Hollywood's Blacklists: A Political and Cultural History

By Reynold Humphries | Go to book overview

3
Hollywood Strikes, the Right Strikes Back

The title of this chapter refers to the prolonged and violent strikes that shook Warner Brothers in 1945 and 1946 and the consequent right-wing backlash within the industry (and beyond). We have seen that HUAC had investigated Communism in Hollywood as early as 1940 and the union struggles throughout the 1930s had left indelible traces within the ranks of those opposed to unionisation within the film industry. If the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (MPA) was the explicitly right-wing manifestation of anti-Communism in Hollywood, its creation in early 1944 was not a purely local phenomenon but a sign of the times. Thus as early as January 1944 right-wing intellectuals and journalists were contending that American would be faced after the war with the expansionism of the Soviet Union, implying that World War II was a parenthesis in an on-going struggle (Lora 1974: 48). It was not until the end of the decade, however, that most liberals agreed and by the time of the HUAC Hearings of 1951 those who opposed witch hunting in the name of free speech and dissidence were few and far between.1 The reaction of Hollywood liberals to the creation of the MPA, however, was in keeping with the anti-Fascist alliance of the war years.

The MPA advertised its birth in The Hollywood Reporter in February 1944. Although it denounced all forms of totalitarianism, the following remark gave the game away: 'we resent the growing impression that this industry is made up of, and dominated by, Communists, radicals and crack-pots'.2 The MPA was the brain-child of former Screen Playwrights such as James Kevin McGuinness and many of its members worked for MGM; the old animosities of the previous decade were surfacing again.3 So, too, were other, more sinister

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Hollywood's Blacklists: A Political and Cultural History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • The Background 1
  • I - Drawing Up the Battle Lines 7
  • Introduction 9
  • 1: Hollywood and the Union Question 27
  • 2: Thewaryears, 1939-1945 40
  • 3: Hollywood Strikes, the Right Strikes Back 62
  • II - From the Hot War to the Cold War 75
  • 4: The Hearings of 1947 77
  • 5: None Shall Escape 105
  • 6: The Anti-Communist Crusade on the Screen 128
  • 7: Life (And Death) on the Blacklist 144
  • Conclusion 159
  • Archival Sources 164
  • Bibliography 166
  • Index 175
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