I Was a Communist for the F.B.I. (1951) Poster

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A man on a mission
KuRt-3311 July 2001
Frank Lovejoy starred in two classics: he had a minor part in "House of Wax" and was one of the main characters in Ida Lupino's film noir "The Hitch-Hiker". In "I Was A Communist For The FBI" he plays Matt Cvetic, a Slovenian last name which makes it all the more likely that Cvetic would turn into a communist. Well, that's at least what the film tries to tell you.

It is 1951 and McCarthy has started the war on the new enemy, the communists. It was a 'war' that would mark lots of 50s movies. Some movies had subtle criticism (e.g. "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"), some were overtly against communism: in "Invaders from Mars" the communists were evil aliens, in "I Was A Communist For The FBI" they were just evil. The communists wanted to start riots which would lead to Americans fighting other Americans according to this movie by Gordon Douglas (who is also the director of the Frank Sinatra thriller "The Lady in Cement" and the giant ants movie "Them!"). Why? Well, if everyone would fight, one would applaud communism for being the new order that would have brought peace to the streets of America. Well, if they say so.

The movie is so anti-communism that at times you are feeling you are watching a parody. Well, it isn't, all is meant with a straight face. We follow the life of Matt Cvetic, an FBI agent who pretends to be a communist. We see how he is despised by his family (even his son) and how he can't tell anyone of the Great Mission he is on. He cannot tell them he is risking his neck to save the country.

As ridiculous as all this might seem, if you can ignore the propaganda of this movie, you are left with a fairly decent movie. It may be difficult to watch this film nowadays and think lots of people believed the message of this movie, but it's even more difficult that this movie was nominated for an Oscar in 1952. The category? Best Documentary. Really.
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Makes Good On Its Title
bkoganbing27 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
There are so very few films where just the title tells you all you need to know about the film. Such a film is I Was A Communist For The FBI. Another example would be I Married A Monster From Outer Space.

The really interesting thing about this film is how in heaven's name did this get nominated for an Oscar in the documentary category? It is not a documentary in any sense of the word, it's not even in that hybrid category of docudrama. It's just a rather exploitive film about the work of an FBI undercover agent named Matt Cvetic who infiltrated the Communist Party in Pittsburgh and got active in trying to take over the Steelworker's Union for the Communists and reporting on said activities to his handlers in the FBI.

A documentary of that work might have been interesting, but what we got was a film to fit those paranoid times. I found it fascinating that when Cvetic finally broke his cover it was to the House Un-American Activities Committee rather than the trial in New York of the Communist Party leaders. There was a moment in the film where head Communist James Millican tells his followers to start spreading the word that the House Un American Activities Committee was composed of a bunch of right wing yahoos looking to get their names in front of the camera. Now what could have given him that idea? Anyway just connect the dots and no doubt the word their came from J. Edgar Hoover trying to give some credence to HUAC by having an effective undercover come out there rather than at an actual trial. Little thing there called cross examination.

Warner Brothers who produced I Was A Communist For The FBI later produced Big Jim McLain which starred John Wayne about a HUAC investigator in Hawaii. HUAC did grab on to credit for the work done by the Honolulu PD in breaking up a Communist spy ring there among the dockworkers. But at least in John Wayne's film nobody claimed it was a documentary.

Frank Lovejoy is in the title role as Cvetic and his FBI handlers are Richard Webb and Philip Carey. Dorothy Hart plays a Pittsburgh school teacher who says that there are 30 or so like here in that school system indoctrinating the young among whom is Ron Hagerthy, Lovejoy's son. She has a change of heart about the Communists and Lovejoy has to save her from a homicidal fate planned by his superiors. Ironically Hart left the movies and went to work for all places, the United Nations which as we know has been accused often of being a Communist nest in the USA.

Over half a century later and we really have very few objective works on film or in print about the Communist Party of the USA. They were in fact a very active bunch in the labor movement. The real heroes in stopping them were labor organizers like Walter Reuther in the UAW or David Dubinsky in the ILGWU. But since they were people of the left they just don't have the following on the right to be suitable propaganda material.

