The Screen Is Red: Hollywood, Communism, and the Cold War

The Screen Is Red: Hollywood, Communism, and the Cold War

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 1496805399

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Screen Is Red portrays Hollywood’s ambivalence toward the former Soviet Union before, during, and after the Cold War. In the 1930s, communism combated its alter ego, fascism, yet both threatened to undermine the capitalist system, the movie industry’s foundational core value. Hollywood portrayed fascism as the greater threat and communism as an aberration embraced by young idealists unaware of its dark side. In Ninotchka, all a female commissar needs is a trip to Paris to convert her to capitalism and the luxuries it can offer.

The scenario changed when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, making Russia a short-lived ally. The Soviets were quickly glorified in such films as Song of Russia, The North Star, Mission to Moscow, Days of Glory, and Counter-Attack. But once the Iron Curtain fell on Eastern Europe, the scenario changed again. America was now swarming with Soviet agents attempting to steal some crucial piece of microfilm. On screen, the atomic detonations in the Southwest produced mutations in ants, locusts, and spiders, and revived long-dead monsters from their watery tombs. The movies did not blame the atom bomb specifically but showed what horrors might result in addition to the iconic mushroom cloud.

Through the lens of Hollywood, a nuclear war might leave a handful of survivors (Five), none (On the Beach, Dr. Strangelove), or cities in ruins (Fail-Safe). Today the threat is no longer the Soviet Union, but international terrorism. Author Bernard F. Dick argues, however, that the Soviet Union has not lost its appeal, as evident from the popular and critically acclaimed television series The Americans. More than eighty years later, the screen is still red.

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principle of division and specialization of labor, the only way in which the farm can grow and thrive. When the husband first questions the men about their abilities, he is more favorably disposed towards farmers, carpenters, masons, plumbers, bricklayers, and tailors than towards the lone violinist, who nonetheless is welcomed into a community from which no one is excluded, including a potential home wrecker (Barbara Pepper at her blowziest). When the issue of self-determination arises, the

pants is the key to the apartment of Ruth Carlin, who has just been arrested. “Ruth Carlin Sentenced,” a headline later reads. However, by then Lucille had donated the trousers to the parish clothes drive and was obliged to retrieve them. Finding them, she feels the fabric and discovers the key. Unbeknownst to her husband, she flies to Washington with the trousers, expecting to receive some kind of explanation from John. John conceals his anxiety, first insisting the key is his key to his

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