November 17, 2007

Hollywood's Red Decade

One of my hobbyhorses has been the deification of the Hollywood Ten, Hollywood writers who were prosecuted for refusing to testify before a Congressional committee investigating communist influence in filmland.

The business of interrogating people about their political views is, to be sure, unsavory. But these guys really were supporters of Stalin, a mass murderer. Why they should be given a bye when any hint of Nazi sympathies makes one a pariah has never been clear to me.

In this post, J.K.Dunn regales us with snippets about some of the pro-Russian propaganda films of the WWII era, encouraged by FDR, who feared that suspicion of the alliance with Stalin would harm his 1944 campaign. Dunn writes:
There are good reasons why the left doesn't claim these films. Instead, they try to take credit for other, unrelated films: film noir, which is supposed to represent a "Marxist critique of American society". (This is nonsense - almost none of the noir film-makers were leftists of any sort. Like all film buffs, I have my own theory concerning noir, which we don't have the space for here.), and the "social problem" films of the late 40s through the 50s, such as Gentleman's Agreement, No Way Out, and On the Waterfront. But the Hollywood Reds were either blacklisted or doing time during the heyday of these pictures. With few exceptions (Laurents wrote one, Home of the Brave), social problem films were liberal propositions.

No better example of the intellectual and artistic bankruptcy of the left exists than these films. They should have been allowed to make as many as they wanted. No blacklist, no Congressional hearings, no interference whatsoever. A couple dozen more like these and Hollywood communism would have been relegated to comic relief. Left alone, they'd have knocked themselves out.

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