Radical Socialists in Hollywood Keep Falsifying History and Whitewashing Communists
"Captain Fantastic" is just the latest love note to the radical left.
There’s a new movie out called Captain Fantastic. The film, which is receiving mostly rave reviews and rabid support from Hollywood and leading intellectuals, denigrates Christianity and celebrates in its place … the ideas of rabidly anti-American socialist intellectual Noam Chomsky. The movie’s protagonists, a family of seven, decide to have a feast in honor of Chomsky’s birthday, instead of Jesus’. To get the gifts for their alternate Christmas, the father and his six children go on a shoplifting spree in a supermarket. This attack on private property is presented as charming. It is certainly consistent with Noam Chomsky’s anti-capitalist attitudes and beliefs.
Captain Fantastic is only the latest love note from Hollywood to socialist ideology. This enthusiasm is one of the ongoing stories of the motion picture business. Indeed, Hollywood’s passion for radicalism is so great that it has chosen to re-write its own history by making a series of wildly dishonest and inaccurate films about Communist intellectuals working in the motion picture industry.
You might think that few subjects for movies could possibly have less appeal to the public than stories about Communist screenwriters. And this is the case. But, even so, Hollywood has made one motion picture after another over the years on this very topic, and none have displayed any more impulse towards realism than the average superhero film. Most such films failed commercially, but they kept on getting made. The motion picture industry apparently cares more about vindicating and memorializing its own anti-democratic intellectuals than it does about even making money.
Consider the record.
The Soviet Union’s international front group, known as the Comintern, busied itself with organizing within the movie industry throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In this way, it managed to gain wide influence in the union representing the industry’s writers, the Screen Writers Guild, a group which it helped found. Consequently, a Communist agent, playwright John Howard Lawson, became the Guild’s longtime head. Lawson used this power to help his fellow Communists get jobs as writers. Thus, radical screenwriters got plum, high-paying assignments to write movies for many Hollywood stars, including actors like Humphrey Bogart and Gregory Peck. These jobs offered them the chance to place pro-Soviet ideas into their films.
Bogart’s movie Action in the North Atlantic, for instance, was written to include an implausible scene in which American merchant marines fighting the Nazis get help from the Soviets. In fact, such help went the other way round, as the U.S. propped up Stalin’s dictatorship as a slightly lesser evil than Hitler’s.
Lawson and his confederates managed to use their positions to author a raft of movies promoting the Soviet Union and Communist ideals. These views appeared in Hollywood films like the 1943 North Star and the 1944 Song of Russia. These movies tried to persuade ordinary Americans that the Soviet Union was an idyllic place threatened by Nazi invaders — rather than a totalitarian state which had been allied to Hitler right up until the Nazi regime double-crossed it.
Still more appalling is the 1943 pro-Soviet Warner Brothers propaganda film Mission to Moscow. Based loosely on a book by Joseph Davies, the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, the movie depicted the Moscow Show Trials of the 1930s as a proper response to Nazi penetration of the Russian government, rather than as the witch hunts of a power-mad dictator intent on eliminating rivals and enemies. Stalin, played by Academy Award-winner Walter Huston, is seen as a benign and goodhearted leader. The Russians themselves are seen as happy and well-off. Audiences of the film were presented with an uncomplicated message: Communism is a wholesome, benevolent system of government that only Nazi sympathizers would oppose.
This absurd presentation of a country filled with labor camps and police agents was no accident. For its leftist screenwriter, Howard Koch, had regularly “consulted” in writing his script with a pair of Communist Party members and loyal defenders of Stalin: John Howard Lawson and Dalton Trumbo (whose best-known film was Spartacus).
Last year Trumbo himself was the subject of a movie which was named after him and which starred Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston. That film was — like virtually every picture which Hollywood has made about the Communist infiltration of the film industry — a tissue of lies.
Trumbo’s memoirs and his letters show that he was well aware of the savage abuses that were taking place under Stalin, and that he even left the Communist Party in 1956, following the revelation of Nikita Khruschev’s “Secret Speech,” which exposed many of Stalin’s crimes. But none of this is shown in the movie which bears Trumbo’s name.
Rather, Cranston’s character is a noble figure who thinks that Communism is no more than a means to help the poor and downtrodden, and he himself is a man of few but good intentions. He is shocked when his connection with the Communist Party leads to his being placed on a blacklist — a roster of those considered unemployable in Hollywood for their Communist affiliations — after his secret Party membership is exposed. He decides that he will not testify before Congress about his activities as a Communist or “name names” of others involved in subversion. The film pointedly neglects to point out that Trumbo had actually regularly named names before the blacklist period, calling the FBI throughout the Second World War and telling them about Trotskyites — a subgroup of Communists whom Stalin wanted to hunt down and destroy.
Also not shown in Trumbo is one of the main reasons why Trumbo did not want to appear before Congress: he knew in great detail how friends of his like Lawson had met covertly on behalf of a foreign power and had worked to promote its interests at the expense of America’s. For instance, Lawson and his fellow Communists had striven to prevent Arthur Koestler’s Darkness At Noon from being turned into a film, since that novel showed what life under Stalin was really like.
Further, the movie conceals the fact that Lawson, Trumbo and other Communists running one of their many Hollywood “action” groups had shouted down and rejected a proposal by a young Ronald Reagan for a statement in favor of democracy and free enterprise. And audiences are most certainly not told that Trumbo noted in one letter that he felt that refusing to hire people who were not patriotic might in fact be justified. Nor were viewers let in on Trumbo’s view that many of those writers who were left jobless by blacklisting were just untalented hacks. Instead, the film offers but one perspective: Trumbo and his friends were honest and competent folk who were victimized by right-wing bullies.
Nonetheless, Trumbo is but one of many deceptive movies which have been made putting forward a line which is anti-anti-Communist. Another is the 2001 Jim Carrey film, The Majestic. It offers a tale about a screenwriter who is blacklisted because he attends one Communist meeting to impress a date.
No such person ever existed.
Likewise, the 1991 film Guilty By Suspicion, starring Robert De Niro, presents its blacklisted hero, a movie executive, as someone who just went to a few meetings and was not really a Communist at all. This is equally implausible.
Other movies which have presented Hollywood Communists as victims— rather than pro-totalitarian conspirators meeting in secret to advance the interests of a foreign regime — include The Front (starring Woody Allen), The Way We Were (with Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand), The House on Carroll Street (with Jeff Daniels and Kelly McGillis) and Fellow Traveler (with Ron Silver).
For a rare moment of candor about Communist conspiracies in Hollywood, see the light-hearted Coen Brothers comedy Hail Caesar! (2016) which shows screenwriters meeting in secret cabals to exert their influence over movies, and even cooperating directly with Soviet agents.
Ironically, Hollywood scorned one of its greatest artists, the director Elia Kazan (On the Waterfront), for his decision to speak before Congress and the FBI about Communist plots within the movie industry — even though Kazan refused to identify his friends who had once been involved!
Nonetheless, in 1999 when Kazan was given an Oscar for his lifetime achievements, actors like Nick Nolte, Ed Harris and Richard Dreyfus pointedly refused to stand or applaud when he took the stage. They preferred those who had worked for lies and secrecy to those who endorsed truth and openness. And they liked totalitarians more than pluralists.
Sadly, this is not just an old but a seemingly never-ending story — because Hollywood simply cannot resist re-telling it.