Anyway I Was A Communist For The FBI is an exploitive work based on a real life character and a testament to those paranoid times.
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the real story must have been more interesting
mukava99130 January 2010
One of the best things about this reds-under-the-bed drama is Frank Lovejoy, an inscrutable actor who neatly inhabits the role of Matt Cvetic, an FBI mole planted in the Pittsburgh branch of the Communist Party during World War 2 and its Cold War aftermath. For the first two thirds of the film he stalks the screen imperturbably, the victim of suspicion from his fellow Party members and often open hostility from his very own family - churchgoing, patriotic Slovenian immigrants who are appalled by his connections to the Communist Party. His own son (Ron Hagerthy) can barely stand the sight of him. When his masquerade begins to unravel he gets emotional, but within limits. He never loses self-control entirely like Paul Lukas in the similarly themed Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), and he is handy with his fists and agile enough to jump out of perilous situations. He is consistently believable, though just at the borderline of wooden. Lacking in charm and magnetism, he nevertheless can carry a film. It's a tough order to play a father who must convince the world, his son included, that he is indeed a member of the widely despised Communist Party, when in fact he is fighting to undermine its influence from within for what he believes is the good of his family and humanity. Quite a conflict, and potentially the stuff of great drama. Although the strongest moments in this film are between Lovejoy and his teen-aged son, we never quite believe that a family man could live such an intensely duplicitous life for as long as Cvetic did without an explosion occurring much sooner. It is somehow too pat. In depicting Cvetic as a spotless hero, the filmmakers have surgically removed too many rough edges, contradictions and loose ends and we are left with a propagandistic symbol instead of a man.
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Sometimes truth is hard to take.
Michael O'Keefe24 October 2003
The fear of Communism runs high. Truth or propaganda? An FBI agent turns counterspy burrowing his way into the U.S. Communist Party. Documentary style Film-Noir. Watching this fifty some years after its release dilutes the original intentions. A case of do as I say; not as I do. Frank Lovejoy is sometimes stoic but effective. Also featured are Philip Carey, Dorothy Hart and Richard Webb. You may possibly get more into CONFESSIONS of a NAZI SPY(1939)starring Edward G. Robinson.
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Red Cover
sol26 May 2004
****SPOILERS**** Living in the shadows despised and hated by his family and friends Matt Cvetic, Frank Lovejoy, made the ultimate sacrifice in the war against the Communist menace that threatened America and the free world back in the late 1940's and early 1950's. Matt became a Communist but a Communist for the FBI.

Based on the true story of undercover agent Matt Cvetic the movie is about a Pittsburgh steel worker and union representative and member of the Communist party. Matt risked his life and safety as well as the lives and safety of his friends and family for nine years to get the goods on the Communist party and put them behind bars for a long long time. Yet for all that time Matt was not only a man without a country but a man without a soul as well.

Matt working undercover gets the evidence on his commie cohorts but not after he's involved in killing two commies who tried to kill him and his girlfriend Eva; as well as him being charged with the murder of an FBI agent. An FBI man That the commies, that Matt killed in self-defense, really murdered. Matt's also provided in the movie with a fellow traveler love-interest Eve Merrick, Dorothy Heart, who's a teacher, undermining the American youth, in Matt's son's Dick, Ron Hegerthy, high school.

You at first think that Eve is an undercover agent like Matt is when he accidentally drops his wallet, when Matt's brother Joe(Paul Picerni) slugs him for having the nerve to attend their mother's funeral. Matt's wallet has a letter to his son telling him the truth about himself that Eve picked up. You later realize that Eve really was a commie but saw the light and got religious after seeing just how low those rotten Reds can go to achieve their wretched aims.

Watching the Communists in action in the movie shows how their only really interested in creating chaos hatred and destruction among the working-class people. The Commies have not the least interest at all in getting the people to love and respect each other or to help them economically. This is the usual Commie trick that they always like to pull, in helping the working class, like they kept boasting over and over in the movie but to only use them to farther their goals.

The Commies are so cold and unfeeling, even to each other, and were more then willing to rat out and even have fellow members murdered for the slightest infraction against "The Movement". These back-stabbing actions on their part made you wonder why anyone normal would want to join such a sleazy organization in the first place? Even Matt as hard as he tried had trouble convincing people in the movie, as well as the movie audience,that he was really a Communist! Matt acted so forced and phony as a slimly and in your face fanatical Communist that he looked almost embarrassed in his efforts in trying to be one.

