May 26, 1941
I have little confidence in my wisdom in business matters, remembering the times I have pulled and hauled in the direction of one deep end or another, but I must say how I feel about moving picture backing while there's still time. Financially it seems we couldn't lose if we were backed by R.K.O. or Warners. I'm not so sure of that, because we might lose financially if we lost faith in ourselves and something of that sort might happen if Jake Wilk1 were reading our scripts in advance and arguing about the investment. But, supposing we couldn't lose financially, wouldn't we be selling out the theatre to the pictures? When the Dramatists Guild was founded the idea back of it was to prevent Hollywood domination of Broadway. This idea may have narrowed down to an argument over picture options and sales, but the basic notion remains the same. If we accept picture backing we shall have surrendered the central citadel of the theatre to Hollywood. It's all very well to talk about retaining control, but in the end the control will go with the money. It always does, as John 2 knows. I should feel pretty sick about our company if it got itself into that position.
On the other hand it's true, as John suggested long ago, that we'd be wiser to gamble less--to take in outside backing that would guarantee us against loss even though it also cut down somewhat our possible profits. I couldn't object to money of that sort if it were put up by people who had no other interest in our affairs beyond wanting to make money out of the company. Our present stockholders are not in the entertainment business, have some respect for the theatre, and don't try to influence us. Harold 3 says more money is available from people of this sort. We could lose little in reputation or in self-esteem if we took more capital from such sources. But if any representative of R.K.O. or Warners had the right to inquire what the hell happened to that last hundred thousand our morale would suffer dangerously.
If it came to a choice between financial failure and surrender to