Anthology Film Archives


March 6 – March 15

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 Walter Bernstein, 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 were responsible for scripts (written, in many cases, by unapologetic Communists) that explored, both subtly and blatantly, the nuances of race, class, and gender.

The third, and final, part of the series focuses on post-blacklist ‘comeback films’ written by some of Hollywood’s most notable screenwriters. Many of the films reflect the impact of the social and political upheavals of the 1960s, particularly the Civil Rights and antiwar movements, on the so-called ‘New Hollywood.’ Racism is confronted in Arthur Penn’s THE CHASE (a Lillian Hellman adaptation of a Horton Foote play), while the plight of Native Americans is tackled in Abraham Polonsky’s spectacular return to form, TELL THEM WILLIE BOY IS HERE. The seasoned writers tackled disparate genres with aplomb. M*A*S*H, Robert Altman’s antiwar comedy, is enlivened by Ring Lardner, Jr.’s irreverent screenplay. The epic and the western are represented by Ben Barzman’s script for Anthony Mann’s severely underrated THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE and Dalton Trumbo’s highly idiosyncratic treatment of timeworn motifs in Robert Aldrich’s THE LAST SUNSET.

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

Screenwriter Walter Bernstein (whose credits include PARIS BLUES and THE FRONT) will be here in person for the screenings of FAIL-SAFE and SEMI-TOUGH on Saturday, March 7!

Special thanks to co-curators Richard Porton and Patrick McGilligan, as well as to Walter Bernstein, Rebecca Prime, Chris Chouinard (Park Circus), Paul Ginsburg (Universal), Michael Horne & Christopher Lane (Sony), Jules McLean, Joe Reid (20th Century Fox), Richard Suchenski (Center for Moving Image Arts, Bard College), Quentin Tarantino, and Todd Wiener & Steven Hill (UCLA).

< Back to Series