Top: Jewish Communists:
The House on Un-American Activities Committee's Hearings
The following information is concerned about the hearings performed by the House on Un-American Activities Committee - mostly referred to as HUAC - and the people whose lives were affected by the hearings. Both those who testified and those who did not. It is about anti-Communism and how it culminated in the "Red Scare" in the early fifties. But mostly it is about conscience. How people felt about the whole procedure of "naming names" and how they prioritized morality and conscience vs. their jobs.
Numerous people were affected by the hearings, some of the early ones were the 19 people who were called to appear before HUAC in 1947, of which ten of them were to be known as the Hollywood Ten. Among people in the 1950s to be questioned by HUAC were the director Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, and Lillian Hellman. However, it was not only in real life that the Americans dealt with the hearings. Many artists also incorporated it into their works, be it in the movies or in literature. There is also a description of how people perceived the "Red Menace", and how todays Hollywood deal with the hearings and the people who did or did not testify some 45 years ago.
HUAC AND THE RISE OF ANTI-COMMUNISM
"With the tiniest Communist Party in the world, the United States was behaving as though on the verge of bloody revolution." (Arthur Miller, Timebends p. 311)
In the 1930s many unions were influenced by the left-wing -
radicals and Communists. This was also true of the labor movements
in Hollywood. The turbulence of the early years of the Screen
Writers Guild is part of the subject treated in Schulberg's novel
What Makes Sammy Run?. The Screen Writers Guild was founded
in 1933. John Howard Lawson - later one of the Hollywood Ten -
was the leader of the guild. In 1936 there was a split in the
guild and the highest paid screenwriters formed their own union
- the Screen Playwrights. It was not until 1941 that the Screen
Writers Guild was recognized by the producers.
In 1938 the Special Committee on Un-American Activities, chaired by Martin Dies, was founded. The committee found that:
"'there are not less than two thousand outright Communists and Party-liners still holding jobs in the government in Washington.' - In 1941 he referred to 1,200 subversive officials."(source 29. p 89)
In 1945 the Special Committee on Un-American Activities was
made a permanent investigating committee "enjoying
unique subpoena powers"(p 89, source
29). The name was changed to the House on Un-American Activities
Committee - often referred to as HUAC, but some places also as
1947 was the year when the House Committee had its first serious go at exposing Communists' influence in the movie industry. HUAC heard ten writers and directors who were to be known as the Hollywood Ten. The men refused to answer the House Committee's questions and they were cited for contempt and sentenced to between 6-12 months in prison.
Where HUAC before 1945 had not really been a very respected part of the state apparatus, making several unsubstantiated accusations on people who had never been members or involved with the Communist party, it had changed and now only went after people which it could prove had been in contact with Communists and their party. This of course meant that it was taken much more seriously. One thing which was always more or less evident was that the hearings were not so much about establishing criminal guilt but rather a way in which to get people to renounce their past - and in some cases their friends. For the most part the Committee already knew the names that it demanded that the testifies should name. Ellen Schrecker calls the hearings "a symbolic ritual", Victor Navasky "degradation ceremonies" and Arthur Miller and Lillian Hellman referred to it as "an inquisition."
Before World War II there was a strong anti-Communism in the USA, but during the war when the United States and the USSR became allied, the American government attempted to give a more positive picture of Russia. The Roosevelt administration even asked Hollywood to make at least one "pro-Soviet" movie, it was named Mission to Moscow. However, no sooner was World War II over when the Cold War began, and the USA went back to its old anti-Communism stand, only with much more vigor than ever before. It was under President Truman - a Democrat - that the "Red Scare" was truly instigated: "Truman and the liberals in Congress.... [tried] to create a new national unity for the postwar years - with the executive order on loyalty oaths, Justice Department prosecutions, and anti-Communist legislation." (source 4.)
To get the "Red Scare" in perspective it would be worth mentioning two cases which helped keep the public aware of the "Communist threat". The first case involved Alger Hiss who testified before HUAC in 1948 accused of being a Communist which he claimed he was not - which was true. However, in 1950 he was convicted to 5 years of prison for perjury, but he could have been indicted for espionage as well if it had not been because "the statue of limitations shielded Hiss from a substantive espionage charge." (source 29. p 60). The second trial took place in 1950 when the married couple Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were accused and convicted of espionage. They were executed in 1953 as Soviet spies.
Still, it seems that even Truman discovered that he had pushed things too hard. I found this tragic-comic quotation by President Truman, it is from The New York Times, July 29, 1951:
"This malicious propaganda has gone so far that on the Fourth of July, over in Madison, Wisconsin, People were afraid to say they believed in the Declaration of Independence. A hundred and twelve people were asked to sign a petition that contained nothing except quotations from the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. One hundred and eleven of these people refused to sign that paper -many of them because they were afraid that it was some kind of subversive document and that they would lose their jobs or be called Communists."(source 14)
The 1950s is the decade which has come to be paired with McCarthyism.
Joe McCarthy's hearings and the man himself got much more press
coverage than HUAC ever did. His committee was much less thorough
in its investigations of the people it called to appear before
it. Quite a lot of those who were called had never had any associations
with the left-wing.
The time from 1947 - while the appeal cases for the Hollywood Ten - to 1951 was a relative quiet period in Hollywood. But in 1951 HUAC began its second round of hearings, and this time it really hurt a great number of people in Hollywood. Making people choose between their jobs and their personal convictions those who testified before the Committee and named names had a chance to get back to work in Hollywood, while those who did not were blacklisted and found it impossible to get work (officially) in the movie business - for most blacklisted this was true all through the 1950s. About eighty percent of those who did not cooperate lost their jobs.
THE HOLLYWOOD TEN
The Hollywood Ten and the influence they had on the future testifies who were to be called before the Un-American Activities Committee was not an insignificant one. Witnesses who were to appear before the Committee in the years to come knew that if they were to take the First Amendment, as the Ten had done, it would most likely result in contempt of Congress and be followed by a time in prison.
On September 15, 1947 Newsweek ran a short piece about HUAC:
"Don't look for any so-called corrective legislation to result from the forthcoming Un-American Activities Committee investigation of Communism in Hollywood. Primarily the committee is fishing for headlines. By citing specific examples of Communist influences in movie scripts, the group hopes to alert the public to them."(p. 13)
In 1947 19 people were subpoenaed to appear before HUAC. The Committee wanted to prove that the:
"card-carrying party members dominated the Screen Writers Guild, that Communists had succeeded in introducing subversive propaganda into motion pictures, and that President Roosevelt had brought improper pressure to bear upon the industry to produce pro-Soviet films during the war."(source 28p. 408) .
Although 19 people had been subpoenaed by the Un-American Activities
Committee only 10 of them appeared before the Committee. Among
them were Dalton Trumbo, Albert Maltz, Edward Dmytryk, John Howard
Lawson and Ring Lardner, Jr. Besides these there were also 9 who
did not get to testify - at least not in 1947, some of them were
Larry Parks, Gordon Kahn, Robert Rossen and Richard Collins.
