Record #1110

Date:
20/04/1934
Record Type:
Letter
From/By:
Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
To:
MPPDA (company heads)
Reel:
Reel 10
Frame Start:
10-1919
Frame End:
10-1924
Legacy ID:
1120
Legacy Year:
1934
Legacy Index:
Production Code
Comments:
Additional text in Transcription. EDITORIAL COMMENT: This was a general letter to all studio heads. Emmanuel Cohen replied 25 April 1934.

Confirming AMPP agreement that each studio provide "a strong man" for the purpose of Production Code enforcement to liaise with Breen - comments on opposition - some of it is constructive criticism - not suggesting "rededication of purpose," but more detailed attention - results will speak for themselves. J.J. McCarthy is appointed as MPPDA liaison with the heads of story departments in the East. Also, Hays requests the appointment of a specialist censorship advisor at each of the studios to liaise with Breen. Fox already has Joy, Universal has Zehner and Paramount has Hammell. Note especially Cohen's comments of the efficacy of Hammell.

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Long Description:

Hays to Joe Schenck, 20 April 1934: "We are taking steps here further to strengthen the Code enforcement machinery by the designation in each studio of a strong individual for the purpose of such Code enforcement contact. ... As soon as these men are designated we will thoroughly acquaint them with all the processes in the office here by actual knowledge from personal study in the office; and we will acquaint them with the steps taken in New York. Undoubtedly if these men are charged with this particular responsibility - such as has been done with Colonel Joy at Fox, Mr. Zehner at Universal and Mr. Hammell at Paramount - it will make more certain the proper understanding of the necessities among the particular studio personnel, which will be a benefit to the studio and a great help to the work. There is no doubt about the fine intention of all of our studios, and it is simply a problem of aiding in making certain that those high purposes are carried out. in the whirl of the innumerable details and responsibilities of the studio this is not always easy, and I am quite sure that the proposed step will be very helpful."When I review all that we have been doing and are doing and go personally into the vast amount of details of the Code enforcement my conviction is emphasized that our method is the one best way to attain the desired result and that our success depends only on our persistent and earnest execution. "I do realize that much of the opposition is unfairly motivated, that some comes from those who have axes to grind, that the industry lends itself to the agitation of professional organizers and professional reformers, that many exhibitors who are criticizing pictures do so for the purpose of getting concessions. None of this, however, should affect our effort - we drive for the important objective just the same. In good faith we plan the effort and we endeavor justly to execute it and undoubtedly we move closer all the time to the desired results."No one realizes more than I do the difficulties incident and the constant watching that is required. When we succeed, then, indeed, unjust criticism does the industry no real harm - for the best argument for the screen is the screen itself. It is the industry's best advocate and best critic. I realize further that many of the most stringent critics of the motion picture industry know little of its problems, mechanics or possibilities; that to create, to be an architect and a builder, requires study and expertise; I know, too, that you generally can pick your wreckers from unskilled labor. I know, however, that the production heads all realize that we receive invaluable help from outside the industry; that without constructive criticism no great enterprise can maintain its efficiency; that collectively or individually this constructive criticism comes mainly from those who have taken the trouble to study the questions by which we are confronted. We all know that those factors are friendly and wish us well, and that to such as those we listen with profound attention and with them we are gratefully eager to work."I have always insisted, and maintain now, that if the pictures at the time they are made, at the place they are made and by the men that make them - are reasonably free from objectionable matter, then everything else takes care of itself. Honest critics appreciate our difficulties and understand - dishonest critics avail nothing against us."... I realize the difference between your own situation and that of one of the companies making a great many pictures. It may be that Mr. Zanuck himself or Mr. Goetz will want to do this. I do think it would be well to have someone, even in the studios where few picture are made, who will be charged particularly with the responsibility of contacting with Mr. Breen as to details."05-31-1934 McKenzie to McCarthy confirming agreements by the company heads to the suggestion at the scenario meeting that company story head contacts be given copies of MPPDA letters to their respective studios - only one not heard from is Warners.

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