Skip to comments.The Truth about the "Hollywood Ten"
Posted on 04/18/2005 10:47:45 AM PDT by Liz
In 1947, the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) began a series of official inquiries into the penetration of the Hollywood film industry by the American Communist Party (CPUSA).
Major public hearings were held in 1947 and 1951, with smaller hearings throughout the mid-1950s. In the course of these inquiries, dozens of friendly Hollywood witnesses denounced hundreds of people as secret members of the Communist Party, while dozens of unfriendly witnesses refused to discuss their politics with the Committee. Those who were either publicly or privately denounced as members of the CPUSA found it almost impossible to get employment in the motion-picture industry for at least for a decade.
The most famous victims of the resulting blacklist were the original group of unfriendly witnesses, known as the Unfriendly Ten or Hollywood Ten. These individualsmostly screenwriters refused to give political information about themselves before HUAC in October 1947.1
The blacklist functioned in part officially, as demonstrated by a joint public announcement of the motion picture firms in November 1947 that henceforth no studio would knowingly employ any member of the Communist Party, or the members of any other group which advocated the overthrow of the United States government by revolution.
The blacklist also operated unofficially, through instruments such as the irresponsible red-baiting newsletter Red Channels, which named whole swaths of people as subversives. This, for example, ruined the career of the left-wing but non-Communist actress Marsha Hunt. 2
The blacklist also often functioned in secret: jobs just dried up. As a result, fixers emerged to get people unofficially pardoned by anti-Communist organizations and film industry managers, therefore making them employable again. One famous fixer was the fiercely anti-Communist actor Ward Bond. 3
Fronts arose as well in the form of people offering scripts ghost-written by blacklisted screenwriters in exchange for official credit for the script and often a cut of the payment. One famous example of such a front was Philip Yordan, himself a quite famous screenwriter. 4
Some film careers were totally destroyed as a result of the blacklist system. For instance, Mickey Knox, the next John Garfield, was a rising star of the late 1940s, turning in a star performance in the great gangster film White Heat (1949). If you have never heard of Mickey Knox, well, that is the point. Many other careers suffered severe setbacks, such as that of actor Howard Da Silva. 5
Actors and directors suffered more severely than screenwriters because they could not act or direct under assumed names, whereas screenwriters could use the front system, which allowed the most talented of them to continue to write. The CPUSA, however, had made its largest inroads in Hollywood among screenwriters, and many screenwriters careers suffered greatly or ended.
It is generally not a good idea to attack professional writers because they tend to write, and to write well, to get in the last word. This has certainly been the case with the blacklist. None of the HUAC committee or staff (which originally included Congressman Richard M. Nixon) has written memorably on the events of 1947 and 1951, let alone on the later, smaller investigations.
A few of those who appeared as friendly witnesses before HUAC, such as directors Edward Dmytryk and Elia Kazan, and actor Sterling Hayden. have written important memoirs, often defending their conduct and sometimes expressing self-doubt. 6
But such figures are far outnumbered by the self-justifying and bitter memoirs of those who were denounced: Norma Barzman; Walter Bernstein; Alvah Bessie; Herbert Biberman; Conrad Bromberg; Lester Cole; Lillian Hellman; Howard Koch; Ring Lardner, Jr. (and now his daughter Kate); Donald Ogden Stewart; Dalton Trumbo; and Ella Winter. 7
The publication of these works, and more fundamentally the cultural shift in Hollywood to domination by a bien peasant Left that started around 1960 and accelerated in the 1970s, has led to the lionization of the Unfriendly Ten as American rebels and martyred non-conformists.
Meanwhile, the anger within the current filmmaking elite at those who originally named names in the 1940s and 1950s has been unremitting. A now unalterable view of what occurred is held by people who have little knowledge of what it actually meant in the 1940s to be a Communist; that is, a Stalinist. Two examples demonstrate the current political situation.
Long read---rest at link.
read later bump
Grandpa Walton was among those blacklisted in Hollywood. He a member of the Communist Party.
