
entertainment, as often as not stem 
from others than the man who is 
credited with the "writing" and who 
perhaps measures his compensation in 
terms of the writing as a whole, even 
though he is only responsible for some 
greater or lesser portion of the writ- 

Certainly the "writing" of a fin- 
ished motion picture is not merely 
what is on paper at the time the so- 
called screenplay is completed. I hasten 
to add, of course, I am aware that 
the extent of the contribution of the 
credited writer varies according to 
the writer, the director, the producer, 

and even the studio ; but I am merely 
making the point that — at least in 
my own rather extensive experience 
(and I, of course, am basing all my 
comments on my own experience 
only) — the cases have been rare in 
which a job that has been turned in 
as a "screenplay" has actually been 
a screenplay, and where the finished 
film result is constituted principally 
of the photographing and acting of 
what has been written by the writer, 
in the sense that a playwright's work 
is staged and acted and produced. 

Moreover, I might point out that 
the same screenplay, even when it is 
entirely the work of one man, varies 
in quality when produced, dependent 
upon who makes the picture and who 
is in it, to an extent that is far greater 
than is true in the theatre, the radio 
or any other medium (and I do not 
mean by this to discount the contribu- 
tions of producers, directors, et cetera, 
in these other media, but merely to 
point out that the nature of our 
medium is such that there is opportun- 
ity for story telling with the camera 
that has not full parallel in these 
other media). It may well be that the 
complicated nature of the motion pic- 
ture medium, including its involved 
mechanics, necessarily makes motion 
picture creation a collaboration to a 
greater extent than is necessary in 
other media. 

But this aside, I believe that the 
individual motion picture writer of 
talent and of sincerity can only achieve 
what he is after when he has mastered 
his craft sufficiently to secure for him- 
self backing as the director of his 
own work, or the producer, or both. 
When he has achieved this stature 
and this competence, his compensation, 
of course, enormously increases. 

I assure you that producers are all 
too eager to find writers who have 
learned enough about the business to 
be able to achieve what the writers 
themselves desire in this connection. 
But it is manifestly untenable for 
writers who have never mastered the 
elementals of motion picture making 
to wish to perform these functions, 
or to have authority over them; and 
equally untenable for them to claim 
compensation in terms of contributions 
for which they are credited, but which 
credit in too many cases, to a varying 

extent of course, goes far beyond the 
actual truth of their contributions. 

I AM SURE that you do not wish 
any more lengthy essay on this 
subject than I have already written, 
but please permit me to point out also 
that the earnings on a picture are 
dependent, to an extraordinary ex- 
tent, upon such factors as star values, 
showmanship, presentation, distribu- 
tion, and the effectiveness of, and 
expenditures for, exploitation. To 
none of these does the writer contrib- 
ute, of course. The willingness of the 
producer to gamble, his experience in 
and knowledge of these fields, his own 
creative showmanship, all play their 
part in the final result. Since your 
inquiry has to do with earnings, and 
not with artistic achievement, it is 
perhaps not inapropos to point out that 
the best writing does not necessarily 
mean the highest earnings. 

There are so many other phases 
of this subject that it would require 
a lengthy dissertation indeed to go 
into all of them, but I should like 
to say in closing that it has always 
seemed amazing to me that writers 
in this business are unable to think 
until and unless they are on salary. 
Writers for other media, or at least 
a very large proportion of them, write 
at their own risk, and achieve income 
proportionate to their own success. 
A few writers in this business have 
had the initiative and the courage, as 
well as the confidence in their own 
talents, to write original screenplays 
without being on salary. Some of these 
have been sold for huge sums. When 
they are of outstanding quality and 
commercial appeal, they will continue 
to bring huge sums. 

A producer is always ready to pay 
a great deal more for something ap- 
proaching the finished product, which 
is submitted to him from outside his 
studio by reputable writers, thereby 
saving himself the agony of helping to 
get it written, as well as the gamble in- 
volved in paying for writers' services. 
Every studio in town has had tremen- 
dous write-offs for scripts, which die 
aborning; and if the studios could be 
saved from these risks, and saved from 
these write-offs, or could even have 
the gamble minimized, it is obvious 
that they would gladly pay hand- 
somely. But until that day comes, 



writers who are on salary must re- 
member that the investment in the 
script must be measured not only by 
their salaries, but also by the salaries 
of the producers and directors with 
whom they are collaborating, as well 
as by the huge overhead that rolls on 
awaiting the completion of the col- 
laboration. Included in this overhead 
is the cost of the scripts which have 
never reached the screen. 

Speaking as one producer, I can 
say that the money I have paid to 
writers represents a far greater per- 
centage of the earnings of my films, 
in recent years, than has been arrived 
at by your statisticians; and second, 
that I would happily see the percent- 
age go up if I could be saved both 
the time that is involved in collabor- 
ating on the screenplay, the huge cost 
of collaborating editors and producers 
and directors, and the risk that is in- 
volved in writers' salaries. 


(Novelist and Screen Writer) 

I'M FOR the proposal made in The 
Screen Writer for a two per cent 
levy on gross earnings of pictures. It's 
part of the whole royalty and licensing 
drive, and the fight in one place helps 
the fight everywhere. If it results, as 
it always does, in more control over 
material and medium for the screen 
writer, so much the better. It even 
ought to encourage original writing 
for the screen since it would put 
screen writers and other writers on 
a more equal basis (novelists, play- 
wrights etc.). 

As a novelist, I always felt good 
that I got a fair part of the earnings 
on a book. When a book of mine was 
made into a play, I continued to get 
royalties. Royalties only stop in the 
movies, where the most money is 
made. And yet the movies can't exist 
without stories. 

A writer has to live while he writes. 

This is allowed for in a general token 
way by the advance given a novelist 
on his royalties. If his book fails to 
earn enough to cover the royalties, 
there is no question of his paying the 
advance back. In the same way a 
movie writer is entitled to his salary 
plus royalties. And since he produces 
a very valuable product, his advance 
is in proportion. 

What the screen writers ask for is 
fair and common business practice, 
and would tend immediately to better 
the quality of pictures. It would en- 
courage a sense of writing integrity, 
it would tend to keep writing from 
being a patchwork affair. Writers 
would be in a position to think less 
in terms of job and more in terms 
of product. Producers, to some ex- 
tent, would have to fall in line. This 
one advance would not solve every 
problem, but a start is better than 
nothing. If writers in other media 
and screen writers in other countries 
can get royalties, why not we? 

hr 1 

Screen Writers' Guild Studio Chairmen 

(August 21, 1947) 

Columbia — Louella MacFarlane. 

MGM — Anne Chapin ; alternates, Sidney Boehm, 

Marvin Borowsky, Margaret Fitts, Charles 

Republic — Franklin Adreon; alternate, John K. 

20th Century-Fox — Richard Murphy. 

Warner Brothers — James Webb; alternate, Ruth 

Paramount — Arthur Sheekman; alternate, Jesse 
Lasky, Jr. 

Universal-International — Silvia Richards. 

RKO — Martin Rackin. 






ON September 23rd, in Washington, the House Committee on Un-Amer- 
ican Activities will open hearings on the much-publicized "Hollywood 
situation." This is the big show the Honorable J. Parnell Thomas and 
Company have been whipping into shape for the past several months. Starring 
in the production will be witnesses from Hollywood including, undoubtedly, 
members of the SWG. Breasts will be beaten, and sack cloth and ashes will 
be the predominant costume — if the show is staged in the entrepreneurs' ac- 
cepted traditions. And, of course, there will be an excellent press. 

What will the show be like? One need but recall its "summer" tryout here 
in our own precincts last June, when the preliminary hearing bore all the 
marks of a Shubert operetta. Witnesses were called, and they sang lustily, if 
not well. Remember the actor who was forced to appear in a "subversive" mu- 
sical, while his soul cried out for the U. S. Naval Reserve? And the lady whose 
daughter refused to speak that now-memorable line, "Share and share alike, 

True, most of the stars of that summer tryout were members of an organ- 
ization which placed the Red label on such pictures as The Best Years of 
Our Lives and Margie. In view of this, it may be said that such people are 
irresponsible, and do not express the feelings of the adult section of our com- 
munity. Yet when their kind of slander finds its way into print there are cit- 
izens throughout the nation who swallow it whole, slowly and solemnly, their 
worst fears about Hollywood confirmed. And some of them stop seeing pic- 



tures, in mortal terror that they and their young might go to their graves with 
the taint of Margie upon them. 

It is safe to assume that more slander and calumny will be heaped upon 
us when the hearings open in Washington this month. We must prepare our- 
selves for it, and we must fight it. Your Guild feels that the fight can best be 
carried forward by implementing the following resolution, which was submit- 
ted by the SWG Board and passed by the Membership at its meeting on Aug- 
ust 14th: 

The House Committee on Un-American Activities has announced that its hearings concern- 
ing Hollywood will commence September 23. It is apparent from the statements of committee mem- 
bers, investigators and witnesses that the immediate target of these hearings will be the democratic 
guilds and unions of the picture industry. In the sub-committee hearings this spring, the Screen 
Writers' Guild was slanderously attacked as the center of subversive activity in Hollywood and 
afforded no opportunity to answer the charge. We are now sufficiently acquainted with the record 
and methods of this committee to know positively that there is no way to obtain a fair hearing 
under its auspices for our side of the case. For these reasons, and because every intelligent Amer- 
ican knows that the eventual target of the committee is the freedom of the screen and American 
democratic rights in general, it is fitting that the Screen Writers Guild should issue the follow- 
ing call to the other employee and employer organizations in the industry : 

"That the various guilds, unions and producer organizations in Hollywood unite in opposition 
to the conspiracy against the motion picture industry between a few individuals within the industry 
and the controlling faction of the House Committee on Un-American Activities; that these groups, 
representing the overwhelming majority sentiment of the industry, use every means at their dis- 
posal to expose in advance the nature and purpose of the so-called 'hearings' now scheduled for 
September 23; and that these groups combine their talents and existing channels for appealing to 
public opinion in order to present our side of the story to the American people during and after 
the committee sessions in Washington." 

IT had been plain for a long time that we could not continue indefinitely to 
extract hardening dollars out of the softening economies of England and 
other foreign nations. But when the British first announced restrictive fin- 
ancial measures against films imported from the U.S.A., the action was imme- 
diately utilized as a signal for drastic economy plans — for wholesale firings, 
cheapened budgets, increased reissues. 

That's the kind of an economy wave that usually follows a depression. But 
the seeming mix-up in the signals may not be important. There's no reason why 
a really first-class job of cheapening our films should not precede a depression 
in the motion picture industry. 

Both intrinsically and as a precedent for other soft currency nations, the 
British tax action was undoubtedly serious. No matter how it is compromised 
through negotiation, there will probably be a considerable temporary loss of the 
profit cream the Hollywood industry has been skimming from foreign mar- 
kets. But the intimations of irretrievable disaster, the blusterings of Mr. 
Ungar and Mr. Wilkerson, the tremolo-stop pathos of Mr. Eric Johnston — 



all these seem more than a little overdone in a $1,130,000,000.00 a year industry 
that stands to have frozen or even to lose $40,000,000 in the next year and a 
half as the result of the British move. 

We do not minimize the importance of $40,000,000. But we cannot over- 
look the fact that one Hollywood studio made a great deal more than that as 
net profit last year; that another studio recently reported a net of $10,904,000.00 
in 12 weeks; that the industry which rolled up a profit of $316,000,000.00 in 
1946 may not utterly collapse if it suffers the withholding or even the loss of 
$40,000,000 between now and 1949. 

Neither can we overlook the fact that the British action served as an 
excuse for dusting off that venerable gag about the domestic market barely pay- 
ing negative costs and all profits coming from the foreign market. It is a little 
hard to believe that the most prosperous nation in history is unable to pay a 
profit on its most popular form of entertainment, and that $316,000,000.00 in 
profits were wrested in one year out of the sick economies of Europe, Asia and 
Latin America. 

In the war years, when our foreign film markets had all but vanished, why 
did the seven leading Hollywood studios show steadily increasing profits, if 
it is true that all the profit gravy comes from abroad? After all charges includ- 
ing income tax payments, why did these seven studios show net profits of $34,- 
487,016 in 1941, $49,158,868 in 1942, $59,622,188 in 1943, $59,368,768 in 1944 
and $62,874,032 in 1945? 

If all profits come from foreign markets and none from domestic markets, 
as the trade paper spokesmen of the producers say, why did Daily Variety say 
on Feb. 27, 1947: "Backlog of U. S. films in Europe and Orient is so tremen- 
dous that overseas audiences won't catch up for at least five years, according 
to sales and studio foreign toppers. Most of the pix in question have already 
been written off the cash books as domestic revenue showed huge profits dur- 
ing prosperous war years."? 

As a part of and the primary creative force in the American motion pic- 
ture industry, the Screen Writers' Guild wants the industry to prosper soundly 
and to grow intelligently. It cannot do this through any kind of self-deception. 
It cannot do this by failing to understand the hard facts of the world economic 
situation. It cannot do this through the blusterings and threats of its unofficial 
spokesmen. It cannot do this by blowing up a temporary hardship into a con- 
summate disaster, and then trying to use the exaggeration as an excuse for mass 
firings, wholesale salary cuts and reversion to the 10 hour day and 60 hour week, 
as proposed. It cannot do this by cheapening the quality of the product when 
the hope of developing further the domestic and foreign market rests solely 
in making better pictures which more people will want to see. 

Ours is an industry that is also an art. It is uniquely dependent on impond- 
erables. It would be easy to wreck by a bull-in-the-china-shop "economy" drive. 
It would also be a pity to do it because of spiteful reaction to the threatened 
loss of a fraction of those profits. 




epon an 

u L^c 



How One Movie 
Sale Was Made 


IN THIS script of how one movie 
sale was made, I am cast as Alice, 
the completely unknown writer of 
a first novel. Hollywood is Wonder- 
land. I live far away, far from any- 
thing; in fact it is fifty miles from 
my home to the nearest small village. 
I have no telephone, no postoffice box, 
no road past my door. So I am Alice 
in Blunderland with the writer's 
usual empty cupboard and no stock 
of phials marked "Drink me," which 
would shrink me to a size where I 
might creep into Wonderland. All I 
can do is keep the weeds out of the 
potato patch and get on with the 
writing of another novel. I did just 
that, and my first novel, The Stranger 
sold to the movies! 

The trail from Blunderland to 
Wonderland is a long, roundabout 
maze. Without knowing it, I was 
already on that trail when I worked 
and re-worked my novel until it was 
as good as I could make it. I had 
gained a few more miles every time 
I sent my manuscript out to com- 
pletely unknown publishers. All I 
seemed to gain were laudatory and 
inedible letters ending in polite re- 
grets. But those letters helped me 
to get a writer's agent. The agent 
got me a publisher. I had made the 
first, most tricky hurdle. I was now 
a writer with a published book. 

Because my literary agent had 
connections with a Hollywood agent 
my book made the rounds of the 
studios. But this was during the time 
when most pictures were war pic- 
tures. So my regional romance was 
laid to rest on a shelf and went to 
sleep for over two years. 

LILLIAN BOS ROSS, whose novel, The 
Stranger, has become one of the classics 
of modern American fiction, has written 
several subsequent novels. This is her 
first contribution to The Screen Writer. 

Far away on my isolated mountain 
I forgot Hollywood and went on 
with my work, published another 
novel. The war had ended by the 
time a visitor to the cabin suggested 
that a change of agents might create 
a new interest. I had no Hollywood 
contract, so the agent changing was 
a simple matter. This new agent ex- 
pressed enthusiasm for my book and 
I found this not only pleasant but 
so exciting that I gave him the num- 
ber of a Forest service telephone 
through which I could be reached. 
I forgot to tell him that this tele- 
phone is almost thirty miles from 
where I live and still the closest one 
by which I could be contacted. Such 
things are considered the simple fact, 
where I live ; and anyway, it's quicker 
than a telegram, which usually takes 
three days by mail stage. 

Months went by and again I forgot 
Hollywood. The winter garden was 
harvested, the spring garden grew 
tall and almost a year passed by. And 
then — it happened. One morning a 
tired Forest Ranger tied a weary 
horse to the gate post and came down 
the trail to the back door calling 
excitedly, "Lillian ! Hollywood's try- 
ing to get hold of you !" 

He gave me a slip of paper with a 
telephone number written on it. I 
felt my hands shaking a bit as I 
pushed wood into the old cookstove 
and got the ranger a good solid meal 
but I had no time for many emotional 
reactions. The ranger ate and started 
back over his many miles of forest 
trail. I made my way up to the high- 
way, my next job being to reach 
the nearest highway telephone by the 
hitch-hike route. It was less than 
twenty miles away and I did it quite 
easily. Two days later the stage 
brought me enough paper in the form 
of contracts to make a sizeable mail- 
order catalogue and I had to get 
them notarized. The stage had al- 
ready gone, since we were the end 
of the mail route. But with the aid 
of the endlessly-kind passing strangers 
I made the hundred-mile round trip 
in what was left of the day. 

It was over. Alice in Blunderland 
had one foot in the opening door 
of Wonderland! 

I STUMBLED in by a series of 
accidents, but now, looking back- 
ward, I find that even in my particu- 
lar circumstances there are a few 
things of general application for every 
writer who looks toward Hollywood. 

First, get published. 

Second, get a Hollywood agent. 

Third, cut out this next paragraph 
and paste it up beside your typewriter. 
When you read your first contract, 
check it for these points: 

See that you are selling rights for 

One picture only 

No re-issue 

No re-makes 

If your characters are part of a 
series of novels, as mine are, see that 
you retain all rights to your char- 
aters except for this one picture. My 
contract covered all these things. 

I had never seen the Screen Writ- 
ers' Guild magazine, The Screen 
Writer , when my book was sold, and 
knew nothing of this. But I had a 
good agent. My sale was not of the 
spectacular variety; just run-of-the- 
mill, but he was in there pitching, 
getting the best deal he possibly could 
for me. Do not ask me his name for 
I could not give it to you ; he is al- 
ready one of the most overworked 
of men, with almost more clients 
than he can use, and a waiting list. 
But if you have in you the drive that 
keeps you, when no one seems to 
want what you write, working until 
you have that novel published, you 
also have the drive that will find 
you an agent when your need for 
one arrives. One last word. Don't 
try to write your novel for the movies. 
Write your novel your way. There 
can be new magic made that way for 
a formula-weary Wonderland. 



"No Evidence" 

Following is an editorial reprinted 
in part from the Westwood Hills 
Press of August 14 commenting on 
the CBS coast network debate of 
August 12 between SWG president 
Emmet Lavery and Jack B. Tenney, 
state senator and chairman of the 
state legislative committee on un- 
American activities: 

Although State Sen. Jack Tenney's 
California Committee on Un-Ameri- 
can Activities spent some $70,000 on 
investigations from 1939 through 
1945 and has spent additional thou- 
sands since then, Senator Tenney, 
when pressed this week, was unable 
to quote one line of script or name 
one motion picture to substantiate 
his contention that communism in the 
movie industry is both a nuisance and 
a menace. 

Mr. Lavery stated clearly that he 
was as opposed to communism as he 
was to fascism — but what about the 
specific question concerning the al- 
leged dereliction of the film industry? 
Would the Senator please comment? 

At six different points Mr. Lavery 
asked Senator Tenney if he would 
stop talking in general terms about 
communism versus democracy and 
give the radio audience chapter and 
verse on the films, the people, and 
the studios that today are supposedly 
purveying Communist propaganda. 

