Reynold Humphries

in Hollywood's Blacklists

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780748624553
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651153 | DOI:

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In 1972, there appeared a film which failed lamentably at the box office in the United States precisely because it sums up so cogently the climate of the early 1970s and so brilliantly links that climate to the period under discussion in this book: Billy Wilder's Avanti!. Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974 was a suitably ignominious ending to the most disreputable career in post-war American politics, one of Red-baiting, witch hunting, political chicanery and war crimes in Vietnam and Cambodia. It was a fitting ending to a politician who had gained power by claiming to find Red conspiracies everywhere. This is, however, a cautionary tale. Just as we have seen how the anti-Communism of liberals led to the suppression of the very laws concerning freedom of speech and thought they claimed to champion, so the refusal of liberals to oppose witch hunting led straight to the Vietnam war and opened the doors of the White House to Nixon. Ultimately, this was due to the attitude of liberals to Joseph McCarthy.

Keywords: United States; anti-Communism; liberals; Richard Nixon; Joseph McCarthy; Avanti; Red-baiting; witch hunting; freedom of speech

Chapter.  2251 words. 

Subjects: Film

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