Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Was HUAC justified in its attempts to uncover subversive elements of Hollywood? Use evidence from your role sheet as well as the Cold War PowerPoint slides to support your argument. | WriteDen

Was HUAC justified in its attempts to uncover subversive elements of Hollywood? Use evidence from your role sheet as well as the Cold War PowerPoint slides to support your argument.

 

Question: Make an argument – Was HUAC justified in its attempts to uncover subversive elements of Hollywood? Use evidence from your role sheet as well as the Cold War PowerPoint slides to support your argument.

I posted Page 1-3 for you to see my role sheet evidence as well as I posted a PowerPoint presentation with some useful notes underneath about HUAC. 

Remember only use the files I provided for sources/resources/references

Words max 200-350

Huac v hollywood

Activity and Discussion

HUAC and the global Cold War

1947

5 minutes

2

1947- goal to discredit Roosevelt and Truman, associate their adminsitrations with communism. Global cold war will make accusations of communism a useful threat against political enemies. A global threat – communism- framed as an ideaological battle of good v evil will translate in American culture to a suppression of civil liberties and associations of anything deemed subversice as “communism.” this will come to include anti-nuclear protests, mixed race youth groups, lgbtq people existing, atheism, modern art, avante garde films, labor unions.

Background

Worry about infiltration of the United States by subversive elements first emerged in the 1930s, when it was believed that German agents were spreading Nazi propaganda through the country. Congress responded in 1934 by forming a Special Committee on Un-American Activities, which held hearings, issued a report, and quietly disbanded in 1935. In 1938 it was reconstituted as the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), chaired by Texas Democrat Martin Dies. While this committee was charged with investigating pro-fascist groups, as well as hate organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, Dies chose to focus instead on suspicions that, thanks to the New Deal, members of the Communist Party had managed to infiltrate a number of federal agencies.

Because the United States and the Soviet Union were allies during World War II, HUAC remained fairly quiet during the war years, but in 1946 it became a permanent standing committee, charged with investigating any individual or group that challenged "the form of government guaranteed by our Constitution." Then, after Republicans won majorities in both houses of Congress in the 1946 elections, the committee began to examine federal employees who were allegedly attracted to communism, and who had promoted policies favorable to the Soviet Union.

One of the most famous episodes in HUAC's history was its investigation of Hollywood. In this case the committee looked into the production of certain films during World War II that had created an overly-positive image of life in the Soviet Union. A number of prominent Hollywood figures, including studio executives, movie stars, and screenwriters, were called to testify in 1947. When some of these refused to answer questions about their communist affiliations, or refused to identify others who were suspected of being communists, ten of them—soon dubbed the "Hollywood Ten"—were charged and convicted of contempt of Congress. Eventually as a result of these hearings some 300 directors, actors, and screenwriters found that they had been "blacklisted" by the motion picture industry; that is, the studios agreed not to hire them. Some, like Charlie Chaplin, left the country; some screenwriters continued to work under false names.

However, HUAC also dealt with offenses of a more serious nature. In an executive session of the committee in August 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a confessed Soviet agent, accused Alger Hiss, a Harvard Law School graduate and a prominent New Dealer, of having been part of the same spy ring. The resulting committee hearings, and Hiss's subsequent perjury trial, helped to focus the nation's attention on the question of communists in government. The hearings also helped to make a household name of one committee member, a young Republican congressman named Richard M. Nixon, who was particularly zealous in proving that Hiss was a Soviet agent.

3

1945 Global cold war

1947 Republican control of Congress

1947-1951 HUAC

V

Hollywood

1938

HUAC created to fight Nazism, KKK, and Communism

1941-1945

U.S. Allied with USSR (Soviet Russia)

WWII Posters, Films, media, depict Russia (USSR) in a positive light

HUAC Trials

4

Movie stars led by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall on their way to support those called by HUAC to testify about communist influence in Hollywood.

Worry about infiltration of the United States by subversive elements first emerged in the 1930s, when it was believed that German agents were spreading Nazi propaganda through the country. Congress responded in 1934 by forming a Special Committee on Un-American Activities, which held hearings, issued a report, and quietly disbanded in 1935. In 1938 it was reconstituted as the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), chaired by Texas Democrat Martin Dies. While this committee was charged with investigating pro-fascist groups, as well as hate organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, Dies chose to focus instead on suspicions that, thanks to the New Deal, members of the Communist Party had managed to infiltrate a number of federal agencies.

Because the United States and the Soviet Union were allies during World War II, HUAC remained fairly quiet during the war years, but in 1946 it became a permanent standing committee, charged with investigating any individual or group that challenged "the form of government guaranteed by our Constitution." Then, after Republicans won majorities in both houses of Congress in the 1946 elections, the committee began to examine federal employees who were allegedly attracted to communism, and who had promoted policies favorable to the Soviet Union.

One of the most famous episodes in HUAC's history was its investigation of Hollywood. In this case the committee looked into the production of certain films during World War II that had created an overly-positive image of life in the Soviet Union. A number of prominent Hollywood figures, including studio executives, movie stars, and screenwriters, were called to testify in 1947. When some of these refused to answer questions about their communist affiliations, or refused to identify others who were suspected of being communists, ten of them—soon dubbed the "Hollywood Ten"—were charged and convicted of contempt of Congress. Eventually as a result of these hearings some 300 directors, actors, and screenwriters found that they had been "blacklisted" by the motion picture industry; that is, the studios agreed not to hire them. Some, like Charlie Chaplin, left the country; some screenwriters continued to work under false names.

However, HUAC also dealt with offenses of a more serious nature. In an executive session of the committee in August 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a confessed Soviet agent, accused Alger Hiss, a Harvard Law School graduate and a prominent New Dealer, of having been part of the same spy ring. The resulting committee hearings, and Hiss's subsequent perjury trial, helped to focus the nation's attention on the question of communists in government. The hearings also helped to make a household name of one committee member, a young Republican congressman named Richard M. Nixon, who was particularly zealous in proving that Hiss was a Soviet agent. For more on the Hiss case, see  "Famous Trials: The Alger Hiss Trial", accessible by way of the EDSITEment-reviewed resource  History Matters.

The cold war and American culture

Films Marked as “Communist Propaganda” by the FBI

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

https://historycollection.com/the-fbi-believed-that-its-a-wonderful-life-was-communist-propaganda/3/

Organizations such as the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (MPA) joined HUAC and the FBI in pressurizing the movie industry to spread ‘American’ ideology while ensuring that ‘suspect’ ideas such as Communism were either not given the time of day or were portrayed in a negative light. When It’s a Wonderful Life was released, the FBI didn’t see a heart-warming tale of human kindness and redemption. Instead, it saw a Communist movie that demonized the rich which exaggerating the plight of ‘the people’. As far as It’s a Wonderful Life is concerned, the FBI and HUAC decided not to take action after a lengthy investigation. To be fair, there were a number of Communists who worked on the movie and if you want to read too much into it, you could see why the FBI thought it was Communist in the context of the time. The richest man in the town was also the worst human being while poor George Bailey was trampled on by the elite.

Films that may have "implicated" Hollywood and/or the Hollywood Ten

In this category can be found films that portrayed socialist ideas or the working classes in a positive light, that showed Moscow as a worthy ally in World War II (at the behest of the wartime U.S. government), that revealed antisemiticism, or that simply cast capitalists as villains.

Processional1925John Howard Lawson's earliest film portrayed great sympathy for the working class.Afraid to Talk1932Corruption everywhere, this film condemns local institutions along with gangsters in crime-ridden Chicago.Soak the Rich1935A prescient view of the campus witch hunts to come, this comedy/drama lets the anti-capitalist radicals teach the rich a lesson.Blockade1938An ambivalent treatment of the Spanish American War, the film is sympathetic to the leftists, but ended up being banned in fascist countries as well as nations that supported the Spanish loyalists.Sinners in Paradise1938Early variations of this screenplay went through several revisions to soften its attack on corrupt capitalism.We Who Are Young1940With a screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, this film– about a young couple struggling to make it in a capitalist world–came under suspicion of HUAC committee members.Miss V. from Moscow1942In this classic B movie, a beautiful and talented Russian spy infiltrates the Nazi SS and gains important information about a German attack against an American lend-lease convoy heading for the Soviet Union. She is assisted by an American (naturally). One of the very few wartime films in which the Russian and the American do NOT fall in love.Days of Glory1943Gregory Peck portrays a Russian resistance fighter.Mission to Moscow1943Perhaps the only wartime film that is pro-Soviet government as well as pro-Russian people, this film is based on the autobiography of Joseph Davies (FDR's ambassador to the Soviet Union in the late thirties). The film had the full support of the Whitehouse, but is today seen as a whitewash of Soviet atrocities.North Star1943Screenplay by Lillian Hellman, who was vigorously pursued by the federal government to write a pro-Russian piece that would convince the American public that alliance with the USSR was a wise policy. Hellman later became a target of HUAC.Song of Russia1943Written by two members of the American Communist Party, Paul Jarrico and Richard Collins, this picture turns Russian peasants into lovable, singing, brave people, just like Americans.Tender Comrade1943Directed by Edward Dmytryk and based on a Dalton Trumbo story, this film was bound to attract HUAC attention. It was a big hit with the public, and gave Ginger Rogers one of her best dramatic roles.Counter Attack1945A rare (for the 1940's) psychological drama pitting a brave Russian paratrooper (Paul Muni) against evil Nazi officers.Crossfire1947Directed by Edward Dmytryk, this outstanding film which examines anti-semitism in the U.S. caused great controversy at its release and may have been the major reason for Dmytryk's summons from HUAC.

6

Red Nightmare!

Produced “Under the Personal Supervision of Jack Warner”

Social Content in Film

While inferences can be made from their previous credits about the effects of the times on some key blacklisted writers, directors, and actors, it is difficult to separate out the effects of the darkening Cold War atmosphere, the blacklist, and other changes in industry and society that were affecting the type of film being made. The concern with the image of America in foreign markets was certainly a factor that influenced the studios, as was the threat of picketing by the American Legion and other organizations. In a survey of the content of American films in the period 1947 to 1954, Dorothy Jones notes in particular a marked decline in social problem films from 1949 to 1952, with more emphasis on "pure entertainment," and in particular more anti-Communist films and war films of the "sure-fire patriotic variety." Jones also points to the Oscar winners of 1950-1952, All About Eve,  An American in Paris, and The Greatest Show on Earth, as indicative of the type of product most favored by the Hollywood establishment.20

Other interpretations are generally consistent with this analysis, stressing a shift in the early fifties to Westerns, war films, and biblical epics, and to a perspective that was more often psychological than social. To blacklisted writer Walter Bernstein, psychology was in, social criticism was out, and Hollywood was becoming increasingly concerned to reflect the perspectives of a growing younger audience. At the time, the critic Manny Farber pointed to another development, a wave of "art or mood" films including A Streetcar Named Desire, A Place in the Sun, and Sunset Boulevard (all 1951); to Farber these "Freud-Marx epics" represented the social significance of the 1930s gone sour. Lary May, in his own study of what he sees as a cultural reconstruction of American national identity in the Cold War period, uses an analysis of thousands of film plots from the trade paper the Motion Picture Herald as a source of evidence on the key changes in theme from the 1930s to the 1950s. He charts a decline in unhappy (what he calls Noir) endings in the fifties, a rise in the focus on youth as an alternative to the adult world over the same period, and a fall in the incidence of depictions both of the rich as a moral threat and of  big business as villainous.21

Certainly the early 1950s saw a tailing-off of the crime dramas now classified as part of the  film noir cycle. Thorn Andersen has written of a sub-group of noir films—he labeled them "films gris"—which was characteristic of the period 1947-1951. These films shared some of the stylistic features associated with film noir but dealt in particular with social issues and exhibited an awareness of class as a critical factor in American life. Such films looked back to the 1930s in their politics, and were increasingly viewed with suspicion by those concerned that Hollywood films affirm America to a global market. The writers and particularly the directors who were most responsible for this cycle of films were those most affected by the second wave of Congressional investigations. Jules Dassin, for example, directed Thieves Highway (1949) and Night and the City (1950) before becoming a victim of the blacklist and moving permanently to Europe.  Nicholas Ray avoided the blacklist, but his work in the late forties, including They Live by Night (1949) and Knock on Any Door (1949), dealt with the problems of youth in a way that clearly relates, in retrospect, to Andersen's notion of work and the "psychological injuries of class." Ray also worked in part in Europe in the fifties, and was reportedly on a graylist for a time, while arguably making metaphoric reference to the blacklist in In a Lonely Place (1950) and Johnny Guitar (1954). The youthful rebels of the fifties became cultural icons, but were rarely linked to broader social forces. The Wild One (1954) appeared shorn of most of its criticism of business following PCA pressure, while the  James Dean persona in Kazan's East of Eden (1954) and Ray's own Rebel Without a Cause (1955) is primarily defined in terms of conflicts within the family.22

7

Opposition to the Cold War

Cold War Critics

Imperialism and Decolonization

In the Soviet Union, Stalin’s brutal regime had jailed or murdered millions. Its authoritarianism made the Soviet Union seem antithetical to “free enterprise” and democracy. But some Americans argued that approaching the Cold War as a titanic struggle between freedom and slavery was problematic, and argued that U.S. leaders should avoid ideological decisions and view international crises on a case-by-case basis if they were to determine if freedom or American interests were in danger. Walter Lippmann, a prominent journalist, condemned turning foreign policy into an “ideological crusade” that required the United States to constantly intervene abroad and violate its own ideals by allying with authoritarian anticommunist governments, many of which faced rebellions sparked by domestic problems, not Soviet subversion. Lippmann argued that communists were bound to be part of the movements for national independence that the United States should itself support.

The war elevated awareness in the United States about imperialism and decolonization, even as anticolonial movements around the world used the Declaration of Independence to make claims for self-government. Some liberals and black leaders pressed Truman to promote decolonization, and in 1946, the United States gave independence to the Philippines. But the Cold War saw the United States retreat from the pressure that FDR had exerted on America’s European allies to grant sovereignty to their colonies. Britain and France hoped to retain their possessions in Africa and Asia. While geopolitical and economic interests influenced U.S. foreign policy as much as ideas of freedom, U.S. policymakers used the language of freedom to justify actions that seemed to contradict freedom. Even extremely repressive governments were included in the “Free World” as long as they were anticommunist. One such ally was South Africa, where an apartheid regime preserved white supremacy and suppressed the black population.

8

Army-McCarthy Hearings

Give Me Liberty!: An American History, 5th Edition

Copyright © 2017 W. W. Norton & Company

9

Senator Joseph R. McCarthy at the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, pointing to a map detailing the alleged extent of the communist menace, while the army’s lawyer, Joseph Welch, listens in disgust.

This climate of fear allowed an obscure Wisconsin senator to lead a spurious anticommunist crusade. In 1950, Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, who was elected in 1946 partly because of a falsified war record, delivered a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, in which he claimed to have a list of 205 communists employed at the State Department. The charge was baseless, he constantly changed the numbers, and he never identified anyone who was actually disloyal. But McCarthy used his senatorial position to hold hearings and allege disloyalty at the Defense Department and other government agencies. Though many Republicans embraced McCarthy’s campaign as a way to damage the Truman administration, his attacks on government officials after Republican candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president in 1952 alienated Republicans. Few politicians had the courage to speak up, but Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith, the only woman in the Senate, condemned the “campaign of hate and character assassination.” In 1954, his allegations of disloyalty in the army led to televised hearings that exposed McCarthy’s tactics and led to his downfall. The Senate, with its Republican majority, condemned his action, and though McCarthy died three years later, “McCarthyism” continued to be used to refer to the abuse of power in the name of anticommunism.

Although anticommunism most affected the national government, it pervaded local government and life as well. States created committees, based on HUAC, to ferret out alleged communists, and state and local authorities required loyalty oaths of teachers, pharmacists, and other professionals. Private groups like the American Legion and the National Association of Manufacturers also targeted individuals for their political beliefs. Organizations that had been influenced by communists in the 1930s and 1940s became tainted, and those who would not testify about their past and present political opinions or refused to name communists often lost their jobs. “Un-American” books, like stories of Robin Hood, were removed from local libraries. Universities refused to host left-wing speakers and fired teachers who would not take loyalty oaths. The courts did nothing to halt these violations of civil liberties, and the Supreme Court defended the imprisonment of communists for their beliefs.

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