It was good to see in the end of the movie Matt get a couple of good licks in by belting his commie comrade boss Blandon, James Millican, who attacked him in the courthouse after exposing him and his Commie organization. It was also good to see Matt put the rest of Baldon's rotten Commie crew away with his undercover testimony as well. And most of all it was also very rewarding for Matt to have his friends and family finally realize just what a really great American he was. In Matt letting them on that he was a Commie only to get the Commies that he was involved with, who were trying to undermine and destroy America, their just reward.

Obviously " I was a Communist for the FBI" is an over-the-top movie about Communism in America back during the Cold War. Yet at the time of it's release, 1951, there was a Hot War going on in Korea not just against the Communist North Koreans but the Communist Chinese. It was the Red Chinese who provided the manpower for the North Korean Communists to the point were they were over 80% of the ground forces fighting the US troops there. There was also USSR, the Evil Cummmunist Empire, also providing the North Koreans with experienced jet-pilots, who shot down hundreds of USAF combat planes and helicopters. Knowing all this one can easily forgive the extreme dislike and antipathy shown against the Communist in the film back in those days.
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It's over the top, but interesting. BTW, there were Commie Spys..
jbar1931 May 2009
Yes, it is over the top.

Yes, it is one-sided.

But for people to deny that Communists were infiltrating positions of influence is just wrong headed revisionism.

Cvetic was a real person. He did infiltrate the CPUSA. He did testify against the CP. It is hard to know just what is true and what isn't because BOTH sides, Hoover's FBI and the Liberal revisionists keep spinning their own version.

But after the fall of the USSR, the KGB files affirmed that there were many successful infiltrations and manipulations of the media and govt. It's just straight facts.

Klaus Fuchs, The Rosenbergs, Alger Hiss are just a few examples.

It is terrifying how the younger generations are ignorant or misinformed about the past. What will they say about 9-11 in 50 years?
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Context, Context
ResoluteGrunt8 February 2010
This film was released in the United States in May 1951, when I was a teenager. This was just five short years after World War II ended, and while nearly destroyed Europe and Asia were still being repaired and rebuilt under America's massive Marshall Plan. As a boy I had watched all the men in my extended family go off to war against nazism/fascism, and then saw only some of them return home. Now I was watching more young American men go off to war against communism.

The first of the many armed conflicts after World War II which became known as the 45-year-long East-West "Cold" War began already a year earlier in June 1950 when Communist North Korean forces, backed by Communist Russian forces occupying the north, drove south across the 38th parallel into US-military occupied South Korea. That aggression started the bloody Korean War, which still raged with high US military casualties when this film was being shown in American theaters. Both Communist China under Mao Zedong and Soviet Communist Russia under Stalin, along with the very ominously growing communist Warsaw Pact military alliance, represented very real threats to the United States and Western Europe - when this film was released. While it is true that the movie is a bit "over the top" by today's dramatic standards, it did have both a context and a purpose that definitely was not laughable.

Most responsible people in 1950 fully recognized that the Communist Party, along with its clandestine intelligence operators, was very active in the United States and benefited from considerable Chinese and Russian clandestine government support. That no one was certain of the degree of influence of the secretive Communist Party in the United States gave rise to much public, academic and media speculation, as well as the need for public education plus secret domestic intelligence and counter-intelligence operations to get a better fix on reality.

It is easy for Americans today who have lived their entire lives in historic safety and comfort to assume that it was all some sort of "unjustified scare" since the communists never succeeded in their objective of subjugating the United States. In 1950 I remember an America that was no more concerned with communist subversives than Americans today are concerned with extremist Muslim militants who might be engineering another 9/11. Threats can be real, but still not engender panic - if the people have faith in their government. But I also remember that in 1950 the United States was the only country of any significance that had been left still largely intact and undamaged after the Second World War. This made the US the last best hope against any further deterioration of freedom in the world, and thus the Number One Target of Communist expansionism.

Due in no small part to very active domestic vigilance, communism never had much success inside the United States. But communism was very successful in employing a wide range of deceptive and duplicitous tactics, including exploiting social discontent and infiltrating key political and social movements, to undermine many other countries.

