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September 24, 1921
R. S. COLE APPROVES
SUGGESTION OF STEP TOWARD CO-OPERATION
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mentioned by you, i. e., the New York Censorship Law, Film Taxation and Film Tariff.
The entire industry should be represented by one capable committee, which would speak and fight for the industry whenever it is necessary, as no real progress, and certainly no great confidence can be expected where exhibitors, producers, distributors and exporters all endeavor to work out their own salvation -ilone. and where, as at the present time in connection with the pending Tariff Bill at Washington, they appear practically as individuals instead of one committee appearing to represent this great body of all of the component parts of the industry.
* * *
Using as one example the seriousness of the present proposed tariff on the importation of foreign films, it was not until Thursday, August 25th, that it was possible to place on record that the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry was behind the recommendation that the tariff should not be changed, but up to that time we were all working as individuals to try and attain that end. The work of the Association is now made harder in view of the fact that the provision is already in the Bill, and it is very much harder to get it out than it would have been that it never appeared in the Bill.
We have just had our experience in regard to the passing of the Censorship Bill in the State of New York, when we hoped and were led to believe that there was every possibility of the Bill not becoming a law.
In my opinion, which perhaps may not bear a great deal of weight in view of the fact that I have never taken a very active interest outside of our own business, and also in view of the fact that we have not been in this business for a great many years, there should be, first, a complete reconciliation between the producing and exhibiting ends of the business which, if properly gone after with the proper spirit of meeting each other half way, should not be so hard to bring about. Then, with a clear understanding-^ this direction, there should then be a strong committee appointed from the exhibitors, producers, distributors and exporters, which would look after the combined interests of all of the branches of the industry. At the head of this committee there should be selected a man of absolutely known ability as a business man, financial man, and one having had experience in the administration of our Government business. In other words, 1 mean a man not only of recognized business ability, but one nationally known, in whom all companies, no matter what branch of the industry they may be, would have confidence, and this man to guide the destinies of this big industry. It must come in time, and the longer we wait the less progress we will make.
* * *
In giving you my views, if my sincerity was not fully understood it might be considered as a criticism of how such matters have been conducted in the past, or of those who are at the head of the various branches in the industry taking care of such matters. This is farthest from my thoughts, as I believe in the various associations and the committees working in such associations every effort possible has been made to protect the interests of
MABEL JULIENNE SCOTT, who plays "Fanny" in the Universal-Jewel special production, "No Woman Knows," and gives one of the finest performances of the year.
the industry and to bring about the greatest possible good, but I do not believe that a committee to handle every branch of this industry's business along such lines can ever function properly unless at its head there is a man such as suggested above. For, unfortunate as it may be, any man in the industry at the present time, no matter how big or how competent he may be, will not get the same confidence and support as some man who comes in to handle the problems along these lines who has no affiliations or any connection in any possible way with any of the companies in the industry.
Under this man there would naturally be the committees appointed from the various heads in the industry, but the real representation on all matters of this kind, including disputes, government, tariff, taxation and other questions on the industry would be represented by such a man.
While perhaps the conditions are far from a parallel, what I have in mind is the creating of an office similar to that which Judge Landis now holds in connection with professional baseball in America.
Yours very truly, R-C Pictures Corporation,
R. S. COLE.
MY FOUR WEEKS
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in total darkness until a client reaches the box office window. When a ticket has been purchased, a porter precedes the client through the lobby, turning on lights as he goes ; when the client finally finds his way in, the porter retraces his steps, turning the lights out again. This typifies the English film theatre. * * *
One rarely sees beautiful lobby effects, prologues, incidental novelty or unusual incidents. A film is hired, music syncronized. or cue sheets followed religiously, and this constitutes the show.
Advertising a film is in even a more primitive state. During my ten weeks I did not
note one effort to exploit a film in any out of the ordinary way.
There are many capable exploitation men in London, most of whom I met during a luncheon given in my honor, and these men, most of them graduates of universities, say that they are not allowed enough money to initiate new ideas, or extensive campaigns, and that the British publicity man is not yet taken seriously.
That this will adjust itself I am certain, just as it did here, for well do I remember when I was compelled to write my employer's name twelve times before I wrote either the name of the film, the star or director.
Personal vanity in England is only slightly less to blame than it is here — and the Lord knows it still plays a mighty important role in America.
* * *
Presentation in England is bad. Projection is just fair, and the condition of most of the prints are against a bright presentation, the rule being to either over-print or over-tint the film.
The music at Stoll's Opera House is good ; at most of the other theatres it is too heavy and stiff, and often contrasting to the film rather than heightening situations and big moments.
The theatres are clean and well conducted as far as courtesy is concerned, no country equalling England in that particular, but once inside the frailties of exhibition become apparent.
Seating arrangements are comfortable : the audiences are far better behaved than in America ; less disturbances occur, and rarely ever is a word spoken to disturb the auditor.
Theatre fronts are neglected. Stills which seem to tell the film continuity are the mainstays of exhibitors, while one or two posters are all that is used. Twenty-four sheets are practically unknown, and electric attraction signs almost totally unknown.
Daily papers are seldom used, and never to any great extent. The daily papers do not co-operate in any way with the film concerns, are antagonistic rather than helpful and, with the exception of Robbins, of the Times: Weigall, of the Mail, and William Haywood, of the Pall Mall Gazette, there are no well known cinema reviewers.
There are no departments for amusements, and one great daily paper, the Times. prints reviews only on one day a week, and never an item on films or film activities except on Mondays.
* * *
If you open a picture Tuesday, you must wait a full week to secure the benefit of the Times' circulation. Arthur Weigall of the Daily Mail, a highly intelligent writer, who has come to the fore during the year as a staunch friend of the British producer and a very good friend of American producers when their products are good, is perhaps the most liberal user of space in all England and in a letter I received from him on sailing he goes on record as saying that he wants more good American films in England and would like to see good British films in America. Weigall will soon be a potent factor in the cinema world and is friendly to American films, regardless of what his attitude toward many bad American productions would infer.
Atkinson, of the Standard, is quite well known, but his paper is small in size and his activities necessarily limited. Haywood, of the Pall Mall Gazette and Globe, thinks nothing of devoting two columns to a review if the film warrants it. Haywood is a keen student of the films, a candidate for Parliament, and a fine man in every particular.
(To be continued in an early lit—)