The Hollywood Ten had agreed on taking the first amendment as a defense and each of them refused to answer the question "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" All ten had indeed been members of that party, but they would not answer the question as a matter of principle, claiming (naturally) that it was their business - especially since the Communist Party, at that time, was not illegal in the United States. The hearing itself - held on October 27. - was vividly described by a correspondent from Newsweek in the edition of November 10, 1947:
"The hearing room by now was in turmoil. Thomas, Stripling [investigator], and Lawson were all shouting at once. His face and neck flaming red, Thomas kept banging his gavel, but the screen writer ignored him. The 400 men and women in the audience...booed and cheered. The six newsreel cameras hummed. The 30 newspaper photographers scurried around, exploding flashbulbs." (p. 17)
The Ten were all hold in contempt and in 1948 they were imposed
to serve up to one year prison sentences. But they did not serve
their time until 1950 because of their appeals.
On November 24, 1947, fifty of the most important people in the American movie industry gathered for a meeting in the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. They discussed what to do about the Un-American Activities Committee's preoccupation with Communism in Hollywood. The result of the meeting was a statement, which was read before the press. First of all, they would fire the men who had been cited for contempt, that is the Hollywood Ten. Furthermore the industry would not hire any Communists and it would discharge people who were known to be Communists.
"The action was unprecedented. Never before had an industry combined to bar Communists and other subversive from employment" - "The Communists were on their way out. The industry would not stop with the accused ten. It planned to ask the screen unions to help it eliminate other suspected Communists.(Newsweek, Dec 8, 1947 p. 24-25)
It has been stated many times that if only Hollywood had stood
together against the Un-American Activities Committee the blacklist
and the later hearings might have been avoided. Ellen Schrecker
says: "The official manifestations of McCarthyism - the public
hearings, FBI investigations, and criminal prosecutions - would
not have been as effective had they not been reinforced by the
private sector."(source 2.) In Newsweek,
December 8, 1947, there is likewise an indication that had the
meeting in New York turned out differently, the blacklist would
not have been implemented. It said that the Committee's "victory
was especially surprising" because it had not been
obvious that it would win the case, and that "representatives
of the [movie] industry, who appeared before the committee, had
stubbornly refused to fire the suspected Communists on their payrolls,"
(p. 25) and the well-known producer Samuel Goldwyn had denounced
the Committee. The movie-magnates probably changed their minds
because of poor economy and public relations. The industry was
going through a tough time and it did not need any bad publicity,
thus the outcome. Towards the end of the article in Newsweek
the journalist writes "The industry feared what the
House committee might do next. So it decided to clean house, and
thereby make itself less susceptible to attack." Of
course, that was not what happened at all. Yes, there was a more
or less tranquil period between 1948 and 1951, but then the House
on Un-American Activities Committee was back.
The blacklist thus came into action in 1947. "The Motion Picture Association of America denied that the industry kept a blacklist, but said that no Fifth [or First] Amendment takers...who hadn't purged themselves before a...congressional committee could...work in Hollywood"(source 33. p 86). Despite this claim of not having any blacklist the Hollywood Ten are referred to as "black-listed by Hollywood for their defiance of [HUAC]" in Newsweek as early as December 8, 1947 (p 12).
DALTON TRUMBO AND EDWARD DMYTRYK OF THE HOLLYWOOD TEN
Dalton Trumbo was fired from MGM almost immediately after the hearing. In 1948 he was found guilty of contempt of Congress and in 1950 - after a negative outcome of the appeals case - he was sent to prison. While in jail Trumbo wrote some poems for his family, this is one of them:
"Say then but this of me:
Preferring not to crawl on his knees
In freedom to a bowl of buttered slops
Set out for him by some contemptuous clown,
He walked to jail on his feet." (source 29., p. 498)
The contempt Trumbo felt for the House Committee is obvious.
When he got out of prison he was blacklisted. He could not get
work in Hollywood under his own name until 1960. This did not
mean that Trumbo did not write films for an entire decade, it
just meant that he wrote under pseudonyms and fronts - not getting
any credits and for a lot less money than he was used to. Still,
it was writers like Trumbo who helped end the blacklist. One of
the reasons for that was that he repeatedly won Oscars. He got
an Academy Award for his screenplay for The Brave One in
1957. He had written it under pseudonym, and so naturally no one
came forward to claim the prize. A rather awkward moment for the
movie industry. However, it was not until 1960 that Universal
gave Trumbo credit "as the writer of Spartacus "(source 29. p. 520) another film that earned him
Dalton Trumbo never gave any names to the House Committee, he remained an unfriendly witness. So did eight of the other men in the Hollywood Ten group. The only one to reappear before the Un-American Activities Committee as a friendly witness was Edward Dmytryk. An action never forgotten by the other Ten. Dmytryk had found it intolerable not being able to work, and as he came to the conclusion that he no longer believed in the ideas of the Communist Party, he decided that he would testify before the Committee, and give them what they wanted. He did not do it, however, until after he had served his 6-month term in prison. Actually, he started the procedure of appearing before the Committee while still in prison. He did not tell Albert Maltz, who were to become extremely angry with Dmytryk and never forgave him for his decision. Edward Dmytryk said about his choice:
"I had long been convinced that the fight of the Ten was political...I believed that I was being forced to sacrifice my family and my career in defense of the Communist Party, from which I had long been separated and which I had grown to dislike and distrust." (source 33. p 236) - "I would have to name names, and I knew the problems this would cause...my decision was made easier by the fact that....I couldn't name anybody who hadn't already been identified as a Party member. Weighing everything- pro and con, I knew I had to testify." (p. 236) - "I did not want to remain a martyr to something that I absolutely believed was immoral and wrong."(source 33. p. 238)
There are two important things which Dmytryk says in these
two paragraphs. One is that he testified because he now was opposed
to the Communist Party and the other that he only named names
that had already been mentioned. They are important because they
are so typical of what the friendly witnesses would use as justification
for their testimonies.
