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  • Lawrence Suid’s Response of 7 January 2005
  • Larry Suid

Editor's Note: In addition to authoring Operation Hollywood, David L. Robb, nominated for three Pulitzer Prizes, is a Los Angeles-based journalist and former reporter for Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. Mr. Robb's response is to a draft of the Suid review.

Dear Mr. Robb:

I find it rather ironic that you would suggest to Dr. Rollins that he should not publish my review of your book. At the center of Operation Hollywood is the charge that the U.S. armed forces censor movies and keeps them from being made. Yet you are opposed to my review appearing in print. That is attempted censorship.

I also find it strange that you accuse me of writing "a false and libelous" review of your book by attacking my credibility and legitimacy as an historian which I find libelous. To the very best of my knowledge, you are the first person to challenge my competency as an historian who has more than 30 years of highly praised publications and scholarly presentations.

In any case, I stand by my review when I state that you are wrong when you accuse the military of censoring Hollywood by preventing movies from being made. Just because a movie does not get made because it did not receive cooperation does not support your argument. Such movies did not get made because they could not raise the money or did not have acceptable scripts, not because one of the armed services did anything to prevent them from being produced. More to the point, the military has no obligation to support any film. The refusal to do so simply does not constitute censorship. And I will repeat: the military does not have the power to censor any story, except perhaps in a very rare case that might affect national security.

As to my point that the relationship between Hollywood and the armed services is not the film industry's "dirtiest little secret," the title on a film thanking the military for its assistance is on the screen whether or not people take the time to read it. More than that, however, documents relating to the symbiotic relationship between Hollywood and the military have existed in the public records of the National Archives since the early 1920s. Look at the footnotes in Guts & Glory (sorry about the self-promotion).

Moreover, the Department of Defense has deposited most of its official records from 1954 to the present pertaining to cooperation in the Georgetown University Special Collections Library. In addition, I have deposited all my research material which includes government documents, studio files, and private papers relating to the relationship at Georgetown. You had every opportunity to look at any or all of these files. So where is the secret?

I also find it rather ironic that you criticize me for giving my manuscript to Phil Strub to read.

I sent you a copy of my review of your book for the same reason, to elicit your comments, which is what happened, of course. What is wrong with giving a person the opportunity to challenge someone's work to ensure accuracy?

For the record, I did not give Mr. Strub a copy of my review. And to correct your misstatement, I did not give him the entire manuscript of Guts & Glory, only those portions that directly related to his work only to insure the factual accuracy. He never commented on my interpretations. In fact, I have regularly given relevant portions of my work to people with knowledge of the subject on which I was writing to insure that I had the story correct. On occasion, this included writings that were highly unfavorable to the person. The purpose was only to make sure I was accurate.

I see no point in debating your claim that Phil Strub is one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. It is an absurd statement which has no basis in fact. Like Don Baruch before him, Stub is simply a conduit between the film industry and the armed services. I did not lie or make a false statement. If you do not agree with me...