Coming to the Film Society of Lincoln Center tomorrow, Friday, August 15: RED HOLLYWOOD
Thom Andersen and Noël Burch’s look at the work of blacklisted studio directors originally premiered at Locarno in 1996, and went on to screen at Rotterdam and Vancouver the following year. The new version of the film screened this past Spring as part of the Film Society’s Art of the Real series, as well as at Ann Arbor. The Film Society presents a week-long exclusive theatrical re-release of a remastered and re-edited version of the film in conjunction with the series “Red Hollywood and the Blacklist,” featuring selections of work by blacklisted filmmakers as curated by Andersen.
Culled from over fifty Hollywood films spanning the 1930s to the 1950s, Andersen and Burch’s film essay offers a close reading of resistance and ideology conveyed through mainstream cinema. With a few exceptions, the films under consideration are largely unknown, even though some feature recognizable actors, and this reconsideration of forgotten work is largely the point. Until recent years, the work of the blacklisted screenwriters and directors who refused to participate in the red-baiting witch hunt of the House Committee on Un-American Activities was dismissed as inconsequential. Andersen and Burch’s detailed study suggests otherwise, demonstrating through a wide range of clips how their political sensibilities and sense of social justice emerged, sometimes explicitly, other times more subtly, to lend a particular, subversive edge on topics ranging from war, class, gender, and crime. Concurrent with their analysis are contemporary 1990s interviews with some of the blacklisted filmmakers, offering their own take, making for an engrossing alternative telling of postwar cinema history.