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hepclassic

The McCarthy Era In Film- New Insights?

91 posts in this topic

In light of Lauren Bacall's recent passing, what seems to have been shut out of her obituaries is her influence and impact during the blacklist years of the late 1940s and early-to-mid 1950s. 

 

http://www.alternet.org/culture/what-media-isnt-telling-you-about-lauren-bacall-and-bogart

 

It got me thinking about those years in which film careers were threatened, false accusations were parlayed as facts, and the human cost of it on the livelihood's of people in the performing arts. 

 

Since the only new insight I have recently discovered was that the President of the Screen Actor's Guild at the time, Ronald Reagan, acted as an FBI informant and ratted out his peers, I wondered what other insights are out there that might shed new light to this dark time in Hollywood history.

 

I am thinking about writing a series at the Classic Film Union about this within the coming months, and while I can relate to being blacklisted by people threatened by differences, I do want to ask this group of intelligent individuals here if they have or know of any new insights into this dark time in Hollywood history. 

 

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Humphrey Bogart regrets going to Washington to protest HUAC:

 

 

Bogart did say he regreted going to Washington.    Who knows if he was compelled to say so or why he made that statement.    e.g.  he may of made that statement from a self-serving standpoint so that his own career wasn't impacted.  

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Yes,  Fred we all know by now that you feel this was a great time in American politics.

 

NO insults, please.

 

I was responding to hepclassic's post, which said:

 

"I do want to ask this group of intelligent individuals here if they have or know of any new insights into this dark time in Hollywood history."

 

I did not post my own opinion. I posted other articles from that era. I assumed this was what helpclassic wanted, ie more historical data, articles, and information from that era.

 

Fred

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NO insults, please.

 

I was responding to hepclassic's post, which said:

 

I do want to ask this group of intelligent individuals here if they have or know of any new insights into this dark time in Hollywood history.

 

It wasn't meant as an insult.   You do feel that the committee was NOT a witch hunt and that they were just doing their duty, right?

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It wasn't meant as an insult.   You do feel that.....

 

HEY! I'm not the topic of this thread.

 

Stop posting insults about me and stop telling people what you want others to think I think.

 

I responded to hepclassic's post by posting articles about what Humphrey Bogart said in his own magazine and newspaper articles.

 

I'm a researcher, that's my hobby. I find obscure articles on the internet and I post them for everyone to read and enjoy and educate themselves.

 

DON'T BLAME ME FOR WHAT HUMPHREY BOGART SAID IN 1947 and 48.

 

Fred

Edited by FredCDobbs

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HEY! I'm not the topic of this thread.

 

Stop posting insults about me and stop telling people what you want others to think I think.

 

Fre

 

Again,  please tell me where I posted an insult?????

 

Calm down and chill out buddy.

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By the way..... :)

 

Mr. Osborne often tells the story about how Gene Kelly missed out on making a film because he had a broken ankle at the time.

 

He was with that first group of actors who went to the HUAC hearings in DC, and here is a photo of him with his broken ankle. 2nd photo taken during his DC trip.

 

:)

 

polcrutches.JPG

 

 

e874b1563112a700061d7e857f7a206b.jpg

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What people often overlook in Bogart's "I was duped" statement was that he didn't back down from his criticism of HUAC.  Read the first paragraph in the left hand column of the unabridged version of that "I'm No Communist" article that Fred posted below. Bogart repeated his belief that the HUAC "vaudeville show" was both unnecessary and unfair to those who were named without any chance of rebuttal.

 

To reply more generally to hepclassic's original question, I'd recommend two books on the blacklist era.

 

The first would be Stefen Kanfer's A Journal of the Plague Years, which is a very well balanced account of the Hollywood blacklist era, neither letting the witchhunters off the hook nor romanticizing the role of the Communist.

 

The second would be Eric Bentley's Thirty Years of Treason, a large (991 pp.) book that has extensive transcripts of the 1948 and 1951-52-53 HUAC hearings involving Hollywood. 

 

Here's a list of the witnesses whose testimony and cross-examination are reprinted in the book:

 

1948

"Friendly" Witnesses

Ayn Rand

Adolphe Menjou

Robert Taylor

Ronald Reagan

Cary Cooper

"Unfriendly" Witnesses

John Howard Lawson

Edward Dmytryk

Emmet Lavery

Ring Lardner, Jr.

Bertolt Brecht

Louis J. Russell

 

1951 (All "Friendly" Witnesses)

Larry Parks

Sterling Hayden

Edward Dmytryk

Jose Ferrer

Budd Schulberg

 

1952

"Friendly" Witnesses

Michael Blankfort

Elia Kazan (with his famous "statements" included)

Abe Burrows

"Mixed Bag" Witness

Clifford Odets (cooperative but far from cowtowing)

"Unfriendly" Witness

Lillian Hellman

 

1953

"Unfriendly" Witness

Lionel Stander

"Friendly" Witness

Lee J. Cobb

 

I should note that in addition to the Hollywood witnesses, the book also includes transcripts from hearings relating to The Federal Theater Project, "Song and Dance" (Pete Seeger and Zero Mostel), the Metropolitan Music School, and the New York Shakespeare Festival, not to mention non-entertainment related subjects. 

