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Editorial Note on Marshall’s Return to Washington
What Marshall termed a “heavy cold,” caught a few days prior to his departure for Washington, “was not improved by the trip.” (Marshall to Winston S. Churchill, June 18, 1946, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [China Mission, General]; Marshall to Cordell Hull, March 20, 1946, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].) The four-day ordeal (over fifty-eight hours in the air in his bed-equipped C-54) was broken only by brief stops. After Tokyo, where he had lunch with General and Mrs. MacArthur, he flew on to Wake Island, Hickam Field (Honolulu, Hawaii), and Long Beach, California.
In Los Angeles, Frank McCarthy arranged a dinner for Marshall at Frank Capra’s home. The conversation there concerned the impact of films on public opinion. Recalling the success of the “Why We Fight” series and other wartime Hollywood films, McCarthy noted that Marshall
indicated his strong feeling that the motion picture could be used to tremendous advantage in the democratization of China. He has stated his belief that he could raise money from Chinese sources, possibly with U. S. philanthropic assistance, for the production of a number of helpful films, most of which would be documentary shorts—one to explain the Supreme Court, another the Congress, a third the relationship of the States to the Federal Union, etc. Perhaps there would also be films of feature length. Towards the end of the series, practical steps in the application of our principles to the Chinese structure would be shown. General Marshall has asked Mr. Capra to advise him as to how the production of these films, using the highest Hollywood professional standards, could best be achieved.
Frank Capra later wrote to Marshall that he and McCarthy were proposing to create a nonprofit, independent production company to make the films, but the idea never developed beyond the conceptual stage. (Memorandum for Mr. [Eric] Johnston and Mr. [Donald] Nelson, no date, by McCarthy but to be signed by film producers Frank Capra, Robert Riskin, and David O. Selznick, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [China Mission, General]; Capra to Marshall, April 4, 1946, ibid.)
Reaching the Washington, D.C., airport at mid-morning on March 15, Marshall was met by a large group that included Mrs. Marshall, Under Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and Army Chief of Staff Dwight Eisenhower. That afternoon he met with Secretary of State James Byrnes, and the two of them went to the White House where Marshall reported on his mission. The subsequent four weeks Marshall would soon describe as “the busiest, most closely engaged period of my experience, not even excepting wartime.” (Marshall to Churchill, June 18, 1946, ibid.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 501-502.