1921: Napoleon Hill: Not His Finest Hour

From a 1921 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association:


We are undone — or possibly it would be more accurate to say that we are about to be undone. The medical profession is to meet its Napoleon. A few days ago those fortunate individuals whose names are on the mailing list of the Palmer School of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa, received a three-page letter from Napoleon Hill, the editor of Napoleon Hill’s Magazine, “A Magazine of Economic Philosophy” having offices in New York City. Napoleon has a secret for the chiropractors — such a vital secret that he can make public only a small part of it at this time. It is this: Napoleon, “in addition to carrying on a systematic propaganda … in behalf of Chiropractic” in his magazine, has “arranged with one of the best men in the moving picture business to write a psychological play that will be filmed and shown broadcast over America and in Canada.” But let Nap. tell it:

“The name of the film is Intolerance, and plays up Chiropractic, the new profession that is bringing health to millions of people without the use of poisonous drugs and surgeons’ knives. This play is one of the most powerful boosts for Chiropractic. It will show the California martyrs who were sent to jail by the Medical Trust; it will play on the emotions as a master violinist plays on the strings of his instrument, leaving no dry eyes within sight of the screen where it is shown. It will carry the audience down through the ‘Valley of Shadow,’ back into the dark ages, and on up to the present.”

Napoleon says further: “I am producing this play at my own expense, or rather at the expense of the magazine.” Nor is that all: “I intend to play one of the leading rolls [sic!] in the picture, personally.” One finds it difficult to visualize a Napoleon rolling, but stranger things have happened. It must be quite a risky piece of rolling, too; a dashing, dare-devilish, Fairbanksian roll, for Napoleon says that after his rolling: “My life will not be safe, let alone my being welcome when I go back down home where I have two uncles who are M.D.’s.” But to get down to brass tacks. Every chiropractor who subscribes for Napoleon Hill’s Magazine (price $3.00) will have one dollar of his subscription set aside “as a fund with which to produce this Chiropractic film play.”

“There are over 10,000 of you Chiropractors in the field. Each of you is good for a subscription for your own office, and in addition to this you can sell at least half of the patients who pass through your office a subscription.”

The film, we are told, “will constitute a whole show, of practically one hour.” And Napoleon is going to make a success of it, for “by the eternal there is something more than profits to work for in this world” and, as Napoleon quaintly says, “as I am both the front legs and hind legs of it I naturally aim to make it reflect credit on my efforts.” We do not know Napoleon, but from his letter and from a perusal of one copy of his magazine we can admit that he will doubtless reflect credit on both the front legs and the hind legs; but can he make the long ears wag naturally? “When the film is shown in your city it will be followed by a slide with your advertisement on it, without cost to you.” Another inkling of Napoleon’s great secret is revealed when he says that this chiropractic film “is but one of the steps I am taking to insure a Chiropractor as health counselor to the President of the United States.”

* * *

In his defense, people believed strange things back then. This reeks of a man desperately trying to boost the circulation of his magazine, which I don’t believe was very popular. And would he have gone through with the film had this campaign succeeded? Chalk this up as one of Napoleon Hill’s many failures (and there were many — read his biography, which I just noticed is now available for Kindle!).

Original page image, click to enlarge:


Previously here:

Napoleon Hill: Two Photos
Is This Napoleon Hill Book Extinct?
Rare Napoleon Hill Writings: November 1921
Rare Napoleon Hill Writings: January 1917
Rare Napoleon Hill Writings: February 1918
Rare Napoleon Hill Writings: June-July 1918
Rare Napoleon Hill Writings: August-September 1915
Rare Napoleon Hill Writings: January 1920
Rare Napoleon Hill Writings: January 1921

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