Communism did succeed in thoroughly disrupting life for much of the planet and killing tens of millions of people over a very long period. Most of the atrocities which we today associate with right-wing extremism under Hitler's Nazism were in fact preceded by equal or greater left-wing extremist atrocities under Stalin's Communism. Those were indeed very dangerous times, and Americans in the 1950s who had spent their entire lives under extremely depressing and deadly times, from 1915-45, were naturally suspicious of and opposed to any extremist ideology that might send them, and their children, back into the abyss.
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pure Cold War hokum
Andy Sandfoss16 March 2001
The most disturbing thing about this film is not that it's a load of hogwash (the CPUSA was never really as much an espionage threat as the movie makes out). The troubling aspect is the way that it whitewashes the wholly unsavory tactics of the FBI and the UnAmerican Activities Committee. Secret informants, gossip turned into accusations, warrantless searches - these are the kind of things secret police thugs like the KGB did, and presumably, what the good patriotic Americans were fighting. Yet the FBI did them and didn't bat an eye. That's the only realistic part of this movie, and they present it with no sense of shame at all. Add to this undermining the Constitution itself by having only Communists invoke the Bill of Rights. The film also makes thinly veiled accusations that the black civil rights movement was communist-inspired, another pack of lies. It's extremely difficult in this day to excuse such outrageous propaganda, even understanding the paranoia of the times, when one realizes how damaging it was to real people then.
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Communism = bad
David Vanholsbeeck2 February 2001
Well, that's the message this film tries to deliver. It's not very subtle at all, but I don't think that's what they tried to accomplish with it at that time. I heard the film was also nominated for best documentary (but didn't win) at the Academy Awards, so that proves that this was taken very serious in the early 50's. Nowadays, it all seems very simplistic and one-sided and the ending is very moralizing. The story isn't very thrilling too, but the acting is quite good and it's been all put together in a rather decent way too. Just don't believe too much in what they are saying. 5/10
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balderdash !!
browser-42 July 2008
I'm tired of people coming up with the idea of communism being a harmless little flirtation.

It was a serious threat to America and our way of life for many years. I spent many years of my life to defeat it. To minimilize the threat of communism is nothing but sophistry and needs to be called such.

The movie needs to be seen as such, as did the TV series which I remember from my younger years.

Is communism good? Look at what it has done ... it builds walls to keep people in. There are only two countries that still practice it ... China and Cuba. Does that say anything?
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Exciting propaganda...
MartinHafer30 January 2010
The word 'propaganda' has a bad connotation but it's not always a bad thing. It consists of messages that are intended to sway opinions using a variety of means towards a cause. Sometimes, but not always, lies or distortions are used to change opinions. During WWII, there were a bunch of films that helped sway opinions towards to the war effort--a noble cause. And, though they were far fewer, in the early 1950s, there were some films that were meant to sway opinions against Communism--which, in hindsight was odd, since during WWII the American film industry was actually encouraged to portray the Soviets positively (since they were, at that time, our allies).

This film was one of the better anti-Communist propaganda films of the era as it's highly entertaining. While its being considered a documentary by the Academy (since they nominated it for the Best Documentary category) is silly since so much of the story was fictionalized, the basic story idea was taken from a man who actually worked undercover with Communists who had infiltrated some labor unions. And, given its excellent acting, gritty script and nice direction, the overall package is great--like a film noir film in many ways.

One of my biggest reasons for liking this film is that a veteran character actor, Frank Lovejoy, was used in the lead--not a person who was typically a leading man. Lovejoy was a great actor plus he seemed much more realistic--like a real life character, not some pretty-boy actor. The rest of the cast were also very good.

The writing was very good and unflinching. I doubt if the Communists had infiltrated that much of the labor movement and the film seemed to imply it was widespread AND race riots were the fault of Communist agitators--not social conditions--a shortcoming of the film. But, I loved the way the leaders were shown so unsympathetically. While they claimed to love minorities in public, they had contempt for them and used them as pawns--as they did with everyone they came into contact with in their roles. Some will be offended by the film's use of racial epithets, but I think it added great shock value. Plus, the construction of the film was tight and exciting throughout--with lots of twists and edge of your seat thrills.

