851.4061 Motion Pictures/467

The Chargé in France (Tuck) to the President of the French Council of Ministers (Laval)19

No. 373

Mr. President: I have the honor to call Your Excellency’s attention to the following clause (Schedule III, Ex 469 quater, Note c) of the Trade Agreement concluded between the United States and France on May 6, 1936:

“The French Government will take no new measures which would have the effect of placing American films in a position, in comparison with French films, or with those of any other foreign country, less favorable than that which they now enjoy”

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and to certain measures, contemplated or already carried out by the French Government or its departments, which appear to constitute a direct violation of the foregoing clause.

Since the middle of September 1942, the French Customs Authorities have refused transit through France to American films intended for Switzerland. The customhouse agents charged with the transit of these American films received from the Customs Authorities as justification for the refusal of admission a copy of a circular citing the text of a letter under date of August 22, 1942 from the Office of the Director General of Motion Pictures addressed to the Director General of Customs, containing a formal order to refuse admission to all American films shipped from Spain or Portugal to Switzerland. A copy of the circular, as it was supplied to the Embassy, is transmitted herewith.
About mid-September, the Committee on Organization of the Motion Picture Industry informed the distributors of American films in nonoccupied France and North Africa officially by letter that the Office of the Director General of the Cinema had decided to withdraw visas for the showing of American films after October 15, 1942, and requested them to hold the copies of such films at the disposal of the Ministry of Information. A copy of this notice is enclosed.

Pursuant to my Government’s instructions20 I have the honor to invoke officially the clause referred to above of the Trade Agreement between our two countries, and to reserve all my Government’s rights as regards the adoption of appropriate measures of reprisal in the event that the restrictions applied to the transit of American films and those contemplated with respect to the showing of American films are not lifted.

Accept [etc.]

S. Pinkney Tuck
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Chargé in France in his despatch No. 1410, November 7, 1942; received February 19, 1943.
  2. Department’s telegram No. 501, August 13, 1942, 10 p.m., to the Chargé in France, not printed.