Yet another paean, as sincere as it is in some respects deluded, to the victims of the Blacklist and ""the best years of...



Yet another paean, as sincere as it is in some respects deluded, to the victims of the Blacklist and ""the best years of their lives""--""the ten years, from 1934 to 1944. . .of heady social, political, and creative involvement."" The story of the book is in keeping: Nancy Lynn Schwartz, we learn from her mother Sheila Schwartz, ""had a dream. . .to tell what had happened to the joyous, creative founding members of the Screen Writers Guild. . .""; she died of a brain tumor at 25, with the first draft written (her mother has completed the work). It must be said, first, that Nancy Schwartz' enthusiasm invests this account of meetings and organizing and confront-tations with a far more ebullient, less tedious aspect than they have in Larry Ceplair and Steven Englund's The Inquisition in Hollywood (1980), whose first 300 pages covers essentially the same events from much the same positive point of view. Who, indeed, can resist her evocation of a ""yellowing photograph"" of Hollywood's young left wing: ""The men are just past being boys, looking a little amused and diffident at being in such a wonderful, rich world of politics, beauty, and luxury. The women are radiant."" And it isn't that Schwartz is exactly ignorant about the Communist Party, to which so many of her writers at one time or another belonged: there are jocular quotes from long-time members, and jests (but no sharp criticisms) from drop-outs. Rather, she seems not to take the Party seriously, as a political entity, at all: when Communist stalwart John Howard Lawson arrives in Hollywood, soon to head the new Screen Writers Guild, he is merely identified as ""politically very radical""; later, we're told that ""With all the postwar talk about how communists were trying to take over the industry and spread Red propaganda, what was obscured was the fact that the CP's concern with content and craft placed it among the most reverential practitioners of the movie art. . . The writers at the CP clinic were not those eager to gather up some quick money and head back to New York. . . These writers were consummate artistic idealists who had a noble vision of the motion picture as a meaningful work of art."" It's the Hollywood counterpart, indeed, of Vivian Gornick's The Romance of American Communism--a seductive tale, but only part of the story (see Kanfer, even Ceplair and Englund).

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 1981

ISBN: 059519060X

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1981

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