In the early days of the Cold War, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, anti-communist sentiment and fear of foreign subversives led to a purge on Hollywood figures. Driven by the rhetoric of Joseph McCarthy and policed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, witch hunts targeted those deemed to have communist sympathies, or those who refused to cooperate and turn against their peers.
A blacklist drove hundreds of film artists out of Hollywood, with actors, writers and directors either forced to move abroad, work underground or under pseudonyms – deferring credit for some of the most distinctive films coming out of America. Many of these creatives worked as exiles in Europe, continuing to engage with the same issues of inequality and social justice that put them on the blacklist.
This May, HOME presents a season of film curated by Andy Willis, Professor of Film Studies at the University of Salford and HOME’s Senior Visiting Curator: Film, which surveys the breadth of work produced by these blacklistees. Opening with an hour long introductory talk, Willis will provide introductions to a range of films bookended by two Jules Dassin’s atmospheric, desperate, street-level crime flicks in Night and the City (Sat 14 May) and Riffifi (Tue 31 May).
Many of these creatives worked as exiles in Europe, continuing to engage with the same issues of inequality and social justice
There are British epics in the form of blacklistee Cy Enfield’s prickly Zulu (Sun 22 May) and David Lean’s classic Bridge on the River Kwai (Sun 29 May) – written by blacklisted pair Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, who were not originally credited for their contribution. Meanwhile, old school horror comes courtesy of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in 1972’s Horror Express. Directed by Eugenio Martin, the film was produced by blacklisted screenwriter Bernard Gordon and scripted by fellow exiles Arnaud d’Usseau and Julian Zimet.
On Tuesday 24 May, there’s a screening of Time Without Pity, a dark, stylised British Noir following a recovering alcoholic and his attempt to save his son from hanging for murder, the film marked the first time that director Joseph Losey could use his own name in the credits following his blacklisting. Lastly, the season also includes Spanish rarity Calle Mayor (Thu 19 May), starring blacklistee Betsy Blair – excitingly, this socially conscious drama screens from a 35mm print.