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Hollywood's Blacklists

A Political and Cultural History

Reynold Humphries

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'Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?' That question was to be repeated endlessly during the anti-Communist investigations carried out by the House Committee on un-American Activities (HUAC) in the early 1950s. The refusal of ten members of the film industry to answer the question in 1947 led to the decision by studio bosses to fire them and never to hire known Communists in the future. The Hearings led to scores of actors, writers and directors being named as Communists or sympathisers. All were blacklisted and fired.

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PART I: Drawing up the Battle Lines
1. Hollywood and the Union Question
2. The War Years, 1939-1945
3. Hollywood Strikes, the Right Strikes Back
PART II: From the hot war to the Cold War
4. The Hearings of 1947
5. None Shall Escape: the Hearings of 1951-1953
6. The anti-Communist Crusade on the Screen
7. Life (and death) on the Blacklist

About the Author

Reynold Humphries is a former Professor of Film Studies at the University of Lille and author of 'Fritz Lang: Genre and Representation in his American Films' (1989).


The finest overview currently in print, of the blacklist era... He also provides one of the best explanations this reviewer has read of the tactics the Hollywood Ten used at 1947 hearings and how their behavior before the House Un-American Activities Committee led many of their supporters to abandon them. The endnotes are excellent. Summing Up: Essential. All readers.
- M. D. Whitlatch, Buena Vista University, Choice
The finest overview currently in print of the blacklist era.
- M. D. Whitlatch, Buena Vista University, Choice
The book is written with passion and insight, based on solid research and a strong understanding of film. It is all a reader can ask.
- University of Missouri-Kansas City Gregory D. Black, American Studies Journal
Humphries’s book is insightful and innovative in its approach. The author’s readings of films as presented in Hollywood’s Blacklists testify to his admirable critical acumen and encourage readers to explore further the historical period along the lines staked out in his book. Owing to the interdisciplinary character of his interpretations, Humphries’s book will be useful to readers interested in contemporary film studies and to those interested in American cultural studies.
- Kate Watson, European Journal of American Studies
Hollywood's Blacklists is an elegant study of the florid anti-Communist repression of the American film industry as this affected the lives of the victims and the content of Hollywood films. But it is also living history, a history that comes back to haunt us in a time when the "terrorist" is inserted into the role of Satan in the wake of communism's collapse. Because the persecutory beast was never put down then, it arises anew, and we see all the same themes replayed in different costumes and sets. Reynold Humphries has not only, then, written a fine history, but also a cautionary tale for a new epoch of reactionary repression.Joel Kovel, author of Red-Hunting in the Promised Land
- Joel Kovel, author of Red-Hunting in the Promised Land
Hollywood's Blacklists is an invigorating piece of political and cultural history. This well-written and thoroughly researched book provides excellent insight into one of the most turbulent time periods of American history... an exceptional resource.
- Thomas Salek, New York University, Screening the Past