It was the late 1940s, right in the midst of the Cold War. Competing ideologies of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia threatened the Western World. On the home front, in the golden valley of Los Angeles, prominent cultural leaders were suspected of pledging their allegiance abroad.
“By 1944 it looked as if the Communists were in control of the movie industry,” Allan Ryskind, author of the newly released title “Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler,” told Townhall.
“They were embedded in the Screen Writers Guild, that was a very important guild. The chief publication of the Screen Writers Guild was called the Screen Writer, and it was edited by a communist, Dalton Trumble, who Hollywood still seems to love and shower accolades on. He had turned the Screen Writer into some sort of communist propaganda organ.”
Ryskind’s father, Morrie Ryskind, was an established entertainment elite, who had worked alongside George Kaufman and Ira Gershwin. He also helped write some of the original Marx Brothers scripts. When Ryskind Senior joined the Screen Writers Guild in the mid-30s, he found that Communists made up a significant amount of the board, Ryskind explained.
His father joined the likes of Walt Disney, John Wayne, Ayn Rand, and Ronald Reagan to lead the Motion Picture Alliance, and combat the Communists who were writing films that portrayed the Soviet Union as a Utopian enterprise.
“It seems to me there was a battle for several years,” Ryskind stated, “and the truth is that the anti-communists actually won the fight by 1947. And the Communists were kicked out of the Guild and the Hollywood was creating anti-communist pictures after ‘47”
In an exclusive Townhall interview, Ryskind told us more about his book and how the ideological war was won.
Townhall: What sort of steps did the anti-communist movement make to oust the alleged Communist figures?
Ryskind: The House Committee of Un-American Activities launched the first major investigation of the Communist influence in Hollywood in 1947. All the material that came out subsequently was all sort of based on those original hearings, even though there were multiple hearings in the 1950s. And they exposed the fact that Communists had major power in Hollywood, and out of that also came the famed ‘Hollywood 10.’
They were asked the question as to whether they members of the Communist Party —they refused to answer that question. They said that under the First Amendment they shouldn’t even be asked that question.
They acted in a way that was rude, it was obstreperous, they screamed at the committee members, they said that they were guilty of Nazi tactics, and all this kind of stuff. And the American people heard all this on radio and in various newsreels.
As a result of those hearings, the studios thought that the Hollywood 10 had conducted themselves so poorly that they decided that they institute the ‘Blacklist.’
A number of people like my dad and Robert Taylor, prior to the Hollywood 10 being called actually outlined what the communists were doing in Hollywood.
Townhall: How is this book relevant today?
Ryskind: There are many pictures that are coming out, and there are pictures that have been done in the past, that always keep saying how wonderful these Communist writers in Hollywood were. They’re being given First Amendment Award, Ring Lardner, Jr., part of the Hollywood 10; a big Communist. Dalton Trumbo, he got some First Amendment Award.
In mainstream Hollywood why would you give a First Amendment Award to anyone who was a Communist? The Communists, we’ve seen how they operate all over the world; you can’t name a country that was ever ruled by Communists that ever honored the First Amendment. That, I guess is one of my major criticisms of Hollywood.
Coming out shortly, I guess in 2015, there is going to be another movie about how wonderful Dalton Trumbo was; that he was a supporter and champion of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Well here’s a guy that was for Stalin, a guy that admits to joining the Communist Party in 1943, that he might as well have been a Communist 10 years earlier, and that he never regretted being a Communist.