Hollywood on Trial

  • Film
  • Documentaries
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It's hardly surprising that Hollywood on Trial ends up being interesting mostly for the footage of individual testimonies at the 1947 House Un-American Activities Committee hearings on Hollywood. Helpern's documentary begins with a short potted newsreel history of America from the early '30s until the end of World War II. From there it gradually zeroes in on the persecution of the group of (mainly) screenwriters who were to become known as the Hollywood Ten for their defiance of the burning question, 'Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?' The film sometimes succumbs to the simplistic in its attempts to adequately contextualise the HUAC hearings. And the interviews with the jailed and blacklisted thirty years on - Dalton Trumbo, Edward Dmytryk, Zero Mostel and many others - add little to our comprehension of the paranoia rampant in the McCarthy era. Worth seeing for the film of the hearings themselves, though.

Release details

Duration: 102 mins

Cast and crew

Director: David Helpern Jr
Screenwriter: Arnie Reisman
Cast: Walter Bernstein
Zero Mostel
Edward Dmytryk
Howard DaSilva
Ring Lardner Jr
Gary Cooper
Otto Preminger
Ronald Reagan
Joseph McCarthy
John Huston
Joseph Losey
Dalton Trumbo
Martin Ritt
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