On the day Dmytryk testified the hearing was described in an article in Newsweek under the title Hollywood Serial Story. It began: "Hollywood's show before [HUAC] was almost good enough to bring back vaudeville" (Newsweek, may 7, 1951 p. 26) It is difficult to find the anguish that these people had gone through - and would go through - to do what they did! During his testimony Edward Dmytryk gave the committee 26 names. Shortly thereafter he was off the blacklist and back in business in Hollywood, directing movies. In 1973 Dmytryk told - on TV - how he had felt about collaborating with the committee. He said what he had said before, that he had not named names that had not been named before and that he would not defend the Communist Party. (source 33. p. 238)
The question of guilt seems to be a never ending discussion. Some say forgive others say revenge. Dalton Trumbo believed in the former. About Lillian Hellman Trumbo said: "Lillian Hellman once said 'Forgiveness is God's job, not mine.' Well, so is vengeance, you know." (source 33. p. 392) In 1970 Dalton Trumbo gave a speech before the Screen Writers Guild, in which he said that everybody involved with the hearings, both the friendly and the unfriendly witnesses had been victims:
"....the blacklist was a time of evil, and...no one on either side who survived it came through untouched by evil" - "it will do no good to search for villains or heroes or saints or devils because there were none; there were only victims...because almost without exception each of us felt compelled to say things he did not want to say, to do thing he did not want to do, to deliver and receive wounds he truly did not want to exchange."(source 33. p . 387-388)
This ecchoes what Eli Kazan said, (a director who named names):
"I did what I did because it was the more tolerable of
two alternatives that were, either way, painful, even disastrous,
and either way wrong for me. That's what a difficult decision
means: Either way you go, you lose. " (source
31. p. 462)
Trumbo's speech really set Albert Maltz off. He was of the opposite opinion. He felt that the friendly witnesses had not paid enough for their deeds, and that being ostracized from the society forever was a mild punishment. Maltz wrote in The New York Times:
"There is currently in vogue a thesis pronounced first by Dalton Trumbo which declares that everyone during the years of blacklist was equally a "victim." This is factual nonsense and represents a bewildering moral position."(source 33. p. 389)
Maltz and Trumbo spent the next months discussing this subject
- they never came to agree on the matter. Trumbo thought that
one should forgive - Maltz thought one should never forgive them.
Still, to his death Trumbo said that he felt uncomfortable around
people he knew testified as friendly witnesses before HUAC and
that he would rather not associate with them.
OTHER WITNESSES AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR TESTIMONIES
When the House on Un-American Activities Committee began its second round of hearings in Hollywood on March 21, 1951 the first witnesses to appear before the House Committee was the actor Larry Parks and director Edward Dmytryk. Larry Parks had been a member of the Communist Party in the 1940s. His testimony is said to be one of the most excruciating ever given before the Committee. Dmytryk said that "[Parks'] tortured testimony was so copiously reported that it haunted him throughout his life."(source 33. p 236) Before the House Committee Parks at first did not want to name names, he said "[it would be contrary to] American justice to confront me with the choice of going to jail [for contempt] or crawling through the mud to be an informer..."(Newsweek, April 2, 1951 p. 21) and "I don't think this is American justice...So I beg of you not to force me to do this."(source 28 p. 493) Parks also referred to his two small children: "Is this the kind of heritage that I must hand down to them? Is this the kind of heritage that you would like to hand down to your children?"(source 33. p. 360)
The Committee insisted that Parks should name names and he finally agreed to do it in executive session. But Larry Parks' career was destroyed. After the hearing Parks contract with Columbia Pictures was canceled, he worked on only three more films until his death in 1976 (source 33.p. 373). It is difficult not to feel sorry for Larry Parks. There was a picture taken of Parks during the hearing, which followed the article in Newsweek, it showed a man truly tormented. The last words of Larry Parks in the magazine were these: "Parks was 'sick at heart and sick in bed,' wondering what would now become of himself and his family." (Newsweek, April 2, 1951 p. 21) Arthur Miller said about the people who named names that he "felt distaste for those who groveled before this tawdry tribune of moralistic vote-snatchers, but I had as much pity as anger toward them." (source 32, p. 329)
There were also people who, when subpoenaed, left the country. One of those was the screenwriter (The African Queen) Gordon Kahn who was one of the original 19 who had been subpoenaed by the House Committee in 1947. Like many others - including Albert Maltz and Dalton Trumbo (source 34. p. 176) - he fled to Mexico, where he lived with his family for five years. Kahn was identified by witnesses in 1951-53, and in the years 1937-1949, he had 28 credits, after that he never got another credit. (source 29. p. 559) Before Kahn fled to Mexico he wrote a letter to his wife explaining how he felt about the committee's demand that he name names:
"If now, in full flight from any principle I possess, I went and recanted everything and every decent thing I believe in, it wouldn't be enough. They'd want to know 'Who else? Now that you are purged who else? Give us names, dates and places!' Do you think I could live with myself for a minute after I did a thing like that? Or with you? Or could face my children? If this is a decent world when they grow up, they'd spit on me and be perfectly justified in doing so... No. I've got to hang on to something and if I can't be the most prosperous writer, I want to be able to hold my head up among the people of America and the world." (source 9.)
When holding Larry Parks' and Gordon Kahn's "testimonies"
up against each other, they in many ways seem very alike. They
both do not want to give names, they both mention being able to
look their children in the eye, and they both have major problems
with their conscience and they also take their jobs under consideration.
And still, they come to completely different conclusions. One
testifies and one does not. Naturally, it is necessary to take
into consideration that Gordan Kahn never actually testified before
the Un-American Activities Committee, but fled the country.
It seems that in some cases it came down to how strong a psyche they had, in others how badly they wanted to keep their job, and in some cases it even seemed that the friendly witnesses really believed that they were doing a good thing, when they named names.
One of those who seemed to be a keen anti-Communist was the actor Adolphe Menjou who testified before the Un-American Activities Committee on November 3, 1947 - 7 days before the Hollywood Ten went before the committee. Menjou was certainly very enthusiastic when it came to getting rid of Communists. A magazine report from the hearing - which also included such people as Ronald Reagan, Robert Taylor, Gary Cooper, Jack Warner, Louis B. Mayer and the writer Ayn Rand who - by the way - were all friendly witnesses - quoted Menjou: "I'm a Red-baiter; I'm a witch-hunter if the witches are Communists" when asked:
"...why so many highly paid writers were opposed to capitalism and democracy [Menjou explained] ' We find crackpots everywhere. We have them in California - political idiots, political morons, dangerous Communists....I don't think 'Mission to Moscow' should have been made. It's a thoroughly dishonest picture."(Newsweek November 3, 1947 p. 25)
On the same day, incidentally, producer Jack Warner defended
Mission to Moscow as being a product made during a war
when Russia had been an allied. He further said that: "...he
always made it a policy 'to turn my back whenever I see one of
those Reds coming."(source 32, ,
p. 301) And then Warner named a lot of people most of them writers;
among them: Alvah Bessie, Gordon Kahn, Ring Lardner, Jr. , Albert
Maltz, and Howard Koch. (Newsweek, November 3, 1947, p.
CONSCIENCE, BLACKLISTING AND THE HEARINGS IN FICTION
Of course what went on in life were mirrored in the world of fiction, here characters - likewise - lived with anti-Communism, hearings and blacklists. Here follows a brief analysis of three novels dealing with this subject. They are by Fitzgerald, Budd Schulberg and Norman Mailer. Fitzgerald's novel The Last Tycoon introduces the theme of Communism in Hollywood and hints at what will be happening in the near future.
