The hollywood Ten in History and Memory1.pdf - Film History Volume 16 pp 424-436,2004 Copyright John Libbey Publishing ISSN 0892-2160 Printed in United

The hollywood Ten in History and Memory1.pdf - Film History...

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Film History, Volume 16, pp. 424-436,2004. Copyright © John Libbey Publishing ISSN: 0892-2160. Printed in United States of America The Hollywood Ten in history and memory Arthur Eckstein tarting in 1947 the House Committee on Un- American Activities (HUAC)pursued a series of official inquiries into the penetration of the film industry in Hollywood by the Communist Party of the United States of America. There were major public "hearings in 1947 and 1951, and smaller hearings throughout the mid-1950s. In the course of these inquiries dozens of 'friendly' Hollywood wit- nesses denounced hundreds of people as secret members of the Communist Party, while dozens of 'unfriendly' witnesses refused to discuss their poli- tics with the Committee. Those who, were either publicly or privately denounced as members of the American Communist Party (CPUSA) found it almost impossible at least for a decade to get employment in the motion-picture industry. The most famous victims of the resulting blacklist were the 'Unfriendly Ten' or 'Hollywood Ten', the original group of 'un- friendly' witnesses - mostly screenwriters - who re- fused to give political information about themselves before HUAC in October 1947. 1 The blacklist functioned in part officially, as shown by the joint public announcement of the' mo- tion picture firms in November 1947 that henceforth no studio would knowingly employ any member of the Communist Party, or the members of any other group which advocated the overthrow of the United States government by revolution. The blacklist also occurred unofficially, through instruments such as the irresponsible red-baiting newsletter Red Chan- nels, which named whole swathes of people as subversives; this led, for example, to the ruin of the career of the left-wing but non-Communist actress Marsha Hunt. 2 The blacklist often functioned in se- cret: jobs just dried up. Meanwhile, 'fixers' came into existence, who got people unofficially 'pardoned' by anti-Communist organizations and the film industry managers, and therefore employable again; one fa- mous 'fixer' was the fiercely anti-Communist actor Ward Bond. 3 And 'fronts' came into existence, too- people who offered studios scripts written by black- listed screenwriters but presented as their own work, in exchange for official credit for the script plus (often) a cut of the payment; a famous example of such a 'front' was Philip Yordan, himself a quite famous screenwriter. 4 . As a result of the blacklist system some film careers were totally destroyed: for instance, that of Mickey knox, 'the next John Garfield', a rising star of the late 1940s - as one can see in his performance in the great gangster film White Heat (1949)-and if you have never heard of Mickey Knox, that is the point. Many other careers suffered severe setbacks: for instance, that of the actor Howard Da Silva.
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