Hounded this way, Senator Tenney 
admitted he had not seen the films 
Margie and The Best Years of Our 
Lives which Mr. Lavery said friends 
of the House Committee on Un- 
American Activities headed by Par- 
nell Thomas have called subversive. 
The best the Senator could summon 
in reply was this: 

"I don't believe that you would 
dare to sit here and tell me or the 
radio audience that you are of the 
opinion that certain people that you 
and I could mention would not write 
Communist propaganda into scripts 
if they had the opportunity (emphasis 
italic, ours) and the producers would 
let them get by with it !" 

In reply, Mr. Lavery commented : 

"What I say, Senator, is that they 
have never had the chance (emphasis 
in italic, ours again) and unless the 

Hollywood scene changes very rapid- 
ly they never will have the chance." 

Senator Tenney said that he agreed 
with Mr. Lavery, and from that point 
on any pretense of a debate on the 
subject at hand went by the board 
as far as the Senator was concerned. 

Next month The Screen Writer 
will publish an article dealing with 
the September 2 America's Town 
Meeting of the Air debate in which 
Ermnet Lavery and Albert Dekker 
will uphold the negative and Hedda 
Hopper and Howard Emmett Rog- 
ers the affirmative of the question; 
"Is There Really a Threat of Com- 
munism in Hollywood?" 

This program will be broadcast 
over the coast-to-coast ABC net- 
work and will be carried in the Los 
Angeles area over KECA. Time 
of the broadcast in all areas will 
be published in local newspaper ra- 
dio schedules. 

If Senator Tenney can one day 
convince us that his single aim is to 
protect democracy, The Press will 
wish him well. In the meantime, The 
Press commends to him these words 
of Mr. Lavery: 

"Let us prosecute sedition wherever 
and whenever we find it — but let's 
not liquidate the very ingredient which 
makes democracy what it is." 

More Comment on 
New Writing Blood 

MR. DAVID MOSS wrote a 
mournful metaphor in the July 
issue, implying that the back alleys 
of Los Angeles were choked with 
young literary geniuses, ignored by 
the cruel world and in jeopardy of 
being scooped up and deposited in the 
municipal dump without options. He 
did not imply that those same alleys 
are full of frustrated actors, boy 
scout directors, insurance salesmen, 
used car dealers, sculptors, and putty 

Continuing the use of metaphor, it 
can be said that success is a redoubt- 
able fortress afloat in society, con- 

This comment is written by a screen 
writer who has a long experience in 
Hollywood and who asks that only his 
initials be used as a byline. 

structed along the lines of Noah's 
ark and incapable of housing more 
than a small percentage of every 
species. The rest of us are rats and 
we're swimming from porthole to 
porthole, trying to get in. Some of 
us gnaw through the hull, some of 
us give up, a few drown — and prac- 
tically everybody gets sore at the 
phenomenal rat who, without appar- 
ent capacity, sprouts wings and flies 
to the top deck for grilled cheese. 

But metaphors are the height of 
simplification, so let's cut them out 
and get down to brass tacks. Who 
in this business of ours is expected 
to sit down for an hour every day 
and consider ways of smoothing the 
road for others? Who pays him for 
it? If he puts his chips on a dark 
horse that goes lame in the stretch 
who gets his option dropped? The 
guy who hired the unknown. Story 
editors are supposed to procure the 
best ghost stories and turn them over 
to qualified ghost story writers. They 
buy love stories and turn them over 
to writers who know how to make 
love. If through carelessness they get 
things switched, the virgin bears a 
goblin in the final sequence, the ex- 
ecutive producer bears an axe in the 
front office, and the story writer 
goes out the back gate, bearing, say, 
a sense of fineness and self-apprecia- 
tion for having gone down doing 
nice things for somebody else. It's 
good for the soul but hard on the 

Let me tell you a very short and 
unimportant Cinderella story about 
a young writer. I got out of the army 
like nine-tenths of everybody else. I 
had a pulpy background, a couple of 
essays, a couple of features, and I 
put them all in a rucksack with 
oodles of ambition. For eight solid 
months I tried to get into a studio, 
struggled through front offices, my 
arms bulging with treatments, hot 
ideas, weenies jumping up and stab- 
bing sadistic butchers, everything dif- 
ferent — fresh and youngbloodish. I 
looked pathetic and therefore the 
brushoff was always polite, out a 
lower window. 

Then one day I wrote a refreshing 
story about two fanatical German 
scientists who cunningly removed 
Hitler's brain and put it in the body 
of a handsome young nordic. I re^ 
fused to disclose anything about sur 
gical instruments or techniques in 



volved, and point blankly left a new 
Hitler in the Black Forest as the 
war ended. He was gazing fiendishly 
toward Baden-Baden and grizzlier 

NOW that was imaginative, orig- 
inal, daring, bold, tempting, and 
I sold it to a publisher and took the 
acceptance slip out to a director I 
didn't know, who had gone to the 
same college, and he took me over 
to the studio where I met a bigtime 
producer, for whom Gladys Lotza- 
class had just agreed to act, and they 
both rushed me into the front office 
where I shook hands with a man who 
missed my name, but who had just 
received a gigantic income tax re- 
fund, and all three of them took me 
into the absolute chief and he didn't 
even want to know my name. He said : 
"What the hell — it's either give it 
to the government or give it to him 
and," he added diagnostically, "we 
need new blood around here." 

There. Now you have it. A major 
studio had contracted an unknown. 
All processes, mind you, without bene- 
fit of agent. And boy did the agents 
start pounding my door. "May I come 
in and give you a raise?" they kept 
yelling through my transom. "You're 
getting robbed !". they screamed. Some 
of them went outside the Writers' 
building and threw pebbles at my 
window pane, and when I'd look 
around they'd wink enticingly. I ig- 
nored them. 

After six weeks of sitting in the 
office I got very used to the desk. One 
morning it dawned on me that per- 
haps I was expected to make the first 
move, so I called one of the men I 
had met that first day and stimulated 
a chain reaction. After two weeks of 
bickering a producer agreed to take 
me under his budget. "What do you 
do?" he asked. I told him the title 
of my story. "Not that, honey, not 
that — what do you do?" 

"Oh, play golf," I ventured. "And 
sometimes cribbage." 

He found out that I had been 
through public schools and that I 
had been in the service, so he immedi- 
ately decided that I should write 
something about veterans returning 
to college. The more he paced the 
hotter it became. He picked up a 
phone and dialed upstairs and asked 
the chief what he thought about a 
deep, subjective, significant, one-word 

titled veteran story and the chief 
thought it a grand idea, so the pro- 
ducer hung up on honey and sent me 
back to my cubicle for a molting 
period. Another youngblood across 
the hall was in the same henhouse 
so we exchanged glass eggs at option 

Maybe you get the idea. My purpose 
is to point out that credit-line writers 
are always hired to do the something 
specific. They are not hired on gene- 
ral principles. They come along with 
their own original treatment, or 
they're assigned to adapt material the 
studio knows they can handle and 
material the studio intends to produce. 
Vague speculative assignments are 
bound to result from hiring someone 
simply because he is a writer. 

As far as I was concerned, studio 
intentions were sincere, though un- 
defined. Explore that young man. 
Feel him out. See what he can do. 
Go through the shelves and get that 
— get that hot manuscript on Sarah 
Bernhardt, the one O. Henry hutch- 
ed! But hear ye, there never was 
a time when any producer felt called 
upon to entrust me with a property 
he personally desired to film. The 
studio was simply gambling that for 
the basic minimum it might have 
contracted Willie Shakespeare. Try 
as I did, I couldn't squeeze out Ham- 
let. Kindly indifference weighed 
heavily upon me. I got to crawling 
into a corner where I would pull an 
old tennis racquet cover over my head 
and go into the foetus crouch. 

properties went to established 
writers. Nobody at the studio was to 
blame for the year wasted on me, and 
I hope to hell it wasn't my writing. 
I did the damned story with these 
three veterans and those three veter- 
ans, and one producer would inject 
a murder in the medical lab, and the 
friendly director would change it 
to suicide, all in an atmosphere of 
genuine approval over the way I had 
picked up script writing. Once a pro- 
ducer called somebody else and said, 
"there might be a movie in this kid's 
stuff. Did you ever think about that?" 
The other person said, "No kidding? 
Well, if you run across an extra 
copy send it up some time." I got 
so excited I did a clean draft for the 
Johnston office. 

The days grew short in September 
and were black by Christmas. Came 
January and little Willie went out 
in the great house-cleaning. Alarmed 
about box office, tax changes and 
fresh blood, executives hauled in Paul 
Bunyan to do the job. Countless 
young Thespians, in precisely my cate- 
gory, cried timber. The people who 
had hired me seemed startled, down- 
right shocked, and insisted that I 
drop out and see them any old time. 
"We've all felt better with your 
blood in our veins." 

After that, agents were not throw- 
ing pebbles. I had to write an entire 
novel before coaxing my name onto 
a list of clients. It was starting over, 
that's all. And for eight months my 
wife and I have been living on shred- 
ded rejection slips from publishers 
who advertise their search for young 
blood. That's just good public rela- 
tions, Mr. Moss. Discount it. And 
be sure to get an agent who doesn't 
tell everybody you're a genius. When 
I show up in his wake, with my 
cropped hair and wistful young smile, 
producers darken and offer me parting 

There are youngbloods on their 
way through all the studios all the 
time. The best they ever get to handle 
is Inside Alice by Percy Veerence.. 
That's the way it is and that's the 
way it oughta be. If you're convinced 
your ability merits a contract, then 
exercise the ability without waiting 
for the go sign from insiders, who 
are fighting to maintain their own 
position. For a young fellow every- 
thing's speculative until success. Then, 
quite strangely, consideration becomes 
retroactive and people want to see 
again your treatment about The 
Dirty Urchin and that dusty Mrs. 

Studios are not to blame for their 
chilly regard of would-be's. Hell, 
it was cool when they went through. 
They simply reflect the ways of an 
economic system that thrives on initi- 
ative and has become inured to bitch- 
ing. S. R. 

The Executive Board, in resolutions 
of condolence at a recent meeting, 
voiced the regret of the entire Screen 
Writers' Guild for the passing of 
Walter De Leon and Thomas Job. 
Both were, until their last illness, 
active in the Guild and a credit to the 
screen writers' profession. 






The followng letter has been re- 
ceived by the Editorial Committee 
from SWG member Mortimer Braus. 

Unfortunately space prevents the 
printing of many similar messages 
concerning the August issue, which 
elicited from SWG members wide- 
spread approval and interest. 

I'd like to add my cheers for the 
whopping August issue of the Screen 
Writer, despite the Gloomy Gus note 
struck almost throughout. A grim 
situation requires a grim motif. Of 
course the time is coming when ver- 
balization will not suffice ; there must 
be an attempt to crystallize and get 
down to cases. 

I found Gangelin's scalpel-sharp 
analysis the most enlightening; I 
must, however, take issue with Ring 
Lardner, Jr.'s piece, at least the title: 
First Steps in Arithmetic. To me 
it's a problem in higher Calculus, 
especially when the annual minimum 
wage suggestion is brought up as the 
pipe-dream panacea. 

At any rate I found the issue ir- 
resistibly absorbing from cover to 
cover and I wanted you to know that. 
A top-bracket job of editorship and 


he did is to be honored by his col- 
leagues, and that he's to be remem- 
bered in such a tangible way. 

Mrs. Irving H. Kahn 
3364 Washington Street, 
San Francisco 18, California 

Beatrice Meltzer Kahn of San 
Francisco, mother of Robert Meltzer, 
writes : 

Dear Guild Members, 

Bob Meltzer's family was very 
much touched when the clippings 
came from Los Angeles and New 
York, telling of the great honor you 
are paying him. 

And we, his family, mother, two 
brothers and three sisters must thank 

We are rather removed from Bob's 
work; in the ten years before his 
death, we saw him very seldom. But 
being a large and hilarious family, 
our reunions were decidedly noisy and 
gay. And Bob, as you can guess, con- 
tributed greatly. 

But we're so proud that the work 

The following letter has been re- 
ceived from Richard Coleman of 
Charleston, South Carolina'. 

No one can be more interested than 
I am in fairness to the writer who 
sells his material to Hollywood. On 
January 13 this year a very elaborate 
affair was given by Photoplay Maga- 
zine for all those who contributed to 
the picture, The Bells of St. Mary's. 
Gold medals were given to all who 
had anything of importance to do 
with the picture, but there wasn't 
even a tin medal for me, the man who 
wrote the most praised and publicized 
part of the source material of that 
amazing box office hit. Life said 
that the part wherein Bergman as 
a nun teaches the boy to fight 
was the "notable asset of the picture," 
Newsweek said it was "the highlight 
of the film" ; and other national mag- 
azines and important papers said the 
same thing. I have never received 
credit of any sort for my short story 
Fight For Sister Joe which was 
bought by RKO and resold to Rain- 
bow Productions for the picture, al- 
though it was stated verbally that it 
was to be used in an unimportant pic- 
ture and put to minor use. Because of 
that I received one thousand dollars 
for a story that was the basis of Berg- 
man's biggest scene, and an integral 
part of the most important box office 
picture of all times. 

My story had been told coast-to- 
coast four times by Nelson Olmsted 
on his World's Greatest Short Stories 
program; has been in magazines 
here and in England and in Ireland; 
had been in an anthology here and in 
England; had been called a little 
classic by reviewers of the anthology ; 
and is used as a model of the short 
story in many Catholic secondary 
schools. So it had a history before 

RKO bought it and had proved that 
it appealed to countless people every- 
where. This valuable literary prop- 
erty was used to tremendous advan- 
tage but I was given almost nothing 
and no credit. 

Worse than that, when the "box- 
ing nun" became the talk of the mov- 
ie-goers an item appeared in Louella 
Parsons' column stating, about Mc- 
Carey, that his "aunt who was a nun 
taught him to box when he was a 

Surely I deserved credit for a story 
that became the trademark of Bells of 
St. Mary's and which brought inesti- 
mably valuable free publicity to the 
picture in the national press and 
through word of mouth. 

When I asked for more money be- 
cause of the good I had contributed 
to the picture and because I felt that 
I had been very unjustly treated in 
the matter of payment and credit, I 
got a very insulting letter. 

It would be well if no literary 
property could be used in any picture, 
notwithstanding it had been previ- 
ously bought and paid for, without 
the consent of the original author. In 
this way the author could demand and 
get a sum proportionate to the kind 
of picture in which the property is to 
be used. According to the present 
custom a price is fixed under circum- 
stances which do not make for fair 
bargaining : the author does not know, 
and he is not told, to what use the 
property will be put, while on the 
other hand the purchaser has all of 
the information. 

I am in the very unjust position of 
having contributed a very valuable 
part to the most valuable picture and 
no one in Hollywood knows my name 
or that I have other good things to 
sell. Leo McCarey got all the credit 
and the lion's share of the money. Is 
there no way that I can inform Hol- 
lywood that I am the man who 
created the boxing nun and that I 
have other creations with universal 
appeal ? 







(Continued from Inside Front Cover) 

executive secretary, M. Chavance, to 
go there again to-morrow evening, 
with a photographer, in order to pre- 
pare an article about their history and 
organization, for the Screen Writer. 

They were so anxious to be help- 
ful, and Jeanson and his colleagues 
were so hospitable and charming, 
that we hope the SWG has an oppor- 
tunity to reciprocate in kind. 

They are desirous of learning more 
about Hollywood and its ways, but 
the moment is inauspicious, since it 
is vacation time for almost every one. 

Naturally, only generalities and 
amenities were expressed, but there 
were two definite points touched upon, 
which you may care to note for future 

The first is, that they are trying 
to establish a practice of limiting the 
number of writers whom a producer 
may engage for a given picture. They 
consider the present method degrad- 
ing and undignified and believe that 
a producer should have enough judg- 
ment to pick the right people for the 
job in the first place. They asked me 

whether we thought the SWG would 
join them in the effort. I told them 
that it was my personal opinion that 
it would be a very difficult project to 
present to Hollywood screen writers, 
since it would seem like limiting the 
number of obtainable jobs, especially 
at a time when they are hard to get, 
but that I might be wrong and would 
report the proposal to the SWG 

The second point was, more accu- 
rately, a question which they asked 
and which they seemed to consider 
more basic. They wanted to know, 
specifically, how much support we 
could count on from other guilds 
and unions in Hollywood, if and as 
we might need it; they referred 
especially to those unions that we 
know as "the back lots." I replied 
that this could not be answered spe- 
cifically at the moment, at least not 
by any one of us, since we do not 
know the latest developments, but we 
would try to get some more definite 
information from you, in time for the 
September meeting. (So if there is 
any recent adoption of policy on this 
point, please advise us; likewise any 
developments, accomplished or pend- 
ing.) They seem aware of the diffi- 
culties the Taft-Hartley Bill has 
made for us, particularly through its 
geographical limitation of our bargain- 
ing power and related to us an inci- 
dent which they thought exemplified 
the advantage of local affiliations. 

Recently a French producer attempt- 
ed to cut a writer's salary, whereupon 
not only all the writers supported 
their colleague, but everybody, from 
the electricians to the cameramen and 
grips prepared to call a strike in his 
behalf, and the producer desisted. 
They could not seem to understand 
why we have not long since adopted 
such methods, which they evidently 
consider simple and natural. 

Here are two other items, which 
we picked up in talking to other 
picture people around town. First, 
since the war, they think the U. S. 
films are deteriorating; that after 
tremendous advance publicity, they 
invariably prove disappointing and 
void of fresh ideas, and in many cases 
void of any ideas at all; that the 
French public is getting on to it, and 
the box office lines are diminishing. 
Second : In the Bastille Day Parade 
recently, the Film contingent car- 
ried a sign, reading: "THE BLUM- 

In a week or two, we expect to 
make a short visit to London and will 
let you know what happens there. 
It might make things easier for us 
if you notify the English writers that 
we'll be there. 
Greetings to all. 

SWG Liaison Committee, 


Films as a Reflection of Changing Social Patterns 

A nation's motion pictures are 
more than a hit-or-miss accumulation 
of screen dramas, comedies, musicals, 
fantasies and documentaries. Over a 
period of time they are a social history 
of the people who make and see them. 
From them emerges a revealing pat- 
tern of changing mass attitudes, be- 
liefs, values and customs. This is the 
underlying thesis of Dr. Siegfried 
Kracauer's important new book. 
(From Caligari to Hitler: A Psycho- 
logical History of the German Film. 
Princeton. $5.) 

The period dealt with stretches 
from the time of the first World War 
to the coming to power of the Nazis 
in 1933. The evolution of German 
films and of the German film industry 
is traced with meticulous scholarship 
through these two decades. Pictures 

are analyzed individually and in ge- 
neric groups. There is much informed 
and invaluable discussion of the tech- 
niques of the great German directors. 
In a noteworthy appendix Dr. Kra- 
cauer considers at length the methods 
used by the Nazis in turning out 
propaganda films. 

The importance of this book lies 
in the obviously vast research behind 
it and its emphasis of the fact that the 
films of any nation in any period are 
a new and extraordinarily vivid form 
of social history preserving for the 
future the manners, mores and wish 
dreams of the past. Also arresting is 
the analysis of the financial control 
structure of the German industry, 
and the part it played in the shaping 
of world tragedy. 


A Check List of Books 

Getting a Job in Television, by 
John Southwell. (McGraw-Hill. $2). 

Television Primer of Production 
and Direction, by Louis A. Sposa. 
(McGraw-Hill. $3.50). 

An Introduction to Playwriting , by 
Samuel Selden (Crofts. $2). 

The Anatomy of Drama, by Alan 
Reynolds. (University of California 
Press, $3.75.). 

Orson Welles, by Roy Alexander 
Fowler. (Pendulum Publications, 
London, 2 shillings). 

The Film in France, by Roy Alex- 
ander Fowler. (Pendulum Publica- 
tions, London, 2 shillings.) 


