EMAIL PAGE NINE
COLUMN EIGHTY-EIGHT, APRIL 1, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
50TH BIRTHDAY OF BLACKLISTED FILM
Subject: Fw: NYTimes.com Article: Blacklisted Film Recalled on 50th Birthday
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 10:47:33 -0800
From: allan winans <email@example.com>
February 22, 2003
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- A classic movie about a mine strike had lots of strikes against it before shooting was done: The director and writer were blacklisted, the lead actress was deported, labs wouldn't process the film, projectionists wouldn't show it.
The film itself, "Salt of the Earth,'' was the only feature banned outright in the Cold War freeze-out that
kept many directors, writers and actors from working.
It also landed 10 of them---known as the Hollywood 10---in jail for contempt of Congress in the 1950s after they refused to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee.
It was one of that group, director Herbert Biberman, who made "Salt of the Earth'' with funding from the miners' union that went on strike against Empire Zinc in southwestern New Mexico.
Filming began 50 years ago, in 1953, in the glaring spotlight of American politics. A dozen years passed
before anyone saw the simple, well-filmed account of the strike---one that was carried out by the wives of miners who'd been ordered back to work by a judge.
From Feb. 27-March 1, The College of Santa Fe is staging a 50th anniversary "Salt of the Earth'' conference,
including a blacklist exhibit assembled by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "Salt'' and
blacklist-related films like "The Front'' will screen amid panel discussions featuring blacklisted screenwriters
Norma Barzman, Walter Bernstein and others.
Besides Biberman, the Hollywood 10 included Alvah Bessie, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott and Dalton Trumbo.
Norma and Ben Barzman lived 30 years of self-imposed exile in Europe rather than face Congress. Her just-published memoir, "The Red and the Blacklist,'' evokes the era, the stress, the adventure, the sadness. In it, she recalls:
"In Paris some people without funds hung around the Coupole and other cafes, listened, reported and were
rewarded with small fees by a CIA guy at the American Embassy'' for informing on Hollywood emigres.
For Adrian (Scott), Paris was one last fling before going to jail. ... In spring 1949, Paris was beautifully
unspoiled.... Ben drank it all in and sighed, 'They say Paris is the only city in the world you can have nostalgia
for when you're in it.''' Scott wrote "Mr. Lucky'' and produced film noir classics "Murder, My Sweet'' and
"Cornered'' but never made another after the blacklist. He died in 1973.
"'We are the same,' Picasso said, squeezing my arm....'Exiles.'''
Now Barzman laments: "I haven't caught the sadness in my book. I don't know if I've caught it.'' But she has, in
every cheery page.
It's all happening again, she frets, recalling a news story that reported talk show callers labeled U.S. Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., communist "because he's antiwar,'' and some of her friends suspect their phones are tapped.
"I think our liberties are being taken away little by little. I'm 82, and I've been through a lot,'' she says,
`"but I think this is one of the worst times.''
Today's war on terrorism is used for demagogy just as the Cold War was, she says.
Jean Rouverol, 86, has a memoir, "Refugees from Hollywood,'' about her exile with her screenwriter husband
Hugo Butler. They dodged HUAC subpoenas for months before spending 10 years in Mexico and three in Italy. They stretched a $17,000 nestegg, sold scripts through "fronts,'' go-betweens who pretended to be the screenwriters, and worked with European filmmakers, she said in Santa Monica, Calif.
"If you think about all the movies made during that period, probably the best ones were written by
blacklistees,'' Rouverol said.
Barzman hopes the Academy exhibition, which Academy spokeswoman Leslie Unger says Barzman instigated,
eventually will visit every major U.S. and European city. She wants people to see how blacklisting stifled free
speech and labor unions.
Barzman says American leftists at the time had altruistic motives but were sometimes "stupes'' about it. "I mean,
look at me. It's crazy that I didn't realize about Stalin, that he was a horror, and what he was doing, until it was
She assumed the reports of atrocities were lies.
"I was a dope about that, and we were idealistic,'' she said.
But, she added, "I'm very proud of what we did.'' Among other things, she recalled, "we brought long-handled
agricultural tools to the Salinas Valley lettuce workers. We fought against fascism.''
Some paid dearly for it. The careers of Biberman, who died in 1971, and Rosaura Revueltas, the deported "Salt'' star, did not bounce back, conference co-chairmen Jonathan Wacks and David Meyers said. As for the film, none of the Hollywood labs would process the black-and-white film, and the projectionists' union refused to show it anywhere until 1965.
Blacklisted "Salt of the Earth'' writer Michael Wilson, who had won an Oscar for "A Place in the Sun,'' for years got no credits for important later work. Uncredited, he wrote "Friendly Persuasion,'' "The Bridge on the River Kwai'' and "Lawrence of Arabia.'' He died in 1978.
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company ##
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