1936 -1937 Group of Correspondence from American Film Director & Theatrical Activist Herb Kline: USSR visit & Communist Party Activities in Europe and U.S.
(Americana - 20th Century - Film Industry - Communist Party USA - Herb Kline - USSR)

USA: Not Published, 1937. F Group of correspondence written by Herb Kline (1909 - 1999) documentary film director, American communist activist and editor, writing to Cipe Pineles (1908 - 1991) award-winning Austrian-American graphic designer, the first woman director for many influential publications including Mademoiselle, Seventeen and Charm and who was on the Vogue London staff at the time of these letters; she had an intimate relationship with Kline. These letters regard his various travels to the USSR, Spain and other European countries in 1936-1937, including his work with film & theatre for the communist party & related activities, as well as details concerning his editorial involvement with communist journals and rancorous disputes with the hierarchy governing the Communist Party USA. Letters: Typed letter signed, 2 pages, single spaced. Aug. 28, 1936; on New Theatre Magazine letter paper, "Dear Cipe: Yalta---a room overlooking the Black Sea; swimming twice a day; excursions such as trips to Chekhov's home that Dana wrote about in New Theatre; three big square meals a day, caviar, wine, champagne three suits; three pair of shoes; godknowshoamanyshirtstiesetc: I had to come to Russia to live like this---had to go Intourist to get my first ride in a Lincoln…Our trips actually give us a chance to learn how the people live because I acquaint the workers at the sanitoriums, factories, ships etc. with my Cipe connections, and they warm up rightaway. Life here is rich, even for those not coming thru on a tourist pass; the people are not as badly dressed as tourists say; and there is plenty of food in Russia; the closest I've seen to breadlines is the lineup for transportation on the overworked Kiev and Odessa streetcars and the regular line-ups at the newspapers to follow the Zinoviev-Kemenev trial and the Spanish revolt: I should say that the condition of the people here is just the reverse of America - here 15% of the people (the old, who get enough compensation to live and that's about all unless their children come thru with more as the law here often makes them do rightfully enough, the ones who are a bit shiftless, and, particularly the Jewish trading classes who have not been able to adjust themselves to a standard of living higher than that of the people under the Czar but lower than the exploitation-income of the prewar pettybourgeois Jews) find the going pretty tough, while 85% of the Soviet peoples, are sure of their future---at their work, if they get sick, schooling etc. Whereas in America the figure is about 15% well off, the 85% on the outside looking in… long days, with writing for the Soviet press to do, writers and theatre and film people to meet and solicit articles from for New Theatre, and writing that I want to do for the left political press about the rich life over here…first came a pleasant voyage over, then the fine reception in Paris, then the experience of seeing Hitlerism on parade, then the Warsaw incident…then a marvelous reception by the Voks theatre and cinema people at Kiev…leave for Sevastopol and tonight for Kharkov, after which we set out finally for Moscow…Since I had planned to return to Kiev I advised them there about the illustrative problem and we all decided to work on that when I have the articles read to me upon my return there on the way out of Russia in October…likewise Paris, though I asked them to send me stills of their films and shots of strike theatricals, personality photos etc. c/o Moscow, where I will try to get Aragon to do a big piece for us, preferring to have his name on an article rather than my own…" 8 ½" x 11" size; cream paper; old fold lines, edge-wear, a little soiling; in good condition.Typed letter signed, Sept. 5 Moscow, New Theatre letterhead, to Cipe: "…I'm a nervous half-wreck but still going strong and getting material like was never gotten before---at least on such short notice…as for illustration, Afinogenev is giving me the use of his Theatre and Dramaturgy staff, and I am getting some good illustrative ideas---one that includes Czar Nicky in the goddamndest dance twist you ever saw…it's impossible to convey how wholly I've been won over by the Soviet "experiment" - for one thing their high respect for New Theatre and yours truly quite overwhelms me---Yes, I wish had taken some of the friendly patriots advice long ago and 'gone back to Moscow where I belong.' I never rode in a Lincoln till I came to Russia. I never had 4 weeks mealchecks certain in advance before I came to Russia (that is, since I joined New Theatre.) I hadn't slept alone in a room for 3½ months until I was given this great big beautiful room…getting so much work done so fast that the Russian's mouths are popping, getting 'impossible' interviews, getting articles from people 'who won't take time to write,' arranging some breaks for the New Th League that'll have Marvin dizzy trying to take advantage of them…the theatre work here must be gotten ready as quickly as possible so I can plunge into the film material problem upon my return from Leningrad…terribly handicapped by the failure of the office to send thru needed