Hollywood Renegades Archive

The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers

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Block Booking

Sample Letter for Actors and Actresses, 1939

When the major studios fought to protect block booking against the Neely-Pettengill Anti-Block Booking Bill, they used their contract actors in the fight. They encouraged the studio talent to write to Congress to protest the bill. Eleven year old Shirley Temple and the teenage Mickey Rooney were among the many high-profile stars who submitted letters to relay their disapproval of the Neely legislation. Many of the letters followed a generic format that was circulated by the studio managers. The "Sample Letter for Actors and Actresses" read as follows:  


Sample Letter for Actors and Actresses

As an active member of the motion picture industry I wish to enter a protest against the law proposed by Senator Neely. In my opinion the Bill, should it be passed, will do a great deal of damage to the picture industry and to all of us connected with it.

Although its purpose is said to be to protect exhibitors, its effect, I believe, would be exactly the reverse. Anyone who has ever worked in films knows that only after the actors are assembled on the set and production starts do the full potentialities of the story become evident. Then a director or producer is free to make changes which usually result in an improved production.

Passage of this Bill would offer so many major obstacles to the production end of the motion picture industry that it undoubtedly would result in the ultimate leadership in this branch of the entertainment field to be transferred to foreign lands. The loss of this leadership not only would effect the industry itself, but would result in wide-spread unemployment of all branches of the business.

May I urge that this measure be killed once and for all.


 

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