The idea of an era in which Hollywood exerted a substantial influence in Republican politics seems almost science-fictional. Donald Critchlow’s new book, When Hollywood Was Right, offers an insightful examination of just such a strange proposition.
It’s not news that some of the most famous and notorious studio heads in Golden Age Hollywood were Republican; after all, Louis B. Mayer, Samuel Goldwyn, and the like are the villains of any of the countless histories of the blacklist under which your local bookshop’s shelves are groaning. This, Critchlow convincingly argues, is an oversimplified narrative that has not only muddled accounts of the blacklist but also obscured the larger significance of Hollywood to the American right. “By focusing the Hollywood Red Scare in the early Cold War years,” Critchlow writes, “the larger story of Republican mobilization in postwar California has been neglected.”
About the Author
Anthony Paletta writes the Spaces column for the Wall Street Journal.