JUMP CUT
A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA

 

 

Notes


2. The standard (anti-)blacklist history remains Larry Ceplair and Steven Englund’s The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930-1960 (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press-Doubleday, 1980). Among other important contributions are

  • Victor Navasky’s Naming Names (New York: Viking Press, 1980), for me a cherished book of moral instruction,
  • Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle’s Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist (New York: St. Martin’s Press-Griffin, 1997),
  • Mike Nielsen and Gene Mailes’s Hollywood’s Other Blacklist: Union Struggles in the Studio System (London: British Film Institute, 1995),
  • Gerald Horne’s Class Struggle in Hollywood 1930-1950: Moguls, Mobsters, Stars, Reds, & Trade Unionists (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001), and
  • Thom Andersen’s 1985 essay, “Red Hollywood,” and his recent Afterword, both included in
  • the anthology “Un-American” Hollywood: Politics and Film in the Blacklist Era (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2007), edited by Frank Krutnik, Steve Neale, Brian Neve, and Peter Sanfield, 225-275.

Andersen raises important questions about the standard version, emphasizing how the film work of the blacklisted mattered, and insisting upon discussing film in terms of the politics of aesthetic design. Of the latest generation of academic writings on the topic, John Joseph Gladchuk’s Hollywood and Anticommunism: HUAC and the Evolution of the Red Menace, 1935-1950 (New York: Routledge, 2007) hews closest to the viewpoints of the blacklisted themselves, and Reynold Humphries’s Hollywood’s Blacklists: A Political and Cultural History (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008) provides a short but incisive overview that can serve well as an introduction. For the center-right, the most favored account (Amazon blurbs by John Patrick Diggins, Richard Schickel, and Tom Wolfe) seems to be Ronald Radosh and Allis Radosh, Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony’s Long Romance With the Left (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2005).

For a treasure chest of rare blacklist-related documents, see the Gutenberg-e online version of Jennifer E. Langdon’s Caught in the Crossfire: Adrian Scott and the Politics of Americanism in 1940s Hollywood (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), http://www.gutenberg-e.org/langdon/index.html. Langdon has done an enormous, generous service for all students and scholars of the period.

3. Qtd. by John Cogley, Report on Blacklisting I: Movies (New York: Fund for the Republic, 1956), 23.

4. Selected non-Communist, progressive activists in the industry were also forced to testify. Even if they denounced their past, if they did not name names, they tended anyway to have trouble finding work, as did those named by others but not called to testify. For a case history of this “graylisting,” see Steven J. Ross, “Little Caesar and the HUAC Mob: Edward G. Robinson,” Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 89-130. On the severe personal costs for Robinson, see Michael Freedland with Barbara Paskin, Hollywood on Trial: McCarthyism’s War Against the Movies (London: Robson Books, 2007), 169-171. For a fascinating quantitative study of Hollywood blacklisting, see Elizabeth Pontikes, Giacomo Negro, and Hayagreeva Rao, “Stained Red: A Study of Stigma by Association to Blacklisted Artists During the ‘Red Scare’ in Hollywood, 1945 to 1960,” American Sociological Review 75.3 (2010), 456-478. A conclusion worth quoting:

“Our findings help explain why, even though a very small fraction of Hollywood artists were directly targeted for blacklisting, many more were victims through stigma by association. This process had many false positives—and these false positives created further panic that allowed conservative politicians to exact compliance from a large sector of the economy. We looked at one aspect of compliance, excluding people from jobs, but there were others too—films that might have been critical of America were not made; films that took a positive view of American power were made” (475).

5. See, for example, note 6 below. Even with such reservations, I found harrowing and recommend The Soviet World of American Communism, by Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Kyrill M. Anderson (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

6. In Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), Robin D. G. Kelley offers insider perspectives on black-led, multi-racial Party work on the ground (providing a backdrop for Denzel Washington’s 2007 The Great Debaters, written by Robert Eisele]. 

7. The Films of Robert Rossen (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1969).

8. He also praises Holliday, whose clever performance before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in 1952 is discussed in detail by Milly S. Barranger in “Billie Dawn Goes to Washington: Judy Holliday,” Unfriendly Witnesses: Gender, Theater, and Film in the McCarthy Era (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008), 9-33. Also see Will Holtzman, Judy Holliday (New York: Putnam, 1982), 141-168. Worth mentioning is that both Holliday and Edward G. Robinson, two of Hollywood’s brightest actors, dissembled for investigating committees by playing dumb. 


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