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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    An American 'communist' in London





    Sixty years ago a group of left-leaning film-makers, The Hollywood Ten, were blacklisted by Joseph McCarthy's Un-American Activities Committee. Many settled in Britain and made movie history here, writes Ed Rampell



    Thursday November 22, 2007

    Guardian Unlimited



    As cold war winds whipped Hollywood 60 years ago this month, Jack Warner - who had produced 1943's Mission to Moscow - told the House Un-American Activities Committee: "Ideological termites have burrowed into many American industries... let us dig them out and get rid of them. My brothers and I will be happy to subscribe generously to a pest-removal fund... to ship to Russia the people who... prefer the Communistic system to ours." However, none of the North American-born film-makers accused of being Soviet agents accepted Warner's offer to settle behind the Iron Curtain, as Kim Philby had.



    After ten "unfriendly witnesses" refused to answer HUAC's $64,000 question, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" the Hollywood Ten were cited for contempt of Congress. The next day, Nov. 25, 1947, the Motion Picture Association of America announced: "We will not knowingly employ a Communist or a member of any party... which advocates the overthrow of the government..." To continue working, the Hollywood blacklist forced artists to purge themselves and inform, or use fronts, pseudonyms and/or go into exile. La-La-Land leftists relocated to sanctuaries in Mexico, France and even Franco's Spain to make movies.



    The Yanks came to Britain, too. The "London Group" included Carl Foreman, who had scripted 1952's archetypal western, High Noon. Foreman wrote in the UK and eventually ran Columbia Pictures' London studio, writing-producing 1961's The Guns of Navarone and presenting 1966's Born Free (scripted by Hollywood Ten-er Lester Cole). Foreman became a governor of the British Film Institute and Commander of the Order of the British Empire; a Bafta Award - the Carl Foreman Award for the Most Promising Newcomer - is named after him.



    Even better known is director Joseph Losey, who is so closely identified with Dirk Bogarde and unmistakably British dramas such as the 1960s' The Servant and The Accident (scripted by Harold Pinter) that in America he's widely considered English. But while he died in London in 1984, Losey was born in Wisconsin. His 1972 The Assassination of Trotsky, with Richard Burton as the Bolshevik outcast, attested to Losey's leftist roots.



    Other blacklistees who settled in the UK included: Donald Ogden Stewart, who had won an Oscar for 1941's The Philadelphia Story and chaired the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League during the 1930s; Adrian Scott, who had produced 1944's Murder, My Sweet and 1947's Crossfire; Cy Endfield, who wrote/directed 1964's Zulu, starring Michael Caine, and died in 1995 at Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire; Bob Roberts produced 1962's All Night Long, setting Othello in a jazz band, written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Paul Jarrico, who produced 1950's The Hollywood Ten documentary and 1953's Salt of the Earth, and lived in Europe 1958-1975. According to Larry Ceplair, author of the Jarrico biography The Marxist and the Movies published this month, Jarrico spent about a year in England, where he rewrote the Bob Hope comedy Call Me Bwana.



    After Madison Avenue advertising executive Hannah Weinstein was fired, she moved to England, establishing Sapphire Films with funds she'd raised from left-wingers. She produced The Adventures of Robin Hood, the first programme originating in Britain that was a cross-Atlantic hit. The CBS-TV series starring Plymouth-born Richard Greene was shot near Weinstein's estate in Foxwarren (not Sherwood Forest) and aired on the UK's first commercial channel, ITV, from 1955-1958. Hood employed blacklisted screenwriters such as British-born Ian McLellan Hunter (who'd emigrated to America in his teens), Robert Lees, Waldo Salt and Hollywood Ten-ers Ring Lardner Jr. and Adrian Scott, secretly writing about the outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Howard Koch (1942's Casablanca) was script editor. According to Ring, "Robin Hood gave us plenty of opportunities for oblique social comments on Eisenhower-era America." Hannah Weinstein's daughter, Paula, became a high-powered Hollywood executive, producing 1989's anti-apartheid A Dry White Season, 1992's Citizen Cohn (about Senator Joe McCarthy's co-inquisitor) and 2006's Blood Diamond.



