All Movie Talk, Episode 38

Posted in Episodes at 5:00 am by Sam

Show contents, with start times:

  • Industry Trend: The Blacklist (1:31)
  • Trivia Question: Delayed Stardom (22:40)
  • Top 6: Rock and Roll Movies (23:51)
  • Director Spotlight: Hayao Miyazaki (43:11)
  • Closing: Trivia Answer, Preview of Next Week (58:12)

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Show Notes:

Industry Trend: The Blacklist

The Hollywood Blacklist was a list of entertainment-industry workers who were banned from openly working in the industry during the late 1940s and ’50s due to alleged communist sympathies.

After World War II, there was an American fear that communist infiltrators from the Soviet Union were making a concerted effort to subvert American culture via the mass media. The House of Representatives launched investigations into Hollywood, and in 1947 ten members of the industry (the so-called “Hollywood Ten”) refuse to testify, claiming the First Amendment’s guarantee of free association means they shouldn’t have to talk about the people with whom they associate. What the Congress is really trying to find from the witnesses it calls are names of other people who were associated with communist groups, and the Hollywood Ten is imprisoned for refusing to name names. Director Edward Dmytryk, one of the Hollywood Ten, relented in 1951, testified, and was able to get his career back on track.

The next month of the same year, the studios declared that they will have nothing to do with the Hollywood Ten, with any suspected communists, or anyone who does not cooperate with Congress. This is the start of the blacklist, which will swell to hundreds of names as the years go on. It robbed hundreds of people of their careers.

As the 1950s continue, however, the enforcement of the blacklist encounters problems, both legal and professional. A radio host named John Henry Faulk landed on a blacklist maintained by a third-party watchdog group, sued it, and eventually won.

A number of people also worked despite being blacklisted, using assumed names. Most famously, screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (one of the Hollywood Ten) worked throughout the 1950s. His public hiring to write two films in 1960 — Exodus and Spartacus — heralded the end of the blacklist era.

Trivia Question: Delayed Stardom

This week’s mystery actor wasn’t quite an overnight success. Though he became one of film’s all-time biggest stars, he didn’t really hit his stride until his 80th film.

Top 6: Rock and Roll Movies

See our separate Top 6 entry for more information about our picks.

Director Spotlight: Hayao Miyazaki

Director Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most famous directors of anime, the style of Japanese animation we discussed previously in Episode 27.

Miyazaki’s films are generally aimed at family audiences, though as is typical in Japanese animation, many of them feature adult themes that would not be common in mainstream American animation. His most famous films include Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984), Laputa: Castle In the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1980), Princess Mononoke (1997), and Spirited Away (2001).

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  1. joem18b (231) said,

    June 19, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    I watched The Majestic (2001) again the other night. Still like it. Thought of it as I listened to the blacklist segment.

  2. Morticus (2) said,

    June 19, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    joem - Ah, me too. I was surprised that that didn’t come up during the discussion. I guess that wasn’t quite as much about the Hollywood blacklist as it was McCarthyism in general.

  3. Grishny (156) said,

    June 20, 2007 at 10:13 am

    I thought of The Majestic too; in fact it was the movie that sort of inspired my interest in the topic enough to ask for a segment on it. I was quite taken aback when the show segment ended and the movie hadn’t been mentioned even once.

    The movie isn’t really about the Hollywood black list, true, but it does play a major role in the movie and is one of the main plot points.

  4. Sam (405) said,

    June 20, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Huh. It’s interesting to see these reactions. I love The Majestic (Stephen doesn’t), but it still wouldn’t occur to me to mention it in a segment about the history of the day. To me, it’s like saying that you can’t mention The Great Depression without talking about Cinderella Man. Well, maybe not that extreme, because the noteworthy think about blacklist films is that there are so few of them. But even “The Majestic” doesn’t *really* deal with the blacklist head on. It’s a romance first, and the blacklist stuff is the flavoring.

    “The Way We Were” does a similar thing. It’s an important element of the film, but first and foremost only in how it strains the relationship of the two main characters.

    I mentioned “The Front,” I think, which is the only movie off the top of my head that *really* addresses the blacklist as its primary subject. It’s largely a comedic romp, but it does provide a peek into what was really going on at that time.

    We’re all still waiting for that masterwork about the blacklist, though. So far, the only true classics about the blacklist are the veiled kind, like On the Waterfront and High Noon.

  5. joem18b (231) said,

    June 20, 2007 at 11:44 am

    I saw Invasion USA (1952) when I was eight. Don’t know why my folks took me to that one, but it was pretty scary for somebody that age. Hoover Dam gets blown up. In Washington, D.C., one soldier asks another, “How are the Cubs doing this year?” and the other soldier, dressed in a US Army uniform, answers, “Cubs? Is small bear, correct?” Yikes. Close the doors, they’re coming in the windows.

  6. LaZorra (60) said,

    June 24, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    “Animated balls of soot.” *gigglesnort*

    (Yes, I always have incredibly insightful comments.)

  7. Maryam (14) said,

    September 27, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Hooray! I got the trivia question right!

    Of course, I was probably helped by listening to the later podcasts — especially the Westerns segments in episodes 51 and 52 — first.

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