/ lewd I loled 

* Current programs in the N. Y. 
Museum of Modern Art's History of 
the Motion Picture are: Three Film 
Pioneers: Ferdinand Zecca — Whence 
Does He Come, Scenes of Convict 
Life, Slippery Jim, A Father s Honor, 
Fun After the Wedding; Emile Cohl 
— The Pumpkin Race, Une Dame 
Vraiment Bien, Joyeux Microbes, Le 
Peintre Neo-Impressioniste; Jean Du- 
rand — Onesime Horloger. Sept. 1, 2, 
3, 4. — George Melies: Magician and 
Film Pioneer — The Conjurer, A Trip 
to the Moon, The Palace of the 
Arabian Nights, The Doctor's Secret, 
The Conquest of the Pole. Sept. 5, 6, 
7. — From Lumiere to Rene Clair: 
1895 Films by Lumiere, The Run- 
away Horse, Juve vs. Fantomas, The 
Crazy Ray. Sept. 8, 9, 10, 11.— The 
Advance Guard ( 1 ) : The Smiling 
Madame Beudet, Ballet Mecanique, 
Entre acte, Menilmontant, Sept. 12, 
13, 14.— The Advance Guard (II) : 
Anaemic Cinema, Rien Que Les 
Heures, Emak Bakia, Etoile de Mer, 
Le Mysteres du Chateau du De, Sept. 
15, 16, 17, 18. — The Comedy Tra- 
dition ( 1 ) : The Italian Straw Hat, 
Sept. 19, 20, 21. — Transition to 
Sound : The Passion of Joan of Arc, 
Sept. 22, 23, 24, 15.— The Comedy 
Tradition (II) Joie de Vivre,A Nous 
la Liberie, Sept. 26, 27, 28.— The 
Comedy Tradition (III): Carnival 
in Flanders, Sept. 29, 30, Oct. 1, 2. 

* SWG member Millen Brand had 
a short story in the August issue of 
Woman's Day. 

* Beth Bernice Cornelison and J. 
Harris Gable, a member of The 
Screen Writer Editorial Committee, 
were married July 23. 

* Junior Jezebel, a novel by SWG 
member Jan Fortune, was published 
in the August issue of McCall's. 

* SWG member Robert Spencer 
Carr has sold a novelette, Morning 
Star, to the Saturday Evening Post. 

* Norman Burnside, former SWG 
member and now a member of the 
Radio Writers' and Dramatists' 
Guilds, won a Bureau of Intercultural 
Relations Award prize with his story, 

A Cross for Jonathan, originally pub- 
lished in Story magazine. Mr. Burn- 
side also had a story in the August 
issue of Readers Scope. 

* SWG member Arthur Strawn 
had a story, Foolish Old Man, in a 
recent issue of the Saturday Evening 

* Bob Dworkin's KNX program, 
Meet the Author, is now piped to 24 
cities in western states via the CBS 
Pacific Network. The new time is 
10:15 p.m. Sundays. 

* SWG members Dorothy Langley 
and Joseph Than have sold an un- 
entitled novel to Prentice Hall. 

* The Condemned, SWG member 
Joseph Pagano's new novel, is sched- 
uled for September publication by 
Prentice Hall. 

* SWG member Charles Hoffman's 
novelette, I Didn't Knoiv It was Load- 
ed, scheduled for early magazine pub- 
lication in Cosmopolitan. 

* SWG member Joseph Shearing's 
novel, So Evil, My Love, is announced 
for Sept. 17 publication by Harper's. 

* SWG member Elizabeth Beecher 
had a radio play on the Skippy pro- 
gram Aug. 6. In collaboration with 
Arby Cannon she has sold a short 
storv, Headlines Ltd., to the Canadi- 
an Home Journal. 

* Silver River, SWG member Ste- 
phen Longstreet's screenplay, is being 
novelized by Mr. Longstreet for pub- 
lication by Julian Messner in N. Y. 
and Clarence Winchester in London. 

* Herbert Marshall, editor of the 
International Theatre and Cinema 
and a member of the English Screen 
Writers' Association, is editing a 
series of books under the general head- 
ing of, "The International Library 
of Theatre and Cinema." He is inter- 
ested in original books or treatises of 
a standard nature on any aspect of 
motion pictures for inclusion in the 
Library. His address is: The Studio, 
10a Randolph Avenue, Maida Vale, 
London W9. He would appreciate 

suggestions from SWG members and 
other workers in the Hollywood mo- 
tion picture industry. 

* Leonid Snegoff, long identified with 
the stage and screen as an actor and 
director, announces the opening in 
Hollywood of the Theatre Labora- 
tory for the testing of plays. He is 
interested in full length plays, and 
stipulates that writers who submit 
their plays will incur no obligation 
other than being available for consul- 
tation about production problems and 
being present when the plays are given 
a show-case reading before audiences 
of studio and theatre people. His ad- 
dress is 1954 Pinehurst, Hollywood 
28. Telephone HEmpstead 8306. 

* SWG member Arthur E. Orloff has 
sold a radio adaptation of O. Henry's 
The Ransom of Red Chief to CBS. 

*The July (Summer) issue of the 
Hollywood Quarterly marks the end 
of the second year of the journal's 
publication with the usually mature 
and interesting screen, radio and tele- 
vision articles that have become the 
hallmark of the magazine. The lead- 
ing article is by Vsevolod Pudovkin, 
the noted Russian director, who writes 
on the possibilities of the global film 
which will overcome language barriers 
and reach all peoples with a universal 
appeal. A supplementary article by 
Herman G. Weinberg, who has spe- 
cialized in the adaptation and titling 
of foreign films, deals with the prob- 
lems presented by these language diffi- 
culties. Arthur Rosenheimer, Jr., 
assistant curator of the Museum of 
Modern Art's film library, surveys 
the film periodical field in the U. S. A. 
and England. He describes The Screen 
Writer as "a lively and progressive 
publication . . . one of the few 
industry publications that lifts its eyes 
and its thinking beyond Hollywood." 
Other contributors of articles and 
reviews are Luciano Emmer and 
Enrico Gras, Joseph P. Brinton, III, 
Henry Dreyfuss, F. Dean McClusky, 
Charles Palmer, Roger Manvell, Eric 
Boden, Abraham Polonsky, Irving 
Pichel, Stuart Schulberg, Lester Ash- 
ein, Jay E. Gordon, Syd Cassid, 



Franklin Fearing, Philip Dunne, 
Lawrence Morton, Herman G. Wein- 
berg and Gilbert Seldes. Editors of 
the Quarterly are now SWG members 
John Collier, James Hilton and Abra- 
ham Polonsky; Irving Pichel; and 
Samuel T. Farquhar, Franklin Fear- 
ing, Kenneth Macgowan and Frank- 
lin P. Rolfe of the University of Cali- 
fornia. Joan Macgowan is acting 
assistant editor. 

* SWG member Martin Field, who 
serves on the Editorial Committee of 
The Screen Writer, has just sold a 
short story to Woman's Home Com- 
panion. Title of story: The Sale. 

* Current attraction at the Coronet 
Theater, the third presentation of 

Pelican Productions, is the Jean Paul 
Sartre play, "No Exit," with John 
Emery, Nancy Coleman and Tamara 
Geva in the starring roles. 

Present plans call for the Las 
Palmas Theatre to be used not only 
for moveovers from the Coronet but 
as an originating point for plays 
which seem particularly well suited 
for the theatre. The Pelican group 
wishes to make plain that it considers 
neither the Coronet or Las Palmas 
stages its exclusive property but is 
anxious to make these available to 
any theatrical group which needs 

The Hollywood Film Society con- 
tinues to hold forth at the Coronet, 

with an expanded program. In addi- 
tion to the regular three showings on 
Monday nights of outstanding feature 
films, documentaries are shown on 
Thursdays and Fridays at 5 :40 p.m. ; 
children's programs at 10:30 a.m. and 
1 :30 p.m. on Saturdays ; and special 
showings of unusual film subjects, at 
4:30 p.m., on Sundays. 

*The Rev. Thomas F. Coogan, 
director of the new Catholic Labor 
Institute of Los Angeles, invited in- 
terested SWG members to attend the 
first annual Labor Day Mass at St. 
Vibiana's Cathedral, Second and 
Main streets, Los Angeles, at 8:30 
a. m., Monday, Sept. 1. 



, . r R ED ITS 
rITERS- CRti> 



■ ■ ■ .- 

* No 






JUNE 1, 1947 TO AUGUST 1, 1947 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Basil Dickey, 

/esse Duffy and Sol Shor) G-MEN NEVER 


Joint Screenplay (with Marguerite Roberts) 




Joint Screenplay (with Teddi Sherman) 


Joint Screenplay (with Robert E. Sherwood) 


Sole Original Screenplay PIONEER JUSTICE, 


Sole Screenplay THE CRIME DOCTOR'S 


Sole Screenplay I REMEMBER MAMA, RKO 

Sole Adaptation MEMORY OF LOVE, RKO 

Joint Screenplay (with Lester Cole) THE 


Joint Story (with DonHartman) IT HAD 


Joint Screenplay (with Luci Ward and Jack 


U. I. 

Sole Screenplay KILLER McCOY, MGM 

Joint Adaptation (with Milarde Brent) THEY 

PASSED THIS WAY, Enterprise 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Arthur Drei- 
fuss) SWEET GENEVIEVE, (Kay Pic.) Col 
Joint Screenplay (with Victor McLeod) TWO 


Sole Screenplay HEARTACHES, PRC 


Joint Screenplay Basis (with George Oppen- 
heimer and Thomas Lennon) and Sole Story 


Joint Screenplay (with Karl Kamb) WHIS- 


Joint Screenplay (with Geoffrey Homes) 


Sole Story and Joint Screenplay (with 

Charles Schnee> RED RIVER, Monterey Prod. 

Joint Adaptation (with George Wells) THE 


Joint Screenplay (with Joseph Fields) TEXAS 

MANHUNT, Eagle-Lion 

Sole Screenplay LIGHTHOUSE, (Walter 

Colmes Prod.) PRC 

Joint Screenplay (with Syd Boehm) THE 


Joint Story (with Julian Peyser) HEART- 

Joint Screenplay (with Dorothy Kingsley, 

Charles Martin and Hans Wilhelm) ON AN 


Joint Screenplay (with Dorothy Yost) THE 

STRAWBERRY ROAN, (Gene Autry Prod.) 



Sole Adaptation for the Screen THE TIME 
OF YOUR LIFE, Cagney Productions 


Sole Screenplay THE HUCKSTERS, MGM 

Joint Original Screenplay (with Phoebe and 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Franklyn 
Adreon, Jesse Duffy and Sol Shor) G-MEN 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Jameson 
Brewer) SWEET GENEVIEVE, (Kay Pic.) Col 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Basil Dickey, 
Franklyn Adreon, and Sol Shor) G-MEN 


^Contributor to Screenplay SLEEP, MY LOVE, 
Triangle Productions. 



•^Contributor to Screenplay SLEEP, MY LOVE, 
Triangle Productions 

Joint Screenplay (with Phoebe Ephron and 

*Academy Bulletin Only 




Joint Screenplay (with Henry Ephron and 


Joint Screenplay (with Dick Irving Hyland) 


Joint Screenplay (with Jerome Chodorov) 

Texas Manhunt, Eagle-Lion 

Joint Story and Play Basis (with Alan R. 


Joint Screenplay (with Stephen Longstreet) 


Joint Screenplay (with Norman Panama) 



Contributor to Screenplay construction and 
Dialogue THE BIG CLOCK, Par 

Joint Screenplay (with Norman S. Hall) 



Joint Screenplay (with Leslie Vale) LINDA, 
BE GOOD, Cameo Productions 


Sole Original Screenplay BUCKAROO FROM 

Joint Screenplay (with Jerry Gruakin) SLIP- 
PY McGEE, Rep 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Isobel Len- 


Joint Story (with Dick Irving Hyland) LIN- 
DA, BE GOOD, Cameo Productions 


Joint Story (with Allen Boretz) IT HAD 


Joint Screenplay (with Horace McCoy) THE 


Joint Screenplay (with Charles Lederer) 


Sole Screenplay DAISY KENYON, Fox 


Sole Screenplay THAT HAGEN GIRL, WB 

Joint Screenplay (with Hugo Butler) ROUGH- 


Contributor to Screenplay THEY PASSED 
THIS WAY, Enterprise 


Sole Screenplay WILD HORSE MESA, RKO 


Sole Screenplay and Novel Basis I LOVE 
TROUBLE (Cornell Pic.) Col 




Joint Screenplay (with Frank Fenton) and 
Joint Story (with Howard Harris) LINDA, 
BE GOOD, Cameo Productions 



Joint Original Screenplay (with Ruth Gor- 
don) A DOUBLE LIFE, U. I. 


Joint Screenplay (with Frank Butler) WHIS- 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Crane Wil- 
bur) RED STALLION (Eagle-Lion) PRC 


Joint Screenplay (with Dorothy Cooper, 
Charles Martin and Hans Wilhelm) ON AN 


Sole Screenplay THE BIG CLOCK, Par 


Joint Screenplay (with Ben Hecht) RIDE 


Joint Original Screenplay (with John Hard- 


Joint Adaptation (with Donald Ogden Stew- 




Joint Screenplay (with Harriet Frank, Jr.) 
and Sole Novel Basis SILVER RIVER, WB 



Joint Screenplay (with Lawrence Hazard) 


Joint Screenplay (with Leo Rosten) SLEEP, 

MY LOVE, Triangle Productions 

Joint Screenplay (with Jameson Brewer) 


Pic.) Col 



Joint Screenplay (with Malvin Wald) THE 


Story and Adaptation LIGHTHOUSE, (Walter 

Colmes Prod.) PRC 

Joint Story (with Hans Wilhelm) and Joint 

Screenplay (with Dorothy Kingsley, Dorothy 

Cooper, and Hans Wilhelm) ON AN ISLAND 





Sole Novel Basis THE BISHOP'S WIFE, Gold- 


Joint Story (with Luci Ward) and Joint 
Screenplay (with Charles O'Neal and Luci 
Joint Story (with Luci Ward) and Joint 
Screenplay (with Luci Ward and William 


Sole Original Screenplay THE GAY RAN- 


"'Academy Bulletin Only 


Joint Screenplay (with Jack Natteford and 

Joint Screenplay (with Thomas Lennon and 
George Bruce) KILLER McCOY, MGM 


Joint Screenplay (with Melvin Frank) IT 

Sole Original Screenplay BLACK HILLS, PRC 


Sole Adaptation YOUR RED WAGON, RKO 

Joint Screenplay (with Arthur Wimperis) 


Joint Screenplay (with Zoe Akins) AS YOU 


Sole Adaptation AS YOU DESIRE ME, MGM 

Joint Screenplay (with St. Clair McKelway) 

and Sole Novel Basis SLEEP, MY LOVE, 

Triangle Productions 

Sole Original Screenplay UNDER COLORADO 



Sole Screenplay YOUR RED WAGON, RKO 
Joint Screenplay (with Borden Chase) RED 
RIVER, Monterey Productions 
Contributor to Dialogue MEMORY OF 


Joint Story (with Jerry Warner) THE 


Joint Screenplay (with Leonardo Bercovici) 


Sole Original Screenplay SMOKY RIVER 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Franklyn 

Adreon, Basil Dickey and Jesse Duffy) 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Lou Lilly) 


Joint Original Screenplay (with Lou Lilly) 


Sole Story and Joint Screenplay (with Barry 

Trivers) INTRIGUE, Star Films 

Joint Screenplay (with Jack Townley) THE 


Sole Screenplay and Joint Adaptation (with 



Sole Screenplay NATION ON SKIS (S) WB 
Sole Screenplay SPORTS DOWN UNDER, (S) 


Joint Screenplay (with Earle Snell) and 


Joint Screenplay (with George Slavin) IN- 
TRIGUE, Star Films 


Joint Screenplay (with George Halasz) 

LINDA, BE GOOD, Cameo Productions 





Sole Story and Joint Screenplay (with Albert 


Joint Story (with Jack Natteford) and Joint 
Screenplay (with Jack Natteford and Charles 
Joint Story (with Jack Natteford) and Joint 
Screenplay (with Jack Natteford and Wil- 
U. I. 


Joint Story (with Raymond Schrock) THE 


Sole Screenplay WHEN A GIRL'S BEAUTI- 
FUL, Col 


Joint Adaptation (with Edward Chodorov) 


Joint Screenplay (with Robert E. Kent) THE 


Joint Story (with Charles Martin) and Joint 
Screenplay (with Dorothy Kingsley, Dor- 
othy Cooper and Charles Martin) ON AN 


Sole Original Screenplay OUTLAWS OF 


Joint Screenplay (with Marguerite Roberts) 


Joint Screenplay (with Dwight Cummins) 
Prod.) Col 

Sole Original Screenplay THAT GUY JOE 


Sole Original Story STRAWBERRY ROAN 
(Gene Autry Prod.) Col 



















Some of My Worst Friends 

Toward a New Realism 

Disunion in Vienna 

Screen Censorship 

Love in Hopewell 

Film Musicals 

Paris Notes 

Gregg Toland: the Man and His Work 

As the British See It 

Some British Questions 

Horse Opera Economics 

Medium Close Shot in Bel Air 

Hollywood! You've Been Warned! 

Can't Scare the Movies 

Screen Treatment of Minorities 

The Great Hollywood Debate 

And further articles by ROBERT ARDREY, SYDNEY BOX, HUGO BUTLER, 
and others. 



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lA/hatd ^tnead ^rot ^rti 

©C1B 98740 


r NOW i r\ <«/-! 

A Report on Markets, Taxes, Jobs 

From London: From Hollywood: 




ADRIAN SCOTT: Some of My Worst Friends 

RICHARD COLLINS: The Screen Writer and Censorship 

EUGEN SHARIN: Disunion in Vienna 

PAUL TRIVERS: Toxvn Meeting Tonight! 


WILLIAM SERIL: Film Suspense and Revelation 

DAVID CHANDLER: Love in Hopewell 


Page 40 

October, 1947 

Editorials • Report and 
Comment • SWG Bulletin 
Correspondence • News 
Notes • Screen Credits 

OCT -8 1347 




GUY MORGAN, Honorable Sec- 
retary of the Screenwriters' Asso- 
ciation, of London, writes to in- 
form the American motion picture 
industry concerning the recent 
controversy between his Associa- 
tion and the Association of Cine 

THE letter from George Elvin, 
General Secretary of the Associa- 
tion of Cine Technicians and our 
President's reply, published in the July 
issue of The Screen Writer, led to 
a month's brisk negotiation on this 
side, between the Screenwriters' Asso- 
ciation, the Producers, and the Tech- 
nicians, which resulted, after our in- 
sistence, in the grades of Screenwriter 
and Scenario Editor being struck out 
of the Technicians' new Agreement 
with the Producers. 

The statements made in his letter 
by Mr. Elvin (that the only negotia- 
tions with Employers' Federations 
were undertaken by his Union, that 
in the new Agreement Screenwriters 
were treated "the same as other tech- 
nicians," and that the Union would 
resist any attempt by a non-trade- 
union organization today to usurp 
certain functions of Trades Union 
organization) brought it urgently to 
the notice of the Screenwriters Asso- 
ciation that a vital matter of principle 
was involved affecting the whole 
status of our organization as a recog- 
nized negotiating body. 