    Salt of the Earth, the New Mexico strike drama written by Michael Wilson and directed by the Hollywood Ten's Herbert Biberman, is considered the first attempt by blacklistees to produce a feature. However, in 1948, Hollywood Ten-er Edward Dmytryk "threw Pietro Di Donato's novel Christ in Concrete on Ben's desk, and said: 'I think we can get a production of this in England, if we had a screenplay. It would break the Blacklist,'" says Norma Barzman, whose husband Ben had written Dmytryk's 1945 John Wayne second world war actioner Back to Bataan. After Barzman wrote the script, Dmytryk went to London, then phoned the screenwriter in Hollywood, saying: "J Arthur Rank likes it and we've got a production, if you come immediately," according to Norma. Days later, the Barzmans took the Queen Mary to London. Leftist actor Sam Wanamaker played Italian-American bricklayer Geremio in this Manhattan-set proletarian drama shot in England; the princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, visited the set.



    Returning to America, Dmytryk was imprisoned once the Hollywood Ten lost their appeals. After naming names (including the Barzmans) to HUAC, Dmytryk resumed directing movies such as 1954's The Caine Mutiny. Wanamaker remained in England, appearing in pictures such as blacklistee Martin Ritt's 1965 adaptation of John le Carre's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, starring Burton, and the 1991 blacklist drama Guilty By Suspicion, with Robert De Niro. Wanamaker often acted on the British stage, and helped recreate Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, completed shortly after his 1993 death in London. The Barzmans moved to Paris, hobnobbing with Picasso and France's intelligentsia.



    Another French contingent comrade, Michael Wilson - who co-wrote the Oscar-winning script for 1951's A Place in the Sun - played a significant role in British cinema. Although Wilson didn't settle in England, he travelled to Ceylon and Jordan to confer with director David Lean on The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. Because Wilson and Foreman were blacklisted, they didn't receive screen credit for Kwai. After Kwai won screenwriting and best picture Oscars, Lean and producer Sam Spiegel had a screaming match, brandishing their golden statuettes at each other, outside the 1958 Academy Awards ceremony. At issue: Lean wanted to share script credit with Wilson, which went to Frenchman Pierre Boulle, who'd written Kwai's source novel - but spoke no English. Wilson and Foreman won posthumous Oscars in 1984; Wilson scripted Boulle's Planet of the Apes in 1968.



    Spiegel and Lean then hired Wilson to write a TE Lawrence biopic; Wilson's treatment convinced Lawrence's brother, executor of the desert warrior's estate, to sell them the rights to Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Ironically, when AW Lawrence read the script by Wilson and British playwright Robert Bolt (who replaced Wilson), AW was appalled by its references to his brother's alleged homosexuality, sadomasochism and illegitimate birth. AW refused to allow the filmmakers to use the Pillars title; thus, the movie was called Lawrence of Arabia. A battle royale ensued over screen credits; following arbitration, the British Screenwriters Guild awarded Wilson, as it had Bolt, its 1963 best screenplay award. The Motion Picture Academy followed suit in 1995, awarding a posthumous Oscar to Wilson, sharing the award with Bolt - who'd received his Academy Award 32 years earlier.



    Among Hollywood expats, writer/director John Huston (1941's The Maltese Falcon) deserves honorable mention. Huston co-founded the Committee for the First Amendment, progressive celebrities opposing the witch-hunt. CFA broadcast the star-studded anti-HUAC Hollywood Fights Back! Oct. 26, 1947 (the radio program is being reenacted in LA with contemporary talents such as Ed Asner on its exact 60th anniversary) and attended the Hollywood Ten's hearings in Washington. Huston sat much of the McCarthy era out in County Kildare, Ireland, shooting the South Seas saga Moby Dick in Irish seas. Perhaps, like his compatriots in London, Huston found the Emerald Isle to be far freer than the land of the free.



