By Amy Nicholson
By LA Weekly critics
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Anthony D'Alessandro
I would recall to this Committee the opening of the first investigation into Communism in Hollywood by the previous committee under the chairmanship of J. Parnell Thomas. I would recall that a large number of representative people in the creative branch of the picture industry, regardless of their politics, were alarmed by the first sessions. They signed protests and they banded in organizations which certainly did not look to me like front organizations at their inception, although later the Communists plainly got control of them.
I am listed as sponsoring a committee to raise funds for the defense of the Ten and as having sent a telegram to John Huston on March 5, 1948, when he was chairman of the dinner for them. I do not remember these specific actions, but I certainly felt impelled to action of that sort at that time and did this or something like it. I also made a contribution of $500 to a woman representative of the committee for the Hollywood Ten. This was in New York. If I am able to recall her name, I will advise you of it, but I cannot recall it at the moment. I am also listed as supporting a radio program for the Ten as late as August 1950. I am surprised at the date. It is possible that I was approached and gave permission to use my name as late as this, but it seems to me more likely that my name was reused without asking me, since I had not allowed its use earlier.
For by that time I was disgusted by the silence of the Ten and by their contemptuous attitude. However, I must say now that what I did earlier represented my convictions at the beginning of the case.
That is the end of the list of my front associations after 1936, insofar as I can remember them, with the assistance of the memorandum prepared for me.
I should like to point out some of the typical Communist-front and Communist-sympathizer activities which I stayed away from:
From the day I went to Hollywood to direct my first picture, in 1944, I had nothing to do with any front organization there. Neither had I anything to do with them on three earlier trips as an actor. I had nothing to do with the Actor’s Lab. I never gave a penny to any front organization on the West Coast.
I did not sign the Stockholm peace pledge. I saw what that was. I resented the Communist attempt to capture the world "peace."
I did not sponsor or attend the Waldorf Peace Conference. My wife’s name was used as a sponsor without her permission. She protested and asked for its withdrawal in a letter to Prof. Harlow Shapley of Harvard University, who had some official post. She received no answer from him, but she did get an apology from James Proctor, who had given her name without permission.
I had nothing to do with the Arts, Sciences, and Professions or any of its predecessors or successors.
I did not support Henry Wallace for President.
I do not want to imply that anyone who did these things was one of the Communists; I do not submit that anyone who did none of them was a long way away from them.
There follows a list of my entire professional career as a director, all the plays I have done and films I have made.Casey Jones, by Robert Audrey, 1938: The story of a railroad engineer who comes to the end of his working days. It is thoroughly and wonderfully American in its tone, characters, and outlook. Thunder Rock, by Robert Audrey, 1939: This is a deeply democratic and deeply optimistic play, written at a time when there was a food deal of pessimism about democracy. It told of a group of European immigrants headed for the West about 1848, and showed how they despaired of reforms which this country had long since achieved and now takes for granted. A failure in New York, this play was a huge hit in wartime London. Café Crown, by Hy Kraft, 1942: A comedy about Jewish actors on New York’s East Side. No politics, but a warm and friendly feeling toward a minority of a minority. The Strings, My Lord, Are False, by Paul Vincent Carroll, 1942: An Irishman’s play about England under the bombings. Not political. It shows human courage and endurance in many kinds of people, including, prominently, a priest. The Skin of Our Teeth, by Thornton Wilder, 1942: One of the plays I am proudest to have done. It celebrates the endurance of the human race and does so with wit and wisdom and compassion. Harriet, by Florence Ryerson and Colin Clements, 1943: The story of Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. One Touch of Venus,by S. J. Perelman, Ogden Nash, and Kurt Weill, 1943: Musical comedy. The goddess of Venus falls in love with a barber. Jacobowsky and the Colonel, by S.N. Behrman, 1942: Humorous-sad tale of the flight of a Jewish jack-of-all-trades and a Polish count before the oncoming Nazis. Not political, but very human. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (my first picture), 1944: A little girl grows up in the slum section of Brooklyn. There is pain in the story, but there is health. It is a typically American story and could only happen here, and a glorification of American not in material terms, but in spiritual ones. Sing Out Sweet Land, by Jean and Walter Kerr, 1944: A musical built around old American songs. Nonpolitical but full of American tradition and spirit. Deep Are the Roots, by Arnaud d"Usseau and James Gow, 1945: This was a very frank and somewhat melodramatic exploration of relations between Negroes and whites. It was shocking to some people but on the whole both audiences and critics took it with enthusiasm. Dunnigan’s Daughter, by S.N. Behrman, 1945: A comedy drama about a young wife whose husband was too absorbed in his business to love her. Sea of Grass (picture), 1946: The conflict between cattle ranchers and farmers on the prairie. Boomerang (picture), 1946: Based on an incident in the life of Homer Cummings, later Attorney General of the United States. It tells how an initial miscarriage of justice was righted by the persistence and integrity of a young district attorney, who risked his career to save an innocent man. This shows the exact opposite of the Communist libels on America. All My Sons, by Arthur Miller, 1947: The story of a war veteran who came home to discover that his father, a small manufacturer, had shipped defective plane parts to the Armed Forces during the war. Some people have searched for hidden propaganda in this one, but I believe it to be a deeply moral investigation of problems of conscience and responsibility. Gentlemen’s Agreement (picture) : Picture version of the best-selling novel about anti-Semitism. It won an academy award and I think it is in a healthy American tradition, for it shows Americans exploring a problem and tackling a solution. Again it is opposite to the picture which Communists present of Americans. A Street Car Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, 1947: A famous play. Not political, but deeply human. Sundown Beach, by Bessie Breuer, 1948: A group of young Army fliers and their girls at a hospital in Florida. Not political, but a warm and compassionate treatment. Lovelife, by Alan Jay Lerner and Kurt Weill, 1948: Musical comedy. Story of a married couple, covering 100 years of changing American standards and customs. Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, 1949: It shows the frustrations of the life of a salesman and contains implicit criticism of his materialistic standards. Pinky (picture), 1949: The story of a Negro girl who passed for white in the North and returns to the South to encounter freshly the impact of prejudice. Almost everybody like this except the Communists, who attacked it virulently. It was extremely successful throughout the country, as much so in the South as elsewhere. Panic in the Streets (picture), 1950: A melodrama built around the subject of an incipient plague. The hero is a doctor in the United States Health Service. A Street Car Named Desire (picture), 1950: Picture version of the play. Viva Zapata(picture, my most recent one), 1951: This is an anti-Communist picture. Please see my article on political aspects of this picture in the Saturday Reviewof April 5, which I forwarded to your investigator, Mr. Nixon. Flight Into Egypt, by George Tabori, 1952: Story of refugees stranded in Cairo and trying to get into the United States.
Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!