FROM THE PUBLISHER
THE FIRST RED SCARE
WHAT RED SCARE?
A SUPERFICIAL HISTORY OF THE RED SCARE
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HOW TO IDENTIFY AN AMERICAN COMMUNIST (LOOK MAGAZINE 1947)
RED SCARE MOVIES
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Welcome to the Red Scare Issue of Cold War Magazine.
Scare tactics have long been part of the American political scene, but they seem especially timely now that we are in the midst of an extremely ugly American election season. In fact, you might say that Past Meets Present in our current issue.
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The Russian Revolution of November 7, 1917, ushered in a period of fear and apprehension in the United States as many Americans became convinced that their very lives were threatened by Communists. ‘Leninist devils’ were everywhere, hidden in the immigrant flows entering the United States and embedded in America’s organized labor movement.
In revolutionary Russia, Bolshevism was entrenched in everyday life. After all, the nation was now ‘a dictatorship of the proletariat’!
In the United States, fear of “commies” was so rampant that President Wilson committed arms and troops to the war against Bolshevism abroad. At the same time, “America first” fanatics bolstered the level of anti-Communist propaganda at home.
A postal clerk in New York discovered 20 packages containing bombs. They were set to explode on May Day 1919. Fear swept across America. Hysteria was exacerbated in early June when the newly appointed US Attorney General, A. Mitchell Palmer, awakened to the sound of a bomb exploding on his doorstep. Palmer went before the Senate and convinced that august body that the wave of bombings was part of a well-organized conspiracy to overthrow the US government. The $500,000 that he requested to protect the homeland and prevent imminent revolution was quickly allocated.
Palmer implemented a mass roundup of “alien radicals” who could be deported in short order. He established a new agency within the Justice Department -- the Anti-Radical Division, headed by John Edgar Hoover,
The agency was charged with gathering information about radicals from a variety of sources. Hoover soon assembled over 150,000 names, including membership lists of the two branches of the American communist movement, the Communist Labor Party and the Communist Party of America. He concluded that communism was “the most evil, monstrous conspiracy against man since time began.”
Renamed the General Intelligence Division, the new agency mounted a nationwide raid on the Union of Russian Workers (FURW), a group composed of Russian immigrants. On the 2nd anniversary of the Russian Revolution, 184 FURW members were detained. The New York Times reported that the “blasphemous creatures” were deported to Russia via Finland on a ramshackle ship. A handful of actual anarchists also sailed, most prominently Emma Goldman - “The Red Queen of Anarchy.”
Despite lacking legal authority, Palmer and Hoover invoked the wartime Sedition Act as a basis for a second series of raids. Three thousand warrants of arrest were prepared for a mass roundup of alien radicals in 33 cities. On the night of January 2, 1920, more than 6,000 suspects were arrested around America. Thousands were released, though, when it was determined that they weren’t Party members. Those that remained were held for deportation to Russia on boats labeled “Soviet Arks.” In the end, 246 men and 3 women were shipped back to Russia under the motto “S.O.S. -Ship or Shoot.”
Radicals Awaiting Deportation
SS Buford (The Soviet Ark)
Hoover and Palmer appeared to have the upper hand. But the country’s mood abruptly changed as details of the illegal arrests became known to outraged lawmakers. Palmer was hauled before the House Rules Committee where he described the arrestees as “moral rats’ whose “sly and crafty eyes” revealed “cruelty, insanity, and crime.” He went on to deny that anyone’s rights had been abrogated. He escaped formal chastisement but, in 1921, he was called to testify again, this time before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Palmer subsequently lost influence and his political career was aborted.
While the First Red Scare subsided, Palmer’s buddy, J. Edgar Hoover, wasn’t ready to give up. He spent the rest of his long career bashing Reds at every opportunity. He later became known for secretly monitoring the activities of organizations that he considered subversive, including the Black Panthers, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Ku Klux Klan.
Sandwiched between the Great Depression and the US entry into World War II, the 1939 World’s Fair opened in Queens, New York, on April 30, 1939. The celebration was so ambitious that a new bridge -- the Bronx-Whitestone -- and a new subway line were added to New York City’s infrastructure.
Opening day was full of symbolism, as the Fair’s Grand Opening was held on the 150th birthday of George Washington’s inauguration. Never mind that the Sunday was sweltering. Hordes of visitors showed up to see the fair’s pavilions, representing many of the world’s nations -- sixty to be exact. Each creation was its own small world complete with exhibits, artifacts, food, and performances.
