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Trumbo

Words: Olly Richards

Hollywood was a strange place to be in the mid-20th century. America was gripped by a fear that communist spies were plotting in its midst, particularly among the filmmaking community. The House Un-American Activities Committee was formed to question people suspected of communist leanings and force them to reveal others in their network. Anyone believed to be communist was blacklisted in the industry and denied work. Many careers were ruined.

The Oscar-nominated film Trumbo (out to download and on DVD and Blu-ray now) tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, a lauded screenwriter – who won Oscars of his own – and whose life was wrecked by the committee. Yet he was far from the only person touched by the scandal. These other big names all felt the force of HUAC and its witchhunt.

Orson Welles10) Orson Welles

The Citizen Kane director was reportedly placed on a watch list by the FBI for being a national threat and it was suggested that his phone should be tapped. Welles moved to Europe for several years in 1947, the same time that the Hollywood blacklist was being imposed.

It’s not certain that the two were related, but it’s been suggested it was no coincidence. Citizen Kane, with its blatant parallels of the life of right-wing media titan William Randolph Hearst, was read as an attack on the conservative powers in America.

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