    � LA based movie historian/critic Ed Rampell is the author of Progressive Hollywood, A People's Film History of the United States

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    A rubbish article, badly researched and littered with errors - Bolt winning an Oscar for Lawrence being the most obvious, perhaps. But my favourite remark on the Hollywood Ten was by Billy Wilder - "Two of the Ten had talent, the rest were just unfriendly."

  3. #3
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    I agree. A rubbish article indeed. To state that Sam Wanamaker "helped" to recreate Shakespeare's Globe shows unbelievable ignorance.

    It was Wanamaker's idea, he started a campaign, raised all the origanal money and worked himself into an early grave to accomplish his dream. Rather more than 'helping' I think.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: England
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    Am I cynical in believing that all of the "Hollywood 10", and associates, were indeed Communists ?



    And this at a time when Uncle Joe Stalin was sending millions of his victims to the gulags, and building nuclear weapons.

  5. #5
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    name='oxfam1uk']Am I cynical in believing that all of the "Hollywood 10", and associates, were indeed Communists ?
    What if they were?




    And this at a time when Uncle Joe Stalin was sending millions of his victims to the gulags, and building nuclear weapons.


    While the Americans may not have been sending anyone to the gulag, I think you'll find that they too were building nuclear weapons.

  6. #6
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    I know that ! All I'm saying is that there's an idea abroad that the"Hollywood 10" were martyrs of some kind.



    Isn't the plain truth that they were members of the Communist Party, people giving unquestioning support to Uncle Joe ? And their refusal to anwer a straight question on the subject makes me think even less of them.

    The British equivalent is people like the Peter Sellers character in "I'm alright Jack".



    I have a much higher opinion of someone like union leader Frank Chapple, who didn't like what he saw inside the Communist Party, and later became a vociferous critic.



    Best wishes

  7. #7
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='oxfam1uk']I know that ! All I'm saying is that there's an idea abroad that the"Hollywood 10" were martyrs of some kind.



    Isn't the plain truth that they were members of the Communist Party, people giving unquestioning support to Uncle Joe ? And their refusal to anwer a straight question on the subject makes me think even less of them.

    The British equivalent is people like the Peter Sellers character in "I'm alright Jack".



    I have a much higher opinion of someone like union leader Frank Chapple, who didn't like what he saw inside the Communist Party, and later became a vociferous critic.



    Best wishes
    Do you have any indication that they were party members?

    A lot of people were damaged by HUAC just because they stood up for their rights to privacy and refused to divulge personal information about their friends.



    Steve

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    name='oxfam1uk'] Isn't the plain truth that they were members of the Communist Party, people giving unquestioning support to Uncle Joe ?
    There is some merit in that. I'm guessing it was all very different then. Before the second world war, the communists were seen as the only clear opposition to Fascism and then the communists were wartime allies who probably enabled the 'winning' of the war against Nazism. It is hardly surprising that some people struggled to now view them as 'the enemy'.



    The Depression must have had an effect on how some Americans viewed the merits of capitalism as well, I should guess.

  9. #9
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    The issue is not whether communism was a bad thing. As practiced in the USSR it certainly was, and American filmmakers should have realised this by the late forties. But the real issue was, doesn't everybody have a right to their own political beliefs? Shouldn't they be allowed to earn a living regardless of politics? Should they be forced to "admit" their political beliefs in a hostile court, and name their friends, thus depriving them of the ability to earn a living in their chosen field?

    Of course, many non-communists had their careers damaged by HUAC also, since the merest taint of association with reds was enough to get you blacklisted, but that's a sidebar.