 

The version of Thirty Years of Treason I'd recommend would be the unabridged 1972 edition, but it's now also available in three separate volumes in Kindle and audio book versions.  You'll find links to these other versions here.

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To be clear, this post was meant to extend an offer of knowledge, not to post insults and make inaccurate inferences about people. 

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I believe a better title for this thread should be "The Blacklist Era in Film," or something similar. McCarthy was investigating the State Department and the Military. He was in the Senate. The House (that's why it was called HUAC) got involved with Hollywood, or vice-versa.

 

I realize "McCarthy Era" and "McCarthyism" are nice catchphrases, but that's not quite what this discussion is about. If I have misinterpreted the original poster's intent, then my apologies.

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I believe a better title for this thread should be "The Blacklist Era in Film," or something similar. McCarthy was investigating the State Department and the Military. He was in the Senate. The House (that's why it was called HUAC) got involved with Hollywood, or vice-versa.

 

I realize "McCarthy Era" and "McCarthyism" are nice catchphrases, but that's not quite what this discussion is about. If I have misinterpreted the original poster's intent, then my apologies.

No worries, McCarthy Era fits in because of its umbrella status in history. That, and McCarthy was on the questioning board for the HUAC asking questions. 

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McCarthy was on the questioning board for the HUAC asking questions.

 

Point of order, Mizz Chairwoman:  What does that above sentence mean? :)

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e874b1563112a700061d7e857f7a206b.jpg

 

That fellow with the glasses sitting on the floor looks like harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler. It is him, right? His blacklisting coincided with an Oscar nomination, which was handled less than gracefully by the Academy. He talks about it here:

 

 

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The shoe is on the other foot now. Present-day Hollywood descriminates against conservatives. Fact.

 

Of course, the films today aren't as good as they were on the golden era.

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The shoe is on the other foot now. Present-day Hollywood descriminates against conservatives. Fact.

 

Of course, the films today aren't as good as they were on the golden era.

Yes, that's why films like The Blind Side and The Iron Lady never got made, and Denzel Washington has a hard time getting work. Not to mention, all those Ayn Rand works of fiction never got made either. Oh wait....

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McCarthy was on the questioning board for the HUAC asking questions.

 

Point of order, Mizz Chairwoman:  What does that above sentence mean? :)

I believe, and correct me if I am wrong here, he did make appearances to question people accused repeatedly. 

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I'm No Communist......though by accident I once entered a room where the

Trotskyite Study Group at Andover was holding a meeting.  I was under the

impression that Bogie and the others at first assumed the Hollywood Ten

were not commies, and that when they found out they were, Bogart was

****. Which leads to the question--Don't reds also have First Amendment

rights? I can't really blame Bogie for writing that INC article, but it just goes

to show that the independent, fearless tough guy of the screen was different

from his real life counterpart.

 

Brecht's testimony is pretty much a laugh riot. He had the committee flumoxed

and outfoxed. A wonderful performance.

Everyone has First Amendment rights, including the "reds" and any and every other group FOX News dismisses as "not American." Back to discussion here- any more historical insights from history that you feel deserve the light of day? 

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No worries, McCarthy Era fits in because of its umbrella status in history. That, and McCarthy was on the questioning board for the HUAC asking questions. 

 

NO.

 

McCarthy was a SENATOR. He had nothing to do with a HOUSE Committee.

 

The HUAC Committee was a HOUSE COMMITTEE. I.E. the US House of Representatives.

 

McCarthy was a Senator, in the US Senate.

 

That information is from my 6th Grade Civics Class.

 

The US Congress has 2 different "Houses"..... the SENATE, and the US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

 

Joseph McCarthy WAS A SENATOR.

 

HUAC was a HOUSE COMMITTEE, and NOT a SENATE COMMITTEE.

 

You are getting HUAC mixed up with a separate and differerent Senate Committee, which is often called the Senate's ARMY-McCARTHY HEARINGS.

 

See this:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Army%E2%80%93McCarthy_hearings

 

and then see this:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_Un-American_Activities_Committee

 

The Senate Committee investigated Communists in the ARMY. The House Committee investigated Communists in Hollywood.

 

 

Fred

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NO.

 

McCarthy was a SENATOR. He had nothing to do with a HOUSE Committee.

 

The HUAC Committee was a HOUSE COMMITTEE. I.E. the US House of Representatives.

 

McCarthy was a Senator, in the US Senate.

 

That information is from my 6th Grade Civics Class.

 

The US Congress has 2 different "Houses"..... the SENATE, and the US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

 

Joseph McCarthy WAS A SENATOR.

 

HUAC was a HOUSE COMMITTEE, and NOT a SENATE COMMITTEE.

 

Fred

Fine, no need to get defensive. 

 

Since his name is mostly associated with the time period, I am sure through his speeches crying Communist that the House had to set up committee meetings anyway due to the severity of the fear-baiting going on in the other part of the other legislative branch of government. 

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