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Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony's Long Romance with the Left [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   309
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.06 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 25, 2006
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  1594031460  
EAN  9781594031465  

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Item Description...
Until now, Hollywood's political history has been dominated by a steady stream of films and memoirs decrying the "nightmare" of the Red Scare. But in Red Star over Hollywood, Ronald and Allis Radosh show that the real drama of that era lay in the story of the movie stars, directors and especially screenwriters who joined the Communist Party or traveled in its orbit, and made the Party the focus of their political and social lives. The authors also show the Party's attempts at influencing filmmaking; their greatest achievement being the film "Mission to Moscow," which justified Stalin's great purge trials. Using material from the papers of Dalton Trumbo, Dore Schary, Albert Maltz, Melvyn Douglas and the FBI's Hollywood file, and from the newly released testimony of formerly closed HUAC Executive Session hearings, the authors trace the growth of the Communist Party from the 1930s, when many notables toured the Soviet Union and came back converted, through the 1950s when Party members were held to account for their allegiance to another country. The Radoshes' most controversial discovery is that during the investigations of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the Hollywood Reds themselves were beset by doubts and disagreements about their disloyalty to America, and their own treatment by the Communist Party. Their allegiance to the Communist Party and its ever changing line, combined with their outlandish behavior before HUAC, turned old liberal allies against them, and left them vulnerable to the eventual blacklist. One case study, of actor John Garfield, looks at the strategy he tried to employ to avoid the blacklist, while working to keep the support of both the studios and the Hollywood Left. Acting more as an opportunist than an idealist, Garfield moved to espouse a strong anti-Communism, while at the same time avoiding naming the names of his old radical associates, by pretending to only have been a dupe. In constant agony, his evasions satisfied no one, and led to his fatal heart attack shortly before he as to again appear before HUAC, where he would have finally had to make a decision as to where he actually stood. Based on a new and extensive interview with writer Budd Schulberg, Red Star over Hollywood opens up the Party cells and discussion groups that defined Hollywood radicalism. Ronald and Allis Radosh also bring their story into the present, describing how the men and women who agitated for Communism a half-century ago cr

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More About Ronald Radosh & Allis Radosh

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Allis Radosh has taught at Sarah Lawrence College and the City University of New York, and served as a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Ronald Radosh, professor emeritus of history at the City University of New York and adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is the author or coauthor of fourteen books, including The Rosenberg File. He has written for The New Republic, National Review, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. This is the second book they have written together. They live in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
An important analysis filling many gaps.  Dec 11, 2006
The Hollywood Blacklist is a story which has long been perpetuated by the film industry into popular culture, but RED STAR OVER HOLLYWOOD: THE FILM COLONY'S LONG ROMANCE WITH THE LEFT takes a different approach then most, documenting the large number of movie stars who did join the Communist Party and as a result had an impact on filmmaking trends. Material from the papers of Dalton Trumbo and other Hollywood insiders examine the concurrent growth of Communism through the 1930s and war years and the growing numbers of film greats who joined, experienced inner party disagreements, and influenced the industry as a whole. It's the first book to examine the discussion groups and members who helped define and promote Hollywood radicalism and makes for an important analysis filling many gaps.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
Exceptional and Educational  Aug 9, 2006
Over the years I have read many books on the Red Scare in Hollywood and could never quite understand the attraction to communism. This book does the best job of describing the issues, the attraction to communism and documentation of actual plans by the communist party concerning their intent to influence films. In reading many past books, the authors never quite expressed WHY they were communists. In fact, many of the books never mentioned whether they were incorrectly persecuted or whether they actually were members of communist party. This book provides documentation and reasoning by none other than Dalton Trumbo, one of the leading communists in Hollywood and the screenwriter partially responsible for breaking the blacklist. And in the end, he disavowed his former communist party and their teachings.

