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People are dying and sources are drying up. —Paul Jarrico, 1991 Some of the blacklisted writers, notably Albert Maltz and Paul Jarrico, were preternaturally watchful of the historical record regarding the blacklist. Their files are filled with drafts of letters to newspaper editors and letters to friends (and former friends) setting the record straight. They were the keepers of the blacklist historical flame. Their example has deeply influenced my own research and writing on this subject. I wrote in 1991, The blacklist period was born and it thrived in the darkest, meanest shadows of American politics. The historian, confronted with the specters of government agents sneaking around Hollywood, hate groups secretly compiling lists of “subversives,” and individuals informing anonymously and secretly to save their careers at the expense of others, should shine a glaring spotlight into every corner . Unless it means violating a confidence or gratuitously hurting a living person, the historian should endeavor to fill in every blank and clarify every obscurity.1 The largest and most obscure page in the blacklist story at the time I wrote those words was the huge number of movie and television scripts written behind fronts or under pseudonyms. But disclosing the identities of the actual authors turned out to be an enterprise EPILOGUE fraught with crosscurrents. My immersion in that enterprise began in 1979 when Albert Maltz told me, in the strictest secrecy, that he had written Broken Arrow and that it had been fronted by his then friend Michael Blankfort. (Blankfort had been nominated for an Academy Award and had won an SWG award for the script.) When Maltz died in May 1985, I told this story in the form of a eulogy I wrote for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. I concluded the story by arguing that the WGAw should follow the lead of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which had given posthumous Academy Awards the previous month to Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson for their screenplays for The Bridge on the River Kwai.2 When nothing happened, I wrote a longer version of the story for Cineaste. I spoke with Jarrico about revealing the original writers of these old screenplays, and I learned that he was engaged in an ongoing (albeit theretofore unsuccessful) effort to convince the WGAw to give Michael Wilson screen credit for Lawrence of Arabia. I also learned that Jarrico had been helping a Finnish writer, Matti Salo, who was writing a book about fronts and pseudonyms during the blacklist period.3 Jarrico had begun his campaign to get Wilson the Lawrence of Arabia credit in June 1988, when he learned that a director’s cut of the movie was going to be released. He made a pitch to the WGAw board on May 1, 1989, to award Wilson a cocredit. Executive Secretary Brian Walton told the board that a further investigation would be made.4 One month later, Jarrico sent Walton the full correspondence on the subject, including letters from the British Screenwriters Guild. The two exchanged several letters, but no action was taken. According to former WGAw president Del Reisman, board members believed that Hollywood had moved past the blacklist.5 In May 1991, I sent a letter to WGAw president George Kirgo, enclosing the article I had written for Cineaste and a copy of the Broken Arrow contract Maltz and Blankfort had signed. I was asked to present my case to the WGAw board. I did so, and the board voted to add Maltz’s name to the WGAw award for the script. The guild’s journal reprinted my article.6 When news of this decision was made public, Steven Barr contacted the board to make a strong case for adding Dalton Trumbo’s name to the award for Roman Holiday.7 On the night of March 22, 1992, at the forty-fourth annual WGAw 238 THE MARXIST AND THE MOVIES Awards ceremony, Warren Beatty presented awards to Esther Maltz for her late husband’s screenplay and to Cleo Trumbo for her late husband’s original story. In October 1994, an article on Lawrence of Arabia was published in Cineaste. The author, Joel Hodson, undertook a side-by-side comparison of the scripts written by Wilson and Robert Bolt and concluded that the structure of Wilson’s screenplay had been appropriated by Bolt and the director, David Lean. Jarrico sent copies of Hodson’s article to every WGAw executive. After Hodson’s article was reprinted in the WGAw Journal the...


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MARC Record
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