Overall, a very exciting film that's held up very well over the years--and an interesting curio from the era of the so-called "Red Scare".
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A window into another time
calvinnme13 March 2010
According to the Wikipedia, "I Was a Communist for the FBI" was the name of a series of articles written by Matt Cvetic that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. The stories were later turned into a best-selling book, an American espionage thriller radio series, and also this motion picture. Mr. Cvetic's articles were the true story of his undercover life, but the radio show and this film were largely fictionalized for dramatic effect. Matt Cvetic was actually an undercover agent for the FBI posing as a Communist for nine years. It is true that he alienated his family and friends as a result of them believing that he was actually a Communist, and even wound up divorced as a result of his assignment, although the divorce is not mentioned in the film. It is not true that the Communists posed as big a threat to the U.S. from within as is shown in the motion picture. The film itself is quite interesting and a pretty good thriller in its own right. It will keep you guessing as to whether or not Cvetic's true identity will be revealed before he is finished collecting information.

You just have to forget about the stretching of the truth that goes on here and enjoy this film for what it is - a window into a particularly paranoid time in America with a good pace to it. A film that is equivalent to it and made about the same time is the better known "Big Jim McLain" starring John Wayne. It too has many wild stereotypes, but the action is good and you just have to remember when and why it was made. If you do that, you should thoroughly enjoy both films.
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50's Cold War Memories.
Mike-76428 May 2006
Matt Cvetic is a loyal communist in a Pittsburgh steel mill who works to recruit workers into the party, even though this isolates himself from his son, family, and neighbors. What makes this even more difficult is that Cvetic is actually an FBI agent posing as a Communist in order to obtain information about party activities. The party is trying to create a strike at the mill, whereby the pro-strike movement will lead the workers into a wave of propaganda. Cvetic also has to contend with beautiful Eve Merrick, a party member and teacher at his son's school who finds the fact that Cvetic is a double agent. When Eve learns the ugly truth about the party's real motives, the reds decide she must be liquidated and Cvetic must aid her without endangering himself. The film should have plenty of suspense and double crossing but there is very little in this film but (by today's standards) very cheesy propaganda and little action or thrills. Lovejoy is very good in the main role, but even he and the rest of the cast seem listless. Few surprises here and how did this film receive a Oscar nod for best documentary? Rating, 4.
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Hollywood Honors HUAC
dougdoepke29 October 2016
Slickly produced propaganda film from Warner Bros. Stong-jawed, stone-faced Frank Lovejoy is perfectly cast as true-blue undercover agent for the FBI, Matt Cvetic. Loosely based on Cvetic's book, the movie shows him penetrating upper echelons of the American communist party. Produced in 1951 at the height of the McCarthy purges, the movie's one-dimensional content should surprise no one.

A couple aspects, however, did surprise me. First, the visuals don't really underscore the propaganda content. Communists are not framed in usual low-key shadowy lighting, e.g. The Iron Curtain (1948), which would emphasize their sinister nature. Instead everyone gets the benefit of bright light framing. Also, the commies are just as nice looking, Hollywood style, as the FBI. That's really surprising, given the industry's habit of uglifying baddies. Thus, each aspect tends to humanize the Cold War enemy in unexpected ways, at least visually. Second, note how all the men are clothed in spiffy suits whether workers in union halls or whoever. No proletarian shirts and dungarees here. My guess is the producers wanted a prosperous looking working class no different in dress than their bosses. I doubt that uniform costuming like this happens by accident.

That this Hollywood creation could actually win an Oscar as best documentary is a kind of sick joke and a telling product of its time. My general point is that viewers should be on utmost guard when taking either historical or political wisdom from a Hollywood commercial product. Just because we don't have a ministry of truth doesn't mean our leading institutions don't act in concert when their common interests (here it's private capital) are threatened. And that goes for any developed country, whether communist or capitalist.

Anyway, the movie's now little more than an obscure artifact. Still, for thoughtful folks, it remains a good object lesson in America's 1951 version of Pravda.
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I wish this was available
David Baldinger5 January 2006
I caught this movie on the Encore Mystery channel some time ago and thought it was hysterical. I especially love the way they portrayed the party member who was a teacher and she explains how the teachers will subvert America's children. You still see remarks to the affect that the NEA is a commie front.

The truth is that Cvetic liked to turn in lists of people who were in no way connected to the CPUSA. He got paid for quantity apparently. I believe this is what eventually caused the FBI to cut him loose.

