Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist

Overview

More than sixty years ago, McCarthyism silenced Hollywood. In the pages of Tender Comrades, those who were suppressed, whose lives and careers were ruined, finally have their say. A unique collection of profiles in cinematic courage, this extraordinary oral history brings to light the voices of thirty-six blacklist survivors (including two members of the Hollywood Ten), seminal directors of film noir and other genres, starring actresses and memorable supporting players, top screenwriters, and many less known to ...

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Overview

More than sixty years ago, McCarthyism silenced Hollywood. In the pages of Tender Comrades, those who were suppressed, whose lives and careers were ruined, finally have their say. A unique collection of profiles in cinematic courage, this extraordinary oral history brings to light the voices of thirty-six blacklist survivors (including two members of the Hollywood Ten), seminal directors of film noir and other genres, starring actresses and memorable supporting players, top screenwriters, and many less known to the public, who are rescued from obscurity by the stories they offer here that, beyond politics, open a rich window into moviemaking during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A massive, slow-moving oral history of 30-plus Hollywood blacklistees. The Hollywood blacklist starred few heroes and far too many villains. The latter range from the studios and networks that illegally abetted the blacklist to those who "named names" to many blacklistees themselves, staunch Stalinist ideologues who would have gladly extirpated any opposition if the tables had been turned. The real victims were those whose left-wing ties provided the thinnest pretext for informers to trap them in the mad gyre. This collection presents a wide range of blacklistees, from a few of the more well known, such as Martin Ritt, Jules Dassin, and Ring Lardner Jr., to a large number of the obscure and marginal, most of them writers. Because the subjects tell their own lives in their own words, this leads to both an idiosyncratic freshness as well as a lack of focus, with opinion and anecdote substituting for depth. Also, with many interviews, the blacklist is only a small component, and we are treated to biographical minutiae of extremely minor figures (some with only a handful or less of films to their name). Even die-hard film and blacklist buffs will find their patience tried. McGilligan (Fritz Lang, 1997, etc.) and veteran oral historian Buhle know their material well, but their questions tend to be facile and unrevealing. But though this book is almost impossible to read cover to cover, it is interesting to see just how varied the experiences of blacklistees were. Some fled to Europe or Mexico and built careers there; some used "fronts," or pseudonyms; some got out of the biz. Some have forgiven their tormentors, some bear deep grievances. But the careers of all of them were seriouslydamaged by the experience: Perhaps this explains why so many of these interviewees are not household names. Invaluable source material, but much more than the ordinary reader wants or needs to know.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816680375
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 7/26/2012
  • Pages: 800
  • Sales rank: 1,367,108
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick McGilligan has written several acclaimed biographies, including Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light (a finalist for the Edgar Award) as well as New York Times Notable Books about George Cukor and Fritz Lang. His five-volume Backstory series is the definitive oral history of American screenwriting.

Paul Buhle, a retired senior lecturer at Brown University and the founder of the Oral History of the American Left archive at New York University, is the author or editor of more than forty books.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Meet the People Patrick McGilligan Paul Buhle xiii

Norma Barzman (and Ben Barzman) Larry Ceplair 1

Leonardo Bercovici Paul Buhle 29

Walter Bernstein Paul Buhle 43

John (Jack) Berry Patrick McGilligan 55

Alvah Bessie Patrick McGilligan Ken Mate 90

Allen Boretz Patrick McGilligan Ken Mate 112

John Bright Patrick McGilligan Ken Mate 128

Jean Rouverol Butler (and Hugo Butler) Paul Buhle Dave Wagner 155

Jeff Corey Patrick McGilligan 177

Jules Dassin Patrick McGilligan 199

Edward Eliscu Patrick McGilligan David Eliscu 225

Anne Froelick Paul Buhle Dave Wagner 250

Bernard Gordon Patrick McGilligan 260

Faith Hubley (and John Hubley) Patrick McGilligan 279

Marsha Hunt Glenn Lovell 305

Paul Jarrico Patrick McGilligan 325

Mickey Knox Patrick McGilligan 351

Millard Lampell Paul Buhle 389

Ring Lardner Jr. Patrick McGilligan 404

Robert Lees Paul Buhle Dave Wagner 415

Alfred Lewis Levitt (and Helen Slote Levitt) Larry Ceplair 441

Karen Morley Patrick McGilligan Ken Mate 470

Abraham Polonsky Paul Buhle Dave Wagner 481

Maurice Rapf Patrick McGilligan 495

Betsy Blair Reisz Patrick McGilligan 540

Martin Ritt Patrick McGilligan 556

Marguerite Roberts, (and John Sanford) Tina Daniell 571

Joan LaCour Scott (and Adrian Scott) Paul Buhle 585

Lionel Stander Patrick McGilligan Ken Mate 607

Bess Taffel Patrick McGilligan 626

Frank Tarloff Paul Buhle 642

Bernard Vorhaus John Baxter 657

John Weber Paul Buhle 682

John Wexley Patrick McGilligan Ken Mate 698

Julian Zimet (aka Julian Halevy) Julian (Halevy) Zimet 722

Selected Bibliography 749

About the Contributors 753

Index 755

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