An agitated Paramount representative met us: “You didn't go into Germany, did you?”
“No,” Arthur told him, “we flew over it on our way to Sweden. Why?”
The representative turned to me. “Don't you know you're in Mr. Hitler's little black book? You're right at the top of his backlist—he's banned your pictures.” It seems that my wire to Masaryk had appeared in the London Times, and that, along with my support of an economic boycott of Nazi Germany and my outspoken defense of German Jews, had reached the Fuhrer. Well, as far as I was concerned, my pictures damned well should be banned. Why should I be entertaining the Third Reich? The bigwigs of Loew's, Inc., MGM's parent company, saw it differently. I received a letter later on from Arthur Loew, the founder's son, who ran foreign distribution.
It should be noted that in the 1930's 40% of Hollywood revenues came from foreign distribution, and Germany was Hollywood's most lucrative foreign territory. Thus, losing German distribution was a huge financial blow to the American studios. In fact, Greta Garbo was far more popular in Europe than in America and the war effectively ended her career.
The company's international greeter approched me on the set. “I've been carrying this letter around for a long time,” he told me. “I just haven't had the nerve to give it to you. I still don't, but I must and you can tell me what to do with it.”
The letter started out very nicely before making the point that I should beware of mixing my “politics” with my “career.” I handed it back to that man, suggesting, “You know what you can do with this.” He replied, “Yes, that's what I thought you'd say.” Oh, Lord, this still makes me so mad I could spit. Here I was fighting for the Jews and they're telling me to lay off because there's still money to be made in Germany. Loew and many of the company's executives were Jewish, but they condoned this horror. I know it's incredible, but it happened.”