Fits neatly into my long-held theory that Follywood detested the HUAC not for outing Communists (the Hollywarped crowd were proud of their beliefs) but b/c the HUAC placed their outrageous behavior under the spotlight and exposed these self-centered, egotistical types to be hateful, petty little red-stained rodents.
True, and the thrust of his anti-communist investigation was the State Department and Department of Defense, which just happened to have been infiltrated by numerous communist activists and sympathizers. It's interesting to note that the left bashes those who have been the most successful in their anti-left campaigns, such as McCarthy, Reagan, Coulter, etc.
I was floored when I learned that Grandpa Walton was a gay commie.
Being a dem/lib/socialist these days is a badge of honor in Hollywierd, especially when you have willing accomplices in Washington.
Of the 10 listed as the Hollywood 10, is there any freeper commenting on this thread who can point to a crime than any one of them committed?
I await the flames that surely cometh.
Read "Reagan's War"- it begins when RWR was president of SAG.
Great read.....as are many of the books written about the HUAC.
Oh yeah....Harry Hay and his band of radical faeries or something.
I believe he's one of the reasons SF is a hotbed of gay activism today.
The leaders of his original network are probably mostly dead by now, but there are lines of descent that can be traced in Hollywood as well as in Communist youth groups, the civil liberties movement, and the antiwar movement, where he was also active.
I doubt very seriously that we would have handed China over to the Communists if not for Communist agents and fellow travelers in our government and media at that time.
Is this a "crime" by any particular Communist agent of influence? I don't know. But it is certainly something that anyone with a conscience ought to feel extremely guilty about. It resulted in the Korean War, the Vietnamese War, the Vietnam War protests that handed Southeast Asia to the Communists, and infinite suffering in China itself.
It can also be argued that it is a crime. Ezra Pound was punished for doing propaganda for Mussolini in the Second World War. These folks were doing propaganda for Stalin in the midst of the Cold War, when it was clear to most people that the Soviet Union was our enemy and an enemy to the peace and stability of the whole world. We are talking here about card carrying members of a party that had been declared illegal.
Donald Ogden Stewart (1894 - 1980)
Occupation: Screenwriter, playwright, novelist
Born: November 30, 1894, Columbus, OH
After WW I service in the Navy and travels in Europe, he settled in New York and began writing satirical novels, which were quite popular in the 20s. In 1928 he was introduced to the theater by a college chum, Philip Barry, who wrote the part of socialite Nick Potter in his play Holiday with Stewart in mind. Stewart played the part on Broadway.
Fascinated with stage life, he wrote his first play, Rebound (1930), in which he also played one of the leading parts, and followed this with a musical Fine and Dandy (1930). As early as 1925, Stewart had been assigned to adapt one of his own novels for the screen, but the project was shelved and instead he wrote an adaptation of the play Brown of Harvard, which was released in 1926.
In 1930, Stewart settled in Hollywood as a screenwriter, following an appearance in a supporting part in the film Not So Dumb. He soon gained a reputation for his sophisticated screenplays and sparkling dialogue. He won an Academy Award for the script of The Philadelphia Story (1940), which he adapted from the Philip Barry play. After Hitler's rise to power he became involved in the political activities of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League.
This association came back to haunt him during the McCarthy era, when it was claimed the organization had been a cover-up for a Communist cell. Blacklisted, he left Hollywood for good in 1951 and settled in London, where he wrote his autobiography in 1970.
Biography from Katz's Film Encyclopedia
Not much has changed, it seems.
Get it? No work for ten years because of what someone else said about him...that's not right.
These same, uh, "intellectuals"---when asked about being associated with the CPUSA---asserted they had no idea Communism would become an enemy of the USA. Duh. I wonder if these intellectuals wanna buy a bridge---cheap---in Brooklyn.
Really? What about Howard Da Silva? Ten years without work because of something someone said about him.
i threw my tv in the dumpster in 1994 when i saw how the big 4 networks were protecting the clingons.
i go to no movies, nor do i rent them.
i read, visit friends, listen to talk radio.
i don't need their propaganda.
Why didn't he cooperate? Just curious. I don't know who the guy is.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.