Film historians Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle have assembled a collection of interviews with film writers, directors, and actors whose careers were interrupted by the blacklist imposed in the wake of congressional probes into alleged Communist influence over the motion-picture industry. The subjects, including two of the "Hollywood Ten," Alvah Bessie and Ring Lardner Jr., systematically debunk the notion that there was an extensive conspiracy to load mainstream movies with "Red propaganda." "We were in the film business not to change the world but to make films," recalls writer-director Abraham Polonsky. "To change the world we were involved in other kinds of things, like the labor struggle in Hollywood." Screenwriter Paul Jarrico concurs: "The Communist Party was not a revolutionary organization, not in the period when I was in it. It was a reformist organization, and for most of the years I was in it, it was the tail to the liberal-Democrat kite." (Recent historical research, it must be noted, indicates that Kremlin officials did
in fact wield substantial influence over the CPUSA platform. Evidence for the attempted subversion of America's movies, however, remains elusive.)
Some of those shut out of the industry weren't even actual Communists, but ran into them as part of broader leftist activities. Character actor Lionel Stander, for example, became an actor in order to support his extravagant lifestyle; when the film jobs disappeared, he waited out the studios on the stock market. "It seems that if my face or figure got on the screen, so delicate was the balance of the American socioeconomic and political scene at the time that I would throw the thing right off the tightrope," he recalls drolly. "But I could go to Wall Street and invest the savings of widows and orphans with impunity." At turns mirthful and tragic, Tender Comrades presents an unfiltered perspective on the cold war that should be studied by anyone interested in the effects of a government persecuting its own people. --Ron Hogan
From Library Journal
The 50th anniversary of the 1947 House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings, which resulted in the infamous Hollywood blacklist, is the occasion for this landmark collection of interviews with more than 30 of the blacklisted filmmakers. While HUAC's activities are well known and documented, only recently have many victims of the blacklist stepped forward, most notably Walter Bernstein with his Inside Out: A Memoir of the Blacklist (LJ 9/15/96). The sheer bulk of this book gives a sense of the enormous damage to the lives and careers of those blacklisted and the impact on filmmaking caused by losing this magnitude of talent. The interviews, expertly conducted by McGilligan (biographer of Fritz Lang and George Cukor) and Buhle (historian of the political Left), vividly reveal those who for so long have lurked in the shadows, silenced by their adversaries or, more often, allowed to perform, write, and direct under an alias. Formerly unacknowledged film credits are listed for each filmmaker. Highly recommended for academic libraries.?Richard W. Grefrath, Univ. of Nevada Lib., Reno
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.