    HUAC was a comic opera compared to Stalin's show-trials, but that doesn't make it right. In the country that was supposed to be embodying and defending democracy against the USSR, citizens who had committed no crimes were persecuted, denied work and forced out of the country because of their private beliefs. I don't think it's hard to see what's wrong with that.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    name='D Cairns']citizens who had committed no crimes were persecuted, denied work and forced out of the country because of their private beliefs. I don't think it's hard to see what's wrong with that.
    Wasn't the concern that these people were not just having private beliefs? They were writing stuff that was subtly anti-capitalist etc.... perverting the ideas of American youth.....



    There are scholars who analyse the British 1950's Robin Hood series, which was written and produced by many of these guys, as having a moral propagandist theme. The problem is that 'communism' is very close to 'christianity', in the ideas of a caring, sharing society, so the waters can be very muddy. Any artist who believes in something can hardly fail to write/create in it's support, or can they? The error may lie in attaching labels to it. If the writers had espoused Fascist motifs, I expect they would have been similarly treated.

  11. #11
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='Moor Larkin']Wasn't the concern that these people were not just having private beliefs? They were writing stuff that was subtly anti-capitalist etc.... perverting the ideas of American youth.....
    Not really. The purposes of HUAC were more for rabble rousing and promoting the careers of Joseph McCarthy (and Richard Nixon).

    The committee generally wasn't very concerned with what people did or didn't do, it just wanted them to confess and/or rat on their friends



    That may sound cynical, but it was a deeply cynical exercise.



    Steve

  12. #12
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    name='oxfam1uk']Am I cynical in believing that all of the "Hollywood 10", and associates, were indeed Communists ?



    And this at a time when Uncle Joe Stalin was sending millions of his victims to the gulags, and building nuclear weapons.


    The Hollywood Ten might have been members of the Communist Party of USA at the time "Joe Stalin was sending millions of his victims to the gulags, and building nuclear weapons" but Joe Stalin had broken off all collaboration with all other Communist Parties in the world by 1935, in part due to the Commuinist Party of USA's support of critics of Stalin.



    The Communist Party of USA may have supported some of Stalin's critics but they still supported Stalin at the same time as he was sending "millions of his victims to the gulags". The Communist Party of USA, however, were not responsible for those crimes and none of the Hollywood Ten would have known about them as much of Stalin's crimes were not revealed until much later. Most of the The Hollywood Ten were members of the Communist Party of USA before the Soviet Union began its nuclear weapons programme. It should be pointed out that the USA itself had a nuclear weapons programme that went a little further than the Soviet one. Most people joined the Communist Party to oppose fascism and fight for civil rights.



    The aim of the HUAC committee was not to come to the rescue of the people sent to the gulags but was to suppress political freedom.



    "And their refusal to anwer a straight question on the subject makes me think even less of them". You seem to assume that only one questiin was put to them, perhaps, "Are you or have you ever been a member of the Commuinst Party"? Some drew a line at that question as they knew what other questions it would lead to. It would be the request for names of other members of the Communist Party that would concern those brought to the stand. In answering these questions, each witness would knowingly condemn their friends in bringing a total cessation of their careers and livelihoods for something that they knew not to be wrong. They used the First Amendment to fight this. They are regarded as martyrs because they went to jail to save their friends and stand up for their rights. They were jailed for contempt of court when they asserted that it was the court that was in contempt. The Hollywood Ten were right.



    By the way, I have some information that might lower your opinion of Frank Chapple. He was agressively pro-nucelar.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    name='Steve Crook']The purposes of HUAC were more for rabble rousing and promoting the careers of


    In his autobiography �Inside Out: A Memoir of the Blacklist�, Walter Bernstein, contributing writer for The New Yorker, and former screenwriter, claimed that while he was working at Columbia Pictures, he and Director Robert Rossen, would set out deliberately to include some leftist point of view in a particular scene. They left it up to studio head Harry Cohn to delete the unwanted scenes. Rossen, an overt Communist, was perturbed at his exclusion as one of the original Hollywood Ten! He never got over �being snubbed in such an unsavory manner!� Here, for the first time, one of the key players of the Hollywood left admitted purposefully and deliberately to including pro�Communist messages in movie scripts.