But this book will not be without controversy as the authors are known as right-wing Republicans. While I am in the middle of the political spectrum leaning slightly to the left, I find their account very believable and documented sufficiently to overcome any perceived bias. The significance of this book to me from reading Ring Lardner's famous "I'd Hate Myself in the Morning" to watching Woody Allen's "The Front" and FINALLY getting a closing answer is overwhelming. I no longer feel the need to explore why Americans chose to follow another government's agenda to the potential detriment of our country. However, I do not fault these people for their initial attraction to communism and frankly, I don't view communism as wrong: it's just a different government method some choose. For myself, I remain quite satisfied with democracy, EVEN in these trying times. Rather, the attraction to communism was clearly a byproduct of the recent depression as well as the growth of fascism. I can live with that reasoning.

This is an exceptional book if you have any interest in the 50s, movies, or communism. In closing, I must comment on the complete disrespect shown to Elia Kazen on receipt of his lifetime achievement award some years ago when Nick Nolte and others refused to applaud or acknowledge this award. I suggest they read this book. The Red Scare was a horrible period but Freedom of Speech needs only go so far when supporting a government with intent to overthrow our own. I strongly recommend this book.
Is it a witch-hunt if the witches are real?  Mar 13, 2006
While George Clooney was simultaneously thumping his chest and patting his back for how he and his "community" are proudly out of touch with mainstream America, I was engaged in the rather more edifying exercise of reading this great new book by Ronald and Allis Radosh. For readers with an interest in the context of the culture-clash between the "Hollywood elite" and the poor benighted people who buy movie tickets and DVDs, this book is an excellent resource.

I say the "context" of the clash because this is a look at history, and a serious research work too. This is not a book that details the fashionable Leftist obsessions of Clooney, Streisand, Penn, and the rest, and therefore may be less satisfying to some readers than other recent books that address current names and controversies more directly. Instead, "Red Star Over Hollywood" digs deep into something far more serious and sinister ("sinister" comes from the Latin word for "left," by the way): the film colony's infiltration by agents of the Comintern, dedicated partisans of Stalin, and other actors, directors, writers, and executives eager to use the power of film to promote socialism in the United States.

As Clooney's speech -- and even more so, his movie -- make clear, modern Hollywood's sense of itself is built to a large degree on the legend of its heroic stand against "McCarthyism" and the blacklist (that's what makes Clooney's self-congratulation so laughable -- does anyone in Hollywood *defend* McCarthy?). But the Radoshes demonstrate not only that there really were communists in positions of influence (in other words, the witch-hunt turned up real witches), but that there was also a strong and active anti-communist Left in Hollywood. Even more than the relatively small number of conservatives in Hollywood, it was this anti-communist Left that was in the most direct conflict with the Stalinists, their apologists, and their dupes, particularly before and during World War II.

All of this is important information, but it's when they turn to their discussion of HUAC and the blacklist in the postwar period that the authors most directly confront Hollywood's defining myth. Far from the usual pop-psychology analysis of the deranged and sweaty McCarthy (and why do so few people seem to notice that *Senator* Joe McCarthy had nothing to do with the *House* Committee on Un-American Activities?) the authors have gone in-depth in committee records, and also into the backgrounds of the people from Hollywood who came before the committee. It's certainly easier to issue blanket denunciations of McCarthy and his ilk than to sift through pages and pages of dusty documents. Ronald and Allis Radosh are to be commended for doing the latter.

It's because this book is so heavily researched -- so filled with names, dates, and places -- that I note again that it may not be to everyone's taste. It is, I repeat, a work of history. It notably lacks the rhetorical sledgehammer blows of, say, an Ann Coulter book, and so doesn't have the fist-pumping, take-that-you-commie excitement value some readers derive from more polemical works. But those books seem to disappear as soon as they fall off the bestseller lists. This, on the other hand, is a book that deserves to be around for a long, long time.
Hollywood's Darkest Hour, the Years of the Blacklist.  Dec 31, 2005
This book has the same title as a pamphlet series on Communism written by Oliver Carlson and, though the authors claim to have used recently released records of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, I would expect it to have derived mainly from this "Red Star Over Hollywood" series. "The Red Decades of the 1930s and 1940s, and the equal and opposite anti-Communist reaction of the 1950s, became Hollywood's Great Moment on the American Political Stage."