In the unfinished novel The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald the main character Stahr, a big time movie mogul, says:
"Writers are children - even in normal times they can't keep their minds on their work."(source 25.p. 145) - "I don't want to kick anybody out if they do their work...I never thought...that I had more brains than a writer has. But I always thought that his brains belonged to me - because I knew how to use them." (source 25.150-151)
This seems to be a prevailing sentiment in Hollywood. During
the hearings before the House Committee in October, 1947 the witnesses
- mostly actors and producers - said that: "...by far
the most troublesome of all [Communists in Hollywood] were the
writers."(Newsweek November 3, 1947 p. 24)
Jack Warner mentioned a bunch of writers before the House committee - If the producers could not control them they would fire them. Also one should remember that most of the men that Warner mentioned in his testimony were writers who had all caused trouble in the industry by founding the Screen Writers Guild and arranging strikes. It was probably not "just" to get Communism out of Hollywood that the producers named certain writers, it had very likely as much to do with getting rid of trouble makers.
Stahrs final words on Communists is what came to be part of the "excuse" for the hunting of Communists and left-wingers: "This fellow has an influence over you,' [Stahr] said darkly, 'Over all you young people. You don't know what you're doing."(source 25. p. 152) The People should be protected from the Communists and their ideas.
What Makes Sammy Run? AND ITS AUTHOR BUDD SCHULBERG
What Makes Sammy Run by Bud Schulberg is especially relevant because it deals with the Guild, blacklisting and the decisions concerning whether or not to give in to anti-Communist pressures, but it was written by a man who would ten years later testify before the House Committee as a friendly witness.
Like Stahr in The Last Tycoon Al (the narrator)says he is an individualist. He wants to make up his own mind about things and he says to his friend Kit: "I haven't got anything against the Guild...But, oh, hell, I guess I'm an individualist" (source 25. p. 127) Meaning that although he does join the Guild, he does not feel altogether at peace with it. The same problem that Budd Schulberg himself had with the Party at the very time he was writing this novel.
There are certain similarities between the following passage and Walter Disney's testimony before HUAC. He too was very preoccupied with the possibility of Communists in the guilds. In Sammy some of the big shots in Hollywood discuss the Guild:
"If this bunch of Reds have their way we'll be marching down Hollywood Boulevard in their May Day Parade,' Wilson said. 'What do you mean, Reds?' I said. ' Well, maybe not Reds,' Paine said...'But they're goddam parlor-pinks and thats just as bad. It's up to the responsible element to save the Guild." (source 25.p. 137) -
Walter Disney testified on October 24, 1947 before the committee. He named several names - most of them people who had organized unions and strikes in his company. Almost his entire testimony is about how the organized labor is annoying him. He says of union man: "I think Sorrell is sure tied up with [the Communists]. If he isn't a Communist sure should be one." and when asked "Do you feel that there is a threat of Communism in the motion-picture industry?" Disney replies:
"Yes, there is, and there are many reasons why they would like to take it or get in and control it, or disrupt it, but I don't think they have gotten very far, and I think the industry is made up of good Americans, just like in my plant, good, solid Americans. My boys have been fighting it longer than I have. They are trying to get out from under it and they will in time if we can just show them up." (source 12.)
In Sammy - almost like in real life - the film company that the characters in the book work for, one day demands that all the employees who wish to stay on as employees have to sign a resignation form from the Guild. Al Manheim, the narrator, finds it very difficult to decide what to do. He talks to his friend Kit about it:
"I guess I'd like to be a hero and flush this goddam resignation blank down the drain. But there's no use kidding myself. I feel like a tug-of-war, the whole damned business, the rope and both teams pulling." (source 25.p. 182-83). Kit says: "Al, I'm afraid that's a lonely battle you've got to fight out with yourself...But I wouldn't feel you were ratting out if you did. It's too late for that."(source 25.p. 183)
Al decides to sign the form:
"Guild or a sewing circle I had gone down the line for them every way I could. It had to stop somewhere. After all, I had come out here to be a writer, not a second John L. Lewis. So I took the paper out and scribbled my name at the bottom."(source 25.p. 184)
However, after his nemesis Sammy compliments Al on signing the form, Al tears it to shreds. When the company finds out, he is immediately fired. He says to his agent:
"So I'm really on the blacklist?' 'If there was a blacklist, I guess you'd be on it, all right...But they don't need anything like that in this chummy little business. All it takes is a couple of big shots happening to mention it over a poker game...That's why you should have played ball."(source 25.p. 191)
Like several people in the real world, Al regrets his choice and so when Sammy gives him another change to return to Hollywood, Al takes it:
"The trouble with Hollywood is that too many people who won't leave are ashamed to be there. But when a moving picture is right, it socks the eye and the ear and the solar plexus all at once and that is a hell of a temptation for any writer. I felt that when I went back for the fourth time to see The Informer...And even when I saw one of my own jobs, a stinker if there ever was one, but with one scene in it that sang because I happened onto real picture technique...Hollywood may be full of phonies, mediocrities, dictators and good men who have lost their way, but there is something that draws you there that you should not be ashamed of."(source 25.p. 233-34).
This fascination with Hollywood most likely also applied to
Budd Schulberg himself. Having grown up there, with a movie mogul
for a dad, surrounded by famous people - even writing a book about
Fitzgeralds last years, and writing screenplays, working with
a director like Elia Kazan, there is little doubt that Schulberg
was very much into Hollywood!
When Schulberg was named by Richard Collins, he sent a telegram to the House Committee in which he offered to cooperate with it "in any way I can"(source 33. p. 239) On May 23, 1951 Schulberg testified before the House on Un-American Activities Committee. He told that he had been a member of the Communist Party from 1937-39 and that he had left it because he did not like the way its members tried to tell him how to write his books. Newsweek reported:
"Budd Schulberg...told of his youthful indiscretion in joining the party. He described how he had rejected Communism when party critics began attacking his work as 'decadent' and 'depressing.' "(Newsweek, June 4, 1951 p. 19-20)
Reminiscent of Al in What Makes Sammy Run? Schulberg said his works had been accused by Party members as being "much too individualistic" (source 33. p. 239) During the hearing Schulberg named fifteen names: "They had all been named - there wasn't much new I could add."(source 33. p. 243) and later he said:
"I expressed doubts [about naming names]- it would be inhuman not to. But I truly felt the Communist Party was a menace. It was hard for me to see myself doing anything to help the Communist Party." (source 33. p. 245)
This is almost exactly what Elia Kazan says in his biography.
