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To Arthur Hays Sulzberger
April 19, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
Thanks for your note of April seventeenth.1 I am glad you liked the picture.
I must apologize for troubling you to see two pictures, and it was only by a happy accident that I discovered that you had not seen “Know your Ally, Britain”. The other picture I had never seen as it was a local production in England. I appreciate your taking the time to look at the second picture.
I understood from Capra that you had seen the “Prelude to War” and “The Nazi Strikes”. If not I should like you to see them. There are three or four other pictures in the educational group but from the point of view of our conversation they are not so important. I refer to “The Fall of France”, “The Battle of Britain”, the Chinese picture just completed and the Russian picture which is in two reels. There is another one done by the same Service on the negroes which was extraordinarily difficult to set up but I think they did a very good job considering the complications.2
As I told you, confidentially, the other day, Capra is at work on what to my mind is a movie of tremendous importance to the morale of the Army. It is being prepared in advance for release the moment we achieve a cessation of hostilities in the European theatre. We expect to have the reels stored in Australia, India, throughout the Pacific, in the Aleutians, etc., ready for immediate release the same day the word comes of the termination of fighting across the Atlantic. This will be unique in its purpose, in its complicated coverage and in the fact that it must be prepared long in advance, covering elaborate details of logistics, with the Disney technique, as well as other factors which naturally are hard to resolve into a definite form for facts and figures far in advance.3
P.S. If you wish to see any of these pictures at any time I will have them sent up to New York for private showing, and the use of the word “private” does not bar you from bringing in anybody you may wish to have see them with you.4
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, thanked Marshall for making arrangements for him to view the motion picture Know Your Ally—Britain, the work of director Frank Capra. “That’s a splendid picture,” wrote Sulzberger. “It is too bad that our civilian population, as well, can’t be allowed or forced to see it.” (Sulzberger to Marshall, April 17, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. Marshall was referring to the documentary films The Battle of China and The Battle of Russia in the “Why We Fight” series and to The Negro Soldier. For a discussion of all the Frank Capra-directed films in the “Why We Fight” series and his other educational films produced for the War Department, see Victor Scherle and William Turner Levy, The Films of Frank Capra [Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press, 1977], pp. 195-221.)
3. The film Two Down and One to Go called for an all-out effort to defeat the last of the Axis powers—Japan—once Italy and Germany had surrendered. For further developments, see Marshall Memorandum for the Secretary of War, September 29, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-534 [4: 614-15].
4. Sulzberger replied that he had seen all of the films mentioned except The Battle of China and The Negro Soldier, which Marshall arranged for his viewing on May 4. After seeing these two films, Sulzberger noted that his first reaction was that “both pictures were extremely well done although . . . I feared that there had been too much glossing over of some of the less pleasant aspects of each problem. . . . I felt strongly, as did some of my associates, that in THE BATTLE OF CHINA the complete absence of any discussion of the conflict within China itself may prove to be a boomerang.” But he thought the film was “magnificent in the way it presents China’s history . . . and certainly the Japanese atrocity shots must stir anyone who sees them to a proper sense of outrage.” (Sulzberger to Marshall, April 21, 1944, and May 5, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 424-425.