Crossfire: The Trials of the Hollywood Ten (The Blacklist Episode #2) / by Karina Longworth

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In 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee subpoenaed dozens of Hollywood workers to come to Washington and testify to the presence of Communists in the film industry. 19 of those who were subpoenaed announced that they wouldn't co-operate with the Committee; of those 19, 10 "unfriendly" witnesses were called to the stand and refused to answer "The $64 Question": "Are you now or have you ever been a Communist?" Those 10 men were subsequently denied employment, and imprisoned; afraid of collateral damage to the industry, the studio moguls were thus moved to design the Blacklist. This episode will explore the work and politics of the Hollywood Ten -- and films on which they came together, such as Crossfire -- and delve into the far-reaching consequences of their false assumption that the Constitution would protect them.

Show notes:

Here is a list of published sources that the entire season draws from:

The Red and the Blacklist: An Intimate Memoir of a Hollywood Expatriate by Norma Barzman

Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo

Trumbo: A biography of the Oscar-winning screenwriter who broke the Hollywood blacklist by Bruce Cook

When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics by Donald T. Critchlow

Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten by Edward Dmytryk

City of Nets by Otto Friedrich

Hollywood Radical, Or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist by Bernard Gordon

I Said Yes to Everything by Lee Grant

Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War by J. Hoberman

Naming Names by Victor S. Navasky

Sources specific to this episode:

“Bertolt Brecht Testifies Before The House Un-American Activities Committee,” Open Culture

“Reagan Played Informant For FBI in ‘40s” by Scott Herhold, Knight-Ridder Newspapers/Chicago Tribune

This episode includes excerpts from the following YouTube clips:

Crossfire Trailer:


Louis B. Mayer testifies against communism: 

John Howard Lawson’s testimony: 


Dalton Trumbo’s testimony (itself featured in an excerpt from an unidentified documentary): 

Bertolt Brecht’s testimony: 

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.