Inside Out: A Memoir of the Blacklist

Walter Bernstein, Author
Walter Bernstein, Author Alfred A. Knopf $24 (0p) ISBN 978-0-394-58341-9
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996
Release date: 10/01/1996
Paperback - 316 pages - 978-0-306-80936-1
Open Ebook - 169 pages - 978-0-8041-5048-4
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-306-95457-0
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Those who saw the Soviet system as the hope of the future were embattled even before the Spanish Civil War became a focus for what was later called premature antifascism. For screenwriter Bernstein, the Communist Party of the 1930s opposed social and political injustice and had no Stalinist agenda. His wartime experience, including a period as a GI reporting about Tito for Yank, reinforced his ardor, and he obtained a Party card. Even earlier, however, Hoover's FBI was watching him, and when the postwar McCarthy witch-hunting began, he was a marked man. A blacklist based upon ""terror, falsehood and profit"" left him ""isolated, marginalized, rejected and criminalized,"" able to write for film and TV only under pseudonyms. The furtive life working under fronts for a media world hostage to fear and hypocrisy has been exposed before, but Bernstein is the writer of the film about that contemptible era, The Front, and he vividly evokes the disgust only suggested on the screen. Yet the past, he confesses, has ""a stubborn habit of conditioning the present."" The memory of idealism, however subverted by Moscow, remains cherished by him despite the grossness of the gulags, the show trials, the crushed Prague Spring, the Red tanks in Budapest. There had been a cause, however vulnerable. Bitterness and nostalgia confront each other movingly in Bernstein's memoir, and the movie-addicted author's seemingly coincidental encounters, wartime and postwar, with the film musical You Were Never Lovelier have a symbolic resonance possibly even beyond his intent. Illustrations. (Nov.)
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