The studios had collaborated with the McCarthyites to ruin the lives of many talented people with the blacklist of "alleged" Communists in Hollywood. If you read THE GILDING OF THE BLACKLIST by James Lardner, son of Ring, Jr., the truth will show that it just wasn't that simple. Lonnie Lardner was on WSM T.V. in Nashville for some time and is a relative of those involved.

Would you believe the accuracy of calling these names as members of ICASSP which they label "the latest Communist group" after the end of the war: Ethel Barrymore, Van Wyck Brooks, Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, Harold Ickes, James Roosevelt, Fredric March, Eddie Cantor, Charles Boyer, Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Charles Laughton, and Robert Young? In a 1945 'Time' magazine article: "Frank Sinatra is one of its hardest-workest speakers. It can call on Gypsy Rose Lee to bare her navel and William Rose Benet to write a script. Lena Horne will sing at any rally, and Walter Huston will recite the Gettysburg Address." At one of their rallies in Madison Square Garden, they "were entertained by Bert Lahr, Joe E. Lewis, Myrna Loy, and Ethel Merman."

When "Stalin announced the start of a new Cold War by proclaiming the United States the world's principal and most dangerous enemy," the seeds for Joseph McCarthy were planted to call a spade a spade, to destroy reputations of not only the Hollywood elite but high-ranking government employees as well. The stars, I think, were tricked into what they did best: entertain.

The assumptions in this book leave a black mark on their careers and memory. If you don't know for a fact that a rumor about a celebrity is not just so much gossip, it is best left unsaid and unprinted. Some parts of this book can cause as much harm as the false claims of McCarthy -- after the fact. These people they named cannot clear their names, which is a dirty shame; most if not all are dead now. Today, it is possible to get anything in print -- if you know the right people, "fiction" claiming to be factual (non-fiction).

These movies are some they call Communist or about Communism: 'Mission to Moscow' from a book by Joseph Davies, published three weeks after Pearl Harbor (described as Stalinist propoganda; 'Tender Comrade,' from a book by Patrick McGilligan; 'Salt of the Earth;' 'Cloak and Dagger' written by Ring Lardner, Jr.; 'Action in the North Atlantic' and Hangmen Also Die' both in 1943; 'North Star,' 'Song of Russia,' and 'Thirty Seconds over Tokyo.' More recent films include 'The Way We Were,' 'The Front,' 'Marathon Man,' 'The house on Carroll Street,' 'Fellow Traveler,' 'The Majestic,' and 'One of the Hollywood Ten.'

This book goes on to slander stars of today who have different political views from the authors, those they call 'activists.' Being an outspoken activist in America today is not the same as being a Communist! Ronald and Allis Radosh choose controversial subjects which can't be proven either way. This book is a great disappointment and should be approached in the manner of "Consider the Source." Peter Collier, a writer and their editor on this parable, should have been listed as co-author, as he went over it tooth-and-nail (line by line) and edited out what he didn't want included. Who knows what he may have added? Ronald has written another book about COMMIES; Allis, one about a consumer activist, which makes them experts on this subject.
Exploding myths about Red Hollywood  Sep 23, 2005
Remember the Hollywood blacklist? The Hollywood Ten? I'll bet you know a lot about these events even if you weren't alive in the 1950s. That's because Tinseltown has a vested interest in keeping the memory of this era alive. It was the era of the Red Scare, of Senator Joseph McCarthy waving his infamous list of communist subversives during a speech in West Virginia. It was the time of congressional investigations, a time when invoking the Fifth Amendment might keep you safe from a contempt charge but would make you look guilty as sin in the public eye. For a select few the McCarthy era was a time of great fear, and no one feared this witch-hunt against communism more than Hollywood. Why? Because, despite the mountains of claims to the contrary that have emerged over the years, the movie industry oozed communists. There were so many Reds in Hollywood that they should have renamed the town Little Moscow. Yet even today, you won't hear about this truth in the media. You will, however, get the skinny on what really went on if you pick up a copy of Ronald Radosh's "Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony's Long Romance with the Left."

