OCTOBER 21, 1955
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—On Tuesday night in New York I went to the benefit performance, given for the Citizens Committee for Children, of "Tiger at the Gates."
The theme of this play is interesting, and Michael Redgrave, as Hector, does a fine piece of acting. However, I found Helen not very real, and though the story works up to a tragic climax when the man who wants peace most is the one to bring on war. Nevertheless, I found myself less moved than I had expected to be by the play—even though it is witty in spots and, as I said, the theme quite fascinating.
The audience, though, seemed to enjoy the play and I think it will have a good run. Perhaps seeing "The Diary of Anne Frank" so recently—which reaches a height, I think, one seldom feels on the stage today—may have made me too critical. In any case, I enjoyed the evening though I wasn't deeply moved.
Back in September I had a letter from the American Social Hygiene Corporation, which I just haven't been able to mention before this. There has always been so much to talk about that I have not had time to explain the background of the movie they asked me to bring to your attention.
This is a movie called "Phoenix City Story" and was released in September by Allied Artists. It should be showing in communities throughout the country when community chest funds and other allied drives are in progress.
The American Social Hygiene Association is supported through these campaigns but it is one of the agencies whose work it is difficult to publicize. This film tells more effectively than any number of pamphlets the situation that can develop in a community and which this association can help citizens to meet and to fight. This year the American Social Hygiene Association is making its own appeal for support in communities throughout our country and so it is important that people should understand the value of its work.
If you see "Phoenix City Story" advertised in your town, go and see it. It is not just an ordinary movie. It is the story of what happens in a real city, what racketeers can do, and how the public can fight back. The American free press did a great deal to uncover the whole situation in this small Alabama city, and we can be grateful that we live in a country where the press is still free.
The town itself had no big paper but in the area there were papers that were keeping in touch with the situation and telling people about it. The public had remained apathetic until a Public Betterment Association was formed and a crusading citizen, A.L. Patterson, became such a nuisance through his activities that the racketeers murdered him. This woke the public to action and the cleanup went on in a truly remarkable fashion.
The tragedy was that a man had to die before the people could be moved into action.