Letters from the blacklist: the un-friendship of Albert Maltz and Michael Blankfort
Jones, Elizabeth Pelletier
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This edition is an annotated selection of the correspondences of two screenwriters, Michael Blankfort and Albert Maltz, who were affected by institutional anti-communism. Both were subpoenaed to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC): Maltz refused to answer questions, went to prison for contempt of Congress as a member of the Hollywood Ten, and was blacklisted from the film industry for nearly two decades; Blankfort cooperated with the committee and continued to work in Hollywood. They had been close friends for quite some time, but never spoke again following Blankfort’s HUAC appearance, despite a few attempts by Blankfort at renewing the friendship. The letters span five decades, beginning with the period of radicalization in the 1930s, through the era of blacklisting and all that followed in its wake, and ending with their deaths in the 1980s. Blankfort and Maltz’s encounters with HUAC affected them their entire lives after: Blankfort in his need to defend his actions even decades later, and Maltz in his need to denounce any person who cooperated with the committee. The letters demonstrate humanity through the difficulty of the situation, the struggle of navigating the politics of the times, and are the writers’ attempts to explain and justify their actions.
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