CINEASTE MAGAZINE PRESENTS: SCREENWRITERS AND THE BLACKLIST: BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER
August 22 – September 2
The damage wrought by the Hollywood blacklist, especially the hardships endured by its victims, has been well documented. This series showcases the artistic contributions of prominent blacklisted screenwriters, including well-known radicals such as Hugo Butler, Dalton Trumbo, Ben Barzman, Abraham Polonsky, and Ring Lardner, Jr. Recent scholarship by Thom Andersen, Pat McGilligan, Larry Ceplair, and Rebecca Prime emphasizes how films by blacklisted personnel yielded scripts (written, in many cases, by unapologetic Communists or left-wing activists closely aligned with the party) that explored, both subtly and blatantly, the nuances of race, class, and gender, as well as issues of justice and equity.
In the first installment of a three-part series, we’ll be focusing on films made before the imposition of the blacklist in 1947 or before the screenwriters in question were prevented from working under their actual names. Film noir, for example, a genre that proved fertile territory for Hollywood radicals, is represented by Abraham Polonsky’s FORCE OF EVIL, while the shifting political landscape during World War II is discernible in George Stevens’s WOMAN OF THE YEAR (co-written by Ring Lardner, Jr.) and Delmer Daves’s PRIDE OF THE MARINES (written by Albert Maltz). This first part of the series also encompasses rarely-screened films such as Bernard Vorhaus’s THREE FACES WEST (Samuel Ornitz) and John Farrow’s FIVE CAME BACK (Dalton Trumbo), among others, many of them discussed in Thom Andersen and Noël Burch’s brilliant essay film, RED HOLLYWOOD, which will be enjoying a release this summer at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
The second part of the series, coming this fall, will highlight films produced during the blacklist, by writers either working in exile in the UK, France, Mexico, and elsewhere, or toiling in the shadows of credited ‘fronts,’ while the third and final installment will feature ‘comeback’ films made in the post-blacklist era.
Co-presented by Cineaste Magazine, which has been a major source for blacklist-related scholarship throughout its 40-plus-year history, SCREENWRITERS AND THE BLACKLIST is also presented in collaboration with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which will be hosting a week-long run of Thom Andersen and Noël Burch’s RED HOLLYWOOD, as well as a parallel series of films by blacklisted directors and writers, curated by Andersen. For more info on both Film Society programs, which will take place from August 15-21, visit www.filmlinc.com.
Special thanks to series co-curator Richard Porton, as well as to Patrick McGilligan, Larry Ceplair, Daniel Bish (George Eastman House), Paul Ginsburg (Universal), Mark Johnson (Harvard Film Archive), Mark McElhatten (Sikelia), Kristie Nakamura (WB), Judy Nicaud (Paramount), Lynanne Schweighofer (Library of Congress), Todd Wiener & Steven Hill (UCLA Film & Television Archive).