Among the starting fourth dimension too virtually visible victims of the post–World War II moving ridge of anticommunist paranoia, the Hollywood Ten were a grouping of leftist filmmakers—producer Adrian Scott, directors Edward Dmytryk too Herbert Biberman, too screenwriters Alvah Bessie, Lester Cole, Ring Lardner, Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, too Dalton Trumbo—who were blacklisted past times the cinema manufacture too ultimately sentenced to a yr inwards federal prison theater for contempt of Congress afterwards refusing to cooperate amongst the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) inwards 1947.
For Hollywood conservatives, the postwar surge of social employment films, the presence of known Communists inwards the leadership of the Screen Writers Guild, too a serial of violent strikes inwards 1945 too 1946 past times the leftist Conference of Studio Unions, were all evidence of a vast Communist conspiracy to command the cinema manufacture too undermine U.S. democratic values.
Their greatest appal was directed at the pro-Soviet films produced during the war—Song of Russia, Mission to Moscow, The North Star—but they also detected Marxist propaganda inwards a broad variety of progressive films including Crossfire, The Farmer’s Daughter, too The Best Years of Our Lives.
In 1944, Hollywood reactionaries had formed the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (MPA); early on inwards 1947, the MPA issued an opened upward invitation to the HUAC to investigate Communist influence inwards the cinema industry.
The HUAC eagerly accepted. Hollywood, amongst its twin threats of Jewish domination too Communist infiltration, had long been an irresistible target for conspiracy theorists, too the cinema manufacture had weathered innumerable attacks past times both federal too state investigating committees since the 1930s. In the postwar period, however, the political landscape had considerably altered equally the emerging mutual depression temperature state of war abroad profoundly raised the stakes inwards the anticommunist displace at home.
In the jump too summertime of 1947, FBI agents swarmed over the cinema colony spell HUAC chairman J. Parnell Thomas himself held a serial of closed-door interviews at the Biltmore Hotel amongst “friendly” witnesses. In September, the HUAC issued subpoenas to forty-three members of the cinema community, including xix who would larn known equally the “unfriendlies” for their song opposition to the HUAC.
The “unfriendlies” were a various grouping inwards damage of age, ethnicity, cast background, status, too sense inside the cinema industry, too fifty-fifty political commitment. Although all were linked amongst the Communist Party at some signal inwards their lives, their private commitments to the political party employment or to political activism diverged wildly.
Nonetheless, at that topographic point was mutual ground: all were tearing (even “premature”) antifascists, too all were committed to integrating their politics into their creative work. Rejecting the studio moguls’ argument that movies were but entertainment, they believed that movies could too should reverberate the multifariousness of the torso politic too stand upward for U.S. values of democracy, social justice, too tolerance.
Rallying roughly the slogan “freedom of the screen,” the Hollywood radicals too their supporters (which initially included an impressive coalition of leading liberals too the studio heads) clearly understood that the HUAC’s investigation was intended non but to smear private cinema radicals but to discredit the really values that underlay their cultural politics. For them, the HUAC investigation was the opening salvo inwards a reactionary conspiracy to destroy civil liberties, indeed, a harbinger of fascism inwards the United States.
To a for certain extent, both sides were right. Hollywood radicals did try, inside the confines of a profoundly conservative studio system, to create antifascist, antiracist, internationalist, progressive films. And the HUAC members, recognizing the ability of cinema to shape populace consciousness too to reverberate the state to the world, did desire to ensure that Hollywood films reflected their ain conservative version of Americanism.
At the hearings inwards Washington inwards piece of cake October, exclusively 11 of the xix unfriendlies were called to testify. One, Bertolt Brecht, fled for Europe equally shortly equally the hearings had ended. The remaining 10 were charged amongst contempt of Congress too fired from their positions at the studios. Blacklisted, they left Hollywood for New York, Europe, too fifty-fifty United Mexican States inwards search of work, spell their lawyers unsuccessfully appealed the contempt convictions.
The Hollywood Ten entered federal prison theater inwards 1950; when released the next year, the HUAC had returned to Hollywood amongst a vengeance, too hundreds of radicals joined the Ten on the blacklist spell dozens to a greater extent than named names to salve themselves too their careers. One of those was managing director Edward Dmytryk, the exclusively fellow member of the Ten to recant too provide to operate at the studios.
The balance of the Ten continued to operate haphazardly, writing behind fronts for both cinema too television. In the piece of cake 1950s, the starting fourth dimension chinks appeared inwards the blacklist when Dalton Trumbo, writing nether the pseudonym “Robert Rich,” won the screenwriting Oscar for The Brave One; inwards 1960, the blacklist was officially broken when Otto Preminger hired Trumbo to accommodate Exodus.
Ultimately, however, the blacklist affected non exclusively people but ideas. The climate of fright created past times the anticommunist displace stifled dissent too encouraged political too cultural conformity inwards ways that powerfully shaped the cinema manufacture too the larger civilization of postwar America.