851.4061/76a: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Herrick)

74. Department understands that Senate51 will today pass new film law. Article 7 of this law is said to read as follows:

“Producers who can prove the sale of one French film of the first category to a foreign country well-known as a producer of films and where imports from France are at present made difficult, will receive from the Commission authorization to exploit in France, colonies and protectorates, seven foreign films for each French film sold among these various countries. French films of the second category will be entitled to fifty per cent of the advantages accorded to French films of the first category.”

The Department further understands, however, that American companies will be permitted to distribute in France only four American films for one French film sold in the United States and that to secure distribution of seven American films this French film must be shown also in Germany and in England. Hays52 informs Department that this will compel some of the largest American companies to withdraw altogether from France with consequent loss of heavy investments.

The proposed measure also is understood to limit to 500 the number of foreign films that may be brought into France from March 1, 1928 to September 30, 1929. The fixation of such a quota is inconsistent with the spirit at least of the agreement for the abolition of import and export prohibitions and restrictions signed recently at Geneva. While [Page 845] the French Government, in a letter addressed to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations on January 27th last, stated that France reserved the right to adopt certain restrictive measures, that letter stated that such measures “will apply equally to French and foreign films.”53 It is entirely obvious that the measure understood to be contemplated does not so apply.

Please discuss this matter fully with Lowry, who is understood to be in Paris.54 If you consider it advisable you may talk over the situation informally with the Foreign Office, pointing out the serious injury to American motion picture companies who have invested in France on the understanding that they will be able to carry on their business. Also please telegraph Department whether you perceive ground for formal protest.

  1. French Senate.
  2. Will H. Hays, president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc.
  3. Vol. i, p. 368.
  4. Representative of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America Inc.