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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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Hollywood’s Red Scare

Hollywood’s Red Scare

(p.1) Introduction Hollywood’s Red Scare
J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies

John Sbardellati

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the red scare in Hollywood, during which suspected Communist artists and entertainers faced the inquisitorial House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). In its internal records, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) consistently listed the threat of Communist propaganda as the prime justification for its investigation and surveillance of the motion picture industry. Indeed, during World War II, Hollywood Communists found more opportunities to bring some of their ideals to the screen. Through film they projected images of a postwar world deeply in conflict with the beliefs and attitudes of conservatives such as FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and his Hollywood collaborators in the Motion Picture Alliance (MPA). Moreover, Communist Party members and their liberal allies sought to use film to critique society, promote reform, and provide a moral justification for the war in keeping with a left/liberal vision of progress.

Keywords:   red scare, Hollywood, FBI, Communist propaganda, World War II, Hollywood Communists, conservatives, J. Edgar Hoover, Motion Picture Alliance

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