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Friday, September 22, 2017

Politics and Prose: Glenn Frankel- High Noon: 'The Hollywood Blacklist & The Making of a Classic'

Source:Politics and Prose- Author Glen Frankel, at Politics and Prose in Washington, talking about his book High Noon.
"One of the most revered movies of Hollywood's golden era. Starring screen legend Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in her first significant film role, High Noon was shot on a lean budget over just thirty-two days but achieved instant box-office and critical success. It won four Academy Awards in 1953, including a best actor win for Cooper. And it became a cultural touchstone, often cited by politicians as a favorite film, celebrating moral fortitude.

Yet what has been often overlooked is that High Noon was made during the height of the Hollywood blacklist, a time of political inquisition and personal betrayal. In the middle of the film shoot, screenwriter Carl Foreman was forced to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his former membership in the Communist Party. Refusing to name names, he was eventually blacklisted and fled the United States. (His co-authored screenplay for another classic, The Bridge on the River Kwai, went uncredited in 1957.) Examined in light of Foreman's testimony, High Noon's emphasis on courage and loyalty takes on deeper meaning and importance.

In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel tells the story of the making of a great American Western, exploring how Carl Foreman's concept of High Noon evolved from idea to first draft to final script, taking on allegorical weight. Both the classic film and its turbulent political times emerge newly illuminated.

Founded by Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade in 1984, Politics and Prose Bookstore is Washington, D.C.'s premier independent bookstore and cultural hub, a gathering place for people interested in reading and discussing books. Politics and  Prose offers superior service, unusual book choices, and a haven for book lovers in the store and online. Visit them on the web at Politics and Prose."

From Politics and Prose

I don't have much to offer about the movie High Noon, as least the original one from 1952. I did however see a movie with the same title from the Lifetime Network (of all places) in I believe 2009. But that is not what this piece is about. (Thank God!) Not a good movie and not trying to cure anyone's insomnia by talking about the second High Noon movie. Not a good movie and not even very believable.

What I'm knowledgeable about and have read about and seen some documentaries about, is The Hollywood Blacklist from the 1940s and 1950s. Where workers out in the Hollywood industry who actually were Socialists and in some cases even Communists and even supported Communist Russia back then (known as the Soviet Union) but weren't criminals and didn't even have official relationships with the Soviet Government in Russia.

The Hollywood Far-Left was simply on trial for their far-left political beliefs by crooked politicians in Congress who were simply trying to take advantage of the Red Scare and the start of the Cold War between America and Europe, against Russia and their allies in the East.

Hollywood professionals like writer Dalton Trumbo which there was a good movie made about him that came out in 2015 simply called Trumbo, were hauled in front of Congress at the so-called House Un-American Activities Committee simply because of their political beliefs. Not for any laws that they might have broken. But because they were Socialists and Communists who didn't like the American liberal democratic form of government and instead wanted a socialist or communist state to replace our liberal democratic, federal form of government.

The House Un-American Activities Committee, was exactly that which was Un-American. The idea that people could be hauled in front of Congress at first in the House and then later in the early 1950s to the Senate Investigation Committee chaired by Senator Joe McCarthy simply because of their politics and political beliefs and not for anything that they even may have done, is simply Un-American.

So what if Dalton Trumbo was not just on the Far-Left in America, but was also a Communist! He was never going to have any political power in America, nor did he ever want any. And the Communist Party was never going to have any political power in America simply because they're Communists and are illiberal. And oppose most of the liberal democratic values that most Americans love, like free speech and free elections, property rights, right to privacy, just to name a few.

Whether you're a Communist on the furthest Left in American political or a Christian-Theocrat or Nationalistic-Tribalist on the furthest right in American politics, you have a right to believe what you believe. And express your beliefs in public and try to make the case for what you believe in public. Which is as American as our melting pot and individualism. Which is what the so-called Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s which is what this nationalistic anti-communist movement opposed and tried to eliminate from American life.

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