Talk about exploding myths! Radosh's book, which he co-wrote with his wife Allis, cuts through the layers of denial and presents us with an ugly picture of the real Hollywood of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Vladimir Lenin, the little pipsqueak who brought the nightmare of Marxism to the Soviet Union back in the early part of the twentieth century, had a soft spot for film and theater. He believed that the best way to spread communism around the globe was through movies and plays. This is exactly what the Kremlin crowd set out to accomplish in the following decades. They managed to gain converts to their cause--men who later became movers and shakers like Budd Schulberg, Joseph Losey, and Maurice Rapf--by allowing them to work closely with the Soviet film industry. Once these people came back to the United States, they spread their plague to others with the help of party apparatchiks Willi Munzenberg, V.J. Jerome, and John Howard Lawson. In no time at all, writes Radosh, a branch of the communist party flourished in Hollywood. So many big names signed on that newcomers to the industry, in an attempt to make contacts and find work, had to become communists or fellow travelers themselves.

The Hollywood branch of the communist party worked to increase their membership and influence in several ways. One of the most successful methods involved the tried and true "United Frontism" and "Popular Front" techniques, or the forming of organizations that on the surface embraced popular progressive causes to lure in unsuspecting liberals while maintaining strong communist control behind the scenes. Radosh reveals that the concerns many people had about the rise of National Socialist Germany in the 1930s helped increase membership, although the party's propensity to change direction, oftentimes overnight according to directives issued from the Kremlin, tended to alienate many members. Also off putting was the heavy-handed discipline that could fall on an unsuspecting member at any time. Albert Maltz, for example, discovered the inflexibility of the party when he wrote an article deemed "revisionist" by the upper hierarchy. His very public refutation of his article left little doubt about the strong-arm tactics used behind the scenes. Despite the ugliness the Hollywood Reds occasionally displayed, they were somewhat successful in spreading their propaganda through films like "Mission to Moscow," "The Spanish Earth," and "The North Star." Congressional investigations threw some of these dupes in the slammer, and silenced a few more, but many never repudiated their warped views.

I enjoyed Radosh's book, the first one of his I've had the chance to read. The author and his spouse obviously know what they're talking about and, since Ronald Radosh himself was a communist for many years, he understands how these groups think and act. "Red Star Over Hollywood" occasionally suffers from dry prose and a bewildering number of groups and individuals, but the authors always manage to bring the book back up to speed by throwing in some great anecdotes. For instance, the part where we learn about Ronald Reagan (at the time a liberal) and his buddy William Holden crashing a communist get together in an attempt to inject some common sense into the proceedings is great fun to read about. Reagan got up and started talking only to find himself under verbal attack for some forty minutes. God bless him! The account of Albert Maltz's forced rehabilitation is absolutely chilling, a sobering tale that hints at the violent tendencies inherent in communism. Arguably the best part of the book, however, involves the long, strange trip writer Dalton Trumbo took from the time of his blacklisting to his repudiation of the communist party later in life. So many intriguing stories pop up in the book that the actual creation of the blacklist takes a backseat.

I have one recommendation and one warning to those readers about to attempt the book. In the case of the former, if you're not very familiar with this time period, read a background history of the Red Scare first. Doing so will assist you in learning the context for what happens here and help you learn the basics about a few of the groups and personalities associated with the blacklist. In the case of the latter, the topic is so huge that Radosh doesn't have the space to cover many of the important Reds. There is almost nothing here about Lillian Hellman or Dashiell Hammett, for example, and both of those individuals had a lot to do with the influence of communism in film and books. Nevertheless, this book is well worth your time. Read it and remember it the next time Hollywood releases yet another "we were innocent" propaganda piece.

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