Blacklisted

 
blacklisted

In October 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) opened its hearing into Communist influence in the movie business and promptly denounced 19 prominent directors, producers, screenwriters, and actors as enemies of the state. One of them was Hollywood screenwriter Gordon Kahn, whose films include All Quiet on the Western Front and The African Queen.

In this six-part personal history of the Hollywood Blacklist, Gordon Kahn's son, Morning Stories producer Tony Kahn, tells the story of his father's 15 years of persecution and the fear that followed him, his family, and thousands of other Americans for being accused of having "the wrong political ideas."
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ListenPart One: Hollywood on Trial | Download (29:04)
hollywood 10
Hollywood 10

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The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) begins its hearings into Communist influence in Hollywood, in October, 1947. Ten screenwriters denounce the investigation and are sentenced to jail for contempt. As fear of criticizing the Committee spreads through Hollywood, Gordon Kahn fights publicly for the freedom of the Hollywood 10.
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ListenPart Two: You Don't Know My Name | Download (28:59)
Tony Kahn
Tony Kahn, 1950


HUAC re-opens its hearings in early 1950 and calls Gordon Kahn as its first witness. Kahn flees to Mexico, leaving his two young sons, Jim and Tony Kahn (shown), in the care of family and friends. J. Edgar Hoover, calls Kahn "one of the three most dangerous Communists in Hollywood," and puts him on his "security index"; a secret list of people to be placed in armed detention camps in the event of a national security emergency.
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ListenPart Three: A Long Way From Home | Download (29:05)
Gordon Kahn
Gordon Kahn


Joined by his family, Gordon Kahn makes plans for an indefinite stay in the quiet, sunny town of Cuernavaca, Mexico. To protect his family, he applies for Mexican citizenship and invests his life savings with a Mexican businessman.
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ListenPart Four: Rainy Season | Download (29:04)
typewriter
Typewriter


Gordon Kahn learns that his business partner, an FBI informer, has robbed him of his money. Blacklisted and bankrupt, he writes day and night, stockpiling his work to sell under a pseudonym in the States. He makes plans to leave Mexico, for the shelter of his wife’s father's house, in New Hampshire.
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ListenPart Five: How I Killed Hugh G. Foster | Download (29:09)
Louis Wyman
Louis Wyman


Gordon Kahn arrives with his family in Manchester, N.H., in the winter of 1955. Soon after, a friend informs on him to the state Attorney General, Louis Wyman. An investigation is launched that becomes front page news. Kahn's wife Barbara looks for work as a school teacher and learns she has been blacklisted, too. Kahn, earning a small living under the pseudonym of Hugh G. Foster, gives up hope of getting back his name.
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ListenPart Six: Reprieved | Download (29:06)
j. edgar hoover
J. Edgar Hoover

Gordon Kahn dies of a heart attack in a snowstorm, on the last night of 1962. Hoover, notified of Kahn's death, closes the files. As he does, we learn that Kahn and Hoover had met once and that for 15 years Kahn had known and kept a secret on him. Disclosed in the final moments of the series, it casts a new light on the two men who regarded each other as one of America's greatest enemies.
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Blacklisted was originally produced in 1996 with major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the financial support of the Threshold Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, and with production help from Soundtrack Studios (Boston and New York), Crystal River Engineering and public radio stations WBUR in Boston and KCRW in Santa Monica.
 

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