Although there was nothing in the 
Agreement which could be to the bene- 
fit or detriment of feature screen- 
writers (and no minimum wage was 
stated ) , it was clear that the inclusion 
of screenwriters in the schedule estab- 
lished the principle that the Associa- 
tion of Cine Technicians was the 
proper body to negotiate for screen- 

It was felt therefor that immediate 
action should be taken by the Screen- 
writers Association to prevent our 
silence being subsequently claimed as 
tacit assent. Letters were therefore 
sent to the British Film Producers 

{Continued on Page 48) 


I Screen Write 

P ) 

Vol. 3, No. 5 OCTOBER, 1947 



Gordon Kahn, Editor 

Robert Shaw, Director of Publications 

isobel lennart 

Herbert Clyde Lewis 

Bernard C. Schoenfeld 

Theodore Strauss 

Art Arthur 
Martin Field 
Harris Gable 
Richard G. Hubler 
Lester Koenig 


ADRIAN SCOTT: Some of My Worst Friends 1 

WILLIAM SERIL: Film Suspense and Revelation 7 

EUGEN SHARIN: Disunion in Vienna 10 

RICHARD COLLINS: The Screen Writer and Censorship 15 

SPECIAL SECTION : What's Ahead for American Films : 

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW: Memo to Hollywood 18 

DUDLEY NICHOLS: Film Dollars from Lean Pockets 19 

FRANK LAUNDER: A Substitute for the Tax! 21 

RICHARD G. HUBLER: Canoe in a Tidal Wave 22 

GUY MORGAN: Mrs. Miniver's Sleigh Ride 23 

HOWARD KOCH: How to Keep a Foreign Market 25 

EDITORIAL COMMITTEE: Summary & Report 26 

PAUL TRIVERS: Town Meeting Tonight/ 31 

DAVID CHANDLER: Love in Hopewell 34 

Editorials 37 

SWG Economic Program 40 

Report & Comment: 

EDWARD ELISCU: Paris Notes 46 

Licensing Progress in England 47 

Correspondence 47 

News Notes 49 

Books 50 

Screen Credits 51 
Letter From London Inside Front Cover 



FOREIGN 30c). 


Motion Pictures and Anti'Semitism 

Some of My Worst Friends 


RKO 'writer-producer, <who recently 
produced the film Crossfire about 
•which the nation is talking, here 
discusses the motivations behind this 
film and calls for a coordinated edu- 
cational campaign against Nazi race 
prejudices in America and the •world. 

AT THIS writing, Crossfire has just completed 
six weeks at the Rivoli Theatre in New York, 
and is continuing to run. Business has been 
splendid, even boff, in the big city. The picture has 
been seen in a few resort towns on the Atlantic sea- 
board. Reports from there are incomplete but aggregate 
grosses on the first day had the picture running $150 
behind The Hucksters, which is the most boff of the 
pictures currently running. This means, I gather, that 
the box office is not as pessimistic about Crossfire as 
some people are. 

From the very beginning Crossfire has been the 
victim of a strong minority pessimism. It would be 
easy to say that its source was anti-Semitic, which in 
part it was. But chiefly it stemmed from sources that 
had genuine anxiety about the project and thought 
it would be better left alone. Pictures should be made 
on the subject, the sources said, but not Crossfire. 
Others among the minority said Crossfire should be 
done differently. Still others: If it were done badly, 
it would cause more anti-Semitism. Still others: If it 
were done well, it would be those smart Jews in Holly- 
wood at work, and this, too, would not have the effect 
of abating but rather increasing anti-Semitism. 

This is the partial, bewildering context of Crossfire's 
inception ; the whole of it is monumental. 

The first rumbling of an anti-Semitic nature came 
to us when the project was first announced. A troubled 
few had difficulty assigning the right motives to the 
making and to the makers of Crossfire. Eddie Dmytryk 

was labeled a Jew. It was said that I was a Jew, too, 
a fact which I had managed to conceal for many years 
but which now came out since I was involved in the 
project. Of John Paxton, who wrote the screen play, 
it was noted by someone who read the script that he 
couldn't possibly have been this brilliant about anti- 
Semitism unless he himself was an anti-Semite. Fin- 
ally, it was said categorically that the whole bunch 
at RKO involved in this project were Jews. 

We were not accorded the professional's right of 
evaluating the contemporary scene or the right of feel- 
ing compassion for our fellow men. Nor were we 
accorded a fundamental Hollywood right of considering 
ourselves fairly good business men for attempting to 
make a good picture with a new and vital theme. These, 
incidentally, were our motives. They haven't changed. 
We continue to like them. 

Since the picture's release the original pessimism 
has taken some new forms but mostly the old forms 
remain intact. Naturally, it was very rewarding to 
find majority opinion behind the film's content, prais- 
ing the fact that it was done, deploring the fact that 
it was necessary to be done. But minority opinion has 
let out a loud wail, placing its attack in the context of 
that indefatigable cliche that Hollywood has not grown 
up. The specific attack is confining itself to certain 
issues in the picture. 

Minority opinion attaches itself to what it considers 
a formidable weakness in content, not quality. In most 
cases the picture gets a grudgingly proffered "A" in 


quality. This minority view seems less an opinion — 
even a complex opinion — - than it does a fascinating 
and tortuous obscurity. But despite this, and despite 
its irrelevance, it is well and articulately done. It is, 
therefore, considerably more dangerous. 

Here it is. 

Crossfire, the argument goes, concerns itself with 
"lunatic fringe" anti-Semitism (which it primarily 
does). But, because it deals with lunatic fringe anti- 
Semitism, it separates itself from majority anti-Semitic 
practice. Because it separates itself from majority anti- 
Semitic practice, the film is not about you and me. 

The argument shifts and proceeds: The "you and 
me" kind of anti-Semitism is chiefly the social discrim- 
ination variety — the kind which keeps Jews out of a 
club or a hotel or a camp, which says the Jews own 
the motion picture industry, which they clearly do 
not. And this "you and me" kind, it is argued, since 
it has to do with the kind of anti-Semitism practiced 
by most Americans, is the kind one ought to make a 
picture about. 

Because Crossfire does not deal with this variety 
of anti-Semitism, the film is not only not about you 
and me but it is, moreover, not valid and not true. 

Crossfire is not valid and not true because ( 1 ) luna- 
tic anti-Semitism either does not exist or it does exist 
but it is not important; or (2) it is important but it 
doesn't happen as it does in Crossfire; or (3) if it does 
happen, the picture's attack is nevertheless too con- 
fined, it is not a definitive picture of anti-Semitism: 
therefore, it will not promote understanding of anti- 
Semitism; or (4) the anti-Semite, Monty, in Crossfire, 
for a variety of obscure reasons, will be considered the 
hero — audiences will sympathize with him, identify 
themselves with him. As a result the picture will have 
the opposite effect of the one intended. 

It would be stupid to deny the charge — and it has 
become a charge — about the "you and me" business. 
It should be freely admitted at the outset: Crossfire 
is not about you and me. When work was started 
some two years ago, it was purposely designed not to 
be about you and me. Its attack was limited and con- 
fined ; its story was limited and confined, as is the story 
of almost any theatrical experience. To attempt to do 
a definitive study of anti-Semitism in one picture is a 
fool's errand. It is proper material for pamphlets and 
books. But even in these media it is doubtful if defini- 
tiveness is possible. Look at the literature which has 
investigated anti-Semitism. Find, if you can, a one- 
volume definitive analysis. 

Most of the minority charges against Crossfire 
probably dismiss themselves, crumbling with their own 
faulty and insubstantial structure. But the charge that 
the lunatic fringe anti-Semitism of Crossfire is invalid 

and untrue is just silly enough to be picked up by 
groups which engage wilfully in anti- Semitism. For 
this reason it should be answered. 

UNATIC fringe anti-Semitism is important, dan- 
••-'gerously and terribly important. It was important in 
Hitler's Reich and in Czarist Russia, and in most of 
the countries of Europe at some time. The social dis- 
crimination variety is important, too ; so is every minor 
or major practice which goes to make up the whole 
hateful body of anti-Semitic practice. And anyone who 
attempts to estimate which kind of anti-Semitism is 
most important or which kind should have the most 
emphasis announces an incomplete understanding of 

Monty, the anti-Semite in Crossfire, exists. This very 
night he is roaming the streets of Queens, N. Y., look- 
ing for a Jew to beat up. He has already beaten up 
many. He has associates. They are looking to prove 
their superiority by kicking around someone they con- 
sider decidedly inferior. They want a scapegoat for their 
own insecurity and maladjustment. They are ignorant 
and organized. They hoot and howl with fanatic 
energy at the Messianic raving of Gerald L. K. Smith. 
They are the storm troopers of tomorrow. If this coun- 
try were depressed enough to fall victim to a Leader, 
these men would qualify brilliantly for the chieftains 
of American Buchenwalds and Dachaus. 

Such a group, organized and disciplined, a significant 
section of native American fascists, is a threat to the 
Jews, and to the entire population. It is depressing at 
this point in our history to find it necessary to say that. 

It is also depressing, after the experience of Crossfire, 
to hear the fancies which are currently being distributed 
about Gentleman's Agreement. This is again a minor- 
ity opinion, as in the case of Crossfire. And it is some- 
thing which the makers of Gentleman s Agreement 
will face and undoubtedly answer. 

The lunatic fringe charge, of course, is not made 
against Gentleman's Agreement. The charge here is 
that Gentleman's Agreement has a dubious device ; that, 
while the book has some fine things to say about anti- 
Semitism, the point of departure is unsound. 

You may have heard it. It goes like this : Gentleman's 
Agreement has a great angle — a slick, glib and familiar 
angle — but it does not truthfully correspond with 
experience. The protagonist, Green, who pretends to 
be a Jew, is not really going through what a Jew 
goes through. Thus, the picture will have a sense 
of not happening, or at best, happening in vacuum. 
The end result will be special — as special as the prob- 
lem it poses — and, therefore, not effective against 
total anti-Semitism. 


This is an interesting deviation from the criticism 
of Crossfire. Remember, Crossfire did not correspond 
with majority anti-Semitic practice? Well, Gentleman's 
Agreement does. But even though Gentleman's Agree- 
ment has selected the proper kind of anti-Semitism to 
attack, it's no good because the method of attack is 
no good! 

Discussions of anti-Semitism on this level are weird 
and unreal. They are debates in limbo. Nobody really 
cares how they come out. But they are important, 
recklessly important, for they throw off anti-Semitic 
particles to be used and to be expanded in the whole 
body of anti-Semitic practice. 

The plain, simple fact is that the device of Gentle- 
man s Agreement is brilliant for its purpose. To describe 
sharply the villainy of anti-Semitism, a man is perse- 
cuted and depraved simply because he says he is a Jew. 
If it is a trick, it is a Swiftian trick. It, furthermore, 
lends itself to a savage and ruthless exposition of anti- 

DURING the preparation of Crossfire we had no 
notion what the specific effect of the picture would 
be on the anti-Semitic and non-anti-Semitic popula- 
tion. There was no possible way of gauging this except 
by making a picture and finding out what happened. 
The full potential impact of a motion picture cannot 
be completely determined by its script, nor is it possible 
to survey scientifically the effect of the final product. 
Anti-Semitism is slippery and takes many forms. A pic- 
ture could affect one form and not another. 

We hoped the effect would be enormous. We weren't 
so sanguine as to expect the picture would, in one fell 
swoop, eradicate anti-Semitism. But we did know that 
public discussion and lively debate have a valuable 
place in a democratic society. The air could be cleared. 
The problem could be more clearly visualized. We 
hoped for this, for more clarity. 

Although we rejected the minority disturbance, we 
nevertheless wondered about it. We wondered, for 
example, if it had reached our fellow professionals, and 
if not, would they have the minority reservation without 
having experienced minority influence. 

We decided to ask and to ask further what was their 
opinion of the possible effect of the picture. We hoped 
it would be like ours. It wouldn't prove anything 
scientifically, but it would describe an attitude — 
whether that attitude was favorably inclined toward 
this project and others like it; whether that attitude 
properly stimulated would be the beneficiary of further 
attitudes and further action against anti-Semitism. We 

simply wanted to know the effect — any kind of effect — 
on professionals and we could get this simply by asking. 

A poll was conducted. The specific question of 
"effect" was asked and one other: Is it possible to end 
anti-Semitism in America? This latter produced some 
lively results. The questionees freely spoke their minds. 
Here are the answers: 

Answer Number One. Number One thought the 
effect of pictures dealing with anti-Semitism would 
be enormous. They would be applauded by the country 
as a whole, by legislators, educators, churches, etc. 
He was quite certain that on people of good will who 
were unconscious of their own anti-Semitic practice 
the effect would be positive; i.e., in the future they 
would resist anti-Semitic impulses and be wary of anti- 
Semitic practice in others. He felt the pictures would 
have no effect on the practicing anti-Semite, the semi- 
fascist, who would conclude that these pictures were 
all Jewish inspired. He thought that anti-Semitism 
could be ended in America if all the media of communi- 
cation lent themselves to the project. The project 
would need the endless cooperation of radio, news- 
papers, motion pictures, educators and school systems. 
He added ruefully that although it could be done, it 
probably wouldn't simply because the media them- 
selves would develop insuperable obstacles to their 
ever getting together. They would not consider it their 
job fundamentally. It would belong to somebody else. 

Answer Number Two. Number Two was uncertain 
as to what the effect of pictures exposing anti-Semitism 
would be. Undoubtedly, on some people there would 
be a salutary effect but he wondered how permanent 
the effect would be. Attacking aspects of anti-Semitism 
in pictures would certainly neutralize to a great extent 
those aspects but wouldn't anti-Semitism find new ways 
of exploiting itself? Wouldn't it rise in new forms? 
Wouldn't it transfer itself to other minorities, the 
Negroes, for example ? He hadn't really thought enough 
about it, but despite his hesitancies he felt that the fact 
that pictures were being made was a great stride for- 
word. He thought anti-Semitism and all minority 
prejudice could be removed from the American scene 
by proper educational methods but he would not 
attempt to guess how long this would take. 

Answer Number Three. Number Three couldn't 
estimate or guess at the effect of the pictures being 
made but he was proud they were being made. Proud 
of the industry and himself ( he was working in one 
of the pictures). He didn't know how long it would 
take but he knew it could be done, citing himself as 


an example. Until he was 28 years old he was anti- 
Semitic himself. Not active and not vicious. When 
he first came to New York from a small Nebraska 
town, he'd never to his knowledge met a Jew. There 
weren't any in his town and yet the town was anti- 
Semitic. During a time he was out of work in New 
York, he roamed the city — in the slums, middle class 
and wealthy areas. Particularly in the slums his anti- 
Semitism was confirmed. He would see dirty people, 
fat, sloppy. His simple standard of judgment was that 
he wouldn't like to be invited into these peoples' houses 
to sit at their table. The thought revolted him. These 
were Jews. In later years, when his perspective had 
changed, he confessed to himself that he never knew 
for certain whether these "dirty, sloppy people" were 
Jews. They could have been anything: Irish, Polish, 
Hungarians, or what they actually were, Americans. 
His real hate was for poverty and the dirt and filth 
that accompany it. He hated the wrong things; he 
hated the people instead of the conditions that made 
people that way. Today he says, "If the seed of anti- 
Semitism could be removed from me, it can be removed 
from anybody — when educated properly." 

prejudice, was the tool of the semi-fascist and the 
fascist, something to use against the country as a whole, 
and against him and his family. It was a machine by 
which democracy could be liquidated. He was certain 
that anti-Semitism could be ended. He didn't care 
how long it took, so long as something in a big way 
was done to combat it. 

Answer Number Six. This man was an executive 
in the industry. He couldn't determine the effect of 
the pictures. But he was convinced that this was a 
proper step and he hoped the pictures would make a 
lot of money, for, he argued, this would guarantee 
that many people would see them. But whether money 
was made or not was not of first importance. Whether 
the pictures were big successes, moderate successes or 
miserable failures was not of first importance. The 
importance was the public service. The industry occa- 
sionally should make pictures, he felt, with the objec- 
tive of servicing democratic institutions. He considered 
prejudice of any kind anti-democratic. If the pictures 
fail, they should be written off and made available to 
anyone or any organization that wanted to show them. 

Answer Number Four. Number Four felt that the 
pictures being made were a drop in a bucket. No more. 
To be really effective, a national campaign of education 
was necessary, including the help of motion pictures, 
newspapers, radio, publishers, legislators, congressmen, 
senators, presidents, school systems and the whole 
American people. That they could ever get together 
was an idea which should be properly patronized. But 
if they did, and stayed together, the demise of anti- 
Semitism could be estimated as a certainty in a very 
short time. 

Answer Number Five. Number Five applauded the 
pictures being made. He was not interested as a pro- 
fessional in the specific effect of these pictures — he 
knew it would be good. He didn't know how wide- 
spread the effect would be. He felt the violent anti- 
Semite would ignore and actively campaign against the 
pictures. He felt that even certain people of good will, 
unconscious of their anti-Semitic prejudice, ignorant 
of the full meaning of anti-Semitism, would pick on 
the pictures and try very hard to find something wrong 
with them. But all this was irrelevant. What was 
important was that the most effective voice in the 
country had the guts to stand up and say anti-Semitism 
was wrong. Not only was it education for the people 
but it was education for the professional. Here was a 
precedent which excites and stimulates the professional 
to examine his own work. As a good citizen, he wanted 
anti-Semitism to end. Anti-Semitism, or any minority 

Answer Number Seven. This man was a veteran. He 
thought it was possible to neutralize anti-Semitism 
and having been abroad in Germany he thought we 
damn well better had. Anti-Semitism in pre-Hitler 
Germany was far less extensive than it is here now. 
He was appalled when he came home from the war 
at the extent to which we have continued to under- 
estimate minority prejudice. We have learned some 
lessons from the war, he thought, but we have not 
learned enough. We have failed to understand that 
with existing prejudices against the Jews and the 
Negroes and other minorities, it would be simple — so 
very simple — for an American Fuehrer to whip this 
country into a violent and ghastly hatred as a step 
toward the eventual destruction of our democratic 
institutions. In depression, which our most conservative 
economists agree is coming, the soil for demagoguery 
grows rich and fertile. The minority becomes the 
scapegoat and the scapegoat the smoke screen for anti- 
democratic activity. In this context, anyone who sub- 
scribes to full democratic practice is expendable. 

THESE are some of the answers. There were more, 
about twenty in all but there isn't enough space 
to report them. 

On the whole the experiment, however unscientific 
it might seem to Mr. Gallup, was successful. A major- 
ity approved the pictures, were pleased that the subject 


was being aired in frank terms, agreed that the tech- 
niques so far developed for battling anti-Semitism 
have proved miserable failures. 

One opinion was violent on the subject of the frail 
intellectual who would snipe and pick and submit 
his own anxiety as proof that these pictures will cause 
more anti-Semitism — whose real position when exam- 
ined closely would prevent pictures on anti-Semitism 
from being made at all. 

Everyone realized it was a gigantic job to neutralize 
anti-Semitism but that perhaps as a result of these 
pictures, activity would be hastened. But there was no 
absolute, positive guarantee that this would be done. 
It seemed rather that the only positive guarantee was 
that anti-Semitism would continue. 

This is true. Anti-Semitism will continue. The 
pictures, when they have been released nationally and 
have completed their runs, will certainly have the 
effect of abating somewhat the virulence of anti- 
Semitism. But at best the effect is temporary. These 
pictures are no permanent cure. For a year or perhaps 
five years they will be shown and used, but in the end, 
they cannot be counted on to handle the job of servicing 
a nation riddled with prejudice. There is no proof that 
any program, legislative or educational, now in work 
is large enough in scope to defend successfully our 
people against prejudice of whatever kind. 

Although the poll confirmed our hopes about Cross- 
fire, it brought to the foreground a new and grave con- 
cern: The motion picture industry had lifted the lid 
on a controversy on a national scale; it would hardly 
accrue to its credit to allow that controversy to be 
debated or aired superficially. 

