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Excerpt: Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler

Excerpt: Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler

The following is a condensed excerpt from Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler, available now:

According to liberal legend, richly embroidered by the media, Hollywood was a wonderfully happy town until the year 1947, when something terrible, on the order of the San Francisco earthquake, took place.  Ten members of the colony—men bursting with innocence and idealism—were suddenly hauled before the wicked House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), where they were pilloried by publicity-hungry, bigoted and venal politicians who recklessly accused them of being disloyal Americans and members of the Communist party.  With a dash of bravado and belligerence, they refused to respond to any questions about their political beliefs, insisting they were upholding the First Amendment rights of every American.

With a wave of “McCarthyite” hysteria allegedly sweeping the nation (in point of fact, Joe McCarthy had been in the Senate for less than a year and had yet to surface prominently in the national media), they were indicted and eventually sent to prison for contempt of Congress. The Ten were also “blacklisted,” that is, they were barred by the producers from working in the motion picture industry for refusing to respond to the Committee’s questions about their Communist party ties.

For the Dream Factory, the Dark Night of Fascism had descended, and Hollywood has never stopped heralding these men as victims of an “Inquisition.” The Hollywood Ten, as they became famously known to history, may no longer be household names, but the effort to resurrect them as victims of tyranny and apostles of liberty seems to be making something of a comeback. The Majestic, starring Jim Carey, which appears regularly on TV, salutes as a grand preserver of our constitutional liberties one of the most notorious members of the Ten, John Howard Lawson, a Stalinist to the marrow of his bones.  And this year Tinseltown is determined to make a full-scale hero out of another Hollywood Ten screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo. But it’s hard to understand why the Ten are viewed by anyone as evangelists of freedom.

Despite what might be termed the “consensus history,” each of the Ten was a hard-core Communist when those 1947 hearings were held. Though the country was in the midst of the Cold War, they spent their time, energy and money backing the causes of our enemy and undermining American policy to stem the Red tide threatening to engulf so much of the world.   Each was a party member and each an undeviating supporter of one of history’s most brutal totalitarians, Joseph Stalin.  Along with hundreds of their comrades in the movie industry, they were also determined to transform Hollywood into a colony of the Kremlin by seizing control of the guilds, the unions and even the movie industry’s film content—and they came close to succeeding.

Many were talented men who left their mark on politics and film and, contrary to accepted wisdom, often succeeded in putting their Communist convictions into their work. Lawson enforced the Stalinist line in Hollywood, so it was not surprising he also penned the 1930s filmBlockade, which favored the Soviet side during the Spanish Civil War.  He also wrote Action in the North Atlantic, a World War II film starring Humphrey Bogart in which the Russians are shown as the gallant rescuers of an American supply ship.  (Screenwriter historian, Bernard Dick, said it allowed Lawson to show “his support for the party.”)

Dalton Trumbo is remembered for many excellent films, including Roman Holiday (with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn), Spartacus (with Kirk Douglas) and Papillon (with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman). In 1960, he became the first of the Hollywood Ten to break the blacklist, which meant he was the first of those officially banned from Hollywood to receive screen credit for his work without ever having to name a fellow Red conspirator or say he had sided with Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler against his homeland.

Trumbo is less well known for a script that never made it to the screen, An American Story, whose plot outline goes like this:  The heroine, Catherine Bonham, favors North Korea’s brutal invasion of South Korea in June of 1950, insisting it was completely justifiable for this is “Korea’s fight for independence, just as we had to fight for our own independence in 1776.” In his papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Trumbo says he “dramatized” Kim Il-sung’s supposedly righteous war for a group of fellow Communist screenwriters, including several of his Hollywood Ten buddies.

Trumbo’s papers also suggest he thought  that Stalin needed a bit of a reputation upgrade, so he mentions an idea for a novel in which a wise, old Russian defends Stalin’s murderous reign as necessary for the supposedly grand achievements of Soviet socialism.

Those in Hollywood about to glorify Trumbo as a sort of saintly curmudgeon are not likely to mention these aspects of his Red ideology, nor does it seem likely they will point to his writings during the Soviet-Nazi pact period, when he was excusing—in accordance with Stalin’s wishes–Hitler’s invasion of Poland, the conquest of most of Western Europe and the saturation bombings of England.

“To the vanquished,” he airily dismissed the critics of Nazi brutality in The Remarkable Andrew, “all conquerors are inhuman.”  For good measure, he demonized Hitler’s major enemy, Great Britain, insisting that England was not a democracy because it had a “king,” and accused FDR of “treason” and “black treason” for giving military assistance to the British in their life-and-death struggle against the despot in Berlin. But when Hitler invaded Russia, betraying his trusting ally in Moscow, Trumbo, in an epiphanic moment, realized that the Fuehrer, not Winston Churchill, was the mortal enemy of mankind.

Stalin, Hitler, Kim Il-sung?  This is a trifecta of barbarous dictators, all supported by Trumbo, whose reputation as a champion of human liberty is rising even as I write.  Indeed, Hollywood plans to bring out this year a brand new movie, Trumbo, celebrating this noted Stalinist screenwriter as a bold defender of the Constitution, with Bryant Cranston, the star of the hit television series, Breaking Bad, taking the lead role. (It’s a neat trick, of course, to argue that any hard-core Communist is a champion of free speech and constitutional freedoms, but Hollywood, apparently, seems quite up to this very difficult task.)  Anti-Communists like John Wayne and patriotic labor leaders like Roy Brewer, according to the Trumbopublicity, will be taking it on the chin.

Screenwriters like Lawson and Trumbo became well known because they were part of the Hollywood Ten, but there were literally scores of other prominent writers in the Red camp who played a major role in building the party and swamping the screens with Red propaganda.  They included Lillian Hellman (The North Star, which celebrates Stalin’s collective farm program that produced a catastrophic famine in Russia),  Paul Jarrico and Richard Collins (Song of Russia, labeled a “Stalinist tract” by the aforementioned Bernard  Dick) and Howard Koch (Mission to Moscow, so pro-Soviet that even the leftwing Nation magazine called it a “whitewash”).

But did all the Hollywood Communist screenwriters deserve to be labeled “Stalinists,” as we anti-Communists have long insisted?  Larry Ceplair and Steven Englund, clearly admirers of the Left, honorably conclude in their Inquisition in Hollywood: “As defenders of the Soviet regime, the screen artist Reds became apologists for crimes of monstrous dimensions. . .”

The Hollywood Communist screenwriters, Ceplair and Englund concede, defended the Soviet Union “unflinchingly, uncritically, inflexibly—and therefore left them open to the justifiable suspicion that they not only approved of everything they were defending, but would themselves act in the same way if they were in the same position.”

All of which makes one wonder why mainstream Hollywood continues to honor these men and women as heroes when, in fact, they were part of a Soviet fifth column eager to inflict serious harm on America.


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