Power Line links to this excellent review of Ronald and Allis Radosh’s new book, Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony’s Long Romance With The Left by The New Republic’s Martin Peretz. In its own way, Peretz’s review of the Radoshes’ book is one of the best articles on the blacklist I’ve seen from the left side of the aisle. This is just a sample; the whole thing is well worth reading:
Imagine that there were now to be in the elites and among the aspiring elites millions of people who burnished the wisdom and political fortitude of, say, Charles Lindbergh and Ezra Pound. As it happens, these two individuals were truly great men in their ways, Lindbergh as an aviator and Pound as a poet. But they suffered the reasonable public ignominy of being sympathetic to fascism, Pound to the point of treason. Lindbergh did his penance as a combat flyer in the Pacific during World War II, but he was a hero no more. Yes, there is now an adoring Lindbergh website but that is the full of it. And, here and there, some crank clings not to the Cantos but to the curdled confusions of a crazed writer. Pound was truly punished for his war-time fascist heresies on the radio: From 1945 to 1958, he was incarcerated in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the Insane, now inhabited by John Hinckley Jr. Nothing to compare to the lighting of candles for those who were on the blacklist.
The blacklisted were mostly, though not all, hack writers and directors. But producing mediocre work is no crime. In Hollywood, it was usually richly rewarded. So what did they do wrong? They were enthusiasts for Stalin, certainly a moral offense equal to being an enthusiast for Hitler and Mussolini. This fidelity to Stalinism ran deep, and in behalf of Stalinism the comrades deceived, conspired, plotted. The Radoshes tell us who in Hollywood had had enough and saved their own souls, if not always their jobs. And they also tell us who in filmland perverted and fabricated on behalf of the communist design. It is hard to reconstruct a world in which so many intelligent people lived the ethical life of cosmic cheats.
Here is what Stalinists (no, a Leninist was no better) lied about: the police state, the show trials, the deliberate famines, the repression of the peasantry, the massive ethnic transfers, the executions, the great terror, the Gulag, the systematic and murderous anti-Semitism, the squelching of free thought, the Trotsky plot against the revolution (no, a Trotskyite was no better, either), the perversion of the judiciary, the Hitler-Stalin pact. According to them there were no “widows of the revolution,” in David Remnick’s affecting phrase. And, if circumstance happened to catch them in flagrante, they would lapse into that hoariest of justifications, “historical necessity.” These are the atrocities which the blacklisted denied or defended or asserted were forced on the Kremlin by the West, the flabbiest of excuses. These men and women lived by a tissue of fabrication, and they passed that tissue–like a genotype–on to their children. Instead of being an apologist for Stalin, Richard Dreyfuss shilled for Arafat.
Hollywood’s hero worship of the Hollywood Ten and the blacklist is arguably the reason why no film about the evils of the Soviet Union has been released by a Hollywood studio. As I wrote back in March:
For Hollywood to portray communism as evil would be to look deeply into its own soul–and question much of its last 60 years. As I said, it won’t happen.
Although I’d love to be proven wrong.
The sad thing is that while Hollywood’s domestic box office receipts are floundering, a film about Stalin and the Soviet Union has the potential to be a huge blockbuster. Check out Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley’s outline for Total Eclipse, the best film Hollywood will never make.