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Red Star Over Hollywood by Ronald Radosh and Allis Radosh

- Abstract

Even the most casual observer of American film culture is aware of the degree to which Hollywood remains in deep thrall to the Left. Over the last 30 years, aside from its well-publicized extracurricular involvement in assorted left-wing causes and political campaigns, the industry has served up an almost uninterrupted menu of anti-business, “environmentalist,” and “anti-imperialist” fare. To add insult to injury, it also still regularly casts itself as the aggrieved party—as, in short, an innocent, put-upon victim of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. After all, Hollywood types like to remind us, it happened before, didn’t it? The “it” in question is of course the events of the 1940’s and 1950’s known collectively as “the blacklist.” This episode—when persons of known or suspected Communist affiliation were denied the ability to work in Hollywood, or at least to work under their own names—has dominated the industry’s image of itself ever since. And by means of movies about the suffering of blacklisted writers, like The Front (1976), Guilty by Suspicion (1991), and The Majestic (2001), Hollywood has done everything it can to keep its storied martyrdom alive in the minds of the American public.

In Red Star Over Hollywood, Ronald Radosh and Allis Radosh have now returned to the scene of the crime, examining with care and discrimination the events of the blacklist era and those leading up to it. Professional historians with a longstanding interest in the cold war, the Radoshes have ranged far and wide in their research. In addition to interviewing many of the surviving participants, they trawled through the records of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), the University of Southern California film collections, and the theater and film collection at the University of Wisconsin Historical Society. Nor have they neglected the mountain of scholarship on the era that has been accumulating for many years now. The story they tell is far more complex, and compelling, than one might have anticipated.

About the Author

Mark Falcoff is resident scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.