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Seeing Red (1983)

A unique documentary that looks at the political activities of the American Communist Party in the early to mid-twentieth century.


(as James Klein),
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Oscar Hunter ...
Himself - Printer
Rose Podmaka ...
Herself - Steel Mill Worker
Sylvia Woods ...
Herself - Auto Worker
Howard 'Stretch' Johnson ...
Himself - College Professor
Bill Bailey ...
Himself - Seaman and Longshoreman
Edna Whitehouse ...
Herself - Legal Secretary
Ruth Maguire ...
Herself - Program Administrator
Stanley Postek ...
Himself - Seaman
Dorothy Ray Healey ...
Herself - Party Leader (as Dorothy Healey)
Carl Hirsch ...
Himself - Writer
Himself - Folksinger
Marge Frantz ...
Herself - Southern Activist
Rose Kryzak ...
Herself - Actuarial Clerk
Al Prago ...
Himself - Labor Educator
Muriel Eldridge ...
Herself - Secretary


A unique documentary that looks at the political activities of the American Communist Party in the early to mid-twentieth century.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

October 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Seeing Red: Stories of American Communists  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Behind the Stereotypes
22 July 2012 | by See all my reviews

For those of a certain age, the thought of a humanized communist is almost a contradiction in terms. Cold War movies and TV shows like I Led Three Lives (1953-1956) invariably portrayed party members as either hapless dupes, at best, or unfeeling monsters, at worst. Such images, when repeated often enough, become fixed and enduring. Moreover, whatever their relation to the real world, the stereotypes were very effective in indoctrinating an entire generation.

Happily, this documentary helps debunk that propaganda imagery. Viewers get a thoroughly humanized look at about a dozen rank and file party members from Depression era times to about 1983. Each interviewee has something of a story to tell about those times and their life in the party. Whatever one thinks of communist politics, it's hard to visualize any of these folks as either dupes or monsters. If anything, they seem more idealistic and sensitive to injustice than the average citizen.

Two of the better-known subjects are folk singer Pete Seeger and radio personality Dorothy Healey. Apart from them, however, are ordinary party members with ordinary work backgrounds. There is some voice-over, but I could have used more, especially to identify times and places like that boisterous Madison Square Garden rally from some unspecified date. There's also brief stock footage of leading political figures, such as Hoover (FBI), Nixon, Reagan, et al., along with clips of parades, rallies, and other party events that lend color to the proceedings.

All in all, Seeing Red provides an invaluable glimpse of the reality behind our popular bogeyman of the time. And anyone who thinks that sort of propagandizing ended with the Cold War is as credulous, I'm afraid, as those good folks who put their trust in Stalin.

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