THE UNITED STATES is on a war footing today. So are show business and the film industry. Sacrifices will have to be made, but the show industry must keep functioning to preserve morale, to keep up the spitrits of this country and its allies with top-rung entertainment and beneficial propaganda.
Some of the studios have already prepared for the emergency. But not all. First thing all must do is protect themselves against saboteurs from within. No one in the industry can say that we do not have foreign agents in our midst, on studio payrolls. Some we may suspect. But there are others not suspected who must be exposed and turned over to Government agents — who will dispose of them legally.
EVERYONE in a studio should be alert, reporting to the company heads any suspicious move or action of their fellow worker, but not jumping at conclusions.
This is not a war that cannot come to our shores. That was proved yesterday when a ship was attacked 700 miles out of San Francisco.
The Japs are no chumps. They have been prepared. They have had their agents here preparing for at least six years. We do not know where they may have bases close by. We must not get hysterical, but we must be on guard.
The industry is going to be affected greatly by this war.
It will get its priorities, but at the same time will have to make many sacrifices.
Many industry workers are in the Army and Navy Reserve, and can expect a call any day. Some of these men are important directors, writers and actors. And when duty calls no effort must be made to try and defer their call. The government has the priority there and no waiver must be asked. Many of the film company properties, physical, such as lighting equipment, cameras, etc., may be drafted by the government for the emergency. If so, it is because we are not at total war strength, and it should be turned over without a whimper.
SHOOTING schedules may be restricted to daytime. If such is the case, those in the industry should unhesitatingly respond and give their time to work, and not quibble over difference between employer and employe. For the film industry is just as important an arm to the defense of this nation as are its armed forces, who respond without question to orders.
The industry will find itself called on to do plenty to aid defense. Should it be asked to defend the community in which it works by volunteers for home service it should not falter, but deliver the manpower that is essential for home defense.
If blackouts are ordered, it should cooperate and its entire personnel should do its utmost to get all the others of the Hollywood populace to cooperate.
We will be short of police power. The industry should help by helping the law enforcement officers.
Already two calls for location today have been canceled because sufficient police guards could not be obtained for the location spot. Other emergencies like this will arise, and should they, the industry must accept them.
It’s at war alongside of its government and its government must come first.
During defense preparations the industry cooperated wholeheartedly with the government. Its men were drafted. It turned out defense training films. Its leaders worked wholeheartedly to let the populace of the United States know it was American.
Now with the war really here, the industry will keep up its efficient co-operation and in addition will give up a lot of its outstanding personnel to the colors.
War may be hell, but show business will go through it and do its share toward making democracy triumph over monstrosity.
UNITED ARTISTS’ ‘governing quartet’ is on the firing line here this week.
They’re here for business, and strictly business.
Conferring with the member owners, tney will define operation policy. Once that it is set, it will be full steam ahead for UA.
The boys who guide the destiny of the company for the future are no novices. They know films and show business.
Ed C. Raftery, a lawyer heading the company, has been around the film and show biz for 22 years. He knows every phase of the game. Raftery knows all about house operation, can tell you the location of every theatre, its seating capacity, physical set-up and how much biz it can do. He knows the set-up of all theatre circuits. He knows production and producers. Their problems have been his and it is through the diligence and patience of Raftery that UA pulled through many a turbulent time. He blends perfectly with Gradwell Sears, vice-president and general manager of distribution.
SEARS has a most enviable record. He started from the bottom rung of salesmanship some 20-odd years ago and worked to the top. He made an outstanding record heading the Warner sales department, where he was as important to production as he was to sales. Warners asked his ideas relevant to production based on his selling experience. They took them. Evidently they were right, for Warners has been considered by exhibs as sure-fire box-office when it came to products that would bring in the coin from the customers.
Sears knows exhibs. They trust him. For United Artists he should be a natural tower of strength. He should and is able to convince consumers that the product he represents is the best, not alone in quality, but in profits as well.
With the United Artists set-up geared for full steam ahead he should get product that will mean entertainment. And when this fellow has entertainment to sell he is not going to miss out.
And Sears has the good will of his UA sales department. His general sales manager, Carl Leserman, is a leader and a salesman. He reflects Sears, with whom he was brought up and under whom he was trained. He has Harry Gold, a sales executive whom the exhibs call tough, but who knows how to get deals that will help his company forge ahead. His sales force were told by Sears that he would fight along with them — that he would back them up. That spirit in an organization should spell nothing but success, and big success.
THEN there is Arthur Kelly, a veteran in the UA fold, who knows distribution the world over, has the respect of everyone who knows him. Kelly will handle financial matters adequately as well as proficiently.
Also there is Laudy Lawrence, the fourth member of the governing group. Lawrence may not be known as well in America as he was in Europe. There he was the outstanding distributor contact. He handled Metro affairs. He is going to be a coordinator as well as supervisor of foreign sales.
These four are no novices — they know what it is all about.
They are going to look ahead to ’42-43. They are going to decide what producers they want in the fold in addition to those they have. Their selections will not be snap judgment. They will be made as a result of thought and analysis of the capabilities of the producer. Not everyone who wants a UA selling privilege will get it. But those who the ‘governors’ know can de-liver the goods will. And with it they will be backed up in distribution of their product, as never have producers been before by any company. And, summing it all up, United Artists should not miss turning out to be the leading distribution organization of the industry and stimulate progress on the part of its producers by bringing home the bacon to encourage more important production as time passes.
And there will be no buck-passing, like Raftery to Sears to Kelly to Lawrence. It will be one for all and all for one.