Hide in Plain Sight: The Hollywood Blacklistees in Film and Television, 1950-2002

Overview

Hide in Plain Sight offers a powerful examination of the effects of Hollywood's blacklist era, taking up the question of how blacklistees fared after they were driven out of the mainstream. A good number entered careers in television, with many finding work in children's and family programs, writing for shows like Rocky and Bullwinkle, Lassie, and Flipper. Many also wrote adult sitcoms such as Hogan's Heroes,The Donna Reed Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, M*A*S*H, Maude, and All in the Family. Ultimately, many ...

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Overview

Hide in Plain Sight offers a powerful examination of the effects of Hollywood's blacklist era, taking up the question of how blacklistees fared after they were driven out of the mainstream. A good number entered careers in television, with many finding work in children's and family programs, writing for shows like Rocky and Bullwinkle, Lassie, and Flipper. Many also wrote adult sitcoms such as Hogan's Heroes,The Donna Reed Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, M*A*S*H, Maude, and All in the Family. Ultimately, many returned to Hollywood in the sixties and seventies to work creatively on films that contained a dose of radical politics and influenced the creative outburst of that decade. The list of impressive films from the survivors of HUAC includes Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, and Midnight Cowboy. Hide in Plain Sight completes Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner's trilogy, which includes Tender Comrades (1998) and Radical Hollywood (2002). Together these books provide a thorough and disturbing portrait of the McCarthy era's impact on an important aspect of American culture and society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...an illuminating and timely reminder of a dark chapter in Hollywood history."—Stephen Rees, Library Journal

"...the authors shed important new light on this infamous period in our country's cultural heritage."—Carol Haggas, Booklist

"This encyclopedic, riveting study of the Hollywood blacklist's impact follows the careers of targeted individuals to explore the blacklist's effects..."—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
This encyclopedic, riveting study of the Hollywood blacklist's impact follows the careers of targeted individuals to explore the blacklist's effects on the arts in America and Europe in the last half-century. As Buhle and Wagner (coauthors of Radical Hollywood) demonstrate, expulsion from the mainstream took these artists and their crafts in new directions. Directors like Joseph Losey and screenwriters like Norma and Ben Barzman fled to Europe to work, where aesthetics like neorealism and the subversion of traditional genres (e.g., the western into the "spaghetti western") opened new modes of expression. Many blacklisted artists who didn't emigrate started working in New York's television industry, which was eager for quick, low-priced talent. Thus, as Hollywood restricted itself to "safe" topics, TV started exploring themes of "the outsider" (Maverick, The Fugitive), multiculturalism (The Dick Van Dyke Show) and social justice (The Defenders). By the late 1970s, "the subtle articulation of politics as ethical sentiment" was now "the very oxygen of liberal television." Besides sitcoms and kids' shows, leftists went into B movies, particularly science fiction and horror genres, where themes of human mutation, nuclear holocaust and alien invasion served as (sometimes clunky) vehicles for political messages. The authors conclude with in-depth looks at several blacklistees, including Carl Foreman, Jules Dassin, Dalton Trumbo and Lillian Hellman. Still, is it all just history, as mainstream Hollywood recites its mea culpas, and the key players all die off? No, Buhle and Wagner conclude; Hollywood's potential as a "democratic art form returning the embrace of its vast audience" remains. (Aug. 27) Forecast: This book might do well among left-leaning movie buffs if booksellers display it with Norman Barzman's excellent The Red and the Blacklist (Thunder's Mouth), which was published earlier this year. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Throughout the 1950s, Hollywood attempted to silence and exclude "radical" authors, actors, and directors. This book-the closing volume in the authors' trilogy on the blacklist (after Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist and Radical Hollywood)-clearly shows that the effort ultimately failed. Directors like Joseph Losey and Jules Dassin found a more congenial atmosphere and produced their best work abroad, scriptwriters continued to submit scripts under false names and "fronts," and many writers and actors "hiding in plain sight" found work in the new medium of television. Most blacklistees outlasted their enemies, enjoying a measure of revenge by writing and directing later hits like Norma Rae and Midnight Cowboy. Yet the authors point out that for Hollywood, the Cold War never really ended-consider the recent controversy over a lifetime achievement Oscar given to "friendly witness" and director Elia Kazan. Like Radical Hollywood, this book could use more first-person testimony, and the procession of names and film titles sometimes overwhelms the reader. On the whole, however, this is an illuminating and timely reminder of a dark chapter in Hollywood history. Recommended for public and academic film collections.-Stephen Rees, Levittown Regional Lib., PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403966841
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Buhle founded the Oral History of the American Left archive at NYU. Dave Wagner has co-authored a number of books with Paul Buhle, including the recent Radical Hollywood.

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Table of Contents

The Strangest Saga in Show Biz: from the Theatrical Avante-Garde to the Unwashed (Living Room) Masses

• From Grand Theater to Grit and Giggles Theater: The Art of the Television Series

• Deep in the Void

• The Neorealist Aesthetic

• Working Under Cover (and Underpaid)

• The Climb Back

• The Hollywood Art Film and the Pleasures of Late Vindication

• Joseph Losey: The Lucid Outsider

• Really the End?

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