    Abraham Polonsky. and Edward Dmytryk, two surviving members of the original Hollywood Ten were interviewed in the 1996 AMC production �Blacklist: Hollywood On Trial�. Polonsky still holds to his beliefs. He claims that the Party was simply a social club. Dmytryk rejects Polonsky�s cavalier demeanor asking, �is he still deceiving himself for Christ Sake! I�m surprised at that, he knows better. We worked for the Comintern, we were given directions by the Cominturn, the Party was in the middle of all of it! I eventually came to see the Party as a menace�. Edward Dmytryk went on to direct The Caine Mutiny (1954), Raintree Country (1957), The Young Lions (1958), Walk on the Wild Side (1962), and several other pictures.




    Blacklist: A Different Look at the 1947 HUAC Hearings



    Gary Cooper testified in such a way that he didn't have to name names but he was clear that there had been 'Pinko's' spreading propaganda.....

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    The only instance of communist propaganda in a Hollywood film that anybody was able to point to was a single line of dialogue in TENDER COMRADE (!) with Ginger Rogers. HUAC really was not interested in that. They were supposed to exist to recommend legislation to congress, but never did so, instead using their powers to persecute working americans in order to appear on TV looking patriotic.

    What was possible in a British TV version of Robin Hood cannot be taken as in any way indicative of what was possible in a Hollywood movie, where any form of party politics was routinely excised, simply because it was not considered good box office. All through the HUAC period the British were somewhat astonished at the hysteria in the USA, so it's not surprising that nobody was concerned that "stealing from the rich to give to the poor" was being presented in a leftwing manner.

    And I really don't think the most reliable witnesses to this period are Dmytryk and Rossen, two men who initially resisted HUAC, then caved in, named names, and continued to enjoy their Hollywood careers. I don't judge them, since I have never been faced with the kind of pressure to betray friends which they must have faced, but I do think both men had to come up with many many justifications in later years so that they could live with themselves and enjoy the benefits of the highly-paid work they had denied others.

    Incidentally, HUAC were pretty widely recognised as bad guys since the 1970s, hostory seemed to have made up it's mind. The current debate is largely down to the revisionist work of the oh-so-reliable Ann Coulter. Perhaps any fans she has could declare their allegiance now so that we can all discount their opinions...

  15. #15
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    Who is Ann Coulter?



    Bats.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    name='batman']Who is Ann Coulter?



    Bats.


    Fox News conservative type.

  17. #17
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    name='DB7']Fox News conservative type.


    Ta.



    Bats.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    name='D Cairns'] Incidentally, HUAC were pretty widely recognised as bad guys since the 1970s, hostory seemed to have made up it's mind.
    No argument from me there. It's always interesting to know why they were bad though.



    name='D Cairns'] Perhaps any fans she has could declare their allegiance now so that we can all discount their opinions...
    OMG! Bring on the HUAC!........




  19. #19
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    Most of the victims of McCarthy and HUAC (both unconnected) joined the Communist Party in the 30s as a reaction to Nazism and the Depression - they had little interest in Stalin. Many left the CP in the late 30s following the purges and Nazi-Soviet pact. Their persecution had an hidden political agenda with various mediocities jumping on the "Red Scare" bandwagon. There was also a strong anti-Semitic strain to the witch hunt as the trials often emphasized the foreign (or anglised) names of the victims and their background.



    At least it led to the best works of Losey, Dassin and others working in Europe.



    D.

  20. #20
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    Originally Posted by D Cairns

    Perhaps any fans she has could declare their allegiance now so that we can all discount their opinions...

    "OMG! Bring on the HUAC!........ "



    I thought that would get a reaction. But note that my deliberate echo of HUAC language has a few differences: I'm not going to compel anybody to declare their allegiance (even if I could), and though I wouldn't have respect for the opinions of a Coulter fan, I wouldn't hound them out of the country!

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