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What if there were a list? A list that said: Our finest actors weren’t allowed to act. Our best writers weren’t allowed to write. Our funniest comedians weren’t allowed to make us laugh. What would it be like if there were such a list? It would be like America in 1953. —Paul Jarrico, 1976 The political situation in Hollywood did not seem too dire to Jarrico in September 1950. He wrote to Abe Polonsky, who was in France, “The only sound is the shuffling of feet, the foolish, embarrassed, legalistic waltz of the nouveaux conquerors. No whooping swooping raids by night, just whittle whittle here, whittle whittle there. No defiant counterattack , just a slow falling back, pretending you don’t care.” But the slow falling back was on the verge of becoming a massive retreat. In April 1950, Counterattack had exposed actor Edward G. Robinson as a member of ASP, and three months later, Red Channels linked him to ten subversive organizations and periodicals. Robinson tried various methods to clear himself, including two voluntary appearances before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, on October 27 and December 21.1 Dore Schary, no longer willing to be accused of employing Communists, went to the FBI’s Los Angeles office on December 12. He was, reported the SACLA, “very concerned that MGM not hire any Communists or Communist Sympathizers, especially Betsy Blair. He inquired if there was any assistance the Bureau could give him in matters of this nature.”2 Communists and 6 The Blacklist Expands, 1951–52 former Communists, such as Richard Collins, writer Leo Townsend, and actor Sterling Hayden, began contemplating visits to the FBI. Edward Dmytryk, from the federal prison at Mill Point, West Virginia, issued an affidavit avowing: “I am not now, nor was I at the time of the hearing, a member of the Communist Party”; “I am not a Communist sympathizer”; and “I recognize the United States of America as the only country to which I owe allegiance and loyalty.” An angry Jarrico wrote, “Out of the anus of Dmytryk has finally been forced the tight shit we all knew was in him.”3 But Dmytryk was not finished. On February 2, 1951, three months after his release from prison, he met with a committee of the Motion Picture Industry Council (MPIC) and asked the members for advice on how to rehabilitate himself.4 They told him he had to undergo an interview with the FBI, meet with House Committee on Un-American Activities investigators, volunteer to reappear before the committee, and publish his recantation in a magazine. On February 8, Dmytryk went to the FBI office in Los Angeles, where he told the agents he had joined the CPA but had informally withdrawn at the time of the Maltz controversy. He named more than twenty party members, including Jarrico.5 Jarrico did not know that Dmytryk had named him but nevertheless believed that he was “more or less blacklisted as far as major studio assignments go.” But he was convinced that he had enough interesting and promising independent projects to sustain him temporarily . He was negotiating with Columbia to purchase screen rights for The Big Eye, had been given an option on the Rip Van Winkle script by Monogram, and continued to send the Temptation script to prospective backers. He wrote to a friend, “My spirits are high, empathetically taut with the birth pangs of that better world.”6 And then, amazingly, Jarrico was hired (at $2,000 a week) by RKO to rewrite a script titled The Miami Story, which had been bouncing around the studio for three years. The story involved a cynical detective, a sexy woman, and a crook. Jarrico noted, “Some of the sex and violence good, but needs much tighter story line, with more clever twists. Main fault is the girl, whose motivations are weak.” On January 17, he began a new treatment of what was now called The Las Vegas Story. His new approach was approved, and he completed his version of the script in three weeks. During this time, he had no contact with Howard Hughes.7 118 BLACKLIST As he was completing his work at RKO, the House Committee on Un-American Activities voted to subpoena Jarrico and three other writers (Waldo Salt, Richard Collins, and Robert Lees) and four actors (Howard Da Silva, Sterling Hayden, Larry Parks, and Gale Sondergaard). Though the committee did not make a public statement about the subpoenas...


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