Walt Disney liked the concept so much that he modeled EPCOT on it.
The presence of sixty foreign participants makes the Fair a true parliament of the world. Here the peoples of the world unite in amity and understanding, impelled by a friendly rivalry and working toward a common purpose: to set forth the achievements of today and their contributions to the ‘World of Tomorrow’.
Unfortunately it didn’t take long for these friendly rivalries to erupt into world war. But on the Fair’s opening day, all was well.
At the center of it all were the 700-foot Trylon and 200-foot Perisphere, the symbols of the fair. The visitors loved them, referring to them as the spike and the ball.
Inside the 16-story Perisphere, in an auditorium the size of Radio City Music Hall, thousands rode on two moving balconies and looked down on Democracy, a mammoth model of the city of tomorrow -- a city of broad streets, many parks, and large buildings.
America’s largest corporations promoted their newest and most advanced products. Westinghouse even made a robot named Electro, who smoked cigarettes, counted on his fingers, and swept the house.
“Hard to top that,” you might think. “Well, guess again.”
Not to be outdone, the Soviets unveiled a 79-foot tall statue of “Joe the Worker.” Joe was made of stainless steel, and spent his days guarding the entrance to the Soviet Union’s pavilion. Also known as “Big Joe” or “working Joe,” the statue was mounted on a 188-foot pedestal, increasing his height substantially. To make his presence even more in your face, he held an illuminated Red Star, “the symbol of communism.” According to newspaper reports, Joe’s outstretched hand “could be seen for miles.”
The Soviet pavilion itself was massive. In fact, they had two pavilions.
One was a flamboyant display of life and achievement in the Soviet Union designed to promote tourism and to show the increased cooperation with the West that was evident in the 1930s. The other was an Arctic Pavilion, dedicated to Soviet achievements in the Arctic.
Actually the Russians had outspent the Americans on the fair -- $4 million to $3 million.The facades of their building were decorated with eleven large panels representing the eleven Soviet Republics. Inside, there were paintings and sculptures by leading Soviet artists, and handicrafts from Central Asia and the Caucasus -- wood carvings, lacquer work, embroidery, and hand woven carpets and rugs. Soviet films were playing, and there were performances by the Red Army Ensemble of Singers, Dancers and Musicians. They even had a reproduction of one of the stations in Moscow’s new “palace subway,” and a replica of the Palace of Soviets constructed in semiprecious stones.
Hungry? Thirsty? Visitors could taste Soviet food and wine while viewing an “Intertourist Map of the Soviet Union” that featured sample travel itineraries throughout the USSR.. They also distributed informational brochures on specific destinations like Sochi. The brochure boasts:
The Caucasian shores of the Black Sea, that blissful sunny corner of the globe, has always enticed the traveler with the incomparable beauty of its scenery and the wonderful healing power of its climate . . . . This lovely resort stretches for 25 kilometers along the sea coast. Magnificent sanatoria, rest-homes, clinics, and hotels nestle amid . . . fine bathing places and sports stations.
As if this wasn’t enough, the Soviets went a step further. As mentioned above, they had a separate Arctic Pavilion, close to the main Pavilion, that was dedicated to Soviet Achievements in the Arctic. Outside, there was the airplane that Valery Chkalov flew when he made the first transpolar flight from Washington to Vancouver, Washington. Inside, visitors could see the actual hut and equipment used by the Papanin Expedition, which made scientific observations for nine months on the North Pole ice flow.
According to fair documents:
On the ceiling, on an illuminated map, the routes of the historic transpolar flights of Chkalov and Gromov, the recent flight of Kokkinaki from Moscow to America, and the route of the Papanin drift are shown. Additional exhibits record other heroic episodes and the vast scientific, industrial, and cultural progress in the Soviet Arctic.
The Soviet displays were among the most popular destinations at the fair. But they didn’t triumph for long. They earned a lot of revenue for the fair, but they also earned a lot of displeasure from members of the public who considered the flamboyant structure to be politically insulting to the host country.
Remember “Joe the Worker?” Reaction to him is a good example of what was going on.
Complaints were lodged that Joe was taller than the American flag that flew over the fairground so fair organizers increased the height of the flag. Still, the complaints continued.
Talk about one upsmanship!
