893.4061 Motion Pictures/196: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in China (Johnson)

271. The Department has received a letter under date November 970 from Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc., New York City, in regard to the ban which has been placed by the Chinese Government on the distribution in China of Paramount [Page 676] motion picture “The General Died at Dawn” and of all other Paramount pictures. The letter states inter alia that when Paramount started production of the motion picture “The General Died at Dawn”, it obtained the help of a General Tu72 who had been loaned by the Chinese Government to Metro73 (in connection with the production of their picture “The Good Earth”); that in accordance with the suggestions which he made certain portions were removed from the picture, and that the picture as approved by him was released for general circulation. The letter also states that prior to the showing of the picture in Manila a foreword was added to the effect that the story was laid before the establishment of the Nationalist Government at Nanking, that that Government had freed the Chinese nation from oppression and that the story and characters were fictitious; that the Chinese Consul and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Manila after seeing the picture issued statements to the Chinese press and the Paramount representative to the effect that in their opinion the picture was not in any way offensive to the Chinese and that with the approval of the Chinese Consul and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce the picture was then shown in the Capitol Theatre at that place, which theatre is partly owned by Chinese; and that Paramount is willing to have this foreword placed on all copies of prints throughout the world if such is the desire of the Chinese Government. The letter states further that the Chinese Vice Consul at Los Angeles made a report on this picture to his Government objecting to its protrayal of Chinese people and situations and that as no copy of the picture has as yet reached China it was not possible for the Chinese Government to have seen it before issuing the ban (the inference being that that Government’s action was taken on the basis of the Vice Consul’s report).

The Department desires that the Embassy investigate this matter and in the light of Department’s instruction No. 1138, August 3, 1933,74 make such representations to the concerned authorities as may appear appropriate in the circumstances.

Report promptly by radio.

  1. Not printed.
  2. General Tu Ting-hsiu.
  3. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1933, vol. iii, p. 694.