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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

TCM's Month-Long Spotlight on 70th Anniversary of the Hollywood Blacklist

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will spotlight the 70th anniversary of “The Hollywood Blacklist”. This particularly turbulent period for the film industry during the Cold War was the result of the American government embarking on what some considered to be a “witch hunt” against communism. The sad result was the ruination of many careers, as well as lives.

The month-long programming event begins November 6 and will continue every Monday and Tuesday in November. Episodes will highlight the professionals that were affected by the actions of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), along with the celebrated films they worked on. Blacklisted actress/director Lee Grant (In the Heat of the Night, The Landlord) and author Glenn Frankel, author of the book, High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic, will join TCM Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz as co-hosts for this special evenings.

The “Blacklist” programming itself is divided into categories in order to more clearly examine the multifaceted effects of Blacklisting. These categories include a focus on The Hollywood Ten, a look at Blacklisted Writers and Directors behind the scenes, the more obvious ramifications of Blacklisted Actors, an overview of what it meant for those Working Abroad and Using Pseudonyms, and finally, and a breakdown of those lucky enough to experience Comebacks. Each night of programming will feature people and films falling into the evening's sub-theme.

Before the Blacklist – The Hollywood Ten looks at the first individuals who were cited for contempt of Congress and subsequently "blacklisted" from working by the film community at large after these ten individuals refused to answer questions about their alleged involvement with the Communist Party. There were some very notable stars who initially pushed back against this practice of ostracizing but were ultimately brow-beaten into submission by their employers to tow the line or face the same penalty as the Hollywood Ten.

Before the Blacklist – Others Blacklisted (Writers and Directors) includes Academy Award winning writer Sidney Buchman (Here Comes Mr. Jordan 1941), former president of the Director's Guild and father of actor James Cromwell, director John Cromwell (The Racket, 1951), Oscar nominated director, Jules Dassin (The Naked City, 1948), Cannes Film Festival Grand Prize nominee, director Irving Pichel (The Man I Married, TCM premiere, 1940), Academy Award nominated writer-director, Abraham Polonsky (Force of Evil, 1948), and Writers Guild of America award nominees, Marguerite Roberts and John Sanford (Honky Tonk, 1941).

Before the Blacklist – Others Blacklisted (Actors) features Broadway veteran, Morris Carnovsky (Gun Crazy, 1949), flash in the pan, Dorothy Comingore (Citizen Kane, 1941), noted Hollywood screen idol, John Garfield and Hitchcock bad guy, Norman Lloyd (He Ran All the Way, 1951), screen sweetheart, Marsha Hunt (A Letter for Evie, 1945), famed "method" actor, Kim Hunter (A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951), 1930s starlet, Karen Morley (Scarface, 1931), and screen baddy, Gale Sondergaard (Anthony Adverse, 1936).

During the Blacklist – Working Abroad and Using Pseudonyms has the focus on the talents that continued working by leaving Hollywood, using false names, or forgoing credit. Both the documentary and feature film on Dalton Trumbo focused on this aspect of those among the Hollywood Ten who continued to eek out a living by hiding from Hollywood and public eye. The consequences, however, meant extremely low pay and giving up recognition of some tremendous work.

After the Blacklist – Comebacks focuses on those who were fortunate enough to reclaim their careers after surviving the notoriety of the Blacklist, including director Martin Ritt (Edge of the City, 1957) and actors Jeff Corey (The Cincinnati Kid, 1965), Zero Mostel (The Front, 1976), Lee Grant (The Landlord, 1970) and Howard Da Silva (David and Lisa, 1962). Sadly, there were many who did not. Too many of those Blacklisted were never able to revive there lives, let alone their livelihoods. I urge you to take advantage of this special TCM programming and get an examined look at one of the most unfortunate times in Hollywood history.

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