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Tender Comrades

A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist

2012
Authors:

Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle

Tender Comrades

The definitive portrait of Hollywood’s dark high noon

More than sixty years ago, McCarthyism silenced Hollywood. Tender Comrades brings to light the voices of thirty-six blacklist survivors, seminal directors, starring actresses and memorable supporting players, top screenwriters, and many less known to the public who are rescued from obscurity by the stories they offer here, opening a rich window into moviemaking during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

This is not the usual book of remembrances—nostalgic, bittersweet, and all that. This is chapter-and-verse recall of our country’s most shameful epoch. . . . It is eloquent and revelatory, but most of all, it is a cautionary tale.

Studs Terkel

More than sixty years ago, McCarthyism silenced Hollywood. In the pages of Tender Comrades, those who were suppressed, whose lives and careers were ruined, finally have their say. A unique collection of profiles in cinematic courage, this extraordinary oral history brings to light the voices of thirty-six blacklist survivors (including two members of the Hollywood Ten), seminal directors of film noir and other genres, starring actresses and memorable supporting players, top screenwriters, and many less known to the public who are rescued from obscurity by the stories they offer here that, beyond politics, open a rich window into moviemaking during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Tender Comrades

Patrick McGilligan has written several acclaimed biographies, including Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light (a finalist for the Edgar Award) as well as New York Times Notable Books about George Cukor and Fritz Lang. His five-volume Backstory series is the definitive oral history of American screenwriting.

Paul Buhle, a retired senior lecturer at Brown University and the founder of the Oral History of the American Left archive at New York University, is the author or editor of more than forty books.

Tender Comrades

This is not the usual book of remembrances—nostalgic, bittersweet, and all that. This is chapter-and-verse recall of our country’s most shameful epoch. . . . It is eloquent and revelatory, but most of all, it is a cautionary tale.

Studs Terkel

[Tender Comrades is] a book that gives an identity to those who for so long struggled in pseudonymous exile.

Boston Globe

A rich compendium of Hollywood reminiscences . . . [It] provides the collective oral history of an unscrupulous industry's ethnic cleansing.

Texas Observer

Not only a compelling indictment of repression but an alternative history of Hollywood, replete with vivid, often hilarious anecdotes and irreverent glimpses of film-industry icons . . . It’s a collection of portraits of the artists as disenfranchised men and women who are still vibrant, idealistic, hopeful, and without bitterness.

Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix

An acute portrait of that squalid time when the witch-hunt was on in Hollywood and of the thirty-six movie artists interviewed here who were deprived of a livelihood—even as hundreds of others lived in fear of the House Un-American Activities Committee—while havoc was strewn through their lives and their professions.

Norman Mailer

A singular collection.

The New York Times

An invaluable oral history. . . . All their stories are worth retelling and remembering, however, not just for their political content but for their human drama.

Publishers Weekly

A fun, informative read that, despite its somber backdrop, delivers a stirring message about the resilience of the American creative spirit.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

An important work that helped recover the history of that era.

Express Milwaukee

Both amusing and tragic in its detail, the anthology presents a different perspective on both the process and period.

Communication Booknotes Quarterly

Tender Comrades

UMP blog - Remembering the Hollywood blacklist and those artists who were silenced more than sixty years ago.

I felt politically sympatico with the blacklistees, but many of the blacklistees I met under other auspices, interviewing them for newspapers or magazines about their projects; a few, like Martin Ritt for example, were still actively making films. I was always interested in their careers, and especially in the cases of the writers, in the background of their work. An important thematic point of Tender Comrades is that most of these people boasted stellar careers as writers, actors, directors, producers. Film history owes a lot to them even before you get to the blacklist.

Read the full article.

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Los Angeles Times: Richard Collins, onetime blacklisted screenwriter, dies at 98.