there are times when to say nothing is better than to say something favorable." Fineshriber later claimed that he alone convinced MGM not to make the film and the Production Code Administration (PCA), the industry's self-censorship board, not to approve it.(16) The ADL, AJC, and LAJCC took a more moderate position than Fineshriber.
Although the ADL and AJC occasionally corresponded on their own with film industry figures, by far the closest relationship between a Jewish organization and the Jews in the film industry existed through the LAJCC.(22) Leon Lewis, the former national secretary of the ADL, had created the LAJCC in 1934 as an autonomous, self-appointed umbrella organization of local representatives of all of the major national Jewish organizations as well as local Jewish social and communal leaders.(23) Many of the LAJCC's members enjoyed personal and professional links to Jews in the film industry, and a week after the LAJCC's founding, the organization created a Motion Picture Committee comprised of prominent Jewish studio executives like Irving Thalberg, Jack Warner, Joseph Schenck, and Harry Cohn.
Thus, for example, throughout the 1930s the LAJCC and ADL repeatedly opposed the production of a film called Mad Dog of Europe, which, had it been made, would have been a stinging indictment of Hitler and Nazi Germany.(27) The film's would-be producers were all Jewish, and the film made particular reference to Nazi antisemitism.
(Lewis had not yet created the LAJCC and was still serving as the primary ADL representative in Los Angeles.) The wisdom of producing a high-budget film whose heroes were bankers in the midst of the Great Depression was questionable in itself; but the fact that those bankers were Jewish--indeed, were the quintessential "international Jewish financiers" about whom Hitler and professional antisemites were fulminating--filled ADL leaders with trepidation.
Even the AJC and LAJCC agreed that the ADL had been oversensitive in this case, with one AJC leader even arguing that the film's ambiguous image of Jews was a virtue: because it showed Jews with flaws, it successfully walked the thin line between sympathy for the Jews and pro-Jewish propaganda.(45)
Like the PCA, the Jewish organization was worried that the film would be labeled as propaganda, although in general the ADL felt that it was "reasonable" to assume that the film would be "extremely helpful" and would "expose some of the classic methods employed by anti-Semites to incite the masses in order to achieve a dastardly purpose." Yet to avoid the propaganda charge, the ADL wanted to ensure that the film pursued a "proper middle course" and did "not err in leaning too far in either direction," that it refrain from including "unduly favorable" references to Jews "not justified by the story, and possibly savoring of propaganda."(58) Gutstadt therefore asked the LAJCC to use its contacts at the studio to ensure that the ADL's concerns were addressed.