Tension between pro Soviet and anti Soviet fairgoers got a lot worse in September of 1939 when Germany launched an invasion of Poland, The Polish contingent shrouded its display in black, and the status of the Russian Pavilion came into question.
Stalin and Hitler had signed a non-aggression pact just a month before the invasion, an action that many said made the Soviets complicit in the events that triggered the Second World War.
It wasn’t long before the US State Department received a telegram from the US Embassy in Moscow stating that
the government of the Soviet Union does not intend to participate in the NY World’s Fair of 1940.
The Soviets were too busy, I guess, because at this time, they were staging an invasion of Finland.
Soon the USSR Pavilion disappeared from the Fair. Stalin’s bust was taken down, the transpolar plane was dismantled, and “Joe the worker” was taken apart piece by piece and loaded on a ship headed back to the Soviet Union where he would be reconstructed. The site was taken over by a space called the “American Common.”
After a short period of time, cooperation between Germany and the USSR began to deteriorate. The Soviet Union switched sides and became an ally of United States. But the two never really trusted each other and as soon as the war was over a new -- and even more intense -- Red Scare was on the horizon.
Before we get started, I need to make one thing clear about Red Scare History. I’m not talking about the real Soviet Menace which threatened the world with nuclear destruction. Instead, I’m referring to anti-Communist propaganda run rampant, scaring Americans into thinking that their world could end in a heartbeat -- and with very little warning.
Americans were conditioned to fear Communists in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, years before our World War II partnership with the Russians began.
This First Red Scare was spearheaded by an American business community that was fearful of labor unrest and protective of corporate profits.
As John Steinbeck said in The Grapes of Wrath:
A RED is any son of a bitch that wants thirty cents when we’re paying twenty-five.
Industrial leaders, especially, convinced large numbers of Americans that their livelihoods were threatened by Communists.
Years before the American Communist Party was actually founded, the word “communist” was associated with being un-American. This was especially true after the 1917 Russian Revolution when Bolshevism became totally entrenched in Russian life.
The founding of the American Communist Party in Chicago in 1919 made the previously abstract fear of communism a concrete reality. Woodrow Wilson was the US president at the time. He committed arms and troops to the war against Bolshevism abroad and increased the level of anti-Communist propaganda at home as well.
Throughout the 1920s, Americans increasingly feared that Marxism/Leninism would penetrate the US and cause the death of capitalism.
During the Great Depression, communism did gain a foothold among the American working and intellectual classes who opposed the policies of President Hoover that they felt had plunged the nation into economic disaster.
Owing to the New Deal’s social policies, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s congressional opponents spent much of their time proposing bills that would limit immigration, free speech, and free assembly for suspected Communists as well as deport foreign-born Communists.
Red scare history tells us that Congress often flirted with the idea of legally prohibiting the American Communist Party. The war against Germany and the wartime alliance with the Soviet Union temporarily altered these stereotypes.
Official government posters and commercial advertising portrayed the Big Three Allies -- the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union -- marching toward victory. But after the war, the USSR was demonized once again.
By 1948, anti-Communist militancy was sweeping the country.
Communism was blamed for all of America’s ills. Fear of spies, threats of a Communist takeover, and paranoia about nuclear war were offered in large doses in print and on film.
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Have you watched the movie Trumbo? If you haven’t, stop reading now and start streaming. The film tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenwriter.
In 1947, Trumbo is at the top of the heap. His lot in life changes suddenly, though, when he is called to testify before the US Congress. Specifically, he and nine others -- the Hollywood Ten -- undergo a grilling by the House Un American Activities Committee.
“Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” he is asked.
Trumbo refuses to answer and, on November 24, 1947, a day after his testimony, he and the rest of the Ten are indicted for Contempt of Congress, and fired from their jobs.
On June 13, 1948, the Ten learn that their convictions have been upheld by the US Circuit Court of Appeals. Eight of them, including Trumbo, serve one year in prison. Each is assessed a fine of $1,000, and all are blacklisted upon their release. In other words, they aren’t able to work.
Now I’m not suggesting that you watch Trumbo because it’s 100% historically accurate. In fact, some critics have attacked the film.
Godfrey Cheshire of the Roger Ebert Journal wrote that Trumbo is ‘another of those simplistic, made-to-order films about the Hollywood blacklist in which the blacklisted movie folks are all innocent, in every conceivable way.’
