At the end of the World War II, communism become increasingly feared and hated by many in the United States. This was known as the Second Red Scare, as it was a period of intense anti-Communist suspicion in the United States that lasted from the late 1940s to the mid to late 1950s. This was the era of McCarthysm, where the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), probably the most active government group involved in anti-Communist investigations, began investigating suspicious activities in many of the different aspects of society. Eventually, it's branches reached Hollywood's movie industry.
In Octorber of 1947, the suspected communists working in the film industry were summoned to appear before the HUAC in order to testify about the Communism and if they were associated to it or not. While some decided to answer the questions, and some gave names implicating others, ten of those who were subpoenaed refused to give evidence. Citing their First Amendment rights, their defense failed and there ten men, the Hollywood Ten, were convicted in 1948 in order to serve 1-year prison terms in 1950. This short, is a filmed defense of their ideals and principles, and the testimony of their unsuccessful fight against the unfairness of a blinded system.
Directed by John Berry (who was later blacklisted for making this film), the short consist of a brief biography of each of the Ten, and then the group explaining why they refused to answer the HUAC's questions. In less than 15 minutes, we hear the ideas of the Hollywood Ten and their firm conviction on the illegal status of their imprisonment. It's a simple series of interviews, but in this case, the important subject is what is said rather than what is shown.
Alvah Bessie (screenwriter), Herbert Biberman (screenwriter and director), Lester Cole (screenwriter), Edward Dmytryk (director), Ring Lardner, Jr. (journalist and screenwriter), John Howard Lawson (writer), Albert Maltz (author and screenwriter), Samuel Ornitz (screenwriter), Adrian Scott (screenwriter and film producer) and Dalton Trumbo (screenwriter and novelist), were ten brave men who stood up for their beliefs and suffered an apparently illegal punishment.
While some of them lost everything during the Red Scare, their suffering was not in vain, and while it took many years, they received the recognition they truly deserved. Of enormous historic importance, "The Hollywood Ten" is a short film that comes up as a warning of what can happen when government is blinded by fear, and when it becomes a danger to its very own nation.
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