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Customer Review

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Needed Light, June 23, 2001
This review is from: Class Struggle in Hollywood, 1930-1950 : Moguls, Mobsters, (Paperback)
Reviewer Everitt's remarks capture the book's essential value. Several points however merit emphasis. First, Horne's book brings out the symbiotic relation between the studios' desire for non-independent company unions, on one hand, and organized crime's desire for corrupt unions, on the other. By taking in one another's washing during the tumultuous events of '45 - '47, these two representatives of private capital maintained an alliance that defeated efforts by the Conference of Studio Unions to emerge as an independent union of movie-making employees. Horne the historian is detailed about this sinister and under-reported alliance. Second, by using abundant primary sources, the author debunks the nurtured image of CSU as a communist-led movement, a scare tactic still in its infancy following the anti-fascist WWII and, as the book shows, a tactic used to increasing effect by the corporate-owned press of the day. Belated communist support for CSU strikers was willfully twisted by these flacks into communist domination. Third, the inability of the CSU to cross racial and gender lines of the day is emphasized. This had the unfortunate effect of reducing potential for attracting outside allies, especially among aggrieved African-Americans and women's groups, though it's hardly surprising that prejudices within the union would reflect those of the larger society from which it sprang. It's fascinating to follow this dark underside of the Hollywood dream factory, though I did find time shifts in the narrative confusing at times. Nonetheless, Horne has focused his word-camera on a worthy and neglected real life drama.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 1, 2013 12:41:52 PM PDT
I would like to thank this reviewer, Mr. Doepke, for pointing out the mobster-corporate connection that Horne covers. We need more work that establishes the links between organized crime and organized corpocracy. Thanks are also due him for pointing out the sociological neutrality of the CSU regarding race and gender, contributing to its failure to attract blacks (and other racial and ethnic minorities) and women (hardly a minority) to an alliance CSU could have developed. I'm no Hollywood buff, but Mr. Horne makes its relevance society-wide.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2014 12:08:19 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 6, 2014 12:08:43 PM PDT
Publicus says:
This book should be read in conjunction with "Red Star over Hollywood," by Ron Radosh. Radosh, who's studied & conferred with other experts on the subject, has a different take on the Communist influence in Hollywood.

Further, the unions were so corrupt that even the Chicago mobs saw them as ripe for the plucking. Capone gang mobster Frank "the enforcer" Nitti was successful in taking over the Hollywood Stage Hands Union in California so he could shakedown the film industry for money. The mob's protection racket was illegal, but threatening demonstrations & strikes were perfectly legal.

Plus, many members of the Frankfurt School set up in and around Hollywood.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2014 1:51:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 6, 2014 1:52:20 PM PDT
Publicus says:
Testimony of Ronald Reagan before HUAC, October 23, 1947

STRIPLING: Mr. Reagan, what is your feeling about what steps should be taken to rid the motion picture industry of any communist influences?

REAGAN: Well, sir, 99 percent of us are pretty well aware of what is going on, and I think, within the bounds of our democratic rights and never once stepping over the rights given us by democracy, we have done a pretty good job in our business of keeping those people's activities curtailed. After all, we must recognize them at present as a political party. On that basis we have exposed their lies when we came across them, we have opposed their propaganda, and I can certainly testify that in the case of the Screen Actors Guild we have been eminently successful in preventing them from, with their usual tactics, trying to run a majority of an organization with a well organized minority.

In opposing those people, the best thing to do is make democracy work. In the Screen Actors Guild we make it work by insuring everyone a vote and by keeping everyone informed. I believe that, as Thomas Jefferson put it, if all the American people know all of the facts they will never make a mistake. Whether the party should be outlawed, that is a matter for the government to decide. As a citizen, I would hesitate to see any political party outlawed on the basis of its political ideology. However, if it is proven that an organization is an agent of foreign power, or in any way not a legitimate political party -- and I think the government is capable of proving that -- then that is another matter. I happen to be very proud of the industry in which I work; I happen to be very proud of the way in which we conducted the fight. I do not believe the communists have ever at any time been able to use the motion picture screen as a sounding board for their philosophy or ideology.

CHAIRMAN: There is one thing that you said that interested me very much. That was the quotation from Jefferson. That is why this committee was created by the House of Representatives: to acquaint the American people with the facts. Once the American people are acquainted with the facts there is no question but what the American people will do the kind of job that they want done: that is, to make America just as pure as we can possibly make it. We want to thank you very much for coming here today.

REAGAN: Sir, I detest, I abhor their philosophy, but I detest more than that their tactics, which are those of the fifth column, and are dishonest, but at the same time I never as a citizen want to see our country become urged, by either fear or resentment of this group, that we ever compromise with any of our democratic principles through that fear or resentment. I still think that democracy can do it.
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