Inside Out: A Memoir of the Blacklist

Inside Out: A Memoir of the Blacklist

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by Walter Bernstein
     
 

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An immensely alive, witty and generous memoir of the blacklist nightmare by a writer who was himself blacklisted in the anti-Communist hysteria (simply to be accused of being Red was enough to destroy a career in film, radio or television) that hit America in the 1940s and culminated in the McCarthyism of the 1950s. Bernstein vividly records his journey through the… See more details below

Overview

An immensely alive, witty and generous memoir of the blacklist nightmare by a writer who was himself blacklisted in the anti-Communist hysteria (simply to be accused of being Red was enough to destroy a career in film, radio or television) that hit America in the 1940s and culminated in the McCarthyism of the 1950s. Bernstein vividly records his journey through the decades when mention in Red Channels meant professional death and the Hollywood community was torn between those who were willing and those who refused to obtain a reprieve by denouncing their leftist (even left-leaning) friends and colleagues to the anti-Red zealots. His book includes fascinating glimpses of leading Hollywood figures - the great and the terrible, the brave and the craven. It has been greeted with a burst of advance acclaim.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Those who saw the Soviet system as the hope of the future were embattled even before the Spanish Civil War became a focus for what was later called premature antifascism. For screenwriter Bernstein, the Communist Party of the 1930s opposed social and political injustice and had no Stalinist agenda. His wartime experience, including a period as a GI reporting about Tito for Yank, reinforced his ardor, and he obtained a Party card. Even earlier, however, Hoover's FBI was watching him, and when the postwar McCarthy witch-hunting began, he was a marked man. A blacklist based upon "terror, falsehood and profit" left him "isolated, marginalized, rejected and criminalized," able to write for film and TV only under pseudonyms. The furtive life working under fronts for a media world hostage to fear and hypocrisy has been exposed before, but Bernstein is the writer of the film about that contemptible era, The Front, and he vividly evokes the disgust only suggested on the screen. Yet the past, he confesses, has "a stubborn habit of conditioning the present." The memory of idealism, however subverted by Moscow, remains cherished by him despite the grossness of the gulags, the show trials, the crushed Prague Spring, the Red tanks in Budapest. There had been a cause, however vulnerable. Bitterness and nostalgia confront each other movingly in Bernstein's memoir, and the movie-addicted author's seemingly coincidental encounters, wartime and postwar, with the film musical You Were Never Lovelier have a symbolic resonance possibly even beyond his intent. Illustrations. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Bernstein, a screenwriter for countless television shows and feature films such as Fail Safe, Paris Blues, and The Front, tells his story as a survivor of the entertainment industry's blacklist of suspected Communists during the 1950s. Readers will come away with a palpable sense of what it was like for the writers, actors, and directors whose livelihoods were taken from them when their names appeared on secret lists that were maintained by studios, sponsors, and politicians alike. The author made his living during this period by using a "front"someone who was not blacklisted whose name could be used for the purpose of selling scripts. Bernstein covers in human terms one of our nation's darkest periods, providing a degree of insight that is not found in most historical treatments of the blacklist era. Of interest to both general and informed readers, this work is recommended for all libraries.Robert J. Favini, Bentley Coll. Lib., Waltham, Mass.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394583419
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/22/1996
Pages:
292
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 8.71(h) x 1.15(d)

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