UC Berkeley Library

McCarthyism & Blacklisting

Ordinary Americans: The Red Scare

Examines the history of official and unofficial attempts to find and punish communists, both in and outside the U.S. government. Hear the personal accounts of key political figures leading the hunt for communists, as well as what it was like for ordinary citizens entangled in the early years of the Cold War. Includes newsreel footage of air raid drills in Times Square and of testimonies given before the House Un-American Activities Committee, the blacklisting of the "Hollywood Ten" and other authors and entertainers. 1999. 35 min.

Red Hollywood

Film fragments and interviews provide a survey of the filmwork created by the victims of the Hollywood Blacklist. Includes Alfred Levitt, Paul Jarrico, John Berry, Joseph Losey, Dalton Trumbo, Cy Endfield and Abraham Polonsky who were involved as directors and/or writers. An effort has been made to separate the authors' ideology from their contributions to Hollywood cinema. This is not a film about their politics or their martyrdom. In the film, excerpts that follow credits are limited to screenwriters and directors who were Communists, ex-Communists, and occasional sympathizers.

Scandalize My Name: Stories from the Blacklist

A compelling look at a terribly troubled period in American history, the 1950's -- a time of blacklists, loyalty oaths and slandered reputations, the "Red Scare". These are the stories of African-Americans, like Paul Robeson, Hazel Scott, Jackie Robinson, and Harry Belafonte, whose loyalties were questioned, whose careers were shattered, and whose struggles for social justice were subverted. 1999. 60 min.

Seeing Red: Stories of American Communists

A documentary about the history of the American Communist Party from the thirties onward. A film by James Klein, Julia Reichert. 100 min.
Reviews and articles:
Klehr, Harvey. "Seeing Red." Labor History; Winter85, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p138, 6p Full-text of this article / review is available:UC users only

The Trials of Alger Hiss

Documentary and factual review of the Whittaker Chambers-Alger Hiss controversy. Consists of archival film and interviews. 165 min

The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer

J. Robert Oppenheimer's life and legacy are inextricably linked to America's most famous top-secret initiative - the Manhattan Project. Embroiled in controversy during his lifetime he was forced to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he admitted that he had associations with the Communist Party in the 1930s, but he refused to name members. This biography presents a complex and revealing portrait of one of America's most influential scientists with commentary by his former colleagues and eminent scholars.

The Twentieth Century: A Moving Visual History: The 1950s

Brings the 20th century back to life through narration, rare photographs and stunning footage. Promoting the American dream: The U.S. solidifies its position as a world leader, while on the home front; the "traditional family" takes center stage. Milestones include: the arms race between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.; Senator Joseph McCarthy's "witch hunts"; the birth of the Civil Rights movement; the rising influence of television; and Rock 'n Roll and the conservative/religious reaction.

The Un-Americans

Between 1945 and the early 50's the lives of thousands of ordinary citizens were destroyed because they were accused of un-American activities. Teachers, writers, anyone who expressed a liberal opinion could be accused. In this film both the anti-Communists and the victims of the notorious McCarthy witchhunts talk candidly about the era of anti-Communist hysteria and blacklists.

Three Films

Films by Frederick Marx. House of unAmerican activities (1983, 17 min.): A profile of the filmmaker's father, a German-Jewish refugee, distinguished sailor in the U.S. Navy during WWII and American Communist who was tried by the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities. Dream Documentary (1981, 5 min.): Using excerpts from other films the filmmaker creates a surreal and foreboding societal landscape. Dreams from China (1989, 30 min.): A diary-like film essay of daily life in China immediately before the Tiananmen Square incident. c1994. 52 min.

Trumbo

Documents the rise of Dalton Trumbo's career in Hollywood and his subsequent public humiliation for being among the 'Hollywood Ten' blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1940s for communist associations. The film follows screenwriter Trumbo to prison, to exile in Mexico with his family, to poverty, to the public shunning of his children, to his writing under various pseudonyms, and to an eventual Academy Award. Actors read his letters; his children and friends remember and comment. Archive photos, newsreels and interviews add texture.

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