Record #1217

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Comments arising from Harmon's memo re motion pictures concerning negroes and whites.


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Comments on Harmon's memo on films dealing with interracial situations. 21 December 1937 from Will W. Alexander and Mrs. Ames of the Department of Agriculture: "On the whole, I think it is a good job.""1. Good, and possible without straining logic."3. Are women always to have a minimum of two seducers in the movies? Examples seem to be special cases."4. If 'dramatic conflict' requires the two women to meet, better not have dramatic conflict. To this phase of racial contact Negro women ascribed the white woman's hatred for Negro women and her hard conduct toward Negro women. In addition, white women are not particularly happy in the knowledge that at times some of them must compete for their men with Negro Women. It is bad business to portray this ever, both for Negro women and white women -- and for interracial attitudes. It does not seem possible to stop at any point which would prevent sex-antagonism being racial. Why not treat this situation as (2) is treated?"5. Good. I will look forward to seeing how this subtle distinction is made."6.-7.-8.-9.-10. Good"11. Agree even in 'example.'"12. a. Negative. Do they help the 'moral standards?' b. Good. c. Good test, if it can be done.18 November 1937 Breen to Harmon: "I have read very carefully your memorandum, and we discussed it at considerable length at today's huddle. It is, indeed, a very illuminating document and will be of very great service to us when, and as, these problems present themselves. "We are at work preparing a resolution, to be adopted by the producers hereabouts, somewhat like the resolution dealing with gangster films. Attached hereto is a rough first draft of the resolution, which I am submitting to Mr. Hays for his consideration. "You will note that we do not specifically make reference to the problem suggested by the showing of negroes in films. To do this would, in our judgment, be inadvisable. The attached resolution, or something like it, will, we think, cover the point."16 November 1937 John LaFarge, SJ, of America to Quigley: "I am deeply interested in the memorandum concerning interracial relations in motion pictures. It strikes me as a most extraordinarily enlightened document. It confirms my belief that when the Southerner does see the light on the interracial problem he is usually most sympathetic and appreciative. "I have been over its twelve sections very carefully and must honestly say that I find nothing to change or add. If the ideas of Mr. Harmon are carried out they will prevent very serious evils, and will at the same time be an encouragement to the good. "Possibly this point might be added, though it is already contained therein: an added reminder that the crying need of screen representations of the colored race is that of a true representation as persons and not just as stereotypes. However, this idea is already contained in the document and needs only to be emphasized in dealing with those who are to be affected by it. "Mr. Harmon's directions are destined for understanding minds. They will probably need some explanation and underscoring for the less understanding."

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