Many years after his testimony, Schulberg says that he does not regret naming names, although he would have preferred not to. "Budd Schulberg has, like Kazan, continued to justify his decision."((source 33. p. 242)
About his problems with his conscience about naming names he spoke to a friend of his. The friend told him:
"First, you argue inside yourself...Second, you go out of the Party...Third,...you realize you have not been true to yourself....he would not be true to himself if he did not speak out on something he thought was a scourge." (source 33. p. 245)
Schullberg also attacks those who were members of the Party, but did not speak out. He is especially scornful towards playwright Lillian Hellman. He said she would excuse any cruelty done by the Russian government, in the name of Communism:
"They question our talking. I question their silence. There were premature anti-fascists but there were also premature anti-Stalinists." (source 33. p. 246)
ELIA KAZAN, HIS CONSCIENCE, AND FRIENDS
"In their guts, however, they remained newcomers to America, with all the uncertainties immigrants have. Anxious to be everyone's friend, they would head up charities, dish out favors, seek the company of men who had larger influence, make frequent optimistic statements to certify their good hearts, and take popular positions as often and as publicly as possible to reaffirm their civic and national loyalty - which no one had questioned. A crisis revealed their insecurity. Like most immigrants then, they would defend themselves by flaunting their patriotism. I do not altogether exclude myself from this characterization." Elia Kazan A Life p. 451.
Elia Kazan is one of the most well-known friendly witnesses.
Not only because he named names - many before and after him had
done that as well, but because he was so "open" about
it. He took out an advertisement after the hearings, telling what
he had done and why, and encouraging others to do the same, he
made movies that favored the characters that "squealed"
and he never changed his mind about having testified. He did not
enjoy doing it, and he did have serious problems with his conscience
years after his appearance before the House on Un-American Activities
Committee. But he never excused. He believed he had done what
he had to do under the given circumstances. For many he became
the "ultimate betrayer." (source
33. p. 206)
In his biography, Kazan deals at great length with his appearance before the Committee and the consequences it had for him and his friends. When rereading Odet's play Waiting for Lefty fifty years after he had performed it with the Group Theater, Kazan says:
"I'd turned violently anti-Communist. But the yearning for meaning, for dignity, for security in life, stirred me now as it had then. The Communists got their influence and their power by speaking up for these universal human desires. It seemed that I hadn't changed; they had."(source 31.p. 115)
It was not until Nazi-Germany invaded Poland and Russia, during
the Second World War, that Kazan was really turned off by the
Communists who, until then, had believed that the war was an imperialistic
one and then said it was "a war to save civilization."
(source 31.p. 231).BR> Thirteen years later
(1952) Kazan was subpoenaed by the House on Un-American Activities
Committee. Kazan had decided even before he was called, that he
would not name names: "while I would tell the whole truth
about myself, I would refuse to name any of my old friends."
(source 31.p. 432) And so, when he appeared
before the House committee on January 14, 1952, he knew what he
would do. Before the hearing - which would be held in executive
session - Kazan told the committee investigator Raphael Nixon
about the Group Theater and stated that his "disgust"
with the Party had made him leave it. When asked about Clifford
Odets Kazan replied that he would "cooperate in every
way about myself but would not discuss others."(source
31.p. 445) Nixon did not pressure Kazan to name names merely
advised him "to reconsider whether I wanted to withhold
names from the committee." During the hearing itself
Kazan still refused to name names. This meant that he would be
called back - and next time it would be a public session.
The next months Kazan went through a lot. First of all he felt sick, he could not sleep and he felt up-tight. At this time Elia Kazan still believed that he would not be a cooperative witness. He told his analyst that he was willing to give up film making, and go back to working at the theater, since he would undoubtedly loose his job if he did not name names: "I can take the loss,'...'I'm wondering...if your fellow members would do the same for you if they were called upon to protect you by endangering their careers.' [his analyst said]" (source 31.p. 448)
But Kazan was not at all as sure of himself as this might imply. At the same time he had become a fervent anti-Communist and believed that the Communist Party was "a thoroughly organized, worldwide conspiracy."(p. 449) Kazan says:
"So I was in the clutch of a dilemma, between two emotions swaying one way, then the other, and the squeeze was just beginning. I didn't want to cooperate with this committee. On the other hand, I didn't want to defend the Party by a silence on critical point of their inquiry."(source 31.p. 449)
Arthur Miller explains in his biography - Timebends - why many informers, like Kazan, explained their cooperation with the committee as a "moral" obligation:
"...it came down to a governmental decree of moral guilt that could easily be made to disappear by ritual speech: intoning names of fellow sinners and recanting former beliefs. This last was probably the saddest and truest part of the charade, for by the early 1950s there were few, and even fewer in the arts, who had not left behind their illusions about the Soviets." (source 32, , p. 331)
After much thought Kazan began to sway towards the decision to cooperate:
"You can't give that committee names!' I said to myself. But why should I be alone out in the cold? I hadn't heard from any of the others in our cell, although they all knew what had happened." (source 31.p. 459)
Kazan started asking himself if the "Comrades" would have done the same for him, if the roles had been reversed. He began weighing his career against not testifying against something he no longer believed in: "I would give up my film career if it was in the interests of defending something I believed in but not this." (source 31.p. 460) So Kazan says that part of his decision to be a friendly witness was the factor that he wanted to keep his job. Arthur Miller thought that Elia Kazan was:
"a genius of the theater...to be barred from his métier, kicked into the street, would be for him like a nightmarish overturning of the earth itself. He had always said he came from survivors and that the job was to survive." (source 32, 333)
Another writer and director, Abe Polonsky who did not cooperate
with the committee and who was subsequently blacklisted agrees
with Kazan that if he had not named names, he could not have continued
working in Hollywood: "...it was not a moral, ethical,
or political question at all. It was a practical question - but
people don't like to see it that way because it makes their character
less worthy." (source 33. p. 279)
Now, there is an interesting incident which both Miller and Kazan have depicted in their respective biographies. It is a day in early April, 1952 when the two of them take a walk in the woods, and Kazan tells Miller about his decision to name names. Although they describe the exact same scene, even down to the weather condition, the interpretation of what took place is somewhat opposite of each other. Kazan says that he felt that his friend Arthur understood him, and forgave him for what he would do, and that they parted on "affectionate terms":
"Walking back to the house...[Miller] put his arm around me in his awkward way...and said, 'Don't worry about what I'll think. Whatever you do will be okay with me. Because I know your heart is in the right place.'...There was no doubt that Art meant it and that he was anxious to say this to me before we separated." (source 31., p. 461)
In his biography Arthur Miller describes the drive up to his friend, and how he has a strong feeling of what Kazan is going to tell him. Miller says that he felt his "anger rising, not against [Kazan], whom I loved like a brother, but against the Committee." (p. 332) When Elia Kazan does tell Miller about what he is going to do Miller feels both sympathy and fear towards him:
"Had I been of his generation, he would have had to sacrifice me as well. And finally that was all I could think of. I could not get past it...I was growing cooler...I could still be up for sacrifice if Kazan knew I had attended meetings of Party writers years ago...I felt a silence rising around me...It was sadness, purely mournful, deadening..." (source 32, p. 333-334)
As he drove off, Miller says: "We...waved rather grimly
as I pulled away." (source 32, p. 33)
I said in the beginning Kazan has never regretted his decision and does not feel like apologizing:
"Reader, I don't seek your favor. I've been telling you only some of the things I was asking myself on the way 'down'. But if you expect an apology now because I would later name names to the House Committee, you've misjudged my character. The 'horrible, immoral thing' I would do, I did out of my true self. Everything before was seventeen years of posturing." (source 31.p. 460)
Although some might claim, that it was not to keep the Communist
Party out of the spotlight, that they refused to name names, but
that it was to avoid other people getting hurt.