Medicine would not put a highly infectious patient 
in a fine hospital bed and deny him the use of peni- 
cillin. Motion pictures cannot make two or five or even 
ten films and announce their responsibility has been 
discharged. If the industry believes, and not simply 
pays lip service to the notion that American life guar- 
antees freedom from prejudice, as the pictures on anti- 
Semitism will say directly or indirectly, then clearly 
there is a responsibility facing the industry. 

The responsibility, very simply, is to implement the 
job already started. 

In the course of conducting the poll, a number of 
gifted people said they were available for use in com- 
bating minority prejudice. This was enough encourage- 
ment to ask other people among our actors, directors, 
producers and writers if they would be willing to give 
their services to making pictures on anti-Semitism and 
minority prejudice. 

No one refused. 

They agreed to make time if they were busy. They 

were all stimulated by the prospect and not a few 
pointed out a precedent exists. No studio in the business 
made a penny on pictures produced for the Army or 
Navy during wartime. True, this was a national crisis, 
but as someone pointed out, there is a crisis among 
minorities. When any minority is abused, degraded or 
deprived of earning a living, this constitutes a crisis 
for the entire nation. 

THE broad program is yet to be devised. But suppose 
it went something like this: 

The program of pictures would be shorts — documen- 
taries, if you prefer that word — made by some of the 
industry's finest craftsmen. Individually, they would 
deal with one aspect of anti-minority practice. They 
would be designed for the consumption of all age 
groups. For the very young, obviously a cartoon. For 
college groups, a more mature analysis. One picture 
could possibly lay low the infamous "Christ killer" 
legend. Another could treat with anti-Semitism among 
the Negroes. Several could be devoted to the historical 
aspects of anti-Semitism. And so on, until the whole 
body of anti-Semitism is exposed. 

These pictures would be made with the assistance 
of experts — psychologists, social workers, effective 
fighters against race and minority prejudice. 

They would be made available free of charge to 
anyone who requested them. To social organizations, 
to school systems, to labor organizations, to colleges, 
to motion picture exhibitors, etc., etc. 

Twenty shorts would be enough to start the pro- 
gram, enough to service the country for five years, say. 
A production expert figures, with services donated by 
those who can afford it, the pictures should cost less than 
$10,000 apiece. My very poor arithmetic makes the 
price per day for five years about one hundred dollars. 

If this job is done, if these pictures are made, the 
nation will be given the machinery by which a large 
scale operation can be instituted. Everyone applauds 
the yearly campaigns of good will organizations to 
combat prejudice; but these good will organizations 
do not have enough weapons. One week, every year, 
is not enough time to devote to the destruction of 
prejudice. Doctors would go mad if they were permit- 
ted to work only one week on the cure for polio or 
cancer. We would still have no cure for syphilis if 
Ehrlich assigned one week a year to find his specific. 
It's a full-time job. To destroy a mass prejudice, a mass 
instrument is necessary. A motion picture program 
is the start. But a big start. 

Clearly, we have the facilities in this country demo- 
cratically mobilized to work effectively for the destruc- 
tion of anti-Semitism or any minority prejudice. 


Tragedy will befall us if as a result of the program 
spontaneously combusting nothing is done to follow 
it up. The time will be ripe a few months hence for 
action. A certain conditioning in public thinking will 

have taken place. The challenge of action will then 
face us. 

Some of my worst friends are those who ignore 
or refuse this challenge. 


Writer-Director F. Hugh Herbert, SWG secretary, has written this brief epilogue to his 
widely reprinted satire, Subject: Bindle Biog, published in the September issue of The Screen 

Subject: Bindle Biog 

(A Postscript) 

West Coast Studios 

Executive Board 
Screen Writers Guild 
1655 N. Cherokee 
Hollywood, Cal. 

SUBJECT: The Bindle Swindle 

Gentlemen : 

Please consider this letter my application for active membership in the Screen Writers Guild. 
I have carefully read your by-laws and constitution and believe that I qualify for active member- 
ship on the basis of having been the sole author of the final shooting script of The Bindle Swindle. 

I have been informed that a credit dispute currently exists regarding the screenplay between 
Messrs. Herbert Keeler, Gilbert Gripes, Phoebe Quillan, Bertram Parch and other writers who 
claim to have contributed to it, and that the matter is now being arbitrated by the Screen Writers 

Under separate cover I am sending you affidavits from my secretary, my executive assistant, 
my production aide, and other disinterested parties attesting to the fact that I wrote the shooting 
script entirely by myself and I am therefore entitled to solo screen credit. 

If oral hearings are to be held in this matter I desire to be present, and would like permis- 
sion to be legally represented by Messrs. Gibfel, McPherson and Gibfel, my attorneys. 

Anticipating favorable action by your board, I enclose my check in the sum of $12 for my 
dues as an active member of the Screen Writers Guild. 

Very truly yours, 

Executive Producer 

Film Suspense and Revelation 


WILLIAM SERIL is a New York 
writer and film critic. During the war 
he served with the Army Special Serv- 
ices Office overseas and helped organ- 
ize the Camp Shows program in the 
West Pacific. 

OF the many modes of expression utilized by 
the motion picture medium to develop narrative 
and dramatic structure, one of the most indi- 
vidually impressive is its unique visual ability to suggest 
sudden, vivid insights, with an unanticipated graphic 

This scope, achieved both by edited film and the 
moving camera, was inherent in the maturing of the 
silent film. And the technical proficiency achieved in 
the use of sound and dialogue has merely embellished, 
but not discarded, this rudimentary manner of pictorial 
representation which enables the screen to intimate 
change and perception in its own peculiarly arresting 

In the English movie Thunder Rock there is a 
striking episode that illustrates the effectiveness with 
which this pliancy of the cinema can be employed in 
the modern sound film: 

The central figure of the story, an anti-Fascist jour- 
nalist, has been lecturing throughout Britain, in an 
attempt to convince his countrymen of the imminence 
of war; it is 1938. The sequence opens with him on 
the rostrum, forcefully detailing the activities and atti- 
tudes that are hastening Europe and the world into 
disaster. This is a deeply moving harangue, you feel. 
But as the camera gradually recedes from the speaker's 
platform toward the rear of the auditorium, it despair- 
ingly reveals that he has been talking to a pitifully 
small and shockingly unresponsive audience. 

Here, aspect and appreciation have been radically 
altered. The ambulatory camera has served to disclose 
something, surprising to the spectator, yet already 
known, as it were, to the characters in the action. The 
startling execution with which it affects the beholder, 
given this sharp, different discernment, exemplifies an 
elemental story-telling device which is intrinsically 
cinematic. The screen, in this eye-perceiving way, can 
convey an idea with marked style and singularity. 

A brief, compelling instance of the same idiomatic 
usage was accomplished by editing two related footages, 

in the recent documentary release Passport To Nowhere 
( This Is America series) : 

The picture deals with the tragic plight of the Dis- 
placed Persons in war-ravaged Europe. Halfway 
through the harrowing recital that has been unreeling, 
a semi-close-up presents two laughing, happy children — 
in a D. P. camp. They are playing a game at a billiard- 
like table. And you are momentarily relieved, amidst 
the sorrow of so many hopeless millions, to indulge 
this fleeting glimmer of childhood joy. Then, the next 
shot offers a rear view of the same two boys, preoccu- 
pied with their fun. Both of them, you now realize, 
are one-legged. Immediately the irony of their gaiety 
and laughter is poignantly juxtaposed to the sudden 
inference of this unexpected revelation. 

Montage was cleverly employed to achieve a surprise 
effect, similar in its fundamental film structure, for 
Miracle On 34th Street. 

The theme of this yarn is built around the merchan- 
dising activities of Macy's Department Store. At one 
point, the camera presents a succession of views wherein 
newspaper display advertisements of Macy competitors 
are being clipped, mounted and assembled. Presumably, 
these ads are to be shown to Macy executives, for 
competitor evaluation. But, no ! The final shot of the 
montage proclaims, amazingly, that the ads have been 
gathered into a Macy's customers' guide book. Macy's 
is actually going to recommend merchandise offered 
by its rivals ! 

Disney's animators sketched-out a dainty trifle in 
this identical vein of delayed visual elucidation, for the 
the andante treatment of Beethoven's Pastoral Sym- 
phony in Fantasia. 

At the start of the second movement, you are near 
the edge of a brook, watching several nymph-like 
maidens, bathing; only their heads are visible, at first. 
The camera pursues one of them, as she swims toward 
the bank of the stream and proceeds to emerge from 
the water. You begin to see her nakedness, now, and 
expect more. But, quickly, an astonishing discovery is 


made. Her lower portion is not that of a woman ; she 
is half-horse !. . . Thus the centauret is introduced. 

THERE is a kindred type of belated visual discovery, 
on the screen, which impresses the viewer with the 
abrupt observation of something already known only 
to certain characters in the action ; the onlooker is 
granted an awareness of the secret: 

The Show Off included a scene in which the hero, 
pondering the opportunity of a date with a female 
acquaintance, importantly consults his appointment 
book and advises her that he already has a full schedule 
of engagements. Meanwhile, however, the camera has 
given you a close-up glance at the page which he is 
perusing. There is nothing written on it ! 

In The Maltese Falcon a detective is shown walking 
through a crowded street. Somewhere along the way, 
the screen picks-up and begins to concentrate on another 
man who has started to follow him. You, the bystander, 
have realized the presence and purpose of the shadower 
before the man chased does. 

A taut mystery measure occurs in And Then There 
Were None. Looking-on, you discover a murdered 
body, while the actors, nearby in the frame, are still 
unaware of the whereabouts and death of the victim. 
An incident in The Cat People has a young woman 
answering a ringing telephone. No one responds to her 
"hello" ; but a direct film cut indicates who is silent 
on the other end of the line. 

Even when it is of very short duration, this eye-given 
awareness can create disturbing emotional intensity, 
as in the silent German melodrama Variety : 

The lover, in the hallway, starts to unlock the door 
of his hotel room, after a tete-a tete with his partner's 
wife. As he opens the door to enter, you hasten to the 
semi-dark interior of the room, where the cuckolded 
husband is unexpectedly found, awaiting him, just 
before the light is switched on. 

Fitting into this genre, too, is the artifice of revising 
the import of a screen conversation, by the incisive, 
unforeseen exposure of an eavesdropper. It was ac- 
complished in The Yearling by editing, with a panning 
maneuver in Rebecca and Laura, and through a travel- 
ing camera device in the British To The Victor. More 
remarkable was the enormously effective result achieved 
in The Magnificent Ambersons: Moving over the 
speakers' heads, through the hallway and along the 
staircase of the mansion, the camera searchingly betrays 
first one, and at a higher landing, a second person, 
overhearing the dialogue. 

Then, too, the screen can allow the spectator and 
actor to apprehend something concomitantly. 

This category might include the resolving of dilem- 

mas and crises by the trick of transforming them, 
miraculously, into feverish dreams, with the protag- 
onist providentially awakening to a bewildered realiza- 

But a more exact case in point was contained in the 
English Storm In A Teacup: With daughter stand- 
ing by, father is consoling a dejected, tearful woman 
friend. Next, the father's hand is seen, in close-up, as 
he desiringly fondles the lady's back. He cannot execute 
this caress furtively enough, however ; for, from the 
perplexed look on the daughter's face, you know that 
she has witnessed it all. 

The climax of the silent screen comedy The Navi- 
gator has its locale on a tropical island, where the 
shipwrecked lovers are being attacked by an army of 
savage cannibals. About to be captured, the fugitives 
have retreated, hand in hand, into the ocean. Just as 
the barbaric pursuers are about to pounce on them, the 
two realize that they are standing on the deck of a 
submarine which is slowly surfacing. 

The last scene of the aforementioned Miracle On 
34th Street takes place in the new house which a little 
girl had wanted — and gotten — for Christmas. The 
young lawyer who has just proved, in court, that there 
is a Santa Claus, now seriously begins to doubt that 
Kringle has had anything to do with the fulfilling of 
the child's wish. Nevertheless, he and the camera are 
eventually reassured, by the discovery of old Kris' 
walking stick, standing in a corner of the room. 

STILL another basic characteristic of cinematic reve- 
lation can be found in forehand visual interpolation. 
The spectator has recognition of something, unknown, 
as yet, to any of the players. An inanimate object is con- 
verted, here, into a "motor-image," which will now 
take an active part in the outcome of a situation. The 
anticipative knowledge heightens dramatic tension, 
as the movie-goer becomes anxiously concerned about 
the welfare of the unaware actor. 

Often interposed, in this guise, are phenomena of 
nature: floods, storms, rainfall, active volcanoes, etc. 
Moreover, it is quite usual, by this means, to observe : 
water overflowing, ice weakening or forming, wheels 
loosening, articles scattered by wind, bridges wrecked, 
gas escaping, highways torn-up and structures col- 

The scenario of / Stole A Million required that an 
empty taxi-cab, insecurely parked on a San Francisco 
hill, start rolling down the inclined street, ending in 
the bay before its driver could find out and prevent the 
misfortune. In The Late George Apley a man takes 
his overcoat from a hanger, and while putting it on, 
unwittingly loses a letter from the pocket. 


Another depiction of this sort was concocted for 
Bringing Up Baby: The camera-eye glimpses the acci- 
dental, calamitous detaching of a very essential posterior 
part of a young lady's evening gown, caught on some- 
thing, as she and her escort, hoth ignorant of this 
mishap, are about to enter a room crowded with people. 


These excerpts exemplify only one associative phase 
of film vernacular. When woven into the plastic fabric 
of a screenplay, the processes of advance, concurrent 
and retarded visual revelation can significantly enhance 
the intimate, individual scope of the motion picture. 
They are cinemode. 

The Writers Share 

Following are comments on the contribution of writers to the motion picture industry, as 
gleaned from the Louella Parsons Sunday evening radio program on the American Broadcasting 
Company network: 

On August 24 Jerry Wald, Warner Bros, producer and Miss Parsons' guest star on the pro- 
gram said : 

"I think that the writer is the most important conrtibutor to the success or failure of a film, 
even more important that the producer . . . but of course I don't feel that writers should be paid 
as much." 

On Sept. 7 William Powell, star in the current film Life With Father, commented on Don- 
ald Ogden Stewart's great script, and then said: 

"Louella, just between us, whatever a motion picture star is worth, you can take it from me 
that the writer of a good script is worth at least twice that." 

Disunion in Vienna 


EUGEN SHARIN, an associate mem- 
ber of SfVG, served as American 
Films Officer in Austria. He has work- 
ed in Hollywood as a writer and tech- 
nical director, and is now in Europe 
again on a film mission. 

THE RUSSIAN colonel was a big man, bullet- 
headed and barrel-chested, and he did not like 
what the Americans had done. The American 
Film Officer was a civilian in uniform, quiet-mannered 
but sharp-tongued, and he did not like that the Russians 
did not like what he, too, had done. The meeting was 
expected to bring forth some fireworks. Assistants on 
both sides felt like looking for buckets and sponges. 
But the ornate parlor of a suite in Vienna's old Hotel 
Imperial never turned into a boxing ring. 

"Ya ne saglassny!" the colonel thundered. 

"The Colonel says he does not agree," the trans- 
lator said. 

The American nodded. 

The colonel looked sternly first at the inkwell in 
front of him, then at his adversary. 

"I represent the Marshal," he said, frowning. The 
Marshal was Ivan Konev, liberator of Vienna, com- 
mander of all Russian forces in Austria. It sounded 

"I have been charged with transmitting a request 
from the Marshal," the colonel went on. 

The Russians were always formal like that. They 
used colonels as messenger boys, sometimes, and the 
officer in question was not supposed to exercise his own 
judgment, or contribute anything toward settling mat- 
ters. All he had to do was transmit messages and re- 
ceive replies, if any. 

"I shall now put the request before you," the Rus- 
sian said. 

The American nodded again but said nothing. The 
whole thing boded no good. Film matters in Austria 
were complicated enough, and misunderstood enough 
by his own HQ, without the Russians disagreeing again. 
They were doing it all the time. 

"Please go on," he said, just to say something. 

"Precisely," the colonel said, looking straight at the 
American. "It is the Marshal's wish to see The Great 

The American was startled. He looked at his two 
companions. They seemed puzzled. 

"The Marshal is very fond of Charles Chaplin," the 
colonel said. There was no mistake. The anticlimax was 
not a figment of the imagination. The Film Officer 
found himself: 

"We shall be pleased to fulfill the Marshal's wish," 
he said. 

"You have a print of the picture?" the Russian 
asked, solicitously. 

"We have," the American said, instantly, like a 
fighter rising to the charge. What does he know of my 
troubles, he wondered. 

"Organizatzya!" the Russian beamed, admiringly. 
He looked at his satellites. They were all beaming. 
"Some organization! These Americans! They have 

The Americans rose to leave, but the colonel was 
now all gracious host. Vodka appeared from a side- 
board and a small chest yielded black bread, sardines 
and caviar. Charles Chaplin was toasted, then Russia 
and America, and, of course organizatzya, that most 
wonderful of all American traits, that miracle of our 
age, triumph of technology! 

The colonel smiled. Shaking hands with his opposite 
number, the American Film Officer, he repeated his 
war cry. "Ya ne saglassny" he said, but this time it 
did not sound so stern but rather like a friendly part- 
ing shot. He did not agree, as a matter of principle, but 
there were no hard feelings and what it was that he did 
not agree with was definitely lost in the mists of vodka 
and goodfellowship. This was Vienna, after all, a city 
of pleasant, even gay, traditions, we were Allies, Chap- 
lin was a great artist, and what was a routine dis- 
agreement in the fact of this wonderful, wonderful 

ACTUALLY, the disagreement was not a trifling 
as all that and the organizatzya was, alas, far 
from what it was cracked up to be. 

When the shooting subsided, Vienna's reviving movie 
life presented a unique situation to the victors. But the 



chance to re-educate a vanquished population via the 
screen was thoroughly bungled by Russians (the first 
on the scene) and Americans alike. 

As soon as the siege was lifted, the Viennese could 
be expected to flock to the movies. For almost a year 
there had been no new German films — public trans- 
portation had broken down so completely throughout 
the country that films could not be circulated, except 
within the smallest areas. Deliveries were made by 
handcart or messenger only. Theaters played old films 
for the fifth and sixth time and the public, denied all 
other theatrical entertainment during the last stage of 
the war, had patiently studied and re-studied the fine 
points of pictures long past their prime. When liber- 
ation came, Allied films were just as consciously ex- 
pected and eagerly anticipated as food : the people were 
willing and ready to be cured of their acute and chronic 
indigestion of the mind. Paper shortages and badly- 
bombed premises meant nothing — publications of all 
sorts multiplied and there was a mushroom-like growth 
of cabarets of every description. The opera reopened 
and so did most legitimate theatres. Concerts became 
more frequent than ever — the Viennese were revenging 
themselves for the Nazis' curtailing of their tradition- 
ally lush and thriving artistic life, and with a bang. 

Unfortunately, in the field of motion pictures, the 
resurrection was a long time coming. Instead of special- 
ly chosen and appropriate films, the victorious Allies, 
without exception, lagged badly in their efforts to bring 
new fare to the screens of Austria. To make up, per- 
haps, for the poor start, they threw in practically every- 
thing later, including the proverbial kitchen sink. In 
an effort to cater to the public's hunger for non-Nazi 
entertainment, if not re-education, they overfed the 
willing populace with seven years' product of all vari- 
eties. (The unavoidable indigestion is just setting in 

The Russians' first move was to bring in, without 
much fanfare, six programs consisting of a feature and 
a newsreel each. These were exhibited in a dozen or 
so theatres simultaneously, every print being "bicycled" 
between two houses all the time. The Russians' great 
effort was almost completely wasted. Ravenous as they 
were for new films, the Viennese stayed away from the 
Russian feast. The six programs grossed about as much 
as a hit would bring in one day in a single theatre. The 
reason for this was the Russians' quite unusual naive- 
te: they had left their pictures in the original Russian, 
without subtitles, without dubbed-in German dialogue, 
narration or explanation of any kind. But they learned 
their lesson in a comparatively short time. About two 
months later they corrected this oversight. Russian films 
were withdrawn altogether. They reappeared only 
after a studio, hastily put into operation in Berlin, was 

able to deliver versions with a dubbed-in German sound- 
track instead of the original Russian dialogue. 

