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Memorandum for General Shedd
January 31, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Yesterday, at the request of Mr. Lowell Mellett, in charge of publicity for the President, Mr. Walter Wanger, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Director of the Producers Association of the Motion Picture Industry, called to see me on the general subject of the cooperation of the Motion Picture industry with the National Defense problem. Several phases of the matter were discussed.1
Recruiting: He stated that he had seen several of the “shorts” on recruiting and thought that the Motion Picture industry could do better by us in this respect.
Morale: He thought that a great deal could be done in the way of morale building, and mentioned a number of slants on this particular phase of the matter. He spoke of the fact that he had just learned that we would like the Industry to play down the hard-boiled sergeant—which was news to them, but which they would be glad to do. We spoke of the possibilities of the Picture Industry through its highly trained specialists, undertaking in a very serious way the business of carrying photographic publicity on the men back to home districts so that the men would feel that they were not unnoticed and that their efforts and hardships were appreciated at home. He was most complimentary to the Signal Corps for the way they were building up a group of men who would understand the Moving Picture technique phases of the business.
Training: He was less informed on this subject than any other, but ready to undertake it in the most serious fashion. The discussion was directed by me to the question of how best to have the great producing experts brought quickly to an understanding of the character of things we wish to utilize the Movie industry for. For example, I mentioned that it was possible that the Air people could be greatly helped in this matter, yet were unaware of how the Motion Picture method might be utilize to their assistance, and that if a Motion Picture expert could survey the field of what was being done, he might point out a great many things that could be covered by motion pictures. Particularly, he might suggest a better technique than our own people visualize. Incidentally, this was brought up by Stokowski in connection with his remarks about Walter Disney.2 Stokowski thought that Disney could do some splendid work both from the morale point of view, and in the way of making people understand, along with a little amusement, exactly what the selectees’ induction into the Army means in its various stages.
Mr. Wanger’s principal recommendation was that we coordinate our motion picture involvements all through Mr. Mellett, Recruiting, Morale, Training. He, Mellett, would pass the business on to the proper officials in the Motion Picture Industry. Mr. Mellett is the President’s Coordinator of Publicity.
Mr. Wanger suggested that Carl [Darryl] Zanuck, a lieutenant colonel of the Reserve Corps, might be put on, at least temporary duty for a trip through some of our great training centers in order that he might quickly acquire a broad grasp of the problem, and then apply his genius to proposals for its solution. This last appeals to me as a valuable slant on the matter. It should not be difficult for us to arrange for one of the Signal Corps men who has been developed along training film lines, together with one of the recent script writers brought into the service, Mr. Zanuck, and possibly one of his assistants, to be flown by plane from Hollywood, to meet at Randolph Field, spend a day there, then look over the Artillery School at Sill, the Infantry School at Benning, possibly the Coast Artillery School at Fort Monroe, and to Washington or a brief conference. The trip from San Antonio to be by Army plane.
Will you look into this entire matter, and see what might be done to correlate the various phases.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. The motion picture industry was one of the first to volunteer its services free or on a cost basis in 1940. The production of training, recruiting, and morale films involved close cooperation between industry (including producers and actors) and government. Planning for the production of training films began in the Research Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in late 1940. Darryl F. Zanuck, who was a lieutenant colonel in the Reserve Corps, vice-president of Twentieth Century-Fox Corporation, and chairman of the Research Council, sponsored an “Affiliated Plan” for Signal Corps-industry cooperation. Major studios informed Secretary of War Stimson that they were willing to produce training films at cost. (Dulany Terrett, The Signal Corps: The Emergency a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1956], pp. 225-27.)
2. Leopold Stokowski and Walter E. Disney, a pioneer in producing animated sound films, had collaborated in the production of the film “Fantasia,” which had been released in November 1940. Marshall had met with Stokowski shortly after the film’s release; see Marshall to Stokowski, November 25, 1940, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-310 [2: 354-55].
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 402-403.