Cheshire decried the film’s insinuation that Joseph McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities created the Hollywood blacklist. In reality, the blacklist was created by Hollywood studio chiefs. Cheshire also wrote that the film defended international communism: ‘it invites us to see the Communist Party USA as just another political party rather than as the domestic instrument of a hostile and ultra-murderous foreign tyranny.’
Since this film was only recently released -- it had its world premiere in 2015 -- the above criticism gives you an idea of the schism over communism and the Red Scare that continues to this day. But before I talk about that, let’s go into a little more detail about what happened in the 1950s, and the contentious atmosphere that you can pick up on simply by watching the movie Trumbo.
Fear of communism was already fairly entrenched when Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) came on the scene on February 8, 1950. A former Marine tail-gunner, he gave a now infamous speech to the Women’s Republican Club of Wheeling, West Virginia. In the speech, he charged that
The State Department ‘is thoroughly infested with Communists’.
He claimed that he had a list of 205 employees of the State Department who are either “card-carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party.”
The next day, on February 9, he gave a similar speech in Salt Lake City, lowering the number of State Department commies to 57. Later, he explains that this is the number he meant all along.
As if Americans hadn’t been scared enough, things now went straight downhill. McCarthy was on a rampage, leaving thousands of ruined lives in his wake. In April 1953, the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Government Operations opened for business under McCarthy’s leadership. People -- especially the press -- muttered under their breath about the tyrant. But nobody spoke out.
Finally, four years after McCarthy started his tirade, on March 9, 1954, Edward R. Murrow, the popular CBS newscaster, had had enough. His TV series See It Now featured a “Report on Senator McCarthy.” According to the book Red Scared!, the program
includes clips of the pugnacious Red-baiter belching, picking his nose, and bullying witnesses while apparently in his cups.
“Upon what meat does Senator McCarthy feed?” Murrow asked.
The show was a smash hit and a follow-up critique of McCarthy aired on CBS the following week.
On April 8, 1954, McCarthy appeared on See It Now to respond.. And on April 24, US Army vs. Senator Jos. McCarthy hearings commence and are carried live. Americans watch as “Tail-Gunner Joe” flames-out before the skilled probing of Army counsel Joseph Welch. By the time the hearings conclude on June 17, “McCarthy’s career is as good as over.”
“Just a piece of history,” you might say.
“Doesn’t matter now. The US won the Cold War and the ‘commies’ are toast.”
Well, not so fast. Just a few weeks ago The Huffington Post printed an article titled “The Media is On the Edge of a Murrow Moment” where they argue that Donald Trump’s inflammatory speech and unpopular policy proposals take us back to McCarthy’s witch hunt days.They argue:
Strangely, or perhaps not, Trump’s connection to McCarthy is more than metaphorical. (Indeed, the head of the Edward R. Murrow Center said Murrow would skewer Trump were he around today,)
Does this mean that the same forces of intolerance are around today as in the early 1950s? That we’ve just given them a new name? That instead of fighting commies, we’re fighting Muslims and Mexicans?
Some answer, of course. And they point to Trump’s close relationship to Senator McCarthy’s right hand man, the lawyer Roy Cohn, a close adviser to Donald Trump. In fact, Cohn was “the Donald’s” lawyer for 13 years. In a June 20, 2016 article, The New York Times says:
Decades later, Mr. Cohn’s influence on Mr. Trump is unmistakable. Mr. Trump’s wrecking ball of a presidential bid — the gleeful smearing of his opponents, the embracing of bluster as brand — has been a Roy Cohn number on a grand scale. Mr. Trump’s response to the Orlando massacre, with his ominous warnings of a terrorist attack that could wipe out the country and his conspiratorial suggestions of a Muslim fifth column in the United States, seemed to have been ripped straight out of the Cohn playbook.
Is it a stretch to equate the two? Well, here’s one more movie reference for you. Have you seen George Clooney in Good Night and Good Luck?
He plays Edward R. Murrow, and, in a memorable scene, he repeats the closing remarks in Murrow’s pivotal newscast. You can see it now in the clip below.
What do you think? Is this the role that the media plays in today’s world? Just substitute Trump for McCarthy and see what you think. And, by the way, why don’t we have a newscaster with Murrow’s gravitas anymore?
If you want a full timeline of Red Scare events, you can download our PDF. Just enter your e-mail address here and we’ll send it right out to you.
When it came time for Look Magazine to provide its readership with a handy method of identifying Communists, it turned to Renaissance man Leo Cherne (1912-1999).
