The Cold War Examined

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The Cold War had an incredibly profound effect on the United States. It effected the country politically, economically, as well as culturally.
Use High Noon as an allegory of the 1950s to examine issues of conformity, individualism, community, and political commitment in the context of Congressional investigations such as that of HUAC into the activities of the Hollywood 10. In this scenario, Marshal Will Kane represents individuals who were willing to confront the political investigations of HUAC, while the townspeople who deserted him may represent liberals who were afraid of being blacklisted or censured.
Use On the Waterfront as an allegory of why some witnesses deemed it proper to name names before Congressional committees. Director Elia Kazan did appear as a cooperative witness before HUAC, and the film may be interpreted as a justification for his actions. Thus, Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) decides he must inform on his former friends in a corrupt waterfront union led by Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb, who may represent the Communist party and the policies of Joseph Stalin.)
In the context of the pressure put on Hollywood by HUAC to "name names" and implicate associates who may have been involved in left wing causes, films began to explore the theme of informing. One such example, On the Waterfront (1954), was directed by Elia Kazan, who had earlier decided to cooperate with HUAC. The decision by longshoreman Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) to expose the fraudulent activities of the union, led by Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb), may be perceived as justification for Kazan's denouncing of a corrupt Stalinist Communist party. On the other hand, Carl Foreman's script for High Noon, which John Wayne called un-American, can be read as a condemnation of Hollywood's failure to take a stand against political censorship. In this allegory, the Miller gang represents HUAC, while Marshal Will Kane stands for the Hollywood Ten deserted by the townspeople and the liberals respectively. Foreman's success with High Noon earned Oscar nominations for the film, but the screenwriter was placed on the blacklist. In the end, this western reveals little about the history of the frontier, but a great deal regarding the ideological and political fallout from the Cold War.
While the allegorical devices used in On the Waterfront and High Noon were obvious to the Hollywood community, they were often lost on film audiences for whom the insecurities of the Cold War were better addressed in science-fiction films.
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