History Book Reviews
Tender Comrades : A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist , by Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle

A book about the anti-communist witchhunts in Hollywood in the 1950s

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Tender Comrades : A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist , by Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle , photography by Alison Morley (PAPERBACK, 800 PAGES)

Tender Comrades : A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist , by Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle , (HARDCOVER, 432 PAGES)

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The Blacklist in Hollywood
Bibliography and Amazon.com book links

          On October 27, 1947, The House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) began its formal investigation into "Communist infiltration" in the motion picture industry.

          HUAC issued subpoenas. Each witness was required to answer the question, "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?" To decline to answer the question meant being convicted of Contempt of Congress.

          Edward Dmytryk, the director of the movie Tender Comrades, starring Ginger Rogers, was ordered to appear before Congress because, not only did the word "Comrades" appear in the movie title, but also because of an alleged Communist line in the movie diagogue. In the scene in question, several friends, who can't afford to buy cars, decide to pool their money and buy one car. One of the characters says, "Share and share alike!"

          In 1950, the "Hollywood 10", called by some "the Unfriendly Ten", (a movie producer, two directors, and seven screen writers) were sent to prison for Contempt of Congress because they refused to answer the question "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?" In 1950, actor John Wayne was the president of the extremely right-wing Motion Picture Alliance, which supported the witch-hunts.

          In 1951, over a hundred more subpoenas were issued, and many people in the movie industry were blacklisted.

          Director Cecil B. De Mille fought "left wing" movie directors. He attempted unsuccesfully to force all members of the Screen Directors' Guild to take an anti-communist oath.

Hollywood's "Other Blacklist"

For the past 150 years, labor union organizers have been perennially accused of being Communists. Therefore, when the House Committee on Un-American Activities was investigating the motion picture industry, and accusing movie directors, actors, and screen writers of being Commies, Hollywood's labor organizers got hit double strength. For more information, read the book:

Hollywood's Other Blacklist -- Union Struggles in the Studio System , by Mike Nielsen [ Michael Charles Nielsen ] , Indiana University Press (paperback, 178 pages)   [ click here for price ]

          On page 315 of the bestseller The Century , by Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster [click here] there's an interesting article written by actress Lee Grant. She describes how she was blacklisted in 1951. She had spoken at a memorial service for deceased actor J. Edward Bromberg, who had been required to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. In her address she remarked that "... I felt that he was hounded to death -- that his constant appearances in front of the committee had contributed to his death." That remark got her branded as a Communist, making it impossible for her to get work in the motion picture business for years. Grant adds, "... all you had to do was stand up at a union meeting and ask, 'What are you trying to do about blacklisting?' Then somebody from the union board would write your name down, and the next day you'd be on the list."

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