ABSTRACT

There was, however, one area where the organisation of the German fIlm industry in general, and UFA in particular appeared to differ markedly, when compared to the American industry. This was the structure and function of the trade organisations. On the face of it, little separates the MPPDA (the Motion Picture Producers' and Distributors' Association) from its German equivalent, the SPIO. But given the cartel-like nature of the Hollywood Majors, the MPPDA developed into a formidable body, whose importance for the American fIlm industry cannot be overestimated.72 While to the general public, the MPPDA, founded as early as 1922, with Will Hays as its chairman, was best known for its self-censorship code of practice (the often ridiculed Hays Code), its actual role and function was much wider. The MPPDA was the film industry's lobby and pressure group both nationally and internationally, dealing with all branches of government, on a much wider range of questions than sex and morality, including for instance, tax laws and anti-trust legislation. As to its international role, not only did it immediately form a separate department dealing with foreign matters, with Frederick Herron in charge, where all the Majors had their export interests represented, it also acted as a kind of second diplomatic corps all over the world. 73 Most importantly, however, its purpose domestically was as the industry's self-regulatory body, policing its members in order to minimise or avoid altogether, outside interference: 'it was conceived in fear of regulation of the industry by the public and is dedicated to the proposition that outsiders should never dictate its policies.'74 For the MPPDA it did not matter whether these outsiders are the state via legislation or taxation, or outside competitors trying to enter the American market.