Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
Among the celebrities declining an invitation to discuss Communists in Hollywood was Hedda Hopper, and her column expands on the number of Red-influenced films in Hollywood and reflects the reasoning of the day.
In addition to the previously mentioned films “Mission to Moscow,” “North Star” and “Song of Russia” attacked as being Red-influenced, Hopper adds:
—“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Which implied that there were only two honest men among the 96 members of the Senate of the United States.”
—“Meet John Doe,” “In which an American industrialist was represented as possessing his own private uniformed army, which rode through the streets of an American town on motorcycles in military formation, ruthlessly breaking up an orderly assemblage of citizens meeting in a baseball park.
“The official police did nothing about this. The sheriff and other law enforcement officers did nothing. The mayor of the city did nothing. The governor of the state did nothing. The grand jury didn’t investigate or bother to hand down an indictment. If audiences believed that picture, then they believe there are no rights and no protection under the law for American citizens.”
—“The Farmer’s Daughter” “A very amusing comedy but which managed to hold up to ridicule our whole process of free elections by showing a crowd of Americans madly applauding gibberish and double talk at a political rally. Many a person must have left the theater after seeing that picture with his faith in our elective processes shaken.”
—“A Song to Remember,” “The musician Chopin was erroneously shown throughout the picture as a revolutionary. He was not. He was the son of a Polish nobleman and not known to have been interested in the revolution.”
There’s more but it’s too much to quote here. However Hopper’s conclusion resonates today in ways she could never imagine:
“I’d like to ask my readers one question: What recent picture can you recall in which a member of Congress has been presented as an honorable, intelligent, patriotic public servant? In what picture has an industrialist been shown as a straightforward, decent human being?
“There is certainly a Communist threat throughout the world and Hollywood still is a part—a very influential part—of the world, so it can hardly escape.”