Exhibitors Herald (Dec 1921 - Mar 1922)

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34 EXHIBITORS HERALD March 25, 1922 John Emerson Presents Case for Tariff on Foreign Films Points to Four Broadway Houses Featuring Foreign-Made Pictures This Week — Urges Producers to "Wake up" JOHN EMERSON, author, director and president of the Actors' Equity Association, who is the leading proponent of the proposed tariff on foreign films, has prepared an article especially for the HERALD in which he states his case. His statement is presented below without comment. Points, which Mr. Emerson wanted particularly stressed, appear in black type. It is as follows: THIS chap who slept through his own hanging the other day has nothing on the body of American producers. They, too, are pleasantly dozing while the noose of foreign competition tightens about the neck of the industry. Four out of the five big Broadway houses featured foreign-made pictures this week! Various astute persons who are themselves planning to make a few dollars by bringing the foreign films — or perhaps making their own abroad — write epics of logic to prove that European pictures can never, never be popular in America, can never injure the producer here, and that, anyway, no one is bringing in any foreign pictures to speak of. All foreign pictures, they tell us, are proving "flops" on the market. The public won't accept them. And yet: * * * The Rivoli, the Rialto, the Strand and the Criterion all featured foreign-made pictures last week! Only the Capitol housed an American-made picture, "Foolish Wives," which probably would be made abroad if it were to be done over again. What's the matter with the American producers and directors? Instead of standing together to fight for the only measure which will save them and their livelihood — the ad valorem American valuation tariff on foreign-made pictures — they ridicule the idea that the public will ever accept anything but the American product. For a year the Actors Equity Association has fought for a film tariff without the slightest support from those who should be most interested in the measure. Apparently the American photoplay makers have swallowed this propaganda which insists that not only are all foreign-made pictures unpopular in America, but that Europeans will never learn to make pictures which will appeal to our audiences. If all foreign-made pictures are failures, why are four out of the five big Broadway houses showing them this week? As to this naive belief that Kuropcaus will never learn to make pictures for the American public, that is based only upon a complete ignorance of the Continental theatre. French and Italian and Swedish dramatists made highly popular pictures before the war, and their actors and dramatists and directors of the legitimate drama have done the most consistently brilliant work of any class of artists in the world. Those who are familiar with the situation abroad unanimously agree that as soon as these people have studied our tastes, they will give our picture public what it wants. To say that all the Continental actors and writers and directors are crazy or too Stupid to grasp our point of view is nonsense; they are simply for the moment, unfa miliar with the situation. But that won't last long. * * * Already, this week, four-fifths of our b\g theatres in New York are playing foreign-made pictures — to-wit, "The Mistress of the World," at two houses "The Sheik's Wife," and "The Loves of Pharoah." How long will it be before this happens every week? Surely the proprietors of these houses knew what they were doing. If foreign made pictures are unpopular, why do they play them after more than a year's experience with them? The only argument against a tariff is the fear of retaliation on the part of other countries. This is an entirely unproved theory, and, as we see it, nothing but a bugaboo to those of our opponents who honestly fear it, and a pretext and camouflage for the others, who are making fortunes out of these cheap importations, while the American exhibitor is milked, and the American actor, director and artisan thrown out of work. * * * Wake up, you chaps who'll be out of jobs or working at one-quarter salaries if this tariff is blocked. All your complacency won't help you a few months hence. Don't you see what is going on? Don't you analyze the four to five ratio of foreign to domestic pictures on the Broadway run and realize that this same ratio may soon hold all over the country? Don't you understand that the present slump in production in America is due, in a large part, to the fact that these foreign pictures are flooding the market, lining the pockets of a few importers and driving into the ranks of the unemployed thousands upon thousands of our own people? The Actors' Equity Association is doing all it can to save the situation. Stand with us, and we'll put it over. Stand aloof — and, perhaps, we'll all go down together. Hodkinson Manager to Join Theatrical Chain (Special to Exhibitors Herald) KANSAS CITY, KANS., March 14.— J. J. Millstein, having resigned last week as manager of the Kansas City office of the W. W. Hodkinson Corporation, will leave for Denver, where he will become affiliated with Louis Levand in an organization controlling a large number of theatres. Mr. Millstein. although having been in Kansas City only a few months, was one of the most popular, as well as one of the voungest, exchange managers in the city. Phil Ryan, district manager for Hodkinson, has not yet decided upon Mr. Millstein's successor. WESLEY "Freckles" BARRY, in a scene from his Warner Bros, production "School Days." Missouri and Kansas Affected by Nebraska AntiDeposit Decision (Special to Exhibitors Herald) KANSAS CITY, KANS., March 14.— The decision of three federal judges in Omaha, Neb., declaring the anti-deposit law of Nebraska unconstitutional, will have a direct bearing on the anti-deposit laws of Missouri and Kansas, according to Lawrence E. Goldman, counsel for the M. P. T. O., Missouri. However, legal authorities connected with Missouri and Kansas exhibitors are confident that the Omaha decision will be reversed when it comes before the United States supreme court. "The laws of Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska are very similar," said Mr. Goldman. "Whatever decision is made by the supreme court in the Nebraska case, likewise will affect Missouri and Kansas. In the Nebraska case the judges all were of the opinion that the money belonged to the exhibitors. They further agreed that the state had power to enact a law of this kind and recognized it as being within the public power of the state to protect the property of its citizens. It would, therefore, seem, as a. natural sequence, that the state would have the power to require the deposits to be held within its confine. The entire idea of the thing is that if the exhibitor carries out his part of the contract, he should be able to immediately secure the return of his money. But, if the exhibitor is forced to go to New York to secure his money, it will cost him more to obtain the money than the amount involved. There is no duestion in my mind but that the United States supreme court will hold the entire act constitutional and thereby protect the property and rights of the exhibitors."