Anthology Film Archives


May 15 – May 24

From 1945, when his script for a Monogram gangster flick was nominated for an Academy Award, until the early 1960s, when he wrote a series of overbaked Europudding epics, Philip Yordan was one of the most prominent screenwriters in Hollywood. Capable of turning out multiple scripts a year, Yordan worked in every genre from science fiction to melodrama, and with everyone from Anthony Mann to Joseph Mankiewicz. He was also a total fraud.

Or maybe not. Depending on who was telling the tale, Yordan either served as a front for blacklisted writers like Ben Maddow and Bernard Gordon, ran a script factory where assistants pieced together screenplays for their boss, or managed a combination of the two, frequently taking over final drafts to “put in his Yordan thing,” as producer Milton Sperling once put it.

Regardless of the truth – which decades of film scholarship have yet to fully unravel – there is definitely a “thing” that runs through the films signed by Yordan’s name. Seemingly primed by his beginnings in noir, Yordan consistently aligned himself with projects in which the settings were unremittingly bleak, the protagonists rarely reached redemption, and the air was soaked with betrayal, jealousy, and paranoia – not unlike Hollywood itself during the Blacklist era.

These qualities and more are on full display in the selection of films compiled for this series, which functions as something of a coda to the three-part Blacklisted Screenwriters series we presented over the past year. Where that series highlighted films penned by unambiguous victims of the blacklist, here we explore the murkier, more ethically tangled dimensions of the era, an environment in which many gifted artists made greater or lesser moral compromises, and in which figures like Yordan could thrive. Was Yordan a fake? A front? A talented hustler? Decide for yourself.

This series has been curated by Brian Belovarac, and 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

Special thanks to Brian Belovarac, and to Patrick McGilligan, Daniel Bish (George Eastman House), Cassie Blake (Academy Film Archive), Emilie Cauquy (Cinémathèque française), Chris Chouinard (Park Circus), Clémentine De Blieck (Royal Belgian Film Archive), Mark McElhatten, Kristie Nakamura (WB), Judy Nicaud (Paramount), Caitlin Robertson & Joe Reid (20th Century Fox), Joe Rubin (Vinegar Syndrome), Martin Scorsese, and Todd Wiener & Steven Hill (UCLA).

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