862.4061 Motion Pictures/67
The Ambassador in Germany (Sackett) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 5, 1933.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction No. 708 of September 17, 1932, concerning the complaint of American film interests against certain provisions of the German regulations with regard to the importation and exhibition of foreign films in Germany.
Upon receipt of this instruction, the Embassy took the matter up with the Foreign Office and advanced at considerable length arguments in support of the American objections to the German regulations. On three subsequent occasions the Embassy impressed upon the Foreign Office the desirability of an equitable solution in the premises and finally, under date of November 28, a note was received from the Foreign Office, copy and translation of which are enclosed.[Page 372]
On the face of it this note appears to be somewhat evasive and unsatisfactory. It seems, however, that the official attitude of the German Government as expressed therein was dependent upon, and represented the progress made in, current negotiations between the German (in this connection see Special Report No. 10, of November 12, from the office of the Commercial Attaché to the Embassy entitled “Startling Developments in the German Film Situation”).
The passage in the Foreign Office note stating that “the Reich Government takes the stand, as a matter of principle, that the issuance of a general prohibition to close contracts without a preview is thoroughly desirable from a cultural point of view”, is of interest as being the first official acknowledgment that the “blindbooking” provision of the German film regulations is unfair when applied to the foreign product alone. The expectation among American film interests here appears to be that the “blindbooking” provision will be equalized in the governmental regulations which will be issued to cover the next film release season.
I may add that, in the opinion of the Embassy, American film interests may not for a considerable length of time hope to obtain a relaxation of the German dubbing regulations. Aside from the argument of principle, the very general testimony of local film-goers—of American as well as of German nationality—is that many American films, dubbed in the United States for presentation here, lend themselves to considerable criticism with respect to their quality as artistic and finished products.