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1939 ls Proving
Year For Hollywood
COSTS OF PRODUCTION
HOLLYWOOD is encountering more difficulties this year than
ever before. Many foreign markets have or are being closed to It by political action, production is having to be de- centralised to circumvent quota laws, and censorship, both for- mal and informal, is hampering the. scenario writer. Mean- while, costs continue to rise, and Hollywood is conscious of a dearth of inspiration in the development of its art.
Each of these circumstances is ferious enough in itself; together they present a future the difficulties of which not even the producers ap- preciate fully, writes a Hollywood correspondent.
Because certain foreign markets, have virtually been closed to Ameri- can pictures for "idealogical" rea- sons and because distribution has teen restricted in such important fields as Great Britain and France, Hollywood has lost an enormous part of its revenue. There was a time when the export market provided Hollywood'with more than half its income. .
Censorship troubles have caused pre at anxiety and expense to Holly- wood producers.
Josenh I. Breen, Production Cods Administrator for the Hays Office, which tells Hollywood what it can »nd cannot make, has said that the only villian acceptable to a world audience is a white American, over 21, without religious,-fraternal, or occupational connections. If a negro, for instance, is shown in an unfavor- able light a protest will come from the Society for the Advancement of the Colored Race. ' The Chinese Gov- ernment is not too busy with its war to protest against the showing of un Oriental in a menial position. '
Ko nation will. pasB unchallenged a historical story in which it appears in an unfavorable light, > even though the facts are correct. '
Probably the most influential ele- ment controlling the manufacture of American pictures today is thc Catholic Church, as represented by the Legion of Decency, a Hollywood writer recently pointed out. Catholics connected with the industry- undergo a barrage of letters every time some- thing appears in a film to which exception is taken.
HPHERE is an all-round increase in
the cost of production as com- pared with a few years ago.
Stars who have' genuine box-office appeal get much more a picture than they did not very long, ago.'Directors and writers have also been persuaded that their Bpecial talents sho\ild 'com- mand excessive sums, > and the .pay of the rank and Ale is protected "by the various guilds and unions.
There was a time when £60.000 was considered a normal cost for a first-class Hollywood picture. Today a picture which has not involved a greater expenditure than <v this is usually regarded by the industry as
unworthy of presentation in the best theatres.
Notable exceptions can be quoted, of course. The fact also remains that many Hollywood productions could have been turned out for much less than they cost. Waste and extrava- gance still prevail in the film colony.
. Talkies are made very much more cheaply in England and France. Producers there do not have the money to spend, and KO must make up for this lack with intellectual ingenuity.
Leslie Howard, co-director of the extraordinarily successful British pic- ture "Pygmalion," recently declared that, excellent talkies could be made in unit production for a fraction of the cost of a Hollywood special. "Pyg- malion," for instance, went down on the books for £87,000, he said/ but £12,500 of this was a bookkeeping charge for the screen rights which would actually be paid out as royal- ties from the receipts. .
Mr. Howard feels sure that he can make the pictures that he wants for no more per picture than "Pyg- malion" cost.
It is realised that 1939 will be a critical year for the industry in Hollywood. It will be interesting ,to discover at what cost Hollywood com nanies. make good pictures in Eng- land, - , .
" GLADYS GEORGE'S OPPOR-
?JJORMA SHEARER wants to star
in "Susan and God" after' she has completed her work as thc hero- ine in "The Women."
Good news has come to Gladys George. No less a playwright than Sidney Kingsley will script her next movie, "Every Day. Is Sunday." The picture, a remake of "Applause," iii which Helen Morgan was starred, will give Gladys her best opportunity since she came ' to Hollywood.
H. G. Wells's "Food for the Gods" will be picturised by Edward Small. Has anyone yet made a movie of Wells's "Tono Bungay?" It would make fine entertainment.
Old-timer..Jack Mulhall has;Recur- ed a term"' contract /at- ,the<-Metro Goldwyn-Mayer studio. His first en- gagement under this is to' be a fea^ tured .role' in "6000 Enelnies.''. ;
Robert Donat will end his contract troubles with Warner Brothers, and return to Hollywood to make a pic- ture for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This was the '-advice 1 brought back, .from England by; Sam Wood, who directed Donat there in "Good-bye Mr. Chips!"