When the hybrid pictures, and some subtitled ones, 
became available, the Russians made a deal with an 
outfit called Austria Film to distribute them. In their 
new garb many of the pictures were successful, but 
there was a fly in the ointment. The Russians had 
considered the official-sounding Austria Film an Aus- 
trian state organization, somewhat similar to their 
own Soyuskino or State Film Trust. Actually, Austria 
Film was a private organization that had set up busi- 
ness in the abandoned premises of the defunct German 
Reich Film Monopoly, distributing into the bargain 
all but the most offensive Nazi-made pictures to thea- 
tres reopening all over Vienna and the Russian Zone. 

To make matters worse, the actual state of affairs was 
discovered and made public by the Americans. When 
an American contingent entered Vienna, several months 
after the liberation, the city's Film Row (Neubaugasse) 
was found to be in the U. S. sector. The Army's In- 
formation Services Branch, Film Section, an OWI- 
staffed outfit, took over the former Reich Film Monop- 
oly's offices, studios, storage vaults and bank accounts, 
and Austria Film was out on its ear. This miffed the 
Russians, mostly because, had they investigated the 
matter, they might have conficsated everything under 
the Potsdam agreement, whereas now the Americans 
were in possession. Past experience showed that the 
Americans would, sooner or later, turn things over to 
the Austrians, not without certain attendant publicity. 
To save face, the Russians for a while hollered that 
they "did not agree." In the end they not only agreed 
but refused to let the "founders" of Austria Film keep 
even the earned commissions on the distribution of 
Russian films, such as it was during their short-lived 

THE FACT that all suitable film facilities were in 
the U. S. sector of Vienna, actually operated by the 
Americans, could have become a source of embarrass- 
ment for the other Allies. To forestall this, they were 
offered joint use of these facilities. Quite happy, the 
Russians were the first to accept. The British and 
French followed suit as soon as their films arrived. 
The result was a situation unique in the history of 
motion picture economics: the former Reich Film 
Monopoly exchange in Austria became the clearing 
house for all films of the Big Four, plus such confis- 
cated German films as were still allowed to circulate. 
The "super-monopoly" worked very well. As a matter 
of policy, no Allied film was ever allowed to stay on 
the shelves. In other words, no German film could be 
booked unless all Allied films were "working." This 



situation, excellent in itsself, served to point up the 
basic weakness of all the Allies' planning. The actu- 
ally available number of American and Allied films 
was so small that the bulk of the business was still 
being done by the remaining old German pictures. 
Declared war-booty, these German films were made 
to bear all expenses — which, in view of their number, 
still left a considerable surplus — thus affording all Al- 
lied pictures a "free ride." 

Nevertheless, and this is the point where the musical 
comedy trapping can no longer hide the basic serious- 
ness of the proceedings, ISB Films, the Allied monop- 
oly, which had never been planned but just grew, like 
Topsy, remained a great instrument that was never 
used to the full possible extent. The organization's out- 
lets, over five hundred theatres, were there, every day 
in the year. So were capacity audiences, an eager mass 
of heretofore underprivileged movie-goers. It was a 
wonderful situation — what spoiled it was only the lack 
of pictures. 

For a long time the U. S. had nothing to show, 
nothing at all. By one of those mishaps that happen in 
war, no films had been prepared for Austria. With some 
nerve and more good forutne, the stockpile reserved for 
Germany had to be ransacked to get emergency prints 
for the Cinderella country. Things eased up a bit when, 
half a year after the start of operations, the OWI and 
the industry finally got up some steam and prints started 
arriving in greater number. However, capacity was 
never attained. Obviously, under such circumstances, 
there could be no question of a really systematic choice 
of subjects. There was only one, poor, consolation: the 
British and French services were no better than our 
own. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, they were 

Organizatzya, so unreservedly admired by the 
Russians, actually manifested itself quite rarely. How- 
ever, sometimes this fact, by one of those reverses of 
logic common to turbulent times, turned out to be 
almost a boon. In the case of The Great Dictator, the 
picture was not on the OWI-approved list for Austria 
(or Germany). A cable went to Washington to get 
special permits from the producer and from the OWI 
for that single showing to Marshal Konev. Simulta- 
neously, in order not to jeopardize valuable Russian 
good will, a soldier was dispatched to Rome with orders 
to pick up a print there, come what may. This young 
man accomplished his mission with dispatch. The pic- 
ture was shown to Marshal Konev and a bevy of high 
Russian officers with the anticipated success. Everybody 
was unreservedly happy. 

Film "relations" with the Russians remained most 
cordial for a long time afterwards. Permission to 

obtain a print in Rome and arrange for the screening 
duly arrived — about four months later. 

On another occasion, later, General Mark W. Clark, 
then commanding U. S. forces in Austria, wished to 
show Gone With the Wind to the Inter-Allied Com- 
mission. The British had just opened their season with 
Henry V and the Russians were announcing Eisenstein's 
Ivan The Terrible. GWTW had a mission to ac- 
complish. Unfortunately, only conservative methods 
were used to obtain proper clearances. Necessary au- 
thorizations — and a print — were requested through 
"channels." High-handed methods, as in the case of 
The Great Dictator, were out. Needless to say, so 
was the screening. Gone With The Wind never showed 
in Vienna. 

POOR advance planning, a capricious choice of 
pictures and all vagaries of chance could not pre- 
vent, after some months that seemed like eternity, 
Vienna becoming the moviegoer's — and the researcher's 
— paradise. It became possible there to enjoy, and to 
study the reactions to a more varied film-fare than was 
ever assembled anywhere before. If the pictures shown 
were not all from the international top drawer, nor best- 
suited for a public somewhat warped in its taste by 
eight years under Goebbels, they were nevertheless 
often typical of the country that had produced them. 

Films with political content appeared in relatively 
small numbers. Most of these were, of course, Rus- 
sian. United States "propaganda" was represented only 
by OWI documentaries — unless every picture mirror- 
ing a certain way of life can be considered propaganda 
for it. Almost needless to say, some of our films were 
indeed considered that way, at least by some critics. 
The reviewers of Neues Oesterreich, a leading newspa- 
per, labeled the innocuous comedy It Started With Eve 
(a Deanna Durbin feature) "social-reactionary." The 
young man of the film was wealthy, the critic ex- 
plained. This was to be considered reactionary and 
setting a bad example because Deanna dared hell and 
high water to win hand, heart and purse of such a 
young man in holy matrimony. The picture ran for 
twenty weeks, nevertheless, but that proves only that 
the public's mind is less exacting than that of the trained 

Disregarding Deanna Durbin, America was quite 
well "sold" to the Viennese. The short OWI films 
had it all over their Russian counterparts. The reason 
was not at all in their technical excellence but in the 
subtlety of their approach, as against the Russians' 
more blunt and heavy-handed preaching of their doc- 
trines. Shorter films like Democracy In Action, Town 
Meeting, Oswego, and even Steeltown and Autobi- 



ography of A Jeep, did more to "sell" America to Aus- 
trian audiences than did that much overrated "Ameri- 
can ambassador," the average G. I. Joe. On the other 
hand, straightforward war reports, such as Tarawa, 
Battle In The Marianas, Attack and the like, however, 
well-made, met the same fate as Russia's Battle of 
Leningrad, for example. The newspapers sang praise 
in unison but the customers stayed home. 

A special case was Death Mills, the OWI-BMI 
report on the horrors of the concentration camps. The 
handling of this vastly effective but gruesome subject 
posed special problems. In Germany its showing had 
been made mandatory. Coupled with other documen- 
taries, it had been shown day-and-date in all theatres 
of a given area. Subsequent research proved this to 
have been none too fortunate a system: those that did 
not feel like seeing this piece of "atrocity propaganda" 
(and they were the very people who should have seen 
it), simply went without movies that week and never 
budged from home. 

In Austria, the Russians had an interesting experi- 
ence with an earlier, French-made documentary, Camps 
Of Horror. In Urfahr, a town in the Russian zone, 
the local commander had decreed that everybody, with- 
out exception, had to see it. Russian soldiers were sta- 
tioned at the theatre, stamping the people's ration 
cards. After the playdates, unstamped cards were to 
be invalid in the city's shops. This system, effective as it 
seemed to be, actually required such a large apparatus 
for its enforcement that it had to be abandoned. For 
one thing, people who besieged the Russian command- 
er's offices with requests for exception to be granted 
bed-ridden members of their families, were too numer- 
ous for comfort. Yet this was only one category of 
exceptions. In view of all this, when Death Mills came 
to be distributed in Austria, it was found best to have 
it substitute for a newsreel issue. The joint Anglo- 
American newsreel Welt im Film, was mandatory in 
all theatres, and a great success with the public. Thus, 
that week, first run theatres got Death Mills instead of 
the newsreel, subsequent runs following as usual. In 
that way no moviegoer could escape the picture at all. 
It was shown in every theatre of the land. It is regret- 
table that existing research facilities were unable to 
cope with the job of determining fully the impact of 
the film on the audiences. 

FICTIONIZED war films fared much better than 
actual war reports. People were genuinely interested 
in America's side of the war, or Britain's or France's. 
Nevertheless, local sensibilities asserted themselves. Con- 
sequently, a war picture that had nothing whatever 
to do with Austria, could do very well (as did The 
Sullivans, Action in the North Atlantic and many 

others), but one that had could easily get into trouble. 
The Navy Comes Through, an "action special," was a 
sell-out for a few days, as was every picture in the 
beginning. But as soon as word-of-mouth got around, 
attendance fell off and soon the theatre was altogether 
empty. What was the trouble? For one thing, there 
was Carl Esmond, originally a Viennese, playing a 
sensitive violin-playing sailor, also from Vienna. So far, 
so good. But the character, sympathetic throughout, 
makes a speech at the end emphasizing that he wants 
to be nothing but an American. This was resented 
by the Austrians. Then there was a Brooklyn sailor, 
played by Frank Jenks, who hauled down a Nazi flag 
and then spat on it. This was greeted with icy silence. 
A willing and voluble member of the audience (rare 
in those days) put it this way: "Nobody cares for the 
Nazis, but the flag was our Wehrmacht, too. Every- 
body was either a soldier himself or had one in the 
family." Correct or not, that picture grated on the 
sensibilities of the people and was therefore a poor 
choice. As propaganda for the American way, it was 
as much of a flop as The Sullivans was a success. 

In the category of entertainment pure and simple, 
all eyes were on Hollywood. Austrian tastes seemed 
to be running toward musicals, quite proper perhaps 
for the land of the operetta. Actually, the OWI list 
contained no large-scale shows of the kind commonly 
called musicals in this country. Scarcity of Technicolor 
prints was one of the reasons advanced for this, while 
another was the reluctance of many companies to re- 
lease pictures with their top stars during commercially 
uncertain times of war and its aftermath. The films 
with music that were shown had only a couple of songs 
or a production number tucked in here and there. 
Otherwise they were just everyday comedies. They all 
went over big. Sonja Henie in Sun Valley Serenade 
skated on and on. Fred Astaire, his pre-war Top Hat 
still remembered as a s} r mbol of gayer times, scored a 
big hit in You Were Never Lovelier. Other long- 
familiar, long-missed faces were also greeted as living 
symbols of freedom once enjoyed, then lost and now 
perhaps to be recovered. This was doubly true for local 
boys who had made good in Hollywood in the mean- 
time. S. Z. Sakal caused a tumult when his jowls first 
flashed on the screen in Seven Sweethearts. 

The French and British never competed in this field 
with America. Russia did, to a certain degree. A Musi- 
cal Story, mostly Tschaikowsky, was a hit. So was 
They Met in Moscow. The latter film gave rise to an 
interesting comment voiced in one of the many seminars 
and lecture groups that met everywhere in Vienna 
practically all the time. The people in the Russian film 
actually look like true unadorned every-day people. 
In American films, the anonymous commentator pointed 



out, they are dressed up, coiffed and manicured within 
an inch of their lives. So are the sets. The question 
in the inquirer's mind was whether Hollywood was 
actually mirroring life in America the way Russian 
films appeared to mirror life in Moscow and whether, 
therefore, Americans were really all so well-dressed, 
well-manicured and unbelievably well- to-do, or wheth- 
er Hollywood was perhaps glossing things over in a 
way that was a bit too lavish. (The question had been 
raised elsewhere, not only in hungry and threadbare 
Vienna. ) 

Art-conscious, alive to many theatrical traditions, 
the public of Vienna is not a low-brow audience. It is 
sincerely interested in literary and dramatic qualities. 
This was borne out not only by the box-office successes 
of several films that had hardly caused a ripple in the 
U.S. A good example is All That Money Can Buy, 
William Dieterle's picture based on Stephen Vincent 
Benet's The Devil and Daniel Webster. There was 
also the never-ending discussion in the daily press as to 
certain surprising facets and novel trends of American 
production. There was what some people called "Hol- 
lywood's dream complex." A theory was evolved in all 
seriousness, in numerous articles appearing coincidental- 
ly in various newspapers, that Hollywood was exces- 
sively-preoccupied with people's dreams and dreamlike 
fantasies. The haphazard release list of OWI-ISB 
afforded some basis for the theory. An exceptional 
number of films did feature fantasy and many more 
had at least a dream sequence somewhere. Here is part 
of that list: It Happened Tomorrow, Here Comes Mr. 
Jordan, Flesh And Fantasy, Tom Dick And Harry, 
All That Money Can Buy, I Married A Witch. 
Notable British entries were also considered and 
chalked up to the Hollywood influence: Blithe Spirit, 
The Seventh Veil. What would the theory-loving 
Viennese have said had they known the play that started 
the cycle: Lady In The Dark? As a matter of fact, 

the Viennese still have to learn about Hollywood's 
preoccupation not with dreams, but with cycles. 

THE DESIRE to catalog everything properly in the 
accepted German "scientific" fashion had another 
interesting outcropping. Goebbels had been scream- 
ing for years about jazz madness and what he called 
"American gangster civilization." No jazz was offered 
(it will be interesting to see the German and Central 
European public's response to jive, swing, et al., long 
maligned by the Nazis), but "gangster films" were 
another matter. The OWI had ruled them off the list 
in one big sweep. The public, however, expressed great 
desire for the forbidden fruit. Sufficient demand will 
create a supply of sorts. Two relatively mild thrillers, 
Across The Pacific and The Maltese Falcon, none 
of them a Little Caesar, became in the public's mind, 
through spontaneous word-of-mouth comment, real 
killer-dillers and "gangster dramas." The result was 
instantaneous: black market operators bought up all 
tickets for weeks in advance. Barefooted urchins acted 
as agents doing a thriving business in front of box 
offices marked: Sold Out. The police finally had to 
interfere by declaring the films "verboten" for adoles- 
cents, thus stemming the tide a little. 

These random reactions, sidelights and incidents are 
but samples from a multitude. They may help to point 
up the need of doing something, before long, about the 
insufficient consideration so often shown foreign tastes, 
traditions and sensibilities, a circumstance that was in 
part responsible for the poorly-planned choice and sub- 
sequent uneven showing of American pictures in post- 
war Europe. Vienna, for one, was a crossroads, of com- 
merce as well as of the arts, ever since the Middle Ages. 
As such, it demands earnest consideration from both 
the East and the West. Motion pictures, as an inter- 
national medium, have a particular obligation to in- 
crease their awareness of the always thrilling, always 
fruitful interplay of tastes and attitudes in a cosmo- 
politan field. 

Hr 1 


The Screen Writer and Censorship 


RICHARD COLLINS, a member of 
the SWG Executive Board, is the au- 
thor of many notable screen plays. He 
is a previous contributor to The Sceen 

LAST spring, in a casual discussion, Thomas Mann 
said that what was wrong with American films 
was not lack of liberty, but lack of creativity. 
It is not hard to understand why the great German 
author, standing outside the industry, should feel this. 

It is true, thought control over this industry is not 
exercised by storm troopers placed at the door of each 
office. But the many pressures — all subtler, all gentler — 
are still efficient. There are two immediately apparent 
reasons why creativity is being strangled in Hollywood 
today: the first is the objective censorship operated by 
such groups as the Breen Office, the Johnston Office, the 
Tenney Committee, the Thomas Committee, the Hearst 
press, Pegler and the Motion Picture Alliance for the 
Preservation of American Ideals. 

Besides there are the pressures from women's organ- 
izations, organized church groups — and finally, al- 
though often in contradiction to the others, the audience. 

The second reason is the self-censorship of writers and 
other creators in the industry who, as a result of the 
above pressures, tend themselves to limit their whole 
field of operation and to play safe. 

What is Thought Control in films ? . . . How does it 
operate? . . . Well, for example, the Breen Office does 
not permit mature sexual relations on the screen. I 
do not mean smut. Smut is permitted — witness Duel 
In the Sun . . . But I do mean, for example, the treat- 
ment of sex in marriage. Those of us who are familiar 
with the Breen Office can imagine what would happen 
if a wife expressed one tenth of the desire for her hus- 
band that Jennifer Jones expressed for Gregory Peck. 
Of course the Breen Office takes care of this under the 
category heading : Pure and Impure Love. ... I mean, 
also, by mature sex relations a recognition that mar- 
riages are often made in pool rooms and dance halls, 
and not in heaven. . . . There are, it is true, millions 
of Americans who believe the latter, and we most 
certainly respect their point of view. Catholic morality 
comes out of Catholic religion and it is perfectly proper 
for a church to make films with its morality. But there 

is no reason why the entire motion picture business 
should accept any one religion or philosophic system 
as official. In my own recent experience a script was 
at first rejected by the Breen Office in toto because 
it takes for granted that divorce is part of our world. 
Nor are Catholic groups alone : until very recently we 
had a hush-hush policy concerning Jews on the screen, 
for which Jewish organizations were responsible. 

Besides this religious pressure we are now experi- 
encing political thought control. None of us was asked 
before to follow Roosevelt's policy, or Hoover's, or 
Coolidge's — but we were told by Eric Johnston to 
write films supporting the present American foreign 
policy. Now, if a writer believes in the Truman Doc- 
trine let him write about it. If this is truth for him — 
well and good. . . . But if, on the other hand, he does 
not believe that a temporary political expedient can 
be accepted as either true or eternal, it is corrupt for 
him to write about it. What will this same writer do 
if tomorrow a deal is made which changes the doctrine ? 
What will he do if an opposite political philosophy 
dominates the American scene ? Will he flop over to the 
new side? Or is it not a classic tenet of a free people 
and a free art that a writer should write as he believes, 
and not as he is told? 

There are other areas which are under attack as 
left and subversive. And these areas have been under 
attack for many years. The first anti-Nazi film, Confes- 
sions of a Nazi Spy, was labelled "communist" by Dies 
and his committee — as was the strong anti-lynching 
film Fury. There are many areas of silence now. These 
areas have been accepted subjectively by the writers. 
Faced with objective censorship, we have tried to deal 
with it — because a writer not only writes for expres- 
sion, but also to communicate. This means that he 
always does exercise some censorship in relation to his 
audience. The writers, therefore, in trying to get 
around censorship, have either gone deeper and deeper 
into themselves and reported this subjectively as uni- 
versal or else have become extremely subtle in their 



approaches to reality. In some cases the writer loses 
the very audience he is trying to reach. He hesitates to 
explore new areas because he has been taught for many 
years to try to make films to which no one will object. 
Obviously the only way to do this is to stop films from 
reflecting any of the real conflicts and stresses of our 
society. . . . Yet in spite of this pressure we have suc- 
ceeded year after year in making memorable films. One 
has only to look at the Gassner-Nichols Twenty Best 
Film Plays to see the wide variety of subjects that the 
films have handled. Most of these twenty plays met 
with success at the box office, but the same subjects 
which were treated in these films now involve us in very 
controversial ground — both in American life and in 
our foreign policy. 

