Hollywood's Blacklists: A Political and Cultural History

By Reynold Humphries | Go to book overview

6
The Anti-Communist Crusade on the Screen

Of all the friendly witnesses, two in particular have taken on a special symbolic status because of the circumstances and the repercussions of their testimonies: director Edward Dmytryk of the Ten and writer-director Elia Kazan. Kazan's case is of interest because of the film he made two years after his testimony, On the Waterfront (1954), and his 'Life Achievement' Academy Award in 1999. This latter event encountered an opposition in the form of public demonstrations on the part of former blacklistees who were not ready to forget the implications of Kazan's testimony.1 As blacklisted writer Walter Bernstein put it, 'it was as a director that he testified, hurting other directors, writers, and everyone who was blacklisted' (McGilligan and Buhle 1997: 54). The symbolic importance of Dmytryk lies elsewhere.

Dmytryk's testimony, in April 1951, worked over the clichÉ of outlawing the CP (Bentley 2002: 399). However, the director was to return constantly to his act in an attempt to justify himself. Thus in the documentary Hollywood on Trial (1976), he states: 'I didn't want to be a martyr for a cause I didn't believe in.' This remark exposes Dmytryk to criticism. Firstly, he displaces the question from one of keeping faith with those who were blacklisted – irrespective of whether they were members of the CP or not, as we saw in the last chapter onto one of no longer believing in the CP. Let us remember Guy Endore, who kept faith with the victims of blacklisting long after leaving the CP. Thus Dmytryk used his disillusionment with the CP and the Soviet Union to justify condemning many people to the blacklist, whereas he named them in order to be able to work again. Secondly, he disavowed his own testimony during the Hearings of 1947 where he attempted to answer the notorious question by a reference to the Constitution. 'So you refuse to answer the question?' his

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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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