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R 8R CIASTO OLLYWOO BLACKLIST . .PATRICr.:M cG.LL AN Aso -PAUL Li E BOOKS & THE CULTURE / a solemn year of the Observer can accomplish. Why look for miracles when the age of miracles was never? I get my jollies from the small possibilities, like the defiant gesture of a young teacher a long time ago in a far-away university. Invited to dine with the president and trustees of his institution, he refused. “I won’t eat,” he said, “with people that I wouldn’t let into my house.” Pointless? No, he taught me, his senior, a needed lesson, and he kept his self-respect. To quote David Brower again: “This sounds preachy and that’s exactly what it is. I’m a preacher and I make no apologies. You’ve got to sound off. The older you are, the freer you are, as long as you last.” Yes as long as you last. James Siedd is Professor Emeritus of English at U.T.-Austin. White Hats and Blacklists Memories of Real Hollywood Heroes BY STEVEN G. KELLMAN TENDER COMRADES: A Backstory Of The Blacklist. Edited by Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle. St. Martin’s. 776 pages. $35.00. No girl was ever ruined by reading a book,” declared Jimmy Walker, the New York mayor who was ruined by misreading reaction to municipal corruption. Yet anyone who is not moved by the power of language or image or sound houses the soul of a turnip. A play changed Jules Dassin’s life. The 1935 premiere of Clifford Odets’ agit-prop drama Waiting for Lefty, he claims, made him a Marxist: “I was tremendously moved, but embarrassed that I was not a member of the Communist Party. It was a rather extraordinary evening, that opening night. It was one of the unforgettable moments of my life. It was so moving, so irresistible, and it made such a direct personal appeal that you said to yourself, ‘I must do something. I must behave like those guys, who are showing so much concern and love.’ Dassin offers his testimony fifty years after refusing a deposition before a Congressional committee. In 1947, when Stalin had replaced Hitler as the national demon, powerful forces were intent on preventing Dassin or any other author from spreading the leftist toxin any further. He and his fellow screenwriters and directors, most of them Jews removed by barely a generation from the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, offered a convenient target to a Texas redneck like Congressman Martin Dies \(who in 1940 was already trying to erase traces of pink from Holsional inquisitors who later served on the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. Extensive investigation unearthed no instance of Communist infiltration of American screenplays more seditious than the line Dalton Trumbo provided Ginger Rogers in Tender Comrade alike; that’s democracy.” The largest share of the thirty-six interviews in Tender Comrades, a rich compendium of blacklist reminiscences, comes from writers; the Hollywood section of the American Communist Party drew its most and most active members from the ranks of the Screen Writers Guild. Editors Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle offer recollections as well by directors, actors, producers, and even an agent. Many of these aging men and women have already published memoirs or are writing them. And Victor Navasky’s Naming Names, Nancy Lynn Schwartz’s The Hollywood Writers’ Wars, and Larry Ceplair and Steven Englund’ s The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930-1960 offer more systematic accounts of that scoundrel time when, lest girls and boys be ruined by seeing a film, the careers and lives of hundreds of filmmakers were ruined. Tender Comrades now provides the collective oral history of an unscrupulous 28 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 19, 1997