26 July 2014

Praise from the Postmaster General

Lewis Allen's "Appointment with Danger" (1951) is a film noir in which Alan Ladd plays a Postal Inspector of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service assigned to investigate the murder of a fellow officer. In April 1951, a month before the film was released, Postmaster General Jesse M. Donaldson had the opportunity to view it. Shortly after, he wrote a letter to Barney Balaban (President of Paramount Pictures), praising the film and the accurate way in which the Post Office Department had been portrayed ("such authentic exposition of a complicated system is a tribute to Hollywood's research methods"). Donaldson's letter reads in full:


April 12, 1951

Mr. Barney Balaban
Paramount Pictures Corp.
1501 Broadway
New York 18, N.Y.

Dear Mr. Balaban:

An opportunity was recently afforded me to see your new production, "APPOINTMENT WITH DANGER", and I must say that I viewed it with a great deal of pleasure.

Let me congratulate you first on having brought forth a picture which keeps the spectator -- at least it did this one-- on the edge of his seat with suspense and excitement.

Although I am no expert on films, I do feel that I can speak out with some certainty on those aspects of "APPOINTMENT WITH DANGER" that deal with the activities of the Post Office Department. You are to be congratulated on the accuracy with which the workings of the Department are set forth. Surely, such authentic exposition of a complicated system is a tribute to Hollywood's research methods.

Also, let me tell you that I'm greatly pleased that our Postal Inspectors receive in the picture appropriate recognition as one of the most efficient guardian forces of the nation. This force of fine men, the oldest investigative Agency of the Government, has never sought publicity, but I am delighted that your film will bring some of their exploits to the attention of the public.

As a former Chief Post Office Inspector, your film brought back many memories, and I wish to add that the film afforded me a genuinely entertaining evening.

Sincerely yours,


Postmaster General

Left: Jesse M. Donaldson, who was Postmaster General from 1947 till 1953. Right: Barney Balaban.

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