Wednesday, November 18, 2009
He Ran All The Way and the Hollywood Blacklist
One of the most sordid episodes of the 1950s was the House Un-American Activities Committee's investigation into "communist subversion" in Hollywood. This was the Red Scare in full swing. The Committee drug private citizens in front of Congress to give testimony about their political beliefs--and the political beliefs of their friends. Failure to testify landed you on a blacklist that prohibited you from working in films at the major studios. Careers went down in flames. Friends sold out friends. Interestingly, the communist witch hunts had a particularly deep impact on the community of writers, directors and stars who worked in film noir. Perhaps no other single film is more emblematic of this ugly bit of history than John Berry's He Ran All The Way, nearly all the major talents on which were affected directly or indirectly by the blacklist. Most notably, the blacklist marked the end of the career, and life, of star John Garfield, one of noir's great icons.
You can check out my essay on the repercussions of the Hollywood blacklist on the cast and crew of He Ran All The Way at the Film Noir Foundation.