Hollywood Renegades Archive

The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers

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THE SIMPP RESEARCH DATABASE

COBBLESTONE ENTERTAINMENT

Documents from the Paramount Antitrust Case, 1938-1949

The SIMPP Telegram of Protest

September 1948

The news came to SIMPP in the summer of 1948 that the major studios were trying to enact yet another compromise (as they had successfully done in the summer of 1940) to avoid the full effect of the Supreme Court decision that ended block booking and theater-owning by the Hollywood studios. SIMPP sent a telegram of protest to Attorney General Clark. Gunther R. Lessing forwarded it to President Truman on September 10, 1948 and then disclosed it to the press the following week. Lessing, who signed the telegram and probably wrote it himself, was acting as vice president and chairman of the SIMPP executive committee. At the time, he was also vice-president of Walt Disney Productions.

The full text of the telegram is given below:


"We are informed that negotiations are in progress whereby the major motion picture company defendants in the anti-trust case (United States vs Paramount, et al) who have been found guilty by the federal district court of the United States Supreme Court of long-continued violations of the law are now attempting to avoid the full effect of the decision of the Supreme Court by procuring the government’s agreement to a so-called “consent decree.” The members of the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers unanimously protest any such agreement by the government with these defendants who, in the words of the Supreme Court, “Have shown marked proclivity for unlawful conduct.”

The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers believes that any softening of the application of the law as laid down by the Supreme Court would result in a continuation of monopolistic practices and prevent restoration of a free and competitive screen.

This case has been in the courts for over ten years. One consent decree has already been entered which completely failed to make any correction in the monopolistic stranglehold of these defendants on motion picture exhibition in the United States. The case has been exhaustively tried before the District Court and heard by the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court has given clear directions to the District Court as to what is to be done to remedy the “bald efforts to substitute monopoly for competition and to strengthen the hold of the exhibitor-defendants on the industry.”

It remains only for the District Court to take the final step of putting into effect the Supreme Court’s decision in order that the monopolistic grip of these defendants on motion picture exhibition may be loosened. There is absolutely no reason for the Government of the United States to make any deal with these law violators who, again in the words of the Supreme Court, “had the genius to conceive the present conspiracy and execute it with the subtlety which this record reveals.”

Such a deal could be regarded only as a betrayal of the interests of the American public which has a vital stake in the maintenance of an open competitive system of decent free enterprise. We cannot conceive that you will agree to any such deal. We urge you, as the chief law enforcement officer of this nation, to see to it that the order of the United States Supreme Court is vigorously enforced and that the full resources of the government are thrown behind the completion of this case in open court and not behind closed doors.


SOURCES:

“Indies Fight Trust Suit ‘Deal’,” HR, September 14, 1948, pp. 1, 9; “Independents Wary of Major Film ‘Deal’,” NYT, September 14, 1948, p. 34; “SIMPP Fights Majors’ Consent Decree Bid,” Hollywood Citizen-News, September 14, 1948; “SIMPP Protests Any New Decree; Urges U.S. Force Theatres Sale,: DV, September 14, 1948, pp. 1, 11.


 

MORE: Documents from the Paramount Antitrust Case

 

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