Catalogue


A very dangerous citizen [electronic resource] : Abraham Lincoln Polonsky and the Hollywood left /
Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner.
imprint
Berkeley: University of California Press, c2001.
description
x, 275 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520223837 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
added author
imprint
Berkeley: University of California Press, c2001.
isbn
0520223837 (alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8415235
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 239-262) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Dave Wagner is Political Editor of the Arizona Republic.
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Abe Polonsky was fascinating, brilliant, mercurial, a giant of our time. He held the line against McCarthyism in all its forms and phases all his life. He did it with vigor and the joy of fighting for right. His history is the best of the left. As a man he was charming, amusing, concerned--a great listener and a greater raconteur, and an even better friend. This much needed book is a tribute to him."--Lee Grant, Oscar-winning director/actress "A long-overdue critical biography of a significant talent and political intellect lost to the cold war waged in and on Hollywood. Buhle and Wagner expertly trace the roots of the Hollywood Red Scare to the streets of New York, the streets that produced the likes of writer-director-activist-teacher Abe Polonsky."--Jon Lewis, author ofHollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle Over Censorship Created the Modern Film Industry
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2001-05-28:
Called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in 1951, Polonsky was called a "very dangerous citizen" by Illinois congressman Harold Velde. Blacklisted in Hollywood for refusing to inform on his political associates, this brilliant screenwriter lived a life that offers a unique window on the Cold War in Hollywood. Buhle (Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist) and Wagner have produced a fine biography of Polonsky (who wrote such classics as Body and Soul and Force of Evil) that is also a visceral and engaging study of the Hollywood blacklist and its broader context: the 1950s right-wing backlash against progressive politics. Buhle and Wagner carefully detail Polonsky's actual leftist political activities (as opposed to the innuendo and misinformation that circulated in the HUAC) and map out the permutations of Polonsky's artistic career from working with Gertrude Berg on The Goldbergs to later work such as the 1969 Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here. Sympathetic the book is dedicated "To the Memory of the Blacklisted Generation" without being hagiographic or dishonest about their subject's political ideas, Buhle and Wagner have written an exceedingly well-researched, nuanced and highly informative biography and social history. It's a welcome addition not only to film literature but to the political history of the 1950s. 18 b&w photos. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2001-11-01:
Buhle and Wagner have produced a first-rate biography of a blacklisted lawyer, teacher, labor organizer, scriptwriter, wartime intelligence officer, and Hollywood director who was also an important noncredited contributor to the early TV series See It Now. Polonsky's major film work (e.g., Body and Soul, Force of Evil) influenced many of today's film directors, including Scorsese, Lumet, and Spielberg. But this work is more than a biography; it also examines the development of the Hollywood left, the Albert Maltz affair, and Polonsky's theoretical essays that appeared in Hollywood Quarterly, and it includes numerous anecdotes about the blacklist. The authors remind readers that as early as 1956 the Fund for the Republic reported that the blacklist was unnecessary due to the nature of the studio production system, and that important study was widely ignored. The authors promise further volumes on the cinema of the American left. This reviewer encourages that enterprise but urges them to eliminate redundancies and check historical references (e.g., Rep. J. Parnell Thomas, not Rep. John Rankin, went to jail on bribery charges). An excellent companion piece to Patrick McGilligan's Tender Comrades (CH, Jun'98), this study of Polonsky's distinguished Hollywood career should find its way to all libraries supporting film studies. M. D. Whitlatch Buena Vista University
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, May 2001
Booklist, July 2001
Choice, November 2001
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Publisher Fact Sheet
A portrait of a prominent Hollywood screenwriter/film director blacklisted for refusing to be an informer, as well as the culture of U.S. anti-communism & anti-Semitism.
Unpaid Annotation
"Abe Polonsky was fascinating, brilliant, mercurial, a giant of our time. He held the line against McCarthyism in all its forms and phases all his life. He did it with vigor and the joy of fighting for right. His history is the best of the left. As a man he was charming, amusing, concerned--a great listener and a greater raconteur, and an even better friend. This much needed book is a tribute to him."--Lee Grant, Oscar-winning director/actress"A long-overdue critical biography of a significant talent and political intellect lost to the cold war waged in and on Hollywood. Buhle and Wagner expertly trace the roots of the Hollywood Red Scare to the streets of New York, the streets that produced the likes of writer-director-activist-teacher Abe Polonsky."--Jon Lewis, author of "Hollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle Over Censorship Created the Modern Film Industry
Long Description
When he was summoned before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1951, Abraham Lincoln Polonsky (1911-1999) was labeled "a very dangerous citizen" by Harold Velde, a congressman from Illinois. Lawyer, educator, novelist, labor organizer, radio and television scriptwriter, film director and screenwriter, wartime intelligence operative, and full-time radical romantic, Polonsky was blacklisted in Hollywood for refusing to be an informer. TheNew York Timescalled his blacklisting the single greatest loss to American film during the McCarthy era, and his expressed admirers include Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Sidney Lumet, Warren Beatty, and Harry Belafonte. In this first critical and cultural biography of Abraham Polonsky, Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner present both an accomplished consideration of a remarkable survivor of America's cultural cold war and a superb study of the Hollywood left. The Bronx-born son of immigrant parents, Polonsky--in the few years after the end of World War II and just before the blacklist--had one of the most distinguished careers in Hollywood. He wrote two films that established John Garfield's postwar persona,Body and Soul(1947), still the standard for boxing films and the model for such movies asRaging BullandPulp Fiction; andForce of Evil(1948), the great noir drama that he also directed. Once blacklisted, Polonsky quit working under his own name, yet he proved to be one of television's most talented writers. Later in life he became the most acerbic critic of the Hollywood blacklist's legacy while writing and directing films such asTell Them Willie Boy Is Here(1970). A Very Dangerous Citizengoes beyond biography to help us understand the relationship between art and politics in American culture and to uncover the effects of U.S. anticommunism and anti-Semitism. Rich in anecdote and in analysis, it provides an informative and entertaining portrait of one of the most intriguing personalities of twentieth-century American culture.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Adventures of the Artist as Intellectualp. 15
The Good War--and Afterp. 59
The Politics and Mythology of Film Art: Polonsky's Noir Erap. 101
Polonsky's Fiftiesp. 143
Triumph and Retrospectp. 187
Appendixp. 235
Notesp. 239
Bibliographical Notep. 261
Indexp. 263
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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