Record #1218

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Reel 12
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MPPDA - Public Relations Luncheon
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Origin of patriachal quote in Jessup's speech. Public relations

Report of a Special Committee appointed on 10 January 1939 at Waldorf Astoria luncheon meeting of national organizations cooperating with the MPPDA. Also a statement from the meeting, a press release, and a list of delegates. Note that they are attending as individuals, without authority delegated by their various organizations.


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27 January 1939 Report of a Special Committee of Public Relations groups -- writing to Hays to commemorate and summarize their relations with MPPDA: "It is because we believe the improvement in the moral standards, artistic excellence, and entertainment value of motion pictures has been, in large part, directly attributable to the industry's program of self-regulation and public cooperation, that we are resolved to go on, supporting the maintenance of the motion picture screen as a free medium of expression and entertainment, subject only to the ever-present requirements of good taste. "We believe that only through continued freedom of the screen can maximum progress be attained. This art-industry has developed so remarkably here because its roots are sunk deep in the free soil of America. No more than a free press, a free radio, or a free pulpit could it continue in significance and power under hampering and arbitrary censorship or political control. So the screen has a vital concern for the preservation and strengthening of the institutions that have made its phenomenal development possible; a concern over the outcome of the conflict between freedom and tyranny that faces the world today; a concern for the realities of life and living that confront men and women everywhere. "... Because we view motion picture entertainment of the future as an essential service of vital concern to the whole world, we count it a privilege to offer the following observations and suggestions: "1. We note with regret the recent curtailment of this popular form of entertainment through the restrictions imposed in certain countries abroad. We urge the American motion picture industry not to change the form of its entertainment in an effort, either futile, or fatal, to adapt it to the political fiats either of the collectivist or the totalitarian states. These foreign ideologies are as inconsistent with the ideals presented in American motion pictures as they are hostile to our democratic institutions. "The American motion picture presents on the free screens of the world a constant measure of hope for the common man. Our films portray stories of individual success obtained through initiative, through thrift, through perseverance and sacrifice, through the triumph of free men's spirits over material obstacles. Such themes, based upon the history of America, and the experience of free men in this land of opportunity, are entirely inconsistent with the debased concept of the individual under collectivist and totalitarian regimes where man is merely the helpless pawn of the state. This art form can no more be adjusted to the requirements of an autocracy than the birds which fly through the air and sing in the sunshine, can be adjusted to life in the depths of the ocean. "2. We sincerely hope that the motion picture industry avails itself of the great opportunity to deal realistically with the uncommon man and woman among the rank and file of the people. The story of the problems, the struggles, the defeats and the victories of 'the man who comes up from the crowd,' who 'does a new deed or sings a new song,' who catches a vision and pursues it to the end of his days, needs to be told again and again in various settings and against a multitude of backgrounds. Here is a form of realism drawn form life -- the epics of the unsung heroes of yesterday and of today, the portrayal of which will give fresh courage to find a way out of today's difficulties and to blaze new trails as the pioneers of tomorrow's world. "... We venture to suggest ... that a deliberate effort be made at this time to include some stories dealing with great men and women and with thrilling incidents in the past history of those nations with whose existing regimes and present leadership we may not be in sympathy, so that our present dislikes may be counterbalanced by heightened admiration for those gallant figures in the past history of these same nations, whose victories and defeats contributed appreciably to the sum total of human progress. "... We are wondering whether sequences which are photographically spectacular and thus naturally attract the attention of alert camera men, are featured too often at the expense of footage which might have depicted more significant but less easily photographed happenings of greater importance and perhaps equal interest to the motion picture audience. The problem of maintaining such a reasonable balance in the news reels has its daily counterpart in the companion problem of newspaper headline writing. Our comment is more a caution than a criticism."Statement, presented to Hays by the Waldorf-Astoria Luncheon group, 10 January 1939"... You have asked us for suggestions looking towards the increased usefulness of the motion picture in American life. Those suggestions must relate to the service which can be rendered in strengthening the American Way of Life in a confused and troubled world. "The business of the motion picture industry is mass entertainment. Wholesome entertainment universally available at moderate cost is an essential service in modern community life. The motion picture as we know it in the theatres is at once the product and the symbol of American democracy. That democracy and its child the motion picture will stand or fall together. Whatever attacks the one threatens the other. It is not suggested that your resort to political propaganda even in your own defense but the maintenance of our free institutions requires the continuance of that democratic form of mass entertainment which has developed in the atmosphere of individual enterprise and political liberty. "So I suggest as the first item in your service to American Democracy the maintenance of the motion picture screen as a free medium of expression and entertainment subject only to the requirements of good taste.

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