Yesterday I dipped into Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony’s Long Romance with the Left, by Ronald Radosh and Allis Radosh. This is a fascinating and important book. The Radoshes explode the myth of the Hollywood blacklist, as told by leftist chroniclers in countless films and memoirs. Not that the Radoshes excuse the blacklist itself–far from it. But using new evidence, the Radoshes expose the truth about Hollywood’s Communists–from their loyalty to the Soviet Union, to their use of liberal front organizations to disguise their activities.
While Hubert Humphrey was busy purging the communists from Minnesota’s Democratic-Farm-Labor Party http://www.nationalreview.com/kurtz/kurtz200412090827.asp communists taking orders from Moscow were busy duping America’s biggest stars into fronting for them in Hollywood. From committed communists to liberal dupes, an incredible number of stars make cameo appearances in this book: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Ed Sullivan, Danny Kaye, Ira Gershwin, Katherine Hepburn, Artie Shaw, Gypsy Rose Lee, Bert Lahr, Ethel Merman, Myna Loy, and on and on. Then there’s the fascinating follow-up material on today’s Hollywood left.
I was riveted by the story of how liberal dupe Ronald Reagan woke up and, with the help of James Roosevelt and Olivia de Havilland, devised a plan to smoke out the Communists who’d been using them as a front. The communist’s goal was to advance Soviet interests by having liberals like De Havilland and Reagan condemn Truman’s Cold War foreign policy as “incipient fascism.” The Communists claimed to want a foreign policy that promoted democracy. But what they meant by democracy was Communism. (In private they’d say, ” a two party system is in no way necessary or even desirable for democracy.”) When Reagan caught on, he proposed a resolution affirming belief in (American-style) democracy and opposition to Communism. Then all hell broke loose. If you remember, “I paid for this microphone,” this confrontation was a whole lot better.
The story of the Hollywood Left is not the black and white tale of right wing evil we’ve been fed for years. There’s blame enough to go around on all sides, but we’ve only heard one version of the story so far. This book is a very important corrective. Now the rise of an alternative media is beginning to change our view of history. With conservative publishers like Encounter, and the blogosphere to inform, it’s no longer possible for the New York Times to kill a conservative book with a bad review. If you want the truth about the Hollywood Left, Red Star Over Hollywood is for you.