Saturday, September 13, 2014

Maxspeak of the devil! II

As we were saying about Hollywood Tenner Ed Dmytryk and his two books--It's a Hell of a Life But Not a Bad Living (1978) and Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten (1996)--they're, in the movie vernacular, Commie True Confessions. Albeit self-serving; Dmytryk never misses an opportunity to acknowledge his noble intentions behind his political beliefs. Nor does he give credit to the man who helped ease him back into the good graces of Hollywood studios, Ronald Reagan;
Reagan was emphatic that Mr. Dmytryk go public. When Mr. Dmytryk agreed, Reagan built a coalition of liberals and conservatives to champion him. The team purchased a full-page ad in the Hollywood Reporter. “The Communist Party is now trying to destroy Edward Dmytryk,” it read. “We will be surprised if there are not other attacks by the Party on other former communists who have the guts to stand up and be counted and to tell the truth.”
Reagan argued to friends and colleagues that Mr. Dmytryk ought to be embraced for breaking with the Stalinists. The Reagan team even vouched for Mr. Dmytryk when he applied for life insurance.
Still, even though that good deed goes unacknowledged, Dmytryk's books do give a much more accurate picture of just what was going on with the Hollywood Ten. It's not what the propaganda-ists would have you think (nor what Max Sawicky seems to believe) with this;


The martyrs are playing games in the above. And doing so under Communist Party discipline (except, probably, Dmytryk whose motives for participating in it are a mystery even to this day). Had The Ten comrades merely taken the Fifth Amendment they would not have gone to jail. Instead, they took the First! And in a particularly nasty, vicious, contentious way.

Dmytryk says that he was stunned by the performances of his friends at the 1947 HUAC hearings, particularly of John Howard Lawson;
Anyone who has ever read The Daily Worker will immediately recognize such vituperation as the hallmark of the doctrinaire communist's attitude toward anyone who might disagree with his or her vision.
Which included, from Lawson's proffered written statement;
"[HUAC] want to muzzle the great Voice of Democracy. Because they're conspiring against the American way of life. They want to cut living standards, introduce an economy of poverty, wipe out labor's rights, attack Negroes, Jews, and other minorities, drive us into a disastrous and unnecessary war."
Which Dmytryk aptly described as 'crude demagoguery';
As one can see, the strategy Lawson used was one at which the communists were past masters: construct your own straw man, then proceed to knock him down. .... It was unnecessary for Lawson to identify himself as a communist; the answer was implicit in his position paper....
Dmytryk claims that he knew he was in for it as soon as he heard the testimony, which he describes as; on the whole, dishonest and reproachable. Yet, he stuck with his friends and their tactics. It was not until he'd been in a prison camp, serving six months for contempt, that he realized that he owed these people no loyalty. How his lawyer, Bartley Crum, ever allowed him to act as he did at the HUAC hearing, still baffles.

Eventually Dmytryk admitted publicly (having his lawyer release a statement from him, from prison) that his friends and he had asked for it, and he did go on to make more movies. But not before his comrades made it as difficult as possible for him. He tells of a particularly deplorable move by Hubert Biberman--already at work preparing ointment for unwary flies--that cost him a contract with Columbia Studios.

Biberman (also just released from prison for his contempt) conned Dmytryk into signing a letter to the parole board, supporting the remaining eight prisoners' applications for parole. Dmytryk stressed he was finished with the Party, and would only agree to support the still incarcerated men if he'd be assured that it would only be made known to the parole board. I.e., no publicity, no press. Biberman solemnly promised to respect [his] wishes.

Two days later he was reading about it in the Hollywood trade papers. His agent soon called to give him the news; Columbia had withdrawn its offer of $60,000 (1950) per picture. Payback, Comrade.

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