correspondence, their absolutely unforgivable failure to send me the needed magazines for distribution to International guest writers and visitors who could be of enormous importance to our movement, and the published plays that they could get by asking the authors to foot the bill on a few of them if they're broke. I know the excuses---busy raising money. But I did that along with Leo and Bob Steck when some of those irresponsible comrades were out in Iowa and managed to keep up correspondence vital to any magazine…I'm disgusted with George's failure to send explanatory letters at least, with Jin's irresponsibility…with Davey's indefiniteness…with Stebbin's failure to correspond with his film material, with the vagueness of the New Theatre League's last minute instructions from Marvin…Intend to take up the whole matter with the nat. fraction upon my return…just as I feel gratitude to the workers theatre people who drew me into a job I love, some of our present responsible editors and office people who were drawn into the work by my personal interest in and respect for them should show a more comradely attitude---after the California incident, I can only feel that this second "now you're gone---it'll be nice to get the money, material or whateveritis when you return but we're getting along very nicely with you, thank you" attitude is indicative of more than irresponsibility…only to be expected from a so-called editor-in-chief who gets requested correspondence in time from New Masses (Freeman) and others but no work from the magazine he works for…" Approx. 8 ½" x 11" size; cream paper; old fold lines, edge-wear, a little soiling; in good condition; at top of the second page is a pencil name and address of a correspondent in Moscow. Typed note signed, Sept. 1937: to Cipe; On Atlantic Hotel Paris notepaper, with the original posted & canceled envelope, typed single-space; "We passed in the Atlantic but I didn't see you - I looked and looked but no Normandie. Stupid about my leaving two days before but until three days before departure - with everything scheduled, tickets purchased, car and film ready to go etc - I had no idea that you were returning. The film project was onagain offagain so many times that I was afraid to chance delaying again for fear they might decide against at the last moment…Tell Norman and Rose to forgive me for showing up tight at their house---I don't know whether they knew I had a lot of whiskey under my belt but I suppose I said some things I shouldn't as well as too much…hope you enjoy your return from England to the land of the free and that they don't pile up too much work for not enough pay like they did on Bill (Golden)---regards to him, and both of you send me a note once in a while to Madrid. (signed) Herb (forward) Herbert Kline c/o American Hospital Socorro Roja Internacional Plaza Altazano 14, Albicete Spain. " On back in pencil, "P.S. A Goya from Madrid for you is at Marvins - I forgot to sign it" Approx. 5 ¼" x 7" size; old fold line, light wear to note, old ink-splash on back; envelope torn away at right side. In very good condition. Miscellaneous: A sharp 3 ½" x 4 ½" black and white photograph of Herb Kline, presented 'To Cipe with love Herb' on the back in black pen. Not dated, no photographer or studio credited. Undated postcard; a Louvre museum souvenir card; sent to Cipe Pineles c/o New Theatre 15 W. 4th St. New York; in (somewhat scratchy) black ink: "…This is one of several Mantegnas - one of the greatest paintings we saw in a few hours we stole from our Peoples Front activities to visit the Louvre. We're having a grand time so far - tho how long the training will last I can't imagine as ever Herb"; some wear, in good condition. Nov. 26 1937 USPS 1 cent post card, canceled; typed double space on the back sent to Miss Cepi Pennelis Condi Nast Publications (sic) New York City, by 'Evie', from Jamaica NY: "…Just got word from the med. Bureau that Herb is in Paris…Tell Bill G. etc. so that they don't write to Spain? Seemed good to see you again---looks like London agreed with you. Maybe we can all get together on Herb's return---here's hoping he doesn't hop off to China next. Evie" Light wear; in very good condition. A typed note signed, on Atlantic Hotel gummed-edged paper; 2 sides; not dated. "Dear Cipe: I wrote a letter to Bill, and you in Spain-did you get it?...How are you after the long English sojourn. How stupid our missing meeting while crossing the ocean. I was afraid if I delayed the Medburo would change their mind…I'm alright. Nothing like the close calls I had last time in Spain, even tho there's nothing comforting about fascist bombers overhead, even tho they don't hit you…After the Spanish Film is finished I go to work for Pabst---with wages for a change. That means six months work in Europe then return to America…" and with other news, buying a coat for friends' brother who was fighting in Spain; also, handwritten at edge "Did Evie give you the Goya I brought from Spain" and signed in pencil Herb. Approx. 4 ½" x 5 ½" size; seemingly a scrap, with torn edges; however, the message(s) here are complete. Old fold line; in very good condition. An interesting, good group of material, revealing the inside workings of the communist activism of Kline and his circle. Very Good Paperback (Item ID: 25003)


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