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Making the Movies Un-American

Posted On: Jul 3, 2018   |   Posted By: The New Republic

Making the Movies Un-American

“Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Members of the
House Committee on Un-American Activities raised this question with unrelenting zeal in a series of hearings over nine blustery and widely publicized days in
October 1947. Spotlights flooded the hall and there was a row of cameramen perched at one side of the room, prompting an unnamed reporter from one of the movie industry trade papers to pronounce the atmosphere “worse than a Hollywood premiere.” Ten “unfriendly” witnesses, who refused to cooperate and skirted the issue of party membership-the Hollywood Ten, as they came to be known-were convicted of contempt and forced to serve jail time. SHOW TRIAL: HOLLYWOOD, HUAC, AND THE BIRTH OF THE BLACKLIST by Thomas DohertyColumbia University Press, 424 pp., $29.95 The basic plotlines of this story, the naming of names and the attendant recriminations, are by now well known. They've been recounted repeatedly in partisan memoirs and competing historical accounts. But just as the...

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