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Hollywood Paranoia in the 50s

In: Historical Events

Submitted By tjohnston
Words 2021
Pages 9
With direct reference to at least two films, how did Hollywood address the paranoid, hysterical political climate of the 50s?

The Cold War began in 1947 between the USSR and the USA. After World War II, both countries began to distrust each other, as they knew the amount of power each country had in terms of nuclear weapons. Not only did they distrust each other, but they lacked a mutual understanding of each other’s culture. The USA believed in capitalism and the USSR believed in communism. This lack of mutual understanding caused mass paranoia within America as they feared that communists would infiltrate their society. This hysteria was known as the Red Scare which lead to “a range of actions that had a profound and enduring effect on U.S. government and society.” (Red Scare, 2013).

During World War II “moviegoers learned to appreciate cinema for what it was: a powerful delivery system of ideology” (Doherty, 2003, p. 19) and after World War II “Soviet Communism and American Democracy, found its domestic expression in fierce debates over the subversive influence of the popular media.” (Doherty, 2003, p. 21). Hollywood was scrutinized first for allegedly using the film industry to influence the public about communism.
The House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was formed in 1938, and it’s investigations were “frequently focused on exposing communists working inside the federal government or subversive elements working in the Hollywood film industry” (Red Scare, 2013). On September 21, 1947, HUAC “subpoenaed forty-three members of the Hollywood film community to answer charges about communist infiltration in the movie industry” (Friedman, 1984, p. 214). Ten of the Forty-three appeared before HUAC and “refused to answer the Committees questions about their political affiliations” (Friedman, 1984, p. 214). They became known as the Hollywood Ten and…...

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