Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC, and the Birth of the Blacklist

Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC, and the Birth of the Blacklist

by Thomas Doherty


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In 1947, the Cold War came to Hollywood. Over nine tumultuous days in October, the House Un-American Activities Committee held a notorious round of hearings into alleged Communist subversion in the movie industry. The blowback was profound: the major studios pledged to never again employ a known Communist or unrepentant fellow traveler. The declaration marked the onset of the blacklist era, a time when political allegiances, real or suspected, determined employment opportunities in the entertainment industry. Hundreds of artists were shown the door—or had it shut in their faces.

In Show Trial, Thomas Doherty takes us behind the scenes at the first full-on media-political spectacle of the postwar era. He details the theatrical elements of a proceeding that bridged the realms of entertainment and politics, a courtroom drama starring glamorous actors, colorful moguls, on-the-make congressmen, high-priced lawyers, single-minded investigators, and recalcitrant screenwriters, all recorded by newsreel cameras and broadcast over radio. Doherty tells the story of the Hollywood Ten and the other witnesses, friendly and unfriendly, who testified, and chronicles the implementation of the postwar blacklist. Show Trial is a rich, character-driven inquiry into how the HUAC hearings ignited the anti-Communist crackdown in Hollywood, providing a gripping cultural history of one of the most transformative events of the postwar era.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231187787
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 04/10/2018
Series: Film and Culture Series
Pages: 424
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Thomas Doherty is professor of American studies at Brandeis University. His previous Columbia University Press books include Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930–1934 (1999); Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture (2003); Hollywood’s Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration (2007); and Hollywood and Hitler, 1933–1939 (2013).

Table of Contents

Program Notes
Thanks and Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
Part I. Backstories
1. How the Popular Front Became Unpopular
2. Hollywood’s War Record
3. The Preservation of American Ideals
4. The Magic of a Hollywood Dateline
5. Smearing Hollywood with the Brush of Communism
Part II. On Location in Washington
6. Showtime
7. Lovefest
8. Friendlies, Cooperative and Uncooperative
9. Hollywood’s Finest
10. Doldrums
11. Crashing Page 1
12. Contempt
13. $64 Questions and No Answers
14. Jewish Questions
15. The Curtain Drops
Part III. Backfire
16. The Waldorf and Other Declarations
17. Blacklists and Casualty Lists
18. Not Only Victims
A Bibliographical Note

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