14 Comments

  1. “Noir is subversive. Noir lifts the veil of normality to reveal the chaos below. The underbelly of reality. The insanity of sanity. The furtive destructiveness of obsession. The truth behind the lies. The disaster of success. The ‘ghost in the machine’.”

    Indeed Tony. Even in its present conscription, where the underpinnings of the genre have been artistically corrupted by spillovers and neo-noirs, one could make an easy of enough case for the existence of these themes. This sounds like a fascinating and enthralling book, and Ivan is quite wise to add it to his Amazon wish list!

    In recent months the posts at this site have been remarkable in their scholarly heft, and in their taking of themes integral to the form, by exploring their meaning within the context of political, social and philosophical concerns that are an outgrowth of a situation that we may fundamentally describe as “noir” or “noirish.”

    The theme here is magnificently captured in Zaleshoff’s speech to Marlowe.

  2. The anti-fascist alliance actually fell apart even before the HUAC days, when Communists twisted themselves in a pretzel over the Stalin-Hitler pact (though the invasion of the USSR eventually put them back into an alliance with everyone else on the left, the damage was the beginning of the end).

    A distinction should probably be made between those who were sincerely antifascist and those whose primary allegiance was to the furtherance of the Soviet empire (an allegiance which was usually borne out of sincere concerns but eventually took on a life of its own). Ambler definitely belonged to the former category, a sincere antifascist, which put him into conflict with many of his former allies…

    from Wikipedia: “At that time, Ambler was politically a staunch anti-Fascist and like many others tended to regard the Soviet Union as the only real counterweight – which was reflected in the fact that some of his early books include Soviet agents depicted as positive and sympathetic characters, the undoubted allies of the main protagonist. And like numerous like-minded people in different countries, Ambler was shocked and disillusioned by the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939. His post-war anti-Communist novel Judgment on Deltchev (1951), based on the Stalinist purge-trials in Eastern Europe, caused him to be reviled by many former Communist Party and other progressive associates.”

  3. Matthew H. Davidson

    My parents were blacklisted out of Hollywood in the first wave.
    As true-believing CP members, who remained loyal to the tenets of Communism and apologists for Communist aggression and atrocities right till the end, this was not merely predictable—it was inevitable.

    In fact, my father, who had been Executive Secretary of the Radio Writers Guild, had the same lawyer as Dalton Trumbo: Aubrey Finn.
    Same for my mother, a minor actress ELLEN PRESCOTT.
    Trumbo was another die-hard whom lefties have been slobbering over since the ’60s. :roll:

    WAKE THE F*** UP :evil:

    They were POLICE STATE CHEERLEADERS who wanted it BOTH ways and played both ends against the middle, and were caught out at it. :wink:

    The blacklistees hung themselves on a meat hook;
    HUAC merely provided the footstool. :idea:
    Which they willingly mounted, spouting their lies, evasions and slanders all the while. :shock:

    The witch-hunters were successful BECAUSE the Hollywood Left made it SO EASY. :lol:
    They were so out-of-touch delusional the outcome was a foregone conclusion from Day One, and they were howlingly sanctimonious, speaking a language foreign and repellent to average daylight Americans.

    These “noir”-lefty sites have picked up the lingo:

    “Noir is subversive…The insanity of sanity…The truth behind the lies…The disaster of success.”

    WHAT RUBBISH — You political types NEVER learn. :!:
    YOU are so entrapped in your own obsessive viewpoint you can’t see what the APOLITICAL 70% have no trouble figuring out:

    The LEFT ***AND*** the RIGHT, in their apotheosis,
    meet in the SAME PLACE:

    :arrow: Secret Police Dungeons
    :arrow: Barbed Wire Camps
    :arrow: Mass Graves
    :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

    “Many of the artists of the classic noir cycle…were ‘subversives’.” :roll:

    “Artists whose art was a politic statement, a social critique, a thesis on the nature of freedom and social responsibility.” :shock:

    NOBODY in movies 1940s-50s saw themselves as “artists”. :roll:
    And the blacklisted certainly had NO illusions on that score.
    :arrow: Movies were and ARE a subset of show business, emphasis on “BUSINESS” :idea:

    I managed movie theaters in Manhattan 1960s-70s. Movies are a BUSINESS.

    And the blacklistees certainly were NOT about “the nature of freedom and social responsibility.” :roll:

    NO Communist police state is about those things.

    The whole sick ideology of “noir” was cooked by French Communist “intellectuals” in the 1950s in “Cahiers Du Cinema”—I read it in French class early 1960s, and it bore NO RELATION—NONE WHATSOEVER—to the movie business of Hollywood, where I was born and raised.
    I preferred POSITIF and MID-MINUIT FANTASTIQUE.

    The idelogy of “noir” did not surface in America until the 1970s, when the university “film school” [*hawk-ptoo*] professors—’60s student radicals all—began to spread it around, in typical lefty fashion:
    This is how radicals operate, they say that the past was a lie and ONLY the COMMUNIST PARTY creeps were real “true-blue” Americans.

    You extremists have tried to co-opt Hollywood history and twist and distort it by retrojecting your own delusions and anxieties, and have attempted to inject yourself into lost battles of the distant past.
    To do what, prove what ? :shock:
    That you too are correct little lefties, loyally parroting the party line, in “solidarity” with *dead people* who fucked up and ruined their lives, and those of others ? :lol:

    Political involvement of the extreme type Right *OR* Left is a matter of psychology, basic disposition.
    It has NOTHING to do with intelligence,courage or social awareness. :shock:

    Political extremists, like the characters who run these noir blog sites, see the world and the nation THE SAME WAY:
    Everything is an five-alarm emergency, all the time:
    It’s five minutes to midnight, the barbarians are at the gates, to the barricades !!! :lol:

    It would be pointless to prove that fascism’s death pre-dates any “noir”-lefty’s life.
    Pointless too is the fact that now declassified Soviet archives prove how deep the Soviet penetration of the “arts”—Hollywood CP members even had their own commissar, V.I. JEROME.

    It would be futile to quote sources proving that the BODY-COUNT of Communist tyranny dwarfs that of long-vanished “fascist” governments of the distant past which can have no LIVING CONNECTION to any “noir”-lefty’s life.

    I loved my parents, and miss them EVERY DAY — they gave me MORE than most.
    But they had that FATAL FLAW, that FATAL BLINDNESS about Communism. :sad:

    AND they were socially conventional, to the max:
    NO “progressive” schools or “peace camps”.
    I went to Lutheran parochial school and learned to swim at the Hollywood YMCA.
    They NEVER tried to indoctrinate me or turn me into a little Robespierre. :grin:

    I’ve NEVER been interested in politics—my basic psychology and world view, which developed in my BLACKLISTED parents home, just finds other things more compelling.
    It’s a great wide world out there. :cool:

    In the end, one is left to wonder just the “noir”-lefties get out of this sick charade.
    Advocating a murderous police state philosophy, and apologizing for its acolytes like these “noir”-lefty sites, raises fundamental questions about their mental process. :shock:

    To prove that MOST “noir” films were made by NON-political types would be beside the point. :grin:

    No, since logic had nothing to do with how you put yourselves in this weird predicament, logic is useless to remedy what is an end-stage illness. :oops:
    You pathetic characters lost your battle with reality long ago—sitting in the dark and fantasizing about the shadows on the wall is all you’re left with. :mrgreen:

    MATTHEW H. DAVIDSON :cool:

  4. Matthew, I understand your anger and respect your right to your opinion, but I can’t see that what I wrote in any way supports your accusations nor does it merit your abuse:

    “Noir is subversive. Noir lifts the veil of normality to reveal the chaos below. The underbelly of reality. The insanity of sanity. The furtive destructiveness of obsession. The truth behind the lies. The disaster of success. The ‘ghost in the machine’.

    Many of the artists of the classic noir cycle, from the writers of the hard-boiled fiction of the 20s, 30s, and 40s to those involved in the making of the films noir of the 40s and 50s, were ‘subversives’. Artists whose art was a politic statement, a social critique, a thesis on the nature of freedom and social responsibility.

    Novelists like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ira Wolfert, Graham Greene, and Eric Ambler. Screenwriters like Dalton Trumbo, John Paxton, A. I. Bezzeridis, and Carl Foreman. Film-makers and actors like Abraham Polonsky, Jules Dassin, Orson Welles, Edward Dmytryk, Adrian Scott, Joan Scott, John Garfield, and Marsha Hunt.

    A number of these artists were vilified and their careers destroyed during the ‘red menace’ years of HUAC and the blacklist. What was ignored then and largely forgotten now is that these men and women were united and largely animated by a common cause: anti-fascism. These liberals and leftists were warning of the dangers of fascism well before the outbreak of WW2, when many of the rightists that later prosecuted the anti-communist hysteria of the immediate cold-war period were apologists of fascism.”

  5. Matthew H. Davidson

    You were NOT subjected to “abuse”. :roll:

    You were corrected, sharply, :cool:
    by someone who grew up in West L.A. with Hollywood as a living reality :cool:
    —not a radical leftist fantasy bubble,
    the way film buffs do, “noir” lefties most of all. :evil:

    “What was ignored then and largely forgotten now is that these men and women were united and largely animated by a common cause: anti-fascism.” :shock:

    :arrow: You’ve got the CP party-line evasion down pat—
    —it was a LIE then and even moreso now:
    We KNOW what a Communist tyranny is from the record
    :idea: —what REALLY animated the old CP was their messianic, unshakable faith in Marxist Communism, as practiced in the Soviet Union,as The Way The Truth and The Light, and their fervent desire for the U.S.A. to go that way too. :shock:

    I GREW UP IN A HOUSE WITH THE BOOKS AND MAGAZINES THESE CHARACTERS FED ON, and with CP die-hards in the house all the time.
    :arrow: Political extremists are like junkies, or molesters
    —they DON’T CHANGE.
    :idea: They just install more layers of self-justification.

    “These liberals and leftists were warning of the dangers of fascism well before the outbreak of WW2, when many of the rightists that later prosecuted the anti-communist hysteria of the immediate cold-war period were apologists of fascism.” :shock:

    :arrow: MANY people were onto the fascists and said so loud and clear—DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS,JR for one, the WARNER Brothers too—neither leftists or even “liberal”. :idea:
    And HUAC held hearings aplenty into Nazi activity here, and was instrumental in the destruction of the pro-Nazi German-American Bund and the imprisonment of Fritz Kuhn, its leader. :razz:

    :arrow: These CP characters persisted even AFTER THE TOTAL ERADICATION OF FASCISM IN WWII
    —if anything, they became even MORE doctrinaire,
    even more sanctimonious. :sad:
    The UNEDITED footage of the Unfriendlies—Lawson, Trumbo et al—is instructive. :???:

    Typical of all political radicals,Left *OR* Right, :mad:
    you see any factual correction as a personal attack, as “abuse”. :cry:
    :oops: You spout the undiluted CP Party Line circa 1948 like a Daily Worker op-ed, and when you are called out you react like a little girl who’s had her crayons snatched. :oops:
    You have a driving emotional need to believe things that are PROVABLY UNTRUE; look into it. :!:

    You don’t know what you are talking about—I DO:
    I WAS THERE, :!:
    born into it, lived through the whole thing.
    I’ve had many friends among the children of the blacklisted through the years and the appearance of you “noir”-lefties is a matter of surpassing astonishment to us.
    You are nothing but WEIRD to us.

    :arrow: YOU—yes YOU :evil:
    —are trying to refight the battles of the way-distant past
    —you tellingly employ the very language of the Communist press 1930s-40s. :lol:

    This sort of pathology is a NEEDS-BASED behavior: :???:
    You plainly derive some sort of gratification and fulfillment which validates your sense of self somehow. :twisted:
    And you were born LONG LONG after it all was over—
    ALL of you are, you “noir” freaks. :lol:

    I love classic films of the studio era and have been watching them for 50+ years. I was years in theater management before the ideology of “noir” broke big in the 1970s.

    At the same time the specialty of “semiotics”, “close reading” of media for “signs & meaning”. :shock:
    The shamans of this classroom illness were, of course, FRENCH RADICALS [Foucault,Lacan] and their English followers.
    You and the other “noir”-types follow the Party Line as laid down by the radicals of the 1970s. :roll:

    I give it to these guys, below—
    —ENOUGH’S ENOUGH. :evil:
    You radicals RUIN EVERYTHING:
    first it was conventional literature, then after that you moved on to anything that people enjoyed:
    old TV shows, comic books, horror films—
    always seeing everything as a sinister totalizing conspiracy of concealment, betrayal and mendacity. :roll:

    YOUR PURITY IS *NOT* TO BE QUESTIONED [= “abuse”]
    :arrow: NOBODY HAS GOOD INTENTIONS BUT YOU :idea:
    AND YOU’RE GOING TO TELL US ALL ABOUT IT, USING THE MEDIUM OF OLD MOVIES. :shock:

    As I said, Logic didn’t get you here and it won’t relieve you of these delusions. Everybody else in the U.S.A. is wrong, always were and only YOU are right because ONLY YOU can see. :shock:

    You probably know these guys:

    http://goodfellamovies.blogspot.com/2010/04/10-asphalt-jungle-john-huston-1950.html?showComment=1295054580193

  6. Let me guess Matthew, you were a former spokesman for the Bush administration and a member of the board of trustees for “Smileys, Inc.”

    Right wing fascist troll.

  7. Maurizio Roca

    Great job Tony. Your blog is really growing when someone like Glenn Beck stops by to rant furiously lol. I do think that noir could be enjoyed without any politics attached. While I am a liberal and see a great virtue to what Polonsky is saying in Force of Evil or Body And Soul, I love film noir more for its style and air of pessimism that contrasts wonderfully with most of old Hollywood’s glossy fairy tale nonsense.

  8. Mr. Davidson says: “I’ve NEVER been interested in politics…”

    Yes, that is clear. Only someone uninterested in politics could write something about politics as confused as this. Communists lurk everywhere! I didn’t realize the year was still 1955.

    But maybe he’s right, maybe we’re all just closet Communists. Is that why I have portraits of Stalin and Mao on my living room wall? Hm, I never thought about it before.

  9. Andrew Joseph Scala

    Thank you Robert Taylor…you seem to be ticked off about something…stress is a killer…stress causes cancer. The witch hunters were successful because a brain washed public and a government co-0pted media made no other verdict of their shenanigans possible.
    You apparently make the same mistake of the original HUAC dodos in believing that we “leftists” are all following some kind of red party line originally concocted in the Comintern in Moscow but who knows from where today…North Korea perhaps? Or Bolivia?
    Like the naive American fellow travelers in “Big Jim McClain” starring John Wayne (an anti-subversive noir film!)we all are laboring under the impression that when Bolivia conquers the USA we shall be put in positions of power when in reality the North Koreans are secretly planning to execute us immediately after their takeover just to show us what suckers we are.
    Having read “Thirty Years Of Treason” I advise any sane person to check out the slime slithering toadying presented by Adolphe Menjou, Elia Kazan, and Roanld Reagan, and then compare it to the courageous testimonies of Lionel Stander, Zero Mostel, and especially Paul Robeson.
    If one wishes to revisit a moment of shame and humiliation which this committee of Congressional turds heaped upon a man who joined the Communist Party because it was the only political organization in the country which wanted to do something about the repression of African-American civil rights and the only one who wanted the US to oppose the spread of FASCISM, read the testimony of poor Larry Parks, the guy who played Al Jolson twice.
    Here we have the strongest evidence that right wing extremeism was the real problem, the real danger and the real reason why such a national disgrace as the HUAC Hollywood hearings, and McCarthy’s Senate witch hunts transpired in our “free” society.
    You didn’t necessarily have to be a “leftist” to get fucked over by the government. You just had to know one.

  10. “The whole sick ideology of “noir” was cooked by French Communist “intellectuals” in the 1950s in “Cahiers Du Cinema”—I read it in French class early 1960s, and it bore NO RELATION—NONE WHATSOEVER—to the movie business of Hollywood, where I was born and raised.
    I preferred POSITIF and MID-MINUIT FANTASTIQUE.”

    Actually, Cahiers was distinctly known for its NON-leftist slant in the 1950s; it was mostly apolitical, and to the extent it politicized it was usually anti-communist (Andre Bazin was a Catholic, and the writers Truffaut attacked in his politique d’auteurs were mostly Communists or fellow travelers). Positif was the publication with left-wing associations, so looks like you were on the wrong end of the McCarthyist stick after all!

    Also, dude, lose the emoticons.

  11. Andrew (what happened to Andrei, speaking of Russians?!), the Communist cache was due to the discipline of Party organization and the enthusiasm of its members. This was thanks to the presence of the USSR as a source of funding and direction; the flipside of this being that American Communists swallowed the kool-aid of Stalinism whole hog. Civil rights, yes (though they were far from the “only” group to oppose the oppression of blacks, their organizational and communicative possibilities made it seem that this was so). But also apologia for dictatorship and mass murder, accompanied by hostility towards dissent (until the wheel turned, of course). As for antifascism, only when convenient – see my comment above.

    Basically, it was like being a faithful member of the Roman Catholic Church (at least back when that organization had more temporal power) – the Great Leader was infallible and the egalitarian message of the central text was made contingent upon obedience to an oppressive hierarchy. In many ways, Communism was the great religion of the 20th century.

    The Hollywood wing of the Communist Party presented little threat to national security, and the blacklist was in no way justified, but I don’t think the injustice of the (counterproductive) McCarthyist/HUAC onslaught should be used to apologize for an organization that was deeply totalitarian, intensely opportunistic, and in most respects neither truly liberal nor fundamentally radical.

  12. bobby J.

    Matthew H. Davidson, you make some observations and they deserve their due….as Jon Stewart put it to Sarah Palin, “Go F$%# Yourself”.

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