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J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the MoviesThe FBI and the Origins of Hollywood's Cold War$
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John Sbardellati

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450082

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450082.001.0001

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J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies

John Sbardellati

Cornell University Press

This chapter analyzes the effect of the anti-Communist campaign on the screen. There were two strains of anti-Communist films. The first followed the insights of Ayn Rand and is represented most notably by the film version of her novel, The Fountainhead (1943). On the other hand, J. Edgar Hoover's brand of anti-Communism talked about the role of American institutions—the government, the church, and the traditional, patriarchal nuclear family—as safeguards against Communist subversion. “Hooverism” therefore shaped the anti-Communist films far more than “Randism.” Hoover's mark was especially prevalent in anti-Communist “B” films, such as Robert G. Springsteen's The Red Menace (1949), Gordon Douglas's I Was a Communist for the F.B.I. (1951), Leo McCarey's My Son John (1952), and Edward Ludwig's Big Jim McLain (1952); but it was also evident in such artistic achievements as Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront (1954).

Keywords:   anti-Communist campaign, anti-Communist films, Ayn Rand, J. Edgar Hoover, Communist subversion, Hooverism, Randism

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