David Merrill (Robert De Niro), a fictitious 1950s Hollywood Director, returns from filming abroad in France to find that his loyalty has been called into question by the House Committee on...
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Robert De Niro,
David Merrill (Robert De Niro), a fictitious 1950s Hollywood Director, returns from filming abroad in France to find that his loyalty has been called into question by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and he is unable to work until cleared. Before being called, his highest priority had been his work to the extent of leaving his wife (Annette Bening) and son (Luke Edwards) alone for several months at a time. He initially refuses to implicate others or himself in a private meeting with Roy Cohn and a studio lawyer. This decision initially to stick to his principles first leaves him unable to work in his profession, even with films and producers he never would have worked with before. Harassment by the F.B.I. leaves him unable to work on Broadway, with advertising agencies, or even in a small film repair shop. Finally, having fallen so far, and tempted with a new offer to direct a film from his old studio (if he testifies), he agrees to go before the Committee, initially ...Written by
Mike Harris <email@example.com>
In the 1950's a war was being fought in the U.S. A committee of Congress sought to control the creative community through fear and censorship. Anyone who disagreed with them became... Guilty By Suspicion. See more »
According to the article "McCarthyism Made Simple" by Jonathan Rosenbaum published in "The Chicago Reader", this picture was "the first Hollywood feature devoted in its entirety to the film industry blacklist." The earlier Martin Ritt-directed film The Front (1976) dealt with television. See more »
There is a Milwaukee Braves baseball pennant on the wall of Merrill's son's room. This film takes place in 1951 and 1952. The Braves didn't move to Milwaukee from Boston until 1953. See more »
This film is Perhaps the most emotional and realistic teaching tool to communicate the effects that McCarthyism had on the personal lives of those who were implicated by the HUAC committee. The climactic trial scene stands as a monument to the abuse of power of demagogues and obscenity of political bullying. (The trial scene though is a composite of many of the McCarthy HUAC hearings and thus needs to be explained by the teacher.) The resemblences of major characters such as David Merill in the movie (David Merick in real life) are transparent enough to use as fact. Scorsesee and De Niro made a few non gangster movies that were significant and underrated . This is one of them (King of Comedy is another). The political tool of intimidation of Hollywood intellectual types depicted in this film is especially relevant today given the climate of Rush Limbaugh and his miinions. The acting, soundtrack, cinematography are all impeccable. Many of the small parts are played by character actors who will be recognizable to your students. The film also pays careful attention to the sights and sounds of Hollywood in the fifties. As far as the omnipresent issue of Hollywood vs History this film ranks as one of the most fidelitous to history. Use it.
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