August 6, 2009
FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE RATS ARE ON OUR SIDE:
Why 'Controversy' Dogged Kazan (Allan H. Ryskind, Oct 3, 2003, Human Events)
Just two years after his testimony, he directed On the Water Front, which he considered a metaphor about his life. Budd (What Makes Sammy Run?) Schulberg, an ex-Communist who pulled a Kazan in 1951, wrote the script. The product of these two Red renegades dazzled the public and Hollywood.
Brando won the Oscar for best actor, Kazan for best director and Schulberg for best writer.
Talent had trumped ideology, even in movieland. Waterfront was a terrible affront to the Left because it not only elevated the reputation of two anti-Communists, but it glorified informers.
Longshoreman Terry Malloy, the part made famous by Brando, testifies against his friends in the mob-controlled union, having been persuaded to do so by Father Barry, played by Karl Malden. Barry pleads with Malloy to publicly come out "for what you know is right against what you know is wrong."
What's "ratting" to them, he says, "is telling the truth for you."
Kazan said he viewed the story as his own: "When Brando [Malloy], at the end, yells at Lee Cobb, the mob boss, 'I'm glad what I done—you hear me—glad what I done!', that was me saying, with identical heat, that I was glad I'd testified as I had."
Kazan wasn't through justifying his repudiation of communism. In his spectacular autobiography, Elia Kazan: A Life, published in 1988, he would thoroughly expose the Communist Party as a vicious, narrow-minded, oppressive entity, whose leaders were controlled by Moscow and mercilessly bullied even mildly questioning members.
Those Hollywood folk who remained Communists for any length of time deserved to lose their jobs, he argued. They weren't fighting for civil liberties when they took the 1st or the 5th Amendment before HCUA, but were "protecting the party" and "their own pasts."
Only criminal conspiracies require an ethos against informing.
[originally posted: 10/03/03]Posted by Orrin Judd at August 6, 2009 12:37 AM