Red Hollywood

Directed by Thom Andersen and Noël Burch.
US, 1995, digital video, color, 114 min.
Copy source: filmmaker

Andersen teamed with film theorist, experimental filmmaker and former Ohio State University colleague Noël Burch to craft a meticulously powerful revisionist history of Communist artists working in Hollywood during the height of the studio era. The video Red Hollywood was inspired by an eponymous article written by Andersen a decade earlier to challenge calcified preconceptions about those artists who were unjustly purged and blacklisted from Hollywood for their leftist sympathies, and who further suffered the general indifference of scholars and historians to their pioneering work. While featuring extensive and riveting interviews with members of the legendary Hollywood Ten, including great turns by a still-defiant Abraham Polonsky, Red Hollywood makes its sharpest points by carefully unspooling thematically organized scenes from over fifty features, with a resonant voiceover (spoken by Andersen’s CalArts colleague and fellow filmmaker Billy Woodbury) discussing and dissecting their latent and overt meanings, and making clear how these dedicated artists saw cinema as a vital tool in the ideological and actual battles raging during the years from the Great Depression through the Red Scare. The political dimensions of Hollywood moviemaking have rarely been scrutinized with such precision and passion.

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Thom Andersen,
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