11 episodes

Host Oona Chaplin guides listeners through the period known as the Red Scare - an ideological battle that implicated Hollywood’s biggest stars, including her grandfather, Charlie.

Hollywood Exiles BBC & CBC

    • History

Host Oona Chaplin guides listeners through the period known as the Red Scare - an ideological battle that implicated Hollywood’s biggest stars, including her grandfather, Charlie.

    10. Exile

    10. Exile

    Although the blacklist era ends, the scars remain. Dalton Trumbo discovers a backdoor to Hollywood screenwriting work. Families of Hollywood workers reckon with the fallout in generations to come. After decades away, Charlie Chaplin makes a triumphant return to America. Ellen Geer recalls the effects of the blacklist on her father Will Geer, who refused to expose his friends. Oona Chaplin reflects on the lasting effects of anti-communist fervour on her family and the wider culture.
    Archive:
    Oscars ceremony highlights: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the 29th Academy Awards 1957, and the 44th Academy Awards 1972
    The Dude goes West, directed by Kurt Neumann, King Brothers Productions, 1948
    Dalton Trumbo interviewed on television program Night Beat, 19 September 1957, Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research
    The Waltons, Lorimar Productions 1972

    • 38 min
    9. Naming names

    9. Naming names

    After years of allegations and suspicion, those accused of so-called un-American political beliefs are driven from the movie industry. Mitzi Trumbo recalls visiting her father Dalton in prison. Host Oona Chaplin speaks to some of those whose careers were ruined and friendships fractured, as anti-communist fervour pushed witnesses to expose the names of alleged communists. Norma Barzman describes this as a period of political exile. Charlie Chaplin faces the FBI.
    Archive:
    Limelight, Charlie Chaplin, United Artists, 1952
    Johnny Guitar, directed by Nicholas Ray for Republic Pictures, 1954
    Senator Joseph McCarthy speaking on America’s Town Meeting of the Air, ABC Radio, 3 April 1947
    Attorney General James McGranery press conference 1952, John E. Allen Archive

    • 31 min
    8. The un-Americans

    8. The un-Americans

    Hollywood producers gather at the Waldorf Hotel to plot strategy. They push back against allegations of “subversive” content. Motion Picture Association of America president Eric Johnston makes the case that movies are a force for moral good. He also calls for a hardline: he pushes studios to purge communists and sympathizers from their payrolls. This marks the beginning of the so-called “blacklist” era in Hollywood. Screenwriter Norma Barzman recalls this as a repressive period, when creative people were self censoring their political beliefs
    Archive:
    Recordings of House Unamerican Activities Committee by Paramount Newsreels
    The Hollywood Ten, directed by John Berry, 1950
    Dalton Trumbo interviewed for Hollywood on Trial, directed by David Helpern, Corinth Films, 1976

    • 28 min
    7. Are you now, or have you ever been

    7. Are you now, or have you ever been

    The House Unamerican Activities Committee begins its hearings into alleged communist subversion in the movie business. The hearings cement a phrase in American history: “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the communist party?” Friendly witnesses, including actors Gary Cooper & Robert Taylor, are called to the stand, along with movie mogul Jack Warner of Warner Brothers. Walt Disney uses the opportunity to call out alleged communists among members of the striking animators’ union. Dalton Trumbo and his allies challenge the legitimacy of HUAC and its hearings.
    Archive:
    Mission to Moscow, directed by Michael Curtiz for Warner Bros., 1943
    Recordings of House Unamerican Activities Committee by Paramount Newsreels

    • 27 min
    6. Hollywood on trial

    6. Hollywood on trial

    The House Unamerican Activities Committee starts calling witnesses. Their hearings with Tinseltown celebrities create a sensation and put Hollywood's alleged communists in the spotlight. Dalton Trumbo is among those summoned to Washington for hearings. Oona Chaplin explains why her grandfather Charlie was not called to appear, despite his reputation as a leftist. Actress Katharine Hepburn takes a public stand against HUAC, mocking its hearings at a Los Angeles rally.
    Archive used:
    Testimony of J. Edgar Hoover before HUAC, National Archives and Records Administration, 1947
    Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood Show, 25 February 1951
    Katharine Hepburn for Progressive Citizens of America at Gilmore Stadium, Alco Records, 1947
    ‘Monsieur Verdoux’, Charlie Chaplin, United Artists, 1947
    Recordings of House Unamerican Activities Committee by Paramount Newsreels

    • 27 min
    5. Billy's list

    5. Billy's list

    Rumours of communist infiltration in the movie business had circulated for years. Showbiz insider Billy Wilkerson is the first to publicly name alleged Tinseltown “communists”, including Dalton Trumbo, in his paper, the Hollywood Reporter. William R. Wilkerson III speaks about his father’s friendship with billionaire producer Howard Hughes, a rabid anti-communist. He describes how his mostly apolitical father’s anti-communist stance was shaped by a visit to the Soviet Union. Wilkerson III recalls how his father’s close connections with stars like Jimmy Cagney gave him political influence in Hollywood. Oona Chaplin learns how future president Ronald Reagan operated as an FBI informant.

    Archive

    Ronald Reagan’s 'evil empire' speech, 1983, The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

    • 30 min

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