Still, the film is a great example of the hysteria sweeping the country at that time. I wish it was available on DVD so I could add it to my collection of bad cinema.
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A Latent Status Movie.
Robert J. Maxwell7 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Frank Lovejoy is an undercover FBI agent posing as a committed communist. He's invited to a small party being given to honor a visiting Grand Poobah from the Old Country. The table is set with candles and there is caviar, blini, pelmeni, kapusta, champagne and other delights on the buffet.

"Quite a spread you have here," remarks Lovejoy. "Better get used to it, Comrade. This is how we'll live when we take over the world." The smiling reply is entirely without sarcasm or irony.

The movie is ludicrous. The good guys are all good and the bad guys are just terrible. If you're a commie and you look cross-eyed, your comrades eliminate you, just as in the Nazi espionage movies of ten years earlier.

But some of the anti-Nazi movies weren't that bad. "The House on 92nd Street" has equally evil enemies but is full of suspense. And if you want an enjoyable movie about Commie rats, watch John Wayne tangle with them in "Big Jim McLain." This is a poorly done example of the propaganda genre. I've always liked Frank Lovejoy and Philip Carey. Dorothy Hart, a naive commie who wises up, is utterly beautiful in an entirely conventional way. But nobody brings anything to this particular party. I don't know what Frank Lovejoy's problem was but he seems made of wood, even when informed that his mother has just died.

The politics of the movie are hardly worth going on about. There were any number of Soviet spies working in Western countries -- the Rosenbergs, Klaus Fuchs, Kim Philby, and others. But if their intention was to disrupt the lives of all Americans, they couldn't have done a better job than the House Unamerican Activities Committee, idolized here.

Scenes of communist speakers stirring up a black audience and prompting the FBI to keep an eye on black responders bring to mind J. Edgar Hoover -- president-for-life of the FBI -- with his tape recordings from Martin Luther King's bedroom, later sent to King's wife, perhaps the nadir of federal law enforcement.
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Basically true and very dangerous
gordonmanagement25 September 2013
In 1921, only 4 years after their revolution, Hoover warned that Russian Communist spy cells were being set up in America with the purpose of violently overthrowing America. They would start with infiltration, strikes, riots, tied into labor disputes and whatever mayhem they could create. When this movie was made, there were many sympathizers in Hollywood, the elites who didn't understand that they would be among the first murdered if Russian Communism succeeded. Warner was brave to do this movie. McCarthy was villainized by daring to ask if their allegiance was to America or to Russia. Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist party? A simple question, which any patriot would be proud to answer a resounding "No". They tortured him into an early grave by ridiculing him, with the help of the Liberal Press. To this day, Liberal professors poison our youth against the lofty principles that made America great. Along with "entitlement" and 15 million illegals and their "rights", we are in deep trouble.
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typical of its time
blanche-22 November 2014
As just a movie, "I Was a Communist for the FBI" is quite good in that it moves quickly and has an element of real suspense, particularly the train track sequence, which is excellent.

As a propaganda film, it works even better, giving one the impression that the Communists had infiltrated many aspects of society and were more powerful than they actually were in reality.

The film purports to be the true story of Matt Cvetic, who infiltrated the Communist organization in Pittsburgh on the part of the FBI and testified before the House on Un-American Activities, naming something like 100 people in the party.

In the film, no one except a priest knows that Cvetic is undercover, so his sons loathe him, and he's broken his mother's heart. During his work as a Communist, he meets a beautiful teacher, Eve Merrick (Dorothy Hart) who ultimately becomes disillusioned with the party.

In reality, Cvetic thought he was hot stuff and told a lot of people he worked for the FBI. He was also an alcoholic and eventually no longer used as a witness in trials against Communists.

As played by Frank Lovejoy, he is a very committed hero, and Lovejoy does an excellent job in portraying this Everyman. He had an interesting career, mostly in television, and rarely as a leading man.

This is the kind of movie that has to be taken in the context of the times. Everyone was told of the dangers of Communism, and that it was going to take over the world. Communism is a philosophy just like anything else, and in the '30s, many people were interested in it. They didn't all become Communists. On paper it's fine, but there aren't any people messing it up on paper. The reality is a very repressed, racist society where the top guys share in the wealth brought to them by the laborers.

Here they're depicted as people imagined them, powerful rabblerousers infiltrating every level of society. I doubt it got that far. And we see today that it's lost its grip most places.

