The Hollywood Blacklist refers to a period during the 40s and 50s in America’s entertainment industry where a committee created by the House of Representatives called the House Un-American Activities Committee was tasked with uncovering communist sympathizers, and other American citizens considered to be disloyal to the values and principles of the American government. Considering the United States’ cold war with Russia was in full swing by the end of the 40s, some in the American government thought that members of the Hollywood film industry were trying to sneak communist propaganda into films and Hollywood labor practices.

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This video essay was written, edited, and narrated by Tyler Knudsen.

“I’m No Communist” by Humphrey Bogart



“Sinking Feeling” by Jesse Spillane


23 thoughts on “What is the Hollywood Blacklist?

  1. Thanks for this. Well done. Just watched "Trumbo" last night and this was most appropriate to watch.

  2. Great video! It helped me a lot with a school project. Thanks for the sources too.

  3. Oh, and RIP Kirk Douglas…who died today Feb 5th 2020 at 103.

    I wonder how so many wealthy Hollywood stars live so long, even after receiving a usually life ending diagnosis. I guess money can def buy a long life…but was it a happy one? I hope so, bc we know money can't buy THAT anyway.

  4. Communists in Hollywood?? You don't say……..Lol! Who doesn't know there are STILL communists in Hollywood…today, they wear it on their sleeve like it's a badge of honor, though. No shame in their Anti-American rhetoric, no shame at all

  5. And here we go again… we stand for the constitution our freedom of speech is slowly being taken away from us. And the right to bear and carry arms…. the ones screaming fascism are the communist fascist. The ones breaking and making new laws to suit their pockets and agendas as well blame others for their crimes… when they speak of protecting the constitution they are tearing it up as we watch them get away with their crimes.

    I bet non of those actors were communists… The deep Hollywood always was. We can see it today!

    I loath repeating history. 😑

  6. While I don't agree with McCarthy's tactics…..history has proven him more than correct.
    Documents released after USSR's fall, reveal even more extensive Communist infestation of the USA then was uncovered.

  7. how many of these Hollywood Ten were Jews? I mean, the first Soviet government was mostly Jewish, as was the communist Hungarian government under Bela Kun…

  8. The real blacklist began with the Warner Brothers strike in 1946. People were fired because they were involved in that strike and they were never rehired, for them the blacklist never ended. Some were communists, some were not– but they were all labeled as communists (like my friend, artist Hans Burkhardt. He was blacklisted for life, and was always pissed off that they'd labeled him a communist. His wife still worked in the business.)
    The Communist Party USA ordered its members not to admit they were members and of course not to name others who were party members. It wasn't illegal to be a communist or a CP member. It carried a stigma, but who was a communist in the business usually wasn't much of a secret or an issue. (You think no one knew what Dalton Trumbo was doing during his blacklisting? He could write a script and that's what really mattered.) The whole 'Hollywood ten' stuff is a bit over the top. Some of the most successful people in the business, followed Party orders and got themselves in trouble for a few years. One writer commented that this wasn't life or death, it wasn't even about human rights, it was about whether you kept your swimming pool.

     McCarthy and his ilk were complete villains, and did more damage to America than the communists. The practices of the CPUSA weren't much different. They were making and breaking careers in the 1930s. Actress Frances Farmer 'won' trip to the USSR, she came back and said, "those people are starving!" She was targeted by party members, her career destroyed, she had a nervous breakdown. Most communists who went to jail or were blacklisted were put in a position where under oath they had to answer questions. The Fifth Amendment protects people from being compelled to incriminate themselves. Being a communist wasn't a crime, refusing to admit it ended up being one. If you were subpoenaed to testify before Congress or in a court and were sworn in and refused to admit you had a YouTube Channel, you too could go to prison. Why would you do refuse? Because you might be asked for the names of other YouTubers? So what?

    What wasn't known publicly at the time ( I'm sure McCarthy wasn't told) was that the CPUSA was largely funded by, and controlled by the USSR. (The Venona Project, a US program of decrypting Soviet communiques with spies discovered this in the 1950s but the Venona intercepts were not declassified until the 1980s)
    I've known several CPUSA members, I don't think any of them were spies, but one of the uses of the CPUSA by the Soviet Union was to spy. The older a CP USA member is the more 'normal people' they were. They wanted to make a better world. I knew a lot of Marxist and leftists in the 1970s who were my age. They were emphatically not CP. You have to wonder why anyone would join the CP after the crushing of the Prague Spring 1967, Poland 1955, Hungary 1956, and the Gulag being revealed by Khruschev. There were a few and they were odd.
    There are whole lists of communist 'nods' and content inserted into movies from the 1930s on. Most weren't much different than liberal or leftist concerns, this practice still goes on– it's just politics, but not CP politics. The 'nods' are more interesting and probably didn't have much impact. There's a 1940s movie where an actor walking to an elevator is whistling the Internationale. Even if you know the tune you'd be likely to miss it.
    If blacklists are wrong, then guess who else used them? The CP promoted the careers of its members and undermined the careers of people who opposed them. Considering the number of movie stars and directors who openly opposed not just communists but left wing and liberal politics, the CP in Hollywood was insidious but not in any position to take control.
    There are some good books on this subject. I think you owe it to your viewers to actually look into this subject. Just repeating the same old 'stuff' does no one any good– it's boring and not half as interesting as the truth. And you don't have to dislike Dalton Trumbo or Edward Dimetryck.
    CP member Stirling Hayden's autobiography is really interesting, he tells a similar story to Chester Hime's CP experience. Cute women were used to get men to go to Party parties, there was a Party shrink who told Hayden, an alcoholic, that it was okay to have a couple of drinks in the morning– whatever it took to keep him toeing the party line: blondes or bourbon. (His role in Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye is not at all dissimilar to what he'd actually gone through. And Chandler's book might have been about the same guy.)
    Am I some right wing apologist for Red Hysteria? Nope, my politics are radical, and I'm going to vote today for an old friend who was a 'Red Diaper Baby' meaning her parents were CP members. Look at the video of how Elia Kazan was treated when he received his life time achievement academy award. The young people who sat on their hands scowling are some of the best people in the business; but what they did that night was not principled, it was idiotic. Then take a look at On The Waterfront, it's about union corruption on the east coast Waterfront but it's also about how the CP operated in Hollywood.

  9. I believe it was true they were gonna use the movies to push their agenda just like they do today

  10. And whose on the blacklist now but opposite Communist SAM HYDE. That sure says a lot about where our government wants us to be.

  11. Why show a picture of Joseph McCarthy? He had nothing to do with the Hollywood blacklist. He was investigating mostly American Governmental institutions.

  12. So they were communists and admitted it. That's why they took the 5th. It's not against the law to belong to the Communist Party but it is against the law to commit perjury. These guys were so proud of being communists and looking for the truth, that they couldn't even admit this. By the way Trumbo also wrote Roman Holiday which was a bad remake of It Happened One Night. He had only praise for Stalin and never admitted anything. Was blacklisting the right thing?

  13. isn't it funny how history repeats itself, today, anybody associated with Russians are bad and should be shamed, awful

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