Two New York repertory theaters are collaborating to present a series of films showcasing the Hollywood “blacklist,” testing the theory that the works by blacklisted filmmakers and screenwriters pushed the boundaries of Hollywood filmmaking and represent some of the most sophisticated and nuanced cinematic works of the period.
Actor Philip Loeb, of the seminal sitcom “The Goldbergs” was blacklisted in the early 1950s. Being blacklisted effectively ended Loeb’s career and may have contributed to his decision to commit suicide in 1955. Loeb’s story is chronicled in Aviva Kempner’s 2009 documentary, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center kicked things off last week with showings of Red Hollywood, a 1996 documentary about the blacklist directed by Thom Anderson. Anderson curated a selection of films made by blacklisted directors and screenwriters to accompany his documentary at the Lincoln Center including Joseph Losey’s The Prowler and Cy Endfield’s Zulu.
The Lincoln Center’s part of the series is over, but Anthology Film Archives’ is just beginning. Between August 22nd and September 2nd, they’re screening films made by later blacklisted writers and directors before the blacklist took effect. The Boy With Green Hair, the first film by Joseph Losey, who was blacklisted in the early 1950s, will screen August 27th and 28th. Northern Pursuit, written by Alvah Bessie, who later was imprisoned as one of the Hollywood Ten, will screen on August 30th. In the fall, Anthology will screen films written during and after the blacklist by blacklisted screenwriters.
The blacklist hindered the work of some of the most talented artists of mid-century Hollywood, and destroyed the lives of others. If you are in the area, take the time to see some of the upcoming films in the series at Anthology Film Archives.