As a baby boomer going to Catholic school, I was told that a Communist would point a gun to my head and ask if I was Catholic. When I said yes, I would be killed. Like that's what I planned to say.

"I Was a Communist for the FBI" is worth seeing as a '50s artifact with some suspenseful scenes.
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Everyone should watch this joke of a "documentary"
atlasmb30 October 2014
Oh brother! How ironic that this film purports to expose the vast communist conspiracy in America, with its endless resources, its sinister agents, its goal to subvert American values and to ridicule religion. Yet this is such a crock of propaganda, in which the FBI is the hero.

Years later, Americans would find out that just about everyone was deemed an enemy of the FBI. They were spying on and compiling dossiers on many many Americans. Hoover targeted anyone he didn't like. He was a real piece of work.

Everyone should watch this film, which is modeled after other undercover movies where the protagonist is deemed a hero for being persecuted for his cause. During WWII, for example, other films championed American spies who suffered while infiltrating Axis organizations. Yes, it's a lousy film filled with misinformation, designed to alert and rile up "loyal" American citizens, but it serves as a warning of how the powers that be manipulate facts and create bogeymen to suit their needs.
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The Irony Of Propaganda
Theo Robertson14 August 2013
This is based on a true story of FBI agent Matt Cvetic who spent nine years undercover infiltrating the American communist party. Unlike so many films based on a true story there is a lot of artistic license involved by unlike so many other films the exaggerations seen here are so exaggerated that they become painfully amusing if not laugh out loud funny

The American communist party members are portrayed as being entirely hypocritical . When we're introduced to the party hierarchy at a hotel room a long table filled with champagne and caviar . Hmmm not an entirely long stretch to believe that that reds are hypocrites . What does become shocking is when one of the party chiefs uses the N word quite freely because the party needs African Americans to take part in race riots to overthrow the capitalist state . On top of that it also means party funds will increase . They also want to beat up strikebreakers and a cunning plan to do this by walloping people over the head with Jewish newspapers hence the Jews will get blamed

" Wow blaming ethnic minorities for something Theo . That sounds a bit like that Hitler bloke "

Oh indeed and on top of that one of the those filthy communist traitors is of a German background and gets told to start up a Nazi organization same as he did ten years previously so the Communists can use agitation to stir up the masses . Don't worry about being classed as a fascist comrade because Hitler and Stalin teamed up in 1939 . There is some truth in this but feeling the need to portray communists of all ilks as being cynical moral degenerates you almost expect them to start up a paedophile ring: " Comrade lets us stand out the high school gates giving out candy to thirteen year olds " - " Comrade are you stupid ? Don't you realise kids are past it at thirteen ? "

Nominated for documentary feature because in those days no one was too fussy what qualified as a documentary this is a true life story that has so much artistic license you'd think it was produced by some sort of one party Orwellian state . Americans from this period did indeed have an irony defincey
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A fascinating True Story
John Wayne26 March 2018
A true story of an FBI agent Matt Cevetic, excellently portrayed by actor Frank Lovejoy who spent 9 years undercover as a member of the Communist Party. He endured the many hardships and dangers that went with the territory. The tactics of the Communist Party were to disrupt the U.S. government by infiltrating the Unions and even the school systems, by spreading the fear, hatred, racism, and even commiting murder in some cases. Some may choose to believe that this is just a simple propaganda piece, but it is far more than that. This is just my take on this, believe what you choose, but If you look at the Democrat Party today, you will see distinct similarities between their tactics and those of the Communist Party of old. This movie will keep you the edge of your seat, but have some tissue ready, your going to need it!
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And proud of it!
mark.waltz17 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
It's been over 65 years since this social drama of political intrigue cane out. Here we are, in a very different era, and while communism may not be the issue, one of the major countries from where it came is. The world is fighting different battles, but the goal is the same: to save democracy, and keep free countries free and out of the hands of tyranny and evil, self-serving issues.

This semi documentary is tons better than other anti-communist, propaganda films of the same time (the worst, "Big Jim McClain" starring John Wayne), and quite shocking, even today. If you compare the situations of the early 1950's with situations today, it's ironic how they compare, even if methods today seem more sinister and obvious thanks to excessive media and social networking.