We are vastly impressed with such a picture as 
Brief Encounter. This is a fine film, but should it 
really be astonishing to see a picture that admits there 
are many middle-class women, leading dreary, dull 
lives, who want romance even if they have a nice 
suburban husband and two children? And that they 
might perhaps even have a fast and unreasonable, and 
sometimes beautiful relation with another married 
man — and through all this are neither wicked nor 

/^\UR production code, as a matter of fact, flies in 
^S the face of science. Modern psychology and social 
science teach us that the vices of men come from 
society". The code takes for granted that these vices 
are inherent in man's person. This excludes the dynamic 
of the inter-relation between society and character. 
Science, for example, says a man drinks to excess out of 
frustration, not out of weakness. The non-dynamic 
view accepts brutality as part of our life and fit screen 
material, just so long as we never explain why the 
people beat each other up. The non-dynamic view makes 
the producer play with sex as a game, rather than 
explore the relations between characters. This non- 
dynamic, static view of human personality creates the 
gap between life and the screen. 

In the world outside the modern sword of Damocles 
hangs over us all. Yet films have only touched on the 
greatest of all subjects once, and that was to make 
the dismally inept and naive Beginning or the End. 
As the atomic age grows more and more complex and 
life more difficult, as political crisis follows political 
crisis and human misery grows, as whole systems of 
morality change in Europe and a nation of four hun- 
dred million people steps forward toward independence, 
the world of the American film grows tidier and tidier. 
Of course the fact that we are so far away from 
Maidenek and Buchenwald has something to do 'with 

this. In the main for us Love is the only story. But 
on other continents there are other concerns which, as 
yet, the American public scarcely recognizes. Here we 
have a great and challenging opportunity-. First to 
learn about this change, and second to bring this infor- 
mation to our people. But in order to do this we will 
have to approach the whole world with curiosity, and 
then write about it with passion. And today thought 
control makes both curiosity and passion unrewarding. 

Yes, it is a tidy world we have in the films. The 
production code guarantees this. Adultery is impermis- 
sible; all murderers are brought to justice; good tri- 
umphs over evil. This is the world of Yes and No . . . 
of Right and Wrong — of over-simplification. It is the 
world of the rectory garden and the aunt who leaves 
us an income of two thousand pounds per annum. It 
is an out-moded world, and therefor the communica- 
tion between it and what is real is very tenuous. 

This is our problem today, but it is not a new prob- 
lem in this form or another for creators. 

Chekov, in a letter to Kiselev, makes this clear: 

"To think that the task of literature is to gather 
the pure grain from the muck-heap is to reject literature 
itself. Artistic literature is called so just because it de- 
picts life as it really is. Its aim is truth — unconditional 
and honest. ... A literatteur is not a confectioner, not 
a dealer in cosmetics, not an entertainer. . . . He is 
like any ordinary reporter. What would you say if a 
newspaper reporter, because of his fastidiousness, were 
to describe only honest mayors, high-minded ladies and 
virtuous railroad contractors ? . . . To a chemist nothing 
on earth is unclean. A writer must be as objective as 
a chemist." And although he is speaking of literature 
I believe it is equally valid for our own medium. I do 
not see why what is good for the thousands who read 
books, should not be good for the millions who see 
films. I do not see that the reflection of life can do 
more harm than life itself — rather I believe that the 
reflection of life accurately will give useful experience 
to the audience, will enable them to better meet and 
conquer their day-to-day problems. 

T N the high schools of the city of Los Angeles there 
■*-is a class called Senior Problems. This class has its 
counterpart in cities all over the United States. It is 
as class which discusses the future of the senior high 
school student. These classes discuss world affairs, propa- 
ganda, divorce, marriage, love, personality conflicts, 
petting, venereal diseases, depressions and unemploy- 
ment. The high school students discuss these subjects 
openly, sharply and honestly. But there is practically 
nothing that they are allowed to discuss that we are 
being allowed to put into films, except their discussions 



of the Negro and Jewish questions. And although we 
have managed to break anti-Semitism out into the 
open with such pictures as Crossfire and the forth- 
coming Gentlemen s Agreement, both of which take 
courage and strength from their makers — we have done 
the very reverse with the Negro question. We have 
solved the Negro problem in Hollywood by ignoring 
Negroes in pictures. This is the pattern of every prob- 
lem. Is it any wonder that other countries now have 
the opportunity to take the lead in films? 

In Great Expectations there is implied criticism of 
British legal procedure and the treatment of criminals 
in England's past. Yet in the United States, exception 
is taken to a criticism of American Marines in Nica- 
ragua in the film Margie. Are we to assume not only 
that the present Truman policy is above reproach, but 
also that everything that ever happened in the United 
States was right? This will be difficult. Following this 
line, slavery was undoubtedly correct until the day 
Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation. On 
that day it became wrong. Or did it? I have an idea we 
had better leave this whole area alone. The film Boom- 
erang apparently outrages the 100-percenters. Is this 
because they will not admit that injustice is ever 
possible? What areas will be left? 

FOR THE screen writer faced with speed-up and 
unemployment this question is not only aesthetic, 
but food and drink. He is called upon to write for 
sale; naturally he exercises a great degree of self- 
censorship. The pressure on him to conform is very real. 
Yet, at the same time, the experience of unemployment 
and insecurity brings him into conflict with the censor- 
ship. But it is not only the screen writer who is thus 
affected, for as the the area of creative content shrinks, 
only one conclusion is possible — the policy of restric- 

tion — the policy of the MPA and the Thomas Com- 
mittee mean ruin for this industry creatively and finan- 
cially. Beyond that is the less tangible, but equally 
serious answer: that the creators of the pictures can 
ruin them because they are, so to speak, in the habit 
of ruin. 

We as writers, as often as not, impose self-censorship 
even where no open threat of censorship exists. We tax 
ourselves not only with the real difficulties of writing 
pictures which will be artistically and commercially 
successful, but we also impose hidden taxes on our- 
selves. It is not only in political areas that we as screen 
writers impose hidden taxes on our realism. As hard 
as we try to write about marriage, love, infidelity, 
drunkenness and murder in an absolutely truthful and 
realistic manner, there is nevertheless a margin of 
aberration in our thinking which has been enforced 
upon us by a lifetime of thought control. The free 
film, on the other hand, pressures the writer into 
looking into new areas and forces him to meet compe- 
tition with daring, imagination and vitality. 

All that we should ask of a writer is that he should 
write about objective reality the way it is. The writer 
should help audiences master reality by imaginatively 
possessing it. If the screen is free, no police are neces- 
sary. As Chekov has said in the same letter: "There 
is no police which we can consider competent in literary 
matters. I agree we must have curbs and whips, for 
knaves find their way even into literature. But think 
what you will, you cannot find a better police for 
literature than criticism and the author's own con- 
science. People have been trying to discover such a 
police force since the creation of the world — but nothing 
better has been found." 

Nothing better has been found even in 1947. The 
modern thought police are the servants of obscuration 
and backwardness, now as always. 

Screen Writers' Guild Studio Chairmen 

(September 22, 1947) 

Columbia — Louella MacFarlane ; alternate, Edward 

MGM — Gladys Lehman ; alternate, Anne Chapin ; 

Sidney Boehm, Margaret Fitts, Charles Kaufman. 
Republic — Franklin Adreon ; alternate, John K. 

20th Century-Fox — Wanda Tuchok ; alternate Richard 


Warner Brothers — James Webb; alternate, Ruth 

Paramount — Arthur Sheekman ; alternate, Jesse 
Lasky, Jr. 

Universal-International — Silvia Richards. 

RKO— Martin Rackin. 




i 1 1(1,, 


■ ■■ ■■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■■ aaa 

This special section of The Screen Writer has been prepared 
in order to give a balanced presentation of the problems affecting 
the Hollywood motion picture industry in their relation to the 
foreign market, especially the British market. George Bernard 
Shaw, Frank Launder and Guy Morgan v/rite from the British 
point of view. Three Hollywood vsriters with wide experience in 
the industry — Dudley Nichols, Richard G. Hubler and Howard 
Koch — present their points of view. In summation the Editorial 
Committee presents other statements from authoritative members 
of the industry and the results of committee research on the sub- 
ject of film markets, taxes, jobs. 

Memo to Hollywood from Bernard Shaw 


playwright and philosopher and a 
previous contributor to The Screen 
Writer, here stales his views of the 
British tax and foreign market situa- 
tion, blames Hollywood for its past 
sins and suggests a <way to improve 
the market for American films. 

IN ECONOMIC principle the seventy-five per 
cent British tax on American movies is vulgar Pro- 
tection, to which a nation so inveterately Protec- 
tionist as the U. S. A. cannot consistently object. 
But as national affairs in the U. S. and the British 

Commonwealth are managed by politicians who have 
no political principles at all, only habits and interests, 
this point is academic. 

The 75 per cent tax is in fact one of the desperate 
expedients to reduce the export of dollars to which the 



British government is being driven by the immediate 
pressure of events. 

For its effect on American film production nobody 
outside Hollywood cares a rap; and anyhow, nobody 

If Hollywood would add to its technical proficiency 

some evidence of higher morality than that of dealing 
with villainy by a sock in the jaw from the virtuous 
hero, it would make its films indispensable everywhere. 
As it is, Hollywood is largely responsible for two 
world wars. 

Sept. 3, 1947 

It is a curious but an evident fact that the more cinemas Mr. Rank owns the more he is 

dependent on America to provide films to fill them. The ownership of 650 cinemas is nothing in 

itself; those cinemas can only earn money as long as they have films to show on their screens. If 

Mr. Rank won't or cant make enough films, he has to go elsewhere and the only alternative supplier 

is Hollywood. 

Statement of British Association of Cine-Technicians. 

Film Dollars From Lean Pockets 


DUDLEY NICHOLS served as presi- 
dent of SWG in 1937 and 1938, and 
was one of the most active builders 
of Guild unity and strength. He has 
written, directed and produced many 
of Hollywood's most famous screen 

I WOULD say offhand that there is no actual prob- 
lem, only a bad situation created in large part by 
erroneous production policies of the American film 

Far-sighted people could have foreseen this — and 
worse things — coming. First, if we use lean brains and 
not fat stomachs to do our thinking, we should know 
that England — and most of the outer world — is in a 
desperate plight. We should be thinking how to ease 
their situation as much as how to force our products 
on them. It is a time in the world to be recklessly 
overgenerous — if only to save our own skins. You can- 
not force our films on an impovershed people and pry 
dollars out of their shabby pockets. Yet, to quote 
Emerson, if you make a better mousetrap the world 
will beat a path to your door — even the whole hungry 
world. For the mind and heart have hungers as demand- 
ing as the stomach's. 

Film writers should have been more perturbed over 
the low quality of American films these last few years 
than by the temporary loss of foreign markets. British 
films were no threat to Hollywood when they were 
juvenile and inept. If we make fine and honest films, 

which are not addressed entirely to the bobby soxers, 
the heartless, and to mental and emotional imbeciles, 
we need have no worry about the domestic market in 
a nation of 143 million people. It is the largest and 
richest market in the world with undreamed of poten- 
tials. We have an untapped audience of at least twenty 
million people in the United States — the mentally 
adult and emotionally mature people who will not 
spend their money and their evenings in viewing films 
made for children. 

By "made for children" I do not mean real children's 
stories which might appeal to all of us, as do Hans 
Christian Anderson and Lewis Carroll and Stevenson's 
Treasure Island et cetera, nor to charming comedies 
and tender stories which might be told with humor 
and a loving touch ; I mean trash and hokum and falsi- 
ties and nightmarish-dreams and lies-about-what-a- 
human-being-is and lies-about-love and violence-with- 
out-motive and violence-without-meaning and violence- 
without - consequence and brutality-for-the-sake-of 
brutality and sensationalism-at-any-price and all the 
other stupid, corrupt ways of misinterpreting the world 



around us and the inner world of imagination which 
attract the unformed child. 

HOLLYWOOD no longer depends upon merit in 
selling films but only on ballyhoo. Ballyhoo has 
become more important than quality in production. It 
will not work outside America and will not work for- 
ever in America. God knows production costs are too 
high, because of universal greed — at the bottom no less 
than at the top — but the time is approaching when more 
will be spent on ballyhoo than on production. 

This takes the importance of film-making away from 
the creators, who alone can make films, and hands 
it over to the money-men, who think they can handle 
the situation until they will wake up one day with 
even a shrinking domestic market which it will be too 
late to stem. If we make great and grown-up films 
the world will demand them and find the dollars. 

Let us realize that outside America in recent years, 
the world has grown up — through suffering and want. 
Let us face the fact that the world's reality today, 
outside America, is devastation and hunger and emo- 
tional maturity — and the dream too, always the dream- 
ing that makes life possible, a hungry dreaming that 
has survived trial by fire and that makes our adolescent 
dreaming look like muck. 

Writers are the best and solidest part of the film 
industry in Hollywood. They can save the industry 
from its worst errors if they will strive hard for a new 
integrity in film-making. A good film comes into being 
only through the enthusiasm of one or more talented 
persons, usually two — the writer and director — although 
actors may be embraced by the common enthusiasms 
which first ignited one person. 

Get excited about something — a story of your own 
or some one else's invention in which you can perceive, 
by plenty of hard work, a fine film. Impart your en- 
thusiasm to a director in whom you have confidence. 
Or steam up a star — since the star system is with us. 
Stars are looking for better films and if you win their 
enthusiasm they will go to bat for you. 

All this communication of enthusiasm is not easy but 
it is worth while because it will lead to a better day 
for the writer and, concomitantly, a better day for 

Real writers have never been afraid of difficulties; 
in fact some of our greatest literature has been written 
in the face of inconceivable difficulties; it is almost as 
if the difficulties made them better than they otherwise 
would have been. The film writer has the hardest 
lot of all. He can never rest. Once the studio gates 
are opened he must fight, intelligently and reasonably 

but unremittingly, for the integrity of his conception. 

Writers alone, it seems to me, are disciplined to that 
kind of devotion to a job of work, in which vanity 
and personal advantage and every selfish interest must 
be subordinated to the work itself, which is greater 
than the doer, just as a fine film is finer than any ele- 
ment which composes it and more important than any 
individual who helped to make it — more important 
even than the single individual whose enthusiasm 
struck the first match. 

Remember every film starts from one person's en- 
thusiasm and faith. That is why a handful of directors 
in Hollywood stands out before the world as repre- 
sentative of American films: these men are invariably 
film writers, though they do not classify thmselves as 
such and usually call on a writer or writers to assist 
them in preparing their scripts. 

In such cases it is the director whose enthusiasm 
is forming the projected film; they are using writers 
simply as collaborators to do hard sweating work and 
shape the script according to the needs of their various 
individual styles. This relationship between writer and 
director need not be without dignity and frequently 
the writer may bring to such a collaboration as great 
or even greater creative gifts than are possessed by 
the director, who has the advantage of being trained 
in another craft. One sees many excellent working 
collaborations of this sort, in which the collaborators 
have profound mutual respect and are generous in 
crediting each other. 

TO RETURN to the point of this piece, the prob- 
lems of marketing American films will dissolve if 
we put more integrity into our work and openly fight 
wrong practices and oppose people of executive power 
in the studios who degrade our work and make hacks 
of us and who don't want the quality of films to improve 
because that might endanger their powers and positions. 

I should like, for one thing, to see film writers refuse 
to commence writing a script until a director has been 
assigned (not on salary: he works for a lump sum) 
to the production, for it is the director who must put 
the script on the screen, and some sort of collaboration 
and discussion are essential to shape the script to what 
the director understands and feels. No amount of writ- 
ing early drafts for producers can accomplish this, and 
no director worth his salt can be handed a script he 
has not worked on and told to shoot it verbatim. Writ- 
ing scripts for a producer, who is injecting his own 
idiosyncratic feelings and critical attitudes into the 
story, and yet will not be on the set to translate these 
feelings into film, is one of the most degrading things 



I know of. It is a system for incompetents — for hack 
writers and hack directors. 

Let us strive to work harder and better, and insist 

on true and dignified methods of working, and not 
be afraid to risk failure — and let the people at the top 
worry about markets. They won't have to worry long ! 

/ believe that Hollywood has matured since its earlier days. I am convinced that it has a great 
reserve of creative talent which has never been properly utilized. I am certain that we shall be 
forced to summon all our resources under the threat of narrowing markets and increasing com- 
petition. . . . Hollywood has some notable achievements to its credit, and I am reasonably sure 
we shall do better in the future. 

Samuel Goldwtn. 

Let's Find a Substitute For the Tax! 


FRANK LAUNDER is president of 
the British Screen Writers' Association 
ind one of the leading writer-producers 
of the British motion picture industry. 

SAM, JOHN and friends are playing poker for 
high stakes. Sam has won nearly all the money. 
Very soon now, if he wants the game to go on, 
he will have to redistribute the chips. The alternative 
is for Sam to retire from the game and leave John and 
the others either to play together, or join Joe and his 
school over the way. That seems to be the economic 
situation at the time of writing. The 75% tax on 
American films imported into Britain is just one card, 
in one hand, in this vast game. 

There has been a mass of confused and bitter sectional 
thinking about this tax. The truth is that in her present 
economic situation Britain cannot afford to continue 
to pay 70,000,000 dollars a year for a commodity which 
brings back neither sustenance for her people, nor raw 
materials with which to manufacture goods for export. 
She has been obliged to place a large tax on American 
films. America has retaliated by banning the export 
of her films to Britain. 

For a moment let us examine what further measures 
could be taken and what might be the repercussions. 
America could ban the showing of her films already in 
Britain. She could close down her distribution organi- 

zations there. She could prohibit the showing of British 
films in the States. 

Would America, by those methods, succeed in closing 
down the British cinema and bringing British film 
production to a stand-still? 

The British public today, for the first time in thirty 
years, is British film-minded. Amongst all the new 
restrictions and cuts that have been imposed on the 
British people the 75% tax on American films is the 
only one which has been received with equanimity. 
There would be no popular demonstration against a 
complete withdrawal by Hollywood from the British 

Could British film producers fill the gap that would 
be created by an American withdrawal? In the studio 
space available, by cutting down schedules, they could 
double their output and thus raise the number of feature 
films that could be produced annually in Britain by a 
hundred. A modicum of reissues of old British films 
would narrow the gap. And finally, Continental film 
producers, whose product now only shows in the art 
theatres, would find that the 25% revenue which 
would accrue to them after payment of the tax, would 
mean far more to them in cash than 100% did a 



month ago. The gap would be closed and the cinemas 
would remain open. 

IT IS true that the takings might fall for the first 
few months, but as the public became accustomed 
to the new order of things, as more and more British 
and Continental stars replaced Hollywood stars in their 
affections, so box-office receipts would rise again. For 
this reason and no other America cannot afford to 
withdraw from the British film market for any length 
of time. Hollywood must keep her stars before the 
British public eye. She cannot allow the British to get 
out of the habit of seeing her films, unless, of course, 
she is prepared to abandon the British market for 
good and all. 

In my view, the present situation has been brought 
about largely through the short-sightedness of the 

majority of American film producers. The British are 
entitled to a fair share of their own market. They 
have never had it. For thirty years Hollywood has 
refused to allow them to have it. It has used every 
kind of pressure, political and otherwise, to maintain 
what has virtually amounted to a stranglehold on the 
British film market. The chickens have come home 
to roost. 