Here is what Leo had to say: (From Look Magazine, March 4, 1947)
The real Communist is not a liberal or a progressive. He believes in Russia first and a Soviet America. He accepts the doctrines of dictatorship as practiced in Russia. And he is prepared to use a dictator’s tactics of lies and violence to realize his ambitions.
Because the whole Communist apparatus is geared to secrecy, it is not always easy to determine just who is a Communist. But whether he is a Party card-holder or a fellow traveler, the American Communist is not like other Americans. To the Communist, everything — his country, his job, his family — take second place to his Party duty. Even his sex life is synchronized with the obligations of The Cause.
Mr. Cherne then offers several lists “to help the patriotic and paranoid American ID Commies and Pinkos:”
HOW TO IDENTIFY AN AMERICAN COMMUNIST
There is no simple definition of an American Communist. However, certain general classifications can be set up. And if either a person or an organization falls within most of these classifications, that person or organization can be said to be following the Communists’ lead.
These identifying characteristics include:
- The belief that the war waged by Great Britain and her allies during the period from August 1939 to June 1941 (the period of the war before Russia was invaded), was an “imperialistic” war and a game of power politics.
- The support of foreign policy, which agrees always with that followed by Soviet Russia, and which changes as the USSR policy changes.
- The argument that any foreign or domestic policy, which does not fit the Communist plan, is advanced for ulterior motives and is not in the best interests of either the people or of world peace.
- The practice of criticizing only American, British, and Chinese policies, and never criticizing Soviet policies.
- Continually receiving favorable publicity in such Communist publications as the Daily Worker and the New Masses.
- Continually appearing as sponsor or co-worker of such known Communist-front groups as the Committee to Win the Peace, the Civil Rights Congress, the National Negro Congress, and the groups which can be described as Communist inspired because they fall within the classification set forth here.
- Continually charging critics with being “Fascists,” no matter whether the criticism comes from liberals, conservatives, reactionaries, or those who really are Fascists.
- Arguing for a class society by pitting one group against another; and putting special privileges ahead of community needs as, for example, claiming that labor had privileges but had no responsibilities in dealing with management.
- Declaring that capitalism and democracy are “decadent” because some injustices exist under those systems.
Of course, actual membership is 100 per cent proof, but this kind of proof is difficult to obtain.
These are the five basic layers that the Communists rely on for their strength:
The Party member who openly or secretly holds a membership card.
The fellow-traveler who is not a Party member but who is carefully trained to follow the Communist policy.
The sympathizer who may disagree with some polices, but who is in general agreement with Communist objectives.
The opportunist who is unconcerned with Party goals or tactics but who believes, as John L. Lewis did in his CIO days, that the party can be used to his own advantage.
The muddled liberal who, despite deep disagreement with the Communist Party’s ultimate goals, co-operates with Party members in front organizations.
HOW NOT TO BE A SUCKER FOR A LEFT HOOK
Most Americans want to help a good cause, but don’t want to help Communists hiding behind a good-cause label. Here are tips:
- Check credentials: Before you join or help a group, find out if it opposed Britain’s “imperialistic” war and favored isolationism before Russia was invaded in 1941; if it supported the “people’s” war after Russia was invaded; if it now favors the veto as used by Russia in the UN.
- Signing petitions: Are you getting your name on a Communist list?
- Contributing money: Check carefully; you may be paying a Communist.
- On the escalator: Is your support of one group involving you in causes you didn’t know about? Check all affiliations.
- Resolutions: Does the group you support suddenly endorse other groups you know nothing about?
- Politics: Is your “nonpartisan” group endorsing candidates? Who are they?
- Speakers: Who are the outsiders invited to address your meetings?
- Fly-by-night issues: Does your group support policies also supported by the Communist Party, and then forget those policies as soon as the Party line changes?
- Double standard: Is your group sensitive about American policy in China and British policy in Palestine, but quiet about Russian policy in Iran, Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria?
- Literature: Does literature handed out at meetings endorse Party causes?
- Social life: Are you urged to buy tickets to other groups’ events? You may be contributing to other causes.
- Demonstrations and conferences: Does the local group which was set up to study the cost of living, for example, send delegates to conferences which pass resolutions on atomic energy control?
- Membership: Watch who joins and who resigns. Harold Ickes recently resigned from the Independent Citizens Committee of the Arts and Sciences; Marion Hargrove quit the Duncan-Paris Post of the American Legion and the National Committee to Win the Peace.
