Gordon File

Overview

For twenty-six years, the FBI devoted countless hours of staff time and thousands of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the surveillance of an American citizen named Bernard Gordon. Given the lavish use of resources, one might assume this man was a threat to national security or perhaps a kingpin of organized crime—not a Hollywood screenwriter whose most subversive act was joining the Communist Party during the 1940s when we were allied with the USSR in a war against Germany. For this honest act of political dissent, ...

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The Gordon File: A Screenwriter Recalls Twenty Years of FBI Surveillance

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Overview

For twenty-six years, the FBI devoted countless hours of staff time and thousands of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the surveillance of an American citizen named Bernard Gordon. Given the lavish use of resources, one might assume this man was a threat to national security or perhaps a kingpin of organized crime—not a Hollywood screenwriter whose most subversive act was joining the Communist Party during the 1940s when we were allied with the USSR in a war against Germany. For this honest act of political dissent, Gordon came to be investigated by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952, blacklisted by the Hollywood film industry, and tailed by the FBI for over two decades.

In The Gordon File, Bernard Gordon tells the compelling, cautionary story of his life under Bureau surveillance. Drawing on his FBI file of over 300 pages, which he obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, he traces how the Bureau followed him from Hollywood to Mexico, Paris, London, Rome, and even aboard a Dutch freighter as he created an unusually successful, albeit uncredited, career as a screenwriter and producer during the blacklist years. Comparing his actual activities during that time to records in the file, he pointedly and often humorously underscores how often the FBI got it wrong, from the smallest details of his life to the main fact of his not being a threat to national security.

Most important, Gordon links his personal experience to the headlines of today, when the FBI is again assuming broad powers to monitor political dissidents it deems a threat to the nation. "Is it possible," he asks, "that books like this will help to move our investigative agencies from the job of blackmailing those who are critical of our imperfect democracy to arresting those who are truly out to destroy us?"

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What People Are Saying

Fred Haines
Most Americans imagine, I think, that the government agencies charged with national security are at least well intentioned and reasonably competent, but this book will shatter their illusions on both counts. It might also cause them to think twice about some of the programs for collecting 'intelligence' and 'information' that have been proposed for the current 'war against terrorism.' Although The Gordon File tells a story that comes to an end around 1970, the lesson could hardly be more timely than it is today.
Fred Haines, a filmmaker whose credits include Ulysses and Steppenwolf
Fred Haines
Most Americans imagine, I think, that the government agencies charged with national security are at least well intentioned and reasonably competent, but this book will shatter their illusions on both counts. It might also cause them to think twice about some of the programs for collecting 'intelligence' and 'information' that have been proposed for the current 'war against terrorism.' Although The Gordon File tells a story that comes to an end around 1970, the lesson could hardly be more timely than it is today.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292719552
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 9/23/2004
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard Gordon wrote or produced more than twenty motion pictures, including Battle of the Bulge, 55 Days at Peking, The Thin Red Line, Krakatoa East of Java, Day of the Triffids, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, and Horror Express. Still active in struggles for democratic values, he helped lead the fight against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award to Elia Kazan, who cooperated with the House Committee on Un-American Activities during the blacklist era. Bernard Gordon lives in Los Angeles.
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Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader
Chapter 1: Before the Beginning
Chapter 2: Innocence and Pain
Chapter 3: Crash, Bang, No Boom
Chapter 4: An Education and a Half
Chapter 5: Starting a Career
Chapter 6: New Beginnings
Chapter 7: From Sea to Shining Sea
Chapter 8: Paramount/Paradise
Chapter 9: Career on Hold
Chapter 10: Endings and Beginnings
Chapter 11: Mexico
Chapter 12: A Taste of Europe
Chapter 13: A New Start and a Big Blow
Chapter 14: Moving On
Chapter 15: A Grand Tour
Chapter 16: In and Out of the Soup
Chapter 17: The Good Life
Chapter 18: Tumult in Madrid
Chapter 19: Beginning Again
Chapter 20: Filed Away
Postscript
Appendix A: Selected Pages from the Gordon File
Appendix B: Selected Pages from the Hollywood Canteen File
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