Every sensible person engaged in British film pro- 
duction knows that it would be an unhealthy situation 
if American films were not permitted to be shown 
freely on British screens, in the same way that they feel 
it is a regrettable state of affairs that the better British 
films are not freely distributed on the major circuits 
of the United States. 

So let both countries now, in an enlightened mood, 
sit around a table and find some equitable alternative 
to the tax. 

The technical superiority of Hollywood is undisputed. . . . But what our people prefer in Brit- 
ish films . . . is the story chosen and the way the story is told. . . . What people want here is not 
certitude but inquiry; not easy solution but hard problem; not stereotypes but individuals; not 
glamor but truth, not technical polish but solid raw material. 

C. A. Lejeune, British film critic in N. Y. Times. 

Canoe in a Tidal Wave 


RICHARD G. HUBLER, a member 
of the Editorial Committee of The 
Screen Writer, is a well-known writer 
of novels, short stories and articles 
as well as screen plays. 

THE POINT of the recent imbroglio over the 
British seventy-five per cent tax on American 
films is not, as it has been widely represented, 
taxation without representation. Nor is it Communism 
versus Democracy nor an invitation to dog eat dog. 

The point is somewhat larger and more obscure. 
At the moment it is a pinprick but it can and probably 
will be driven home to the quillons in the next few 
years. It amounts to a repudiation not of American 

big business but American art as exemplified in the 
motion picture. It is simply a straw in the big wind 
in which Vladimir Pozner held up a finger in the July, 
1947, issue of The Screen Writer. 

Consider the rest of the world as Hollywood rarely 
does. It has with the exception of the continents of 
the western hemisphere — Canada, the United States, 
South America — passed through unbelievable convul- 
sion. The anguish continues. From it, as from any form 



of suffering, will come new forms of life, government, 
and not least of all, art. They are already making their 
appearance. Hollywood, like a canoe in a tidal wave, 
continues its serene way. 

The continent of Europe is largely closed already 
to the products of Hollywood as witness the fact that 
85 per cent of the foreing market was in the island 
of England. Asia — China and India — are negligible 
markets. Russia does not want Hollywood and can, 
in fact, make better pictures for their purpose; nor 
by imitation do any of the countries in the iron orbit 
of the USSR. The others — such as France, Italy, the 
Scandinavian countries, and the like — are already 
producing motion pictures that in quality far outshine 
anything in this country. As long as Enfants des Paradis 
and Torment are examples of French and Swedish art 
and Great Expectations and Odd Man Out are exhibits 
of the English, Hollywood, to me, seems even more 
shabby than its usual self. The only way in which we 
excel is the way of mass production: we can produce 
more motion pictures faster. There is no regard to qual- 
ity in the five-hundred-a-year schedule beyond a choice 

To anyone who knows the character of Sir Stafford 
Cripps, the argument in London probably went in 
this fashion: "The films in Hollywood are not only 
taking needed dollars out of England; they are also 
causing a certain dry rot in our national character 
which we can afford even less than the dollar drain. 
In addition, we have our own industry which has 
proved itself, if not in mass, certainly individually. Let 
the people see our own product, occasional as it is, 
iather than merely dope themselves with Hollywood." 

Such reasoning is in close harmony with the ascetic 
character of many of the Laborite leaders. 

IT MAY be that that most happy thing, a realign- 
ment of values, is coming back to humanity as a 
whole. A perspective is being gained which was never 
held before. Involved in it is a change in the whole 
aspect of life, a turn toward the real and simple and 
profound — and in this shift Hollywood will find itself 
utterly inadequate. Representing a world that was 
never made, living in a realm of "pure entertainment" 
(as if such a thing could exist), Hollywood has no 
defenses against the direct attack . 

This is no brief for any control over art or the free 
exchange of art between countries. Any restrictions 
imposed are evil in the extreme. But can any person 
working in Hollywood deny the restrictions that are 
placed on motion pictures by agencies from the Motion 
Picture Producers Association down to the individual 
producer? Is it possible to ignore that "freedom of the 
screen" is a phrase that is ludicrous in its application? 
Can it be denied that the single objective of Hollywood 
during all its history has been to make money, excluding 
all else? 

It is easy to predict that the cloture imposed by 
England via taxation is only a symptom of artistic 
recovery throughout the world. It is easy to say that 
in the near future the most of the countries will close 
their markets to the Hollywood product as it is now 
known. In such a quandary, we can only develop 
markets in South America and build up our own. But 
our own is saturated, according to the polls, below the 
age of thirty-five. To pull in the elders, in a country 
where the preponderance of age is leaning toward 
forty, films must almost certainly be more adult. 

Hollywood must be more adult to keep its foreign 
market, to enlarge its home market. The conclusion 
is that Hollywood must be more adult in order to 
keep alive. 

Mrs* Miniver's Sleigh Ride 


GUY MORGAN is a British writer 
and Honorable Secretary of the Screen 
Writers' Association of London. He 
has contributed frequently to this mag- 

BEHIND the golden curtain performers, manage- 
ment, and backers, vociferously discuss the out- 
come of a front-office poker game, where Mrs. 
Miniver (who was thought to be sitting pretty witR 

four aces) has just been raised a cool £13,000,000, 
three quarters of her year's dress allowance, by a pen- 
niless dude from Britain. 

Mrs. Miniver's poker school is a tough one, and 



the players she is sitting in with are international gam- 
blers. The joker unexpectedly discovered in his hand 
by Dr. Dalton is the fact that an ad valorem Customs 
Duty on the estimated earnings of foreign films does 
not break the terms of the U. S. Loan Agreement, 
though any form of direct taxation or freezing of earn- 
ings would do so. 

It is doubtful whether Mr. Eric Johnston, Holly- 
wood's plenipotentiary poker expert, even suspected 
that this card was in the carefully-stacked deck. Hence 
the surprise of the players when Dr. Dalton quietly 
turned up Statutory Rule and Order, 1947 — Customs 
Additional Duties (No. 2), raising the ante on foreign 
films from 5d. a foot to 300% ad valorem. Mrs. Min- 
iver, indeed, has threatened to throw in her hand and 
leave the table. 

And the most ominous thing amid all the shouting 
is the utter equanimity of the British cinema audience 
of 30 millions a week, at the threat of never seeing 
Forever Amber or Scudda Hey! Scudda Ho! 

According to Board of Trade returns, Britain pro- 
duced 107 long films and 195 short films (totalling 
857,626 feet) during the year ended March 31st, 1947: 
imports of foreign films totalled 367 long and 386 
short films (3,042,474 feet). British long films occu- 
pied 26.94 per cent of feature screen-time, an increase 
of only five per cent on the previous year. It must also 
be remembered that a considerable proportion of British 
films classified as "long" were three-and-a-half-reel 
"featurettes" of semi-documentary type. 

According to a survey undertaken by the Kinemato- 
graph Weekly there are at present twenty-six major 
features in production in British studios. Calculating 
on an average of twelve weeks per film, and adding a 
small number of second features from smaller studios, 
their estimate of British production in the next twelve 
months is eighty full-length features. The estimate of 
the Association of Cine Technicians (with a Govern- 
ment backed production drive) is 150 full-length 
features, but even this generous estimate would not 
fill more than thirty-five per cent of British screen time. 

The average British feature film today costs £150,000 
to £200,000 and takes twelve weeks on the studio floor. 
Films in the double-A category, such as Sir Laurence 
Olivier's Hamlet, may cost up to £500,000 and take 
thirty-six weeks in production. The economic figure 
for recovery of production costs in the British market 
alone is, according to Mr. Herbert Wilcox, £150,000. 

The Cinema Exhibitors Association, which takes 
£47,000,000 a year less tax at the box office from show- 
ing American films gloomily predicts strangulation of 
4,500 cinemas within a year by a sterile diet of re-issues 
and documentaries. 

The British Film Producers Association is cautious, 

but admits it would take at least two to three years 
for Britain to balance her production budget. Sir Alex- 
ander Korda considers the tax "a shocking blow." It 
obviously hits our big films as hard as it hits your inde- 

British Documentary Film Producers alone see a 
silver lining. 

Only the public is indifferent. They believe that 
tax or no tax, Hollywood will still send their best 
films, arguing that no business man would deny him- 
self a 25% profit because he couldn't get 75%. They 
point out that Hollywood already sends films to some 
European countries without any dollar return, even 
at cost to themselves. In 1914 Britain smoked Turkish 
cigarettes; in 1915 Britain smoked Virginian; in less 
than that time Britain could lose all interest in the 
queens and knaves in Mrs. Miniver's hand. 

AS IT is hardly likely that the Government intends 
to hamstring an industry that contributes £43,000,- 
000 a year to internal revenue from the Entertain- 
ments Tax, or even to nullify Mr. Rank's efforts to 
export so cheap a raw material as talent, it is reason- 
able to assume that some ulterior settlement is aimed 
at, part-tax, part-freeze is the general guess. 

The British Screenwriter's Association has always 
recommended, at such times when recommendations 
were officially invited, that American films should pay 
income tax in this country, but with the corollary that 
part, at least, of the proceeds should be utilized to 
encourage independent British production. For con- 
trary to popular belief the independent producer here 
has never received the slightest Government support, 
financial or otherwise, the only people encouraged to 
make British films under successive Films Acts being 
the American companies in fulfillment of compulsory 
Quota, and the Big Cinema Combines. 

New studios and new equipment are long-term 
measures. Drastic reduction in film budgets and pro- 
duction schedules here would be inevitable as an interim 
measure to spread existing facilities further. 

Many fear that cheaper British pictures would mean 
a return to the bad old days of perfunctory "quickie" 
production, and the abandonment of our new found 
standards. But expense has never been a guarantee 
of quality, nor do I think we would retreat from the 
tradition of better films so easily. Against this the 
writer is the first line of defense. 

Reduction in overheads would not materially affect 
the writer. Story costs in theory (though seldom in 
practice here) amount to only ten per cent of a film's 
budget; and if cheaper pictures mean fewer writers 
engaged on the same subject, one of our aims at least 
will have been achieved. 



The British film industry is at present out of balance, 
the majority of British production companies concen- 
trating on the making of a few double-A films only. 
Our job is now to make A-films on B-budgets. 

The B-picture is the training-ground of writers, 
directors, and technicians, the forcing-ground of talent, 
and the testing-ground of new ideas. The producer of 
double-A pictures only cannot afford to experiment; 
he can rarely even afford the risk of an original story 
written specially for the screen. 

At present the British film industry is short of effi- 
cient screenwriters and technicians. The majority of 

those employed today learned their craft in the days 
of cheaper and quicker pictures at Gaumont-British 
and B. I. P. 

It is one of the most discouraging factors in British 
film production today that there is little or no train- 
ing or encouragement for the writer and technician 
of the future. 

But perhaps the most one can safely say in the pres- 
ence of so many imponderable factors is that no amount 
of sudden shocks or injections will infuse increased 
productivity into British films as surely as a pledge 
of steady long-term planning. 

For years every Hollywood producer, with his 
hand on his heart, has solemnly declared that 
there is no barrier to the distribution of British 
films in America . . . yet the fact remains that 
British films have never had anything approach- 
ing a fair showing in America. 

British Association of Cine-Technicians. 

Our industry must see the domestic market is 
made as self-sufficient as possible. Moreover, we 
should continue to welcome British pictures as we 
welcome the films of every nation, so that we 
may know the world as we want the world to 
know us. 

Samuel Goldwyn. 

How to Keep a Foreign Market 


SWG member Howard Koch, a pre- 
vious contributor to The Screen Writer, 
is one of America's best known writers 
for the stage and screen and an Acad- 
emy award winner in the motion pic- 
ture field. 

AS a writer who has been through a half dozen 
Hollywood "crises" in the past seven years, I 
have come to regard them with skepticism. 

It is my present guess that even the roar of the 
British lion will turn out, on closer inspection, to be 
no more than the bleating of a lamb that has lost most 
of its wool and fears another shearing. The seventy- 
five percent tax on our films is, in my opinion, a feeble 
protest not against the picture industry so much as 
against the rising tide of economic domination. 

Probably it isn't even meant to be taken seriously 
and will soon be compromised or rescinded — a small 
tactical move in the vast chess game of international 

What can we do — members of the Screen Writers 
Guild? To believe we can do anything directly would 

be to indulge ourselves with wishful thinking. Why, 
we're not even in that game. Bigger hands than ours 
make those moves — and for stakes larger than we 
care to imagine. 

However, there is one faith I think we can act upon 
realistically. A good picture, like a good man, is hard 
to keep down. Eventually it is quite certain to pene- 
trate whatever artificial barriers are erected against it. 

No political chicanery has yet been devised to keep 
people permanently isolated from each other. They 
have always found and will find a means of communi- 
cation. The important thing is to have something of 
value to communicate. 

In the final analysis the best way to keep a foreign 
market — or any market — is to deserve it. 


Summary and Report 

What's Ahead for Hollywood? 

The following report, written by Robert Shaw, SWG 
director of publications , has been compiled from the 
results of research done by members of the Editorial 
Committee into various phases of the current foreign 
market situation. It includes a round-up of ideas, opin- 
ions and facts gleaned by Committee members around 
the studios in the last few weeks and reported to 
The Screen Writer office. 

A PUBLIC opinion poll in England the other day 
put this question to a cross-section of the British 
film audience: "Do you think British films since 
1939 have got better, got worse, or not changed?" The 
result: got better, 96 per cent; got worse, 1 per cent; 
not changed, 3 per cent. 

The same question was applied to the same people 
about Hollywood films, with this result: got better, 
26 per cent; got worse, 18 per cent; not changed since 
1939, 56 per cent. 

Perhaps an American evaluation check of Holly- 
wood films might produce a similar result. In a way, 
to the rest of the world, Hollywood seems a little like 
Bret Harte's San Francisco — serene, indifferent to 
fate, changeless by its Golden Gate. As a saturnine 
critic remarked, Hollywood remains timeless in its 
routines; it is only the world that changes. And there 
is that other weary wise-crack: "In these prosperous 
times even a good picture can make money!" 

But the U. S. film industry was badly jarred by the 
British tax action. There was general awareness of the 
importance of Britain's 48,000,000 people and 6000 
theatres as a market for our films. No longer was Holly- 
wood serene, indifferent, changeless; the golden gate 
receipts tide showed signs of a disastrous ebb. 

Eric Johnston, president of the Motion Picture As- 
sociation of America, voiced industry reaction by saying: 
"If the British don't want American pictures that is 


one thing; if they do they shouldn't expect to get a 
dollar's worth of films for 25 cents." The British 
response to this was: "We don't necessarily want the 
present type of American pictures, and we feel that 
you have been asking us to pay a dollar for 25 cents 
worth of films." 

In several variations the statement was made that 
the British tax and the increasing French resistance 
to our films represented a conspiracy of the leftist 
British and French governments, possibly in league 
with the Kremlin, to keep American films and their 
portrayal of our way of life off foreign screens. 

Sam Wood, a Hollywood director, hit the front pages 
of the trade and commercial press with a statement 
that the way to meet the slash in foreign income was 
to slash Hollywood payrolls. He later amended this. 

One day there was a screaming banner line : "FILM 
story was that some independent film producers pro- 
fessed to believe the situation resulted from a diabolical 
plan hatched by interlocking American and British 
movie capital to make a freeze-squeeze play against the 
independents and force them out of business. It was 
reasoned that the 75 per cent ad valorem tax would 
be modified to a temporary freeze of American film 
profits in Britain, and that while the major U. S. pro- 
ducing companies with their financial reserves could 
take this in stride, the independent producers operating 
on a capital shoestring would be ruined by it. That 
may have been pure hysteria, but certainly the 
independents are far more vulnerable than the majors 
to the taxing or freezing of profits. 

An almost immediate reaction to the British tax 
announcement was the firing or laying off of hundreds 
of skilled workers and experienced executives in 
many studios. A breakdown of the reports in the 
trade press and from the lots indicates that the 
number of motion picture employes fired or on lay 


off as the result of current foreign market fears 
is around 3000. 

Probably the most extreme reaction to the British 
tax announcement was the angry statement from the 
motion picture producers that they would boycott the 
British market. "No Film Bundles For Britain," 
shrilled Daily Variety. And some producers and their 
many subisidiary exhibitors talked loudly about re- 
prisal against British films in the U. S. Since American 
films gross around $450,000,000 a year in Great Britain 
and British films take about $12,000,000 a year from 
the American box office, this retaliatory measure might 
result in more harm than benefit. 

FORTUNATELY the overheated tempers and 
angry roars are subsiding now. Calmness and real- 
ism are regaining control of the situation on both sides 
of the Atlantic. We are beginning to recognize more 
clearly some of the grim economic facts of a world 
shattered by two wars, and to see in better perspective 
that our U. S. is a lucky island in a sea of devastation 
and change. Where they might be bitter and harsh, the 
British are hopeful and even understanding when they 
speak of our Hollywood problems which after all are 
a microcosm in the struggle of a world for sanity and 
survival. Prime Minister Attlee holds out encourage- 
ment for some early amelioration of the British tax on 
American film profits reaped in Britain and on the big 
board U. S. film stock quotations fluctuate in response 
to his words. 

Here in Hollywood other voices appraise the situ- 
ation without anger or shrillness. N. Peter Rathvon, 
president of RKO, served the dignity of his industry 
well with his statement that neither studio personnel 
nor the quality of pictures on his lot would be sacrificed 
as the result of the situation precipitated by the British 
tax move. He indulged in no fatuous optimism. He pre- 
dicted that no matter how the British action is compro- 
mised in the near future, there will be no early recovery 
of American film profits in that market. He foresaw 
that other nations would follow the English lead-^ 
a prophecy that already has been fulfilled — and that 
there would be a total net revenue decline of at least 
30 per cent as the result of shrinking foreign markets. 
He spoke of the necessity for economy — the kind that 
is achieved by administrative efficiency and carefully 
prepared production schedules, not the ruinous panic- 
economy that throws to the wolves the experienced 
technical, executive and creative workers who form 
with their know-how the basic capital of Hollywood 
motion picture production. 

Samuel Goldwyn, while deploring the British action 

and hoping for an adjustment, yet pointed out that 
Britain at present simply has no dollars to spare. He 
said: "The meaning is clear. Producers will hereafter 
have to depend on the domestic market alone for a 
return of their costs and a profit commensurate with 
the value of their pictures. This leaves them with two 
alternatives : to produce cheap pictures with a minimum 
of time, money and talent, or to continue to gamble 
fortunes in the attempt to make really fine films. I 
believe most of us will take that gamble, for without 
first-rate pictures the entire industry is doomed." 

Nobody can really believe than an industry with the 
finest resources of talent and technique and the greatest 
home market in the world is doomed. Everybody gives 
at least lip service to the platitude that there is nothing 
wrong with the film business that better pictures 
cannot cure. Nevertheless, the foreign market situation 
is serious, if not desperate — and for some segments of 
the industry it is undoubtedly desperate. What are the 
facts ? 

Foreign Market Outlook. Most of the studio inter- 
national experts believe the situation may get consider- 
ably worse before it gets much better. Former Secretary 
of State James Byrnes, now an adviser of the Motion 
Picture Association, said in Hollywood the other day 
that we must face the permanent loss of at least two- 
thirds of our foreign market. Restrictive barriers 
against American films are being erected in many 
nations. This may be in part ideological, as Mr. Byrnes 
intimated. It is also economic — the protective tariff 
game learned from us by nations trying to nurture 
recrudescent film industries. 

Eric Johnston said at the start of the British tax 
move that it might start a chain reaction, with other 
nations putting up barricades against Hollywood pic- 
tures. He is being proved right. Australia, New Zeal- 
and, Argentina and Singapore and the Straits Settle- 
ments have since acted to freeze or tax American film 
profits in their areas. F