S A M U E L G O L D W Y N
November 9, 1961
Thank you for your nice letter.
I think that a great many people Sunday night - unlike yourself - misunderstood Ed and his purpose in coming out here. The last thing on his mind would be to suggest that he or the government should censor our pictures or dictate in any fashion what we should make. Ed has always fought against censorship or dictation and for the right of everyone to speak his mind freely.
What he wanted to get across - and the point I hope I made in my remarks - was not that Hollywood should make propaganda films but at this particular time it was most important that we exercise great self-discipline in the subjects we choose, bearing in mind the fact that what we do may be seized upon as propaganda for the other side.
Today we are at a crucial period in history. Even if the cold war never develops into a hot one, our country still has its hands full all over the world. The pictures we send abroad have an effect in every corner of the globe.
Therefore, I feel we must exercise today a higher degree of self-discipline and self-censorship then ever before. We should never lose sight of the fact that, no matter how entertaining a picture may be or how much money it may make, it can do our country a great deal of harm if it plays into the hands of our enemies. No one among us can serve as another's conscience - but that is why it behooves every one of us to look at ourselves critically and completely honestly. We have a great responsibility in this regard - far greater than almost any other segment of our country - and we have to guide ourselves accordingly.
Naturally, what I feel in this regard is carried over into my opinion regarding the subject of film festivals which you mention.
We should only send those pictures which we honestly feel are our best without regard to who made them, how much they cost or what the box office record or potential may be. Only then will Hollywood be able to command the artistic respect it is entitled to.
I, too, could go on at much greater length but if I have not made myself clear by now, I am sure nothing I could add would help. I am also sure, from what you wrote, that you understand my point fully.
With all best regards,
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In a 1961 speech as director of the US Information Agency, Edward R. Murrow angered his Hollywood audience by criticizing movies for the false and negative impression of American life they had propagated among viewers around the world.
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