CINEASTE MAGAZINE PRESENTS: SCREENWRITERS AND THE BLACKLIST: BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER
December 4 – December 14
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, and John Howard Lawson. 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) that explored, both subtly and blatantly, the nuances of race, class, and gender.
While the first part of this series focused 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 – the second installment highlights films made during the height of the Hollywood Red Scare. Several seminal films – including John Berry’s HE RAN ALL THE WAY (co-written by Dalton Trumbo and Hugo Butler under the aegis of their ‘front,’ Guy Endore) – managed to get through the cracks of an increasingly repressive entertainment industry and offer trenchant critiques of American society. Nevertheless, exiled blacklistees seeking greater artistic autonomy abroad were responsible for many of the most important titles here. This important current is exemplified by movies that tackle apartheid-era South Africa (Korda’s CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY, co-written by an uncredited John Howard Lawson) and capital punishment (Joseph Losey’s TIME WITHOUT PITY, written by Ben Barzman). The struggle to create an independent film industry in the U.S., unfettered by political or commercial restraints, is represented by Herbert Biberman’s remarkable SALT OF THE EARTH (written by Michael Wilson).
The third and final part of the series, coming in early 2015, will present a selection of “comeback” films – works produced in the post-blacklist era, by screenwriters who were finally able to work freely and publicly once again.
SCREENWRITERS AND THE BLACKLIST is co-presented by Cineaste Magazine, which has been a major source for blacklist-related scholarship throughout its 40-plus-year history. For more info, visit www.cineaste.com.
Special thanks to series co-curators Richard Porton, Rebecca Prime, and Patrick McGilligan, as well as to Fleur Buckley (BFI), Emilie Cauquy & Monique Faulhaber (Cinémathèque Française), Chris Chouinard (Park Circus), Brian Graney (Black Film Center/Archive), Michael Horne & Christopher Lane (Sony), Mark Johnson (Harvard Film Archive), Marie-Pierre Lessard (Cinémathèque Québécoise), Julian Schlossberg (Westchester Films), and Todd Wiener & Steven Hill (UCLA).