July 12, 1947
Mr. John C. Gall
Gall and Lane
Washington 5, D. C.
Please excuse me for my delay in answering your letter. Work on my new novel had made it impossible for me to attend to any business matters. When you read the new novel, I think you will forgive me.
I am not certain whether the approach to Superfilm which you suggest in your letter is the correct one. On the basis of what I know about the motion picture business, I think that we should use the offer from Superfilm to get a settlement out of court from Scalera Brothers. The right to release the picture of WE THE LIVING in America is the most valuable one for Scalera Brothers at present, and the American market is the most important one. It appears likely that Scalera Brothers would be willing to settle for what they owe me in the past, in order to obtain the American release rights. But if we sell them these rights separately, then they will have no reason to wish to settle for their original piracy and we will have no recourse except to a lawsuit.
In view of the whole confused situation of international law, I am dubious about the prospects of obtaining a satisfactory settlement from Scalera Brothers through a lawsuit. At best, it would probably take years and would be a very difficult and costly procedure. So I think it would be preferable to settle the matter out of court, if a fair and reasonable settlement is possible.
Please let me know what you think of the above considerations, and whether you feel confident that we will be able to do better through a lawsuit than through a settlement now. I do not want to influence you to act against your own judgment, but I do know that if we give Superfilm
the American release rights, then we will have no chance for a settlement out of court and no hold of any kind on Scalera Brothers.
I am sending a letter to Superfilm, with the text you suggested, so that they will get in touch with you. If you would like to discuss this with me before you meet them, please telephone me. My phone number is Rugby 6-3941. I am usually at home all the time, but just to be certain, please send me a wire the day before you call. I should like to know what approach you decide on before you meet with Superfilm.
I have some interesting information, which if true, would tend to make me rather lenient toward Scalera Brothers. I met Alida Valli, who played the lead in the Italian picture of WE THE LIVING, and who is now in Hollywood under contract to David O. Selznick. She told me that the picture was released in Italy, played for two months with great success—and then the Italian newspapers began objecting to it and saying that it was anti-Fascist propaganda (which, of course, it is essentially). The Italian Government demanded to see the picture, and Miss Valli believes that Mussolini himself saw it. After which the picture was banned and Scalera Brothers had to withdraw it from circulation.
If this is true, I think it is wonderful. It would make the greatest kind of publicity story in this country, not just publicity for my book, but an important proof to demonstrate concretely the similarity of Soviet Russia and Fascism, which even Mussolini recognized, though some of the fools in this country refuse to. This makes me more interested in having the picture released here. It also indicates that if there were any pro-Fascist touches in the film’s dialogue, they were minor and can be easily eliminated. Miss Valli told me that she has Italian clippings to prove all this and she has promised to send me translations of them.
Please let me know what you think of the situation.
With best regards,
For a history of the film, see “Adapting We the Living” by Jeff Britting, in Essays on Ayn Rand’s “We the Living,” ed. Robert Mayhew (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2004), pp. 167–76.
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