The Marxist and the Movies: A Biography of Paul Jarrico

By Larry Ceplair | Go to book overview

2
Screenwriting and
Communism, 1936–39

I believe in comedies, in their social efficacy, in their value as
entertainment. And I believe in compromise.… I believe that
half a truth is better than none, that it is better to get some good
stuff in a picture rather than a perfect script on a shelf.

—Paul Jarrico, 1944

The newly married couple lived in a studio apartment on $100 a month provided by their mothers. Sylvia was taking psychology courses in preparation for her admission to the graduate program at UCLA. Jarrico was looking for a job. Fate intervened in the forms of Edwin Knopf, head of the MGM writers’ department (and brother of publisher Alfred A. Knopf); Rufus Von Kleinsmid, president of USC; and Frank Baxter, Jarrico’s favorite English professor. Knopf had asked Von Kleinsmid to send to him the names of graduating seniors with literary potential. Von Kleinsmid turned the assignment over to Baxter, and Baxter gave him four names, including that of Israel Shapiro. Jarrico was nervous about the approaching interview, especially when he learned that Knopf had been curt and almost insulting when he had interviewed Hal Smith, Jarrico’s college friend, just two days earlier. After the interview, Jarrico wrote, “I had thought that I was beginning to acquire a little poise, after all these awkward years—but I was nervous during that interview! With his secretary taking down my stuttered words in shorthand.” But Knopf was affable and friendly. He boasted about the uniqueness of MGM’s program (a long-term apprenticeship with an established

-25-

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The Marxist and the Movies: A Biography of Paul Jarrico
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Part 1- Screenwriting 1
  • 1- The Early Years 1915–36 3
  • 2- Screenwriting and Communism, 1936–39 25
  • 3- World War II, 1939–45 45
  • Part 2- Blacklist 81
  • 4- The Cold War in Hollywood, 1945–47 83
  • 5- The Interregnum, 1948–50 101
  • 6- The Blacklist Expands, 1951–52 117
  • 7- Salt of the Earth, 1952–54 137
  • 8- The Black Market and Khrushchev’s Speech, 1954–58 159
  • Part 3- Emigration 175
  • 9- Europe, 1958–75 177
  • 10- Political Battles, 1958–75 201
  • Part 4- Home Again 219
  • 11- Back in the USA, 1975–97 221
  • Epilogue 237
  • Filmography 243
  • Notes 255
  • Index 311
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