The Hollywood Ten at 75
Seventy-five years ago, Hollywood entered one of its bleakest periods. In 1947, 10 Hollywood writers and directors famously refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and were held in contempt of Congress. In response, Hollywood’s top studio heads turned their backs on these filmmakers. The Hollywood Ten—Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner, Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo—as these artists came to be known, were blacklisted from the film industry and in April 1948 were sentenced by the government to serve a year in federal prison.
The persecution and blacklisting of these filmmakers were years in the making as the US government had already made its interest in Hollywood, and the left-wing views held by many within the industry, known. It became common practice to fire and/or deny employment to anyone who held Communist political views or were, in any way, deemed Communist sympathizers by their peers and the government.
This series highlights key films made by and about members of the Hollywood Ten and their blacklisted colleagues, underscoring the hand these filmmakers had in how Hollywood depicted 20th-century history from the Depression through World War II and the Holocaust.