This story focuses on FBI agent Frank Lovejoy and his family, impacted by his newest assignment, exposing the methods of the communist party to destroy democracy. The methods are brutal and horrifying, yet true to live, even today. Race wars, riots, class division, strikes, sudden and unexpected violence: all ways of stirring up the masses. Sound familiar from your favorite news channel or website? They're all here.

The infiltration of these spies are everywhere: in the unions, the offices, even the schools. Hey, what's better than influencing the minds of the young in a period of time long before safe spaces? Lovejoy has his hands full, even aiding a communist party member (Dorothy Hart) who realizes the truth and risks her life to stop them. With sensational photography, truly sinister villains and a message for even our age, this is a reminder that our freedoms cannot be taken for granted, and must always be continually fought for. Differing opinions are one thing, but taking away free thinking must never be allowed to infiltrate a free world.
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Communists, Communists Everywhere!
sddavis6313 May 2017
I became familiar with "I Was A Communist For The FBI" through listening to some of the old radio episodes of the show (of the same name) broadcast over satellite radio. I've always found the radio show interesting, and when I stumbled upon a movie based on the same story there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to watch it. It's the story of Matt Cvetic, an FBI operative who infiltrates the Pittsburgh branch of the United States Communist Party during World War II and remains as an FBI mole for almost 10 years - at the beginning of the Cold War, when the Red Scare was taking possession of America.

It's obvious - as you'd expect - that this movie seeks to portray communists and communism in a bad light. That becomes clear right from the start. A meeting of the party leaders is held in a fancy hotel, where they indulge in wine and caviar and other luxuries. The proletariat? Workers of the world unite, indeed! The point is made there by one of the leaders that once the communists take over America this is how the leaders will always live. And, as for the workers, well - "they'll always be workers." So much for communist idealism! The point is also made that the communist leaders are racists, using the "n-word" to refer to black workers and seeing them only as useful pawns but of little real importance. The communists portrayed here are basically rabble-rousers, wanting to spark illegal strikes and riots, and fiercely loyal to and controlled by Stalin and the Soviet Union (toasts are offered to both.) They're suspicious of each other, and ruthless toward those they suspect of betraying them - which obviously makes Cvetic's life a perilous one. He rises (in the movie) to a significant position of leadership in the Party - always vaguely under suspicion (but it seems that every communist was vaguely suspicious of every other communist, so no big deal, really) but nothing ever gets pinned on him. In the meantime, having to live publicly as a "red" he's alienated from his own family (his son and brothers can't stand to be in the same room with him) and he has basically no friends. It's a lonely life. Cvetic is torn between his loyalty to his country and his desire to live a normal life. Things really start to be torn apart when he discovers that his son's teacher Eve (Dorothy Hart) is a fellow communist, who becomes something of a love interest for him. (As an aside, I thought it interesting that Eve revealed that there were a lot of communist teachers - so the right- wing suspicion of teachers being out to subvert rather than educate American youth goes back at least to the Red Scare.) The movie also portrays the communists as a much bigger threat than they really were - infiltrating every aspect of American society, with tentacles stretching across the country and the world. It is most certainly a product of the Red Scare.

I thought Frank Lovejoy did a decent if unspectacular job as Cvetic, and I don't doubt that Cvetic's life undercover must have been difficult. Having said that, the movie (and the earlier radio show) grossly exaggerates things. The reality is that there's no real evidence that Cvetic rose as high in the communist hierarchy as this suggests. Once he came out from his undercover role he did testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and he did name lots of people as communists, but in spite of that he wasn't considered a particularly reliable or effective witness, and was even considered a bit of a loose cannon. The very wide liberties that the story takes with Cvetic's life make it a bit funny (and perhaps say something about the anti-communist hysteria of the time) to realize that "I Was A Communist For The FBI" was actually nominated for an Oscar - for Best Documentary! It's a decent if not especially exciting red scare cloak and dagger type film, but there's nothing Oscar-worthy about it - and it's certainly not a documentary! The movie ends not in documentary style, but with straight emotional propaganda, as the strains of "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic" play, and the camera zeroes in to a closeup of a bust of Abraham Lincoln.

As for Cvetic, after testifying against the communists he tried to enter politics as a Republican, but failed, and spent the rest of his life (he died in 1962) involved in various ways with the anti- communist movement. (6/10)
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