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“Unlimited Possibilities for Evil”: Hollywood Resists Daylight Saving

The quest for efficiency touched nearly every aspect of American life during World War I, including the nation’s clocks. Daylight saving first appeared during the war years as an experiment to save fuel. Theoretically, people would use less artificial light in the evenings thanks to the extra hour of daylight. Urban dwellers, and those working regular hours in factories and offices, generally delighted in the “extra hour,” but protests by farmers and other rural citizens brought the experiment to an end after only a year. For most of the 20th century, however, the push for or against daylight saving came from businesses. The makers of sporting goods, charcoal briquettes, and mosquito repellents continued to fund a “National Daylight Saving Coalition” to lobby for an extended period of “fast time.” The movie industry, however, long resisted daylight saving. In this 1930 letter to E. B. Duerr of Pathé Studios, the president of Fox West Coast Theaters warned of dire economic consequences for the motion picture industry if California adopted daylight saving.

Fox West Coast Theatres

General Offices

Washington at Vermont Avenue

Los Angeles, California

Office of Harold B. Franklin, President

May 26, 1930

Mr. E. B. Derr

Pathe Studios

9336 Washington, Blvd.

Culver City, Calif.

My dear Mr. Derr:

I am attaching herewith a letter I am today sending to George Young, publisher of the Examiner, because the Examiner printed an editorial strongly endorsing Daylight Saving and condemned those who oppose it. I might also add that Daylight Saving is going to be placed before the voters on the next ballot. We are going to have a fight on our hands and we are going to try and organize the entire state in support with us.

My idea in writing him is this: that I cannot believe that the Examiner will go through with its advocacy of Daylight Saving, if its officials once understand how seriously our industry will be hurt.

My idea in writing you is to let you know that since Daylight Saving has unlimited possibilities for evil to us, we must be prepared to take our coats off and get to work against it.

Statistics show that wherever Daylight Saving is in effect, it cuts theatre receipt from ten to thirty percent right off the gross.

Trusting you will give this matter some thought and be prepared when the call to arms reaches you, I am, with every good wish.

Very sincerely,

Harold B. Franklin (Signature)

Source: Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Beverly Hills, CA, Pathé Exchange Collection, folder 11, “General Matters No. 2.”

See Also:"God Knows More about Time Than President Wilson": Letters against Daylight Saving