Kazan did ask his friend Clifford Odets if he could name him. Odets said yes, and they both agreed on going through with naming names before the committee. Elia Kazan says that he later regretted that he had influenced Odets to become a friendly witness, because it broke him psychological. He was never to write another play.
"Out of the Red: Elia Kazan, stage and film director of 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' admitted that he was a member of the Communist Party for eighteen months in the mid '30s when there was 'no clear opposition' between the United States and Russia, the House Un-American Activities Committee disclosed. Kazan testified he joined the party in 1934 and quit...later with a 'deep and abiding hatred' of Red philosophy. On Saturday, Kazan took a two-column ad in The New York Times to explain his stand." (Newsweek, April 21, 1952 p. 60)
This ad that is mentioned was an ad that Kazan's wife at the
time, Molly, suggested and wrote. She felt that the ad could help
explain why Kazan had done what he did. The ad, however, did not
have the effected they had hoped for: "it brought me scorn
and hardened the antagonism."(source
31.p. 465) Lillian Hellman wrote in her biography Scoundrel
Time: "Kazan followed [his testimony] up with an advertisement
in The New York Times that is hard to believe for its pious shit."
(source 30. p. 98,)
After the testimony - in which he named eight people, all from the old Group Theater - Kazan does say that he felt some doubt as to whether or not he had done the right thing:
"I still believed that what I'd done was correct, but...there was something indecent...in what I'd done...No one who did what I did...came out of it undamaged. I did not. Here I am, thirty-five years later, still worrying over it." (source 31.p. 465)
If Kazan had had problems with his conscience it was nothing compared to what he would go through the next year, not to mention the rest of his life. In his biography he has published segments from his diary. Two days after the hearing Kazan wrote:
"Stayed home all day. Miserably depressed. Can't get my mind off it. I know I've done something wrong. Still convinced I would have done something worse if I'd done the opposite. I spend every minute making rationalizations for my act." (source 31.p. 466)
When he returned to the studio, people ignored him, they crossed the street to avoid meeting him, he got crank phone calls and he got hate mail. One blamed him for an actors dismissal, because Kazan had mentioned his name, another said: "I shall continue to great you in the course of our associations but only on the basis of formal courtesy." (source 31.p. 468):
"I really didn't understand the intensity of my guilt - everything rational told me that I'd done right - but I seemed to have crossed some fundamental and incontrovertible line of tolerance for human error and sin." (source 31.p. 468)
A lot of friendships were destroyed by the hearings held by the Un-American Activities Committee: "the destruction seemed total when the sundering of friendships was so often with people whom the witness had not ceased to love."( source 32, p. 339). One of the most famous of such destroyed friendships is probably the one that existed between Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan. And so the person who most hurt him by his absence was his close friend Arthur Miller. Kazan did not hear anything from Miller after he had testified, until one day Kazan reads in a paper that Miller disapproved of his action and that he would have nothing more to do with him:
"It would have been nice if Art, at this moment, while expressing the strong disapproval he felt, had acknowledged some past friendship - or even written me a few words, however condemnatory. But he didn't, not a word...Although many years later I would enjoy Art's company when we met...and would even direct another play of his [After the Fall], I would never really feel toward him quite what a friend should. Nor, I imagine, he toward me." (source 31., p. 472) - "I've been perplexed and angry at him, as he, I must believe, has been disgusted and mad at me...But I like Miller; I wouldn't even mind being cast away on a desert island with him." (source 31. p. 530)
As already mentioned, Budd Schulberg also appeared before the House committee as a friendly witness. He believes, like Kazan, that he did the right thing, and that there was a Communist conspiracy going on. The two men knew each other before they testified, but after the hearings they both felt a kind like kindred spirits:
"Budd had testified as I had, been reviled by many of his old companions as I'd been. His closest friend had stopped talking to him as Miller had shunned me. Now the 'progressives' had us both on their shit list. As we talked that first night in New Hope, there was an immediate warm sympathy between us. We became brothers." (source 31.p. 487)
They would make movies together, that all dealt on a larger
or bigger scale with the "stool pigeon", seen in a positive
light. One of those movies was On the Waterfront. Originally
Kazan and Miller had been working on a film project about the
waterfront. But after Kazan's testimony, they went each their
way. Kazan and Schulberg made On the Waterfront about a
man who "realizes his obligation to fink on his fellow
hoods."(source 33. p. 199) while
Arthur Miller, who in 1956 testified as an unfriendly witness
before HUAC, made his own waterfront picture namely A View
From A Bridge which "tried simultaneously to understand
and condemn the informer."(source
33. p. 199)
On the Waterfront went on to win numerous Oscars, and Kazan remembers that that night: "I was tasting vengeance...and enjoying it."(source 31.p. 529) Kazan says that he was "comforted by something Budd Schulberg wrote me: his experience paralleled my own, 'The person in my difficulty,' he said, 'since he cannot please all his old friends, must settle for pleasing himself." (source 31.p. 471) Kazan took this to his heart.
Like several other witnesses Kazan worried about how his children would "carry the burden of my 'informing' and be ashamed. This worry never ceased."(source 31.p. 472) The producer Kermit Bloomgarden, who had worked with Kazan, said to him before he testified, when asked what Bloomgarden thought about Kazan's intention to name names:
"Everyone must do what his conscience tells him to do.' [Kazan] said, 'I've got to think of my kids.' And I said, 'This too shall pass, and then you'll be an informer in the eyes of your kids, think of that."(source 33. p. 201-202)
Bad conscience keep haunting Elia Kazan. He says that while he was writing his biography - which was published in 1988 - he had a dream about Tony Kraber - a man he named before the committee:
"I thought what a terrible thing I'd done; not the political aspect of it...but the human side of the thing. I said to myself, 'You hurt another human being, a friend of yours and his family, and no 'political aspect' matters two shits.'...What good deeds were stimulated by what I'd done? What villains exposed? How is the world better for what I did? It had just been a game of power and influence, and I'd been taken in and twisted from my true self. I'd fallen for something I shouldn't have, no matter how hard the pressure and no matter how sound my reasons. Then I woke all the way and had breakfast. I knew the past was past and there was nothing to do about it."(source 31.p. 685)
Arthur Miller on the same subject:
"I was experiencing a bitterness with the country that I had never even imagined before, a hatred of its stupidity and its throwing away of its freedom. Who or what was now safer because this man in his human weakness had been forced to humiliate himself? What truth had been enhanced by all this anguish?" (source 32, p. 334)
Kazan's final words on the matter is about his friend Odets
who was destroyed by the hearing. Kazan again say how sorry he
feels about having "persuading" him to testify: "that
[Odets] needed...to have people respect him as their hero - something
I could, as I finally had to, get along without." (source 31.p. 818)
KAZAN AND LILLIAN HELLMAN
I believe that I had better give Hellman a separate section. Mainly because she is widely acclaimed for her resistance to the House committee, but also because I do not think I can put her under the section titled "Elia Kazan, His Conscience and Friends", because Hellman was not a friend of Kazan's. In fact she was one of Kazan's most fervent attackers.
Lillian Hellman was a play- and screenwriter. She was very dedicated to politics and the cause of the left-wing. Hellman traveled to the Soviet union, and did not until quite late in her life recognize the terrible things that had happened under the ruling of Joseph Stalin. Very recently there was an article in the New York Times about Hellman, it was titled "Why Lillian Hellman Remains Fascinating". In it there is a very brief summation of her life:
"When in 1934 the success of her first play, 'The Children's Hour,' brought celebrity at the age of 28, she immediately put her fame to work for leftist causes and remained, throughout her life, a bellicose figure in the nation's political arena. This commitment culminated in her courageous defiance of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952. As a dramatist, author, screenwriter and activist, Helena was a commanding presence in America's cultural life for half a century." (source 15.)
Yes, Lillian Hellman did defy the House committee. In May, 1952, Hellman sent a letter to HUAC in which she offered to tell everything the committee wished to know about her, but that she would not name names. If her offer could not be accepted, she would have to take the diminished Fifth Amendment, which means that one can "decline to answer questions...on the grounds of self-incrimination."(p 93). She went on to say:
"to hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions." (source 30. p. 93)
Her offer was denied by the committee, and on the May 21, 1952,
Helena took the Fifth Amendment when she appeared before the Un-American
Activities Committee. After her testimony had been given, Lillian
Hellman was not to get another credit in the USA until 1961 (source 29. p. 559)
Victor Navasky hints in his "Naming Names" that Lillian Hellman perhaps did not have the right to be so condemning of others as she was:
"Maltz [one of the Ten] reminds us that Lillian Hellman, who despite her eloquence did not risk prison, portrays herself in her memoir as alone against the McCarthyite crowd, when in fact she was a private in a virtual army of resisters, many of whom risked and suffered more than she. Hellman's wisecrack that Arthur Miller, who told HUAC he had 'been to hell and back and seen the devil,' must have gone as a tourist - meant that he was too cozy with the Committee for her taste, too willing to grant their right to ask questions in the first place. More fundamentally, the center liberals point out that these people were collectively wrong about Stalin, failed to see the great moral crime of their day."(source 33. p. 423)
Elia Kazan, certainly did not like Lillian Hellman. In his biography her refers to her, among other things, as "liar", and a "coiled snake":
"Miss Hellman...she had the sharpest knife of all for me. Still I would tell people that I rather liked her, when the fact was that I knew damned well what she was: a liar for one thing and my enemy for sure. (source 31.p.592)
Before he testified Kazan invited Hellman out, and he told her that he was considering naming names, both Hellman and Kazan have a passage in their biographies about that scene:
"I laid everything on the table, told her I wouldn't be able to work in films if I didn't testify to everything I knew. Then I told her...that while it would be a blow, I'd prepared for it and could get along okay without film work...Lillian was silent as a coiled snake. I didn't realize until later how threatened she felt in the same emergency. She said nothing to turn me away from where I seemed to be moving"(source 31.p.462)
Hellman said about the same scene that she "didn't
want to talk anymore and so we stood in silence until Kazan said,
'It's O.K. for you to do what you want, I guess. You've probably
spent whatever you've earned." (source
30. p. 67)
Thus Lillian Hellman claims that to Kazan it was just a matter of money. She says that he - and many other friendly witnesses, cooperated so that they could save their careers:
"The attempt to save jobs, or status, or an Academy Award, led men like Larry Parks and Elia Kazan...to name the guiltless in order to sweeten their own guiltlessness into what the Committee would call innocence." (source 30. p. 30)
Hellman remained a stout critique of the "informers." Kazan - like Maltz - was not a big fan of Hellman:
"I believe now that she wanted me to become the "villain" I became. Life was easier for Lillian to understand when she had someone to hate...Later I heard her reaction to me, the old familiar one: He sold out! He did it for the money!" (p. 462)
About her choice not to cooperate with HUAC, and the letter
she wrote to the committee, Kazan wrote: "Lillian spent
her last fifteen years canonizing herself." (source
31. p. 452)
However, in the end when all else is said, what Lillian Hellman did was what most people will agree was the right thing to do, and probably also what most of us would like to believe we would do too:
"[Murray] Kempton thinks of Hellman as 'inclined to be a hanging judge of the motives of persons whose opinions differ from their own.' Nevertheless, he honors her for her moment. 'It is her summit. We can ask from her nothing more; I do not suppose that in the only crucial sense we really need to. The most important thing is never to forget that here is someone who knew how to act when there was nothing harder on earth than knowing how to act." (source 33., p. 406)
Finally it would be appropriate to mention that while it might
seem as if most people cooperated with HUAC that was not the case.
After reading all this material on "informers" it might
surprise some to learn that "two out of three who testified
were unfriendly or uncooperative." (source
THE PUBLIC AND THE NEWS MEDIA ON THE "RED MENACE"
As mentioned in the beginning of this paper, the Truman administration really made the American public afraid of Communists.
"Perhaps no single weapon in the federal arsenal was as powerful in the government's construction of anti-Communist consensus as the criminal justice system. By putting Communists on trial, the Truman administration shaped the American public's view of domestic communism. It transformed party members from political dissidents into criminals - with all the implications that such associations inspired in a nation of law-abiding citizens." (source 2.)
Throughout my reading up on this subject, there have been numerous
examples of this "Red Menace" perception that pervaded
the American community in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Letters
from people, FBI reports containing people's "testimonies"
about other people's probable political opinions, and in movies.
A Harry W. Weinstein wrote to Newsweek in November, 1947 to inquire:
"...if the man writing articles for Newsweek under the name of John Lardner is the same Ring Lardner Jr. who was called before the Congressional Un-American Activities Committee and who refused to answer the 'yes' or 'no' to the question if he ever was or is a member of the Communist party. If he is the same man, don't you think Newsweek should check into his activities and either give him a clean bill of health or do the next best thing?"(p 10)
The response was that "Ring Lardner Jr. [had] no connection with Newsweek," and that this was John Lardner, one of Ring's brothers. (ibid. p. 10) Some months earlier another man had written to the same magazine, but with a slightly different message. He was very upset about the House committee's had subpoenaed the producers that the producers of the movies Song of Russia, Mission to Moscow, and The Best Years of Our Lives "for 'Communist' ideas presented therein". The reader went on to say:
"If the committee is successful in halting production of such films as this...the action may well lead to unchecked and arbitrary government censorship of the film industry. Shades of Gestapo! Indeed, if I receive a subpoena to appear before this all-powerful committee to account for my own 'un-American' ideas presented here, I shall not be at all surprised, in view of what has gone before. Thomas B. Peck, Jr. , Princeton University"(Newsweek, September 15, 1947 p. 8)
As for the FBI files, here are some extracts from Gordon Kahn's file. The file contained information from neighbors, coworkers, social acquaintances and the personnel files of his employers. Some of the information given by people is mean, some odd and some just plain stupid.:
"Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Kahn belong to the Russian-American Club...Kahn personally remarked that he had no objection to living next door to Negroes, Japanese or any others." - "I am convinced he is definitely a Communist through I have no proof of card member-ship."(source 7.)
Some of the information was gathered by special agents, who went out and talked to people about the Kahns, but some people also took the time to write to Herbert Hoover himself:
"Dear Mr. Hoover, Kahn is currently applying to bring three of his relatives to the United States from Europe. I don't know whether or not they are Communists, but I feel they'd be of the same type and there is no legitimate reason to allow any more Communists into this country. I agree with you the 'now is the time for every American to stand up and be counted...' and I thought you should know the score.(source 7.)
Finally, it would be proper to mention some of the anti-Communist films that were made in this period. According to Brian Neve in Film and Politics in America some 42 anti-Communist films were made in the years 1951-53(p. 187).
"The equation of domestic communism with gangsterims is a feature of a number of the films that picture an 'enemy within', while most of them are explicitly or implicitly anti-intellectual...Related to this cycle were early 1950s science fiction films which...taught the viewer 'to be wary of inept scientists and to have faith in the FBI and the military'."(p. 188)
One of these films was the movie I Was A Communist For The
FBI which was semi-based on a real-life undercover agent for
the FBI. It was produced by Warner Brothers and came out in 1951.
The movie was about a man who "(it is suggested) single-handedly
brought the Communist Party to its knees...[the movie] was nominated
for an Academy Award as the best documentary of the year."
Obviously it was not only the far right-wing people who participated in the "Red scare." In 1956 the New York Times ran an editorial:
"We would not knowingly employ a Communist party member in the news or editorial departments...because we would not trust his ability to report the news objectively or to comment on it honestly" (source 4.)
In August, 1947 Newsweek ran a long article on the new
hearings of HUAC and stated that unlike the Dies Committee HUAC
would not be ridiculed because "this time it counted on
sympathetic press and a public wiser in the ways of Kremlin."
(Newsweek, August 25, 1947, p. 22) One must say that the
House committee certainly had it right this time -
HOW THE BLACKLISTING AND THE WITNESSES ARE PERCEIVED TODAY
"Years from now' he said in the voice of a public speaker 'when credit is given the struggle for peace in this country, they won't forget the courageous stand which individual statements of principle - no matter how uncoordinated like Charley Eitel's here - made on the consciousness of the American people, who let us not forget are under their collective hysteria a deeply peace-loving and progressive nation."
Charlie Eitel, The Deer Park p. 179
Yes, how does Hollywood treat its friendly and unfriendly witnesses today, approximately 40 years after the hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities took place? Here are some clippings and sites that give us some hints, the first is from the magazine Variety, September 13, 1996:
"Sony finally announced this year that all future prints of Columbia's Lawrence of Arabia will bear blacklisted screenwriter Michael Wilson's name as well as Robert Bolt's." (source 10.)
In 1995 no less than three plays about the "Red menace" were staged in L.A. As for some new material that would mention Elia Kazan:
"According to one board member, the American Film Institute continues to deny Elia Kazan a Life Achievement Award because the Oscar-winning director of On the Waterfront cooperated with the House Committee on Un-American Activities."(source 10.)
Thus, people have not forgotten what Kazan did in 1952 - some
45 years ago! According to Dan Cox from Variety, Elia Kazan is
still "treated as a pariah by many in Hollywood. The younger
Kazan was reluctant to be interviewed for this article, but admits
that many people in the industry behave strangely to him because
of his father's actions." (source
Another response to Charlie Eitel's speech about how people will see differently when the hearings are but history the author of Naming Names writes:
"[The blacklistees] turned the tables. Events conspired to make having been a blacklistee something of a status symbol. They shed their stigma, transformed it into a badge of honor...[The friendly witnesses] named names because they thought nobody would remember, but it turned out to be the one thing nobody can forget."(source 33., p. 329)
The tables have indeed been turned! In 1989 a MGM building
was given a new name. Its former name had been Robert Taylor "the
highest profile star to name names for the committee's cameras."
1.Buhle, Buhle, and Georgakas, ed., Encyclopedia of the American Left. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992)
2. Ellen Schrecker. The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History With Documents. Boston: St. Martin's Press, 1994
3."Congressional Committees and Unfriendly Witnesses" by Ellen Schrecker
4.Howard Zinn. A People's History of the United States - covering the period 1945-1960.New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1980
5. See link 4.
7. Excerpts from Gordon Kahn's FBI files
8. "I Was A Communist For The FBI"
9. Letters To Barbara: Gordon Kahn writes to his wife
10. Movienet - Film Finders Buzz
11. SF Bay Guardian, October 10, 1996
12. Transcript of Walt Disney's testimony, 24 Oct 1947
(Unfortunately it seems that this site no longer exists, this link is another site which talks about Walter Disney and his view on Communism/Communists)
13. Variety, September 13, 1996
14. New York Times, July 29, 1951 (Truman quote)
15. New York Times, November 3, 1996 (Why Lillian Hellman Remains Fascinating)
16. Newsweek, September 15, 1947
17.Newsweek, November 3, 1947
18.Newsweek, April 2, 1951
19.Newsweek, May 7, 1951
20.Newsweek, April 21, 1952
21.Newsweek, June 4, 1951
22.Newsweek, December 8, 1947
23.Newsweek, November 10, 1947
24.Newsweek, November 24, 1947
Books - Fiction
25. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Last Tycoon. London: Penguin Books, 1941
26. Mailer, Norman. The Deer Park. London: Flamingo, 1957
27. Schulberg, Budd. What Makes Sammy Run?. New York: Vintage, 1941
Books - Non-Fiction
28. Balio, Tino, ed., The American Film Industry. The University of Wisconsin Press, 1976, 1985
29. Caute, David. The Great Fear. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978
30. Hellman, Lillian. Scoundrel Time. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1976
31. Kazan, Elia. A Life. London: Andre Deutsch, 1988
32. Miller, Arthur. Timebends - A Life. London: Methuen, 1987
33. Navasky, Victor S. Naming Names. New York: The Viking Press, 1980
34. Neve, Brian. Film and Politics in America - A Social Tradition. London and New York:
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