HOLLYWOOD EXILE by Bernard Gordon


Or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist
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As a blacklisted screenwriter, Bernard Gordon was never completely silenced, but it is still thrilling to hear him have his say in a memoir of Hollywood’s darkest era. Was Gordon out to sabotage the country by infiltrating Hollywood and surreptitiously inserting Marxist propaganda into America’s films? Was he part of a Communist cabal to abolish capitalism? No, he was an up-and-coming young Jewish man who was trying to make ends meet and live according to his principles. He was a left-leaning Democratic Socialist who during the early days of WWII became a member of the Communist Party because they were the ones fighting Hitler. His one clear attempt at propaganda, which he writes about candidly, amounts to no such thing. He tried to put black characters into his scripts so that he could get some black actors work when they were shunned by a motion picture industry and country still engaged in strict segregation. Gordon became a Hollywood screenwriter by accident, he reports, but he is such a gifted storyteller that it’s no surprise that he ended up as one. His credits include The Lawless Breed, The Thin Red Line, Battle of the Bulge, Pancho Villa, and Hellcats of the Navy, the only film starring both Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis—which he now heartily regrets making, considering Reagan’s earlier efforts in favor of the blacklist. He spent most of his career working in Europe because he couldn’t get work in America under his own name, and that is where the adventure part of the story comes in. He traveled all over the continent, waiting for picture deals to come through, wondering if the money would really be there, never sure that he had any talent for what he was being paid to do. Gordon’s story is a testament to the everlasting vitality of creativity in the face of scare tactics and coercion. (33 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-292-72827-1
Page count: 335pp
Publisher: Univ. of Texas
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1999


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