Brianton’s well-documented study of a Hollywood controversy delves into one example of the post-WWII Red Scare. In this period, screenwriters, actors, and directors were blacklisted for their political beliefs, preventing many from working for years. Brianton recounts how, in 1950, powerful ultraconservative director Cecil B. DeMille (The Ten Commandments
) fought to oust Joseph Mankiewicz (All About Eve
) as head of the Screen Directors Guild over Mankiewicz’s unwillingness to impose a mandatory anti-communist loyalty oath for members. After contentious debate, John Ford (The Searchers
stepped forward and, according to different accounts, either condemned DeMille or defused the tensions between the directors. In any case, Brianton shows, the meeting shadowed the three directors’ careers and reputations for many years. More historical and cultural background would have been welcome, but Brianton does offers readers an exhaustive account of the meeting, the internal politics of Hollywood, and how the facts of the incident were distorted over time by the frailty of human memory, time, and the desire to tell a good story. Film buffs will find this an intriguing and provocative examination of a pivotal moment in Hollywood history. 13 b&w photos. (Oct.
Reviewed on 12/09/2016 |
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