Want your own copy of Cherne’s original article? Just do an online search for “what is a communist Look Magazine.”
Cold War Magazine has come up with a baker’s dozen of Red Scare films for your leisure time viewing. To purchase from Amazon, just click on each movie title. To see trailers for most of the movies go to the Cold War Studies You Tube Channel.
In no particular order, the Red Scare films are:
THE RED MENACE (1949)
The Red Menace has been called an overheated expose of Communist Party treachery. Narrated by Los Angeles city councilman, Lloyd G. Douglas, the plot follows an American Vet named Bill Jones as he deals with the unresponsiveness of a government agency called Veteran’s Aid. The agency is responsible for making the G.I. Bill’s promise of a low interest home loan a reality. Bill can’t get them to help him though, and he becomes very disillusioned. His negative feelings make him a prime target for a Communist cell that is always looking for new recruits and also offering their own version of the American dream.
In Conspirator, Elizabeth Taylor is shocked to learn that her husband -- a British officer played by Robert Taylor -- is a murderous Communist agent.
Guilty of Treason is the story of Cardinal Mindzenty of Hungary whom the Reds framed as an anti-Semite and imprisoned in 1949. Mindzenty, played by Charles Bickford, was released from prison in 1956.[NOTE: The trailer for this film is not available.]
THE IRON PETTICOAT (1950)
In The Iron Petticoat, Bob Hope and Katherine Hepburn take a page from Ninotchka. Hope plays a wise-cracking American while Hepburn is a frosty Soviet official.
Invasion tells the story of a small town in California that has been taken over by something evil. Plant-like extraterrestrials have invaded Earth, turning residents into giant seed “pods” and taking possession of their souls while they sleep. Soon the whole town is overwhelmed, just like it would be if the commies invaded. Is the story a commentary on the dangers facing America for turning a blind eye to McCarthyism? Or is it about bland conformity in postwar Eisenhower-era America? Maybe it’s about the loss of autonomy in the Soviet Union or communist systems in general. Watch it and judge for yourself.
Here’s another Ninotchka take-off for you. Silk Stockings is a musical remake of the 1939 film. Cyd Charisse plays Greta Garbo’s role as the no-nonsense party official sent to retrieve three colleagues who have been seduced by the charms of Paris. Fred Astaire plays the American who tries to win her indoctrinated heart. Cole Porter’s music provides the magic.
In The Manchurian Candidate, one of my all time favorites, Laurence Harvey plays a former Korean War POW who has been brainwashed. Years later he is used to assassinate a presidential nominee. Frank Sinatra is memorable as Harvey’s commanding officer who overcomes his own brainwashing to figure out and defuse the plot. The Communist ringleader of the scheme turns out to be Harvey’s mother, portrayed chillingly by Angela Lansbury. From the Richard Condon novel.
Starring Sean Connery,From Russia With Love is the second film in the James Bond series. In this film, Agent 007 faces off against a multitude of villains. Bond is sent to Istanbul to steal a state-of- the-art Russian decoding machine. To accomplish this, he seduces a gorgeous clerk from the Soviet embassy who helps him out in the end. Many think this is the best of the James Bond series!!
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is based on spy master John Le Carre’s best selling novel. Richard Burton plays a burned out agent who’s asked to carry out one more impossible mission for queen and country.
The Ipcress File, based on Len Deighton’s best seller, is in the same vein as The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Michael Caine plays Harry Palmer, a crook converted into a secret agent.
Reds is a quintessential Hollywood spectacle, portraying events leading to the First Red Scare. Warren Beatty plays John Reed, a radical American journalist. Set during the days surrounding the October Revolution of 1917, the film has a stellar cast, including Diane Keaton as Reed’s lover.
Good Night and Good Luck takes place during the early days of broadcast journalism in 1950’s America. It chronicles the real-life conflict between television newsman Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Permanent Sub-committee on Investigations (Government Operations Committee). Murrow, and his dedicated staff defy corporate and sponsorship pressures to examine the lies and scaremongering tactics perpetrated by McCarthy during his communist ‘witch-hunts’. A very public feud develops when the Senator responds by accusing the anchor of being a communist.
Trumbo tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, an award-winning author and screenwriter who was blacklisted from the film industry from 1947 until the early ‘60s due to his Communist ties. You can read more about him in our article Witch Hunts.
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