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To Walter Wanger
February 24, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Mr. Wanger:
As a result of our recent discussion regarding the expanding army motion picture activities, together with the possibility of coordinating War Department requirements with the industry through Mr. Mellett of the White House, I have caused an examination to be made of this whole subject.
I think that the enclosed copy of a letter to Mr. Mellett will give you a concise picture of how we are working with the motion picture industry, regarding which I was not fully informed at the time of our interview. In view of the present relationships, it is my opinion that we should continue to work through the Motion Picture Committee for National Defense.1
I am having your suggestion concerning the stimulation of newsreel publicity which will carry the activities of the soldiers back to their home communities, considered by that committee, and I count on your support in case we run into any difficulty in the matter.
Relative to your comments as to the quality of our recruiting trailer movies, they were produced as a matter of expediency to meet a particular situation at a minimum cost. In order to improve the quality of future releases, greater use will be made of the services of the committee in the production of subsequent trailers.
With regard to your suggestion that Mr. Zanuck make a trip to a number of our camps to look over our motion picture involvements, General Mauborgne is now on his way west, and will see Mr. Zanuck.2 Also I find that an extensive survey of this field was recently made, as a result of which, arrangements are being completed to send scenario writers to selected military activities in order that they may acquire first-hand knowledge of living and training environments. When these scenario people are located, a visit by Mr. Zanuck to look over their activities probably will be desirable.3
Thanking you again for your genuine interest and cordial offer of cooperation, I remain
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Wanger, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, had suggested that all War Department activities with the motion picture industry be coordinated by presidential assistant Lowell Mellett. A letter to Mellett, drafted by Lieutenant Colonel Frank H. Partridge of the G-1 division, outlined the existing War Department-industry relationship. The previous summer, the industry had organized the Motion Picture Committee Cooperating for National Defense, a civilian board which arranged the production of training films through the Research Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “To further interlock the industry with the War Department,” the army commissioned several movie executives to act as assistants in the Signal Corps. (Memorandum for General Shedd, January 31, 1941, pp. 402-3.) Beyond training films, the War Department hoped to arrange for newsreel coverage of the army through the same procedure. Marshall considered that this organization worked “smoothly and expeditiously;” he was loath to change it in midstream. (Marshall to Mellett, February 15, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
2. Major General Joseph O. Mauborgne was the chief signal officer of the United States Army.
3. For details on Darryl F. Zanuck’s trip, see Terrett, Signal Corps: The Emergency, p. 228.
Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 429-430,