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Movies and TV Shows of the 1950s

Much has been written about the ten screenwriters who lost their fight against the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) by arguing their First Amendment rights. What happened in the entertainment business—literature, movies, radio, TV, live theater, magazines, and newspapers— reflects the ripsaw of changing politics and world circumstances that made so many vulnerable to McCarthy’s smears.

Many of the creative artists blacklisted had indeed once been “armchair Communists”—liberals and progressives during the Depression’s financial disaster, involved with trying to unionize and improve workers’ lives, maybe passing petitions, perhaps attending political rallies or fund-raisers that had some association with the American Communist Party. At that point, in the 1930s, the American Communist Party was just another pro-labor political faction within American society. During World War II, the Soviets were allies, not trusted exactly, but admired for their stubborn fight and certainly integral to Hitler’s defeat.

All that changed after World War II with Stalin’s aggression in Eastern Europe. But American citizens could not erase their own pasts and political statements. (Think about your tweets and Facebