How the Red Scare Created a Hollywood Blacklist

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In the 1930s and 1940s many Hollywood writers, actors, producers, and directors were suspected for communist affiliations. During this time, communism was a popular political movement in the United States, especially among young liberals. There was a growing fear of communism invading American society. By the end of World War Two an event known as the Red Scare resulted in communism become increasingly feared and hated by many in the United States. The Hollywood blacklist caused the Hollywood industry a lot of harm in its business and reputation. The House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) was created in 1938. They were focused on investigating and putting an end to Communists and Communist supporters in the American Society. Their first major attack was on the Hollywood film industry. Communists in the Hollywood industry were said to be placing subversive messages into films. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and others like Senator Joseph McCarthy pestered communists and supporters of the Communist party. McCarthy conducted “witch hunts” in effort to seek out and eliminate suspected Communists. Congressional hearings were in effect, not hearings, but trials for crimes that were not really crimes, with congressmen serving as prosecutor, judge, and jury. Unable to deprive a person of their life and liberty, they deprived him of his livelihood. If the person refused to give the names of other Communists, he or she would automatically be considered guilty. Witnesses of the trials were immediately classified as either friendly or unfriendly. Friendly witnesses answered questions concerning themselves and others. They were then cleared from the blacklist and allowed to go back to work in Holly... ... middle of paper ... ...to obtain work in the American film and television industry for many years. Some of those blacklisted continued to write Hollywood films, using false names. This allowed movies such as The Bridge on the River Kwai to be completed. Several screenwriters moved to other countries, where they were able to find work in film. Most estimates indicate that the blacklist involved approximately three hundred and twenty-five employees in film and related industries. However nearly expert believes there were over five hundred victims of the Hollywood blacklist. It wasn’t until 1961, when a director named Otto Preminger announced he was hiring a writer named Trumbo who was on the blacklist to write a move that things began to slowly change. In 1997, a group named the Writers Guild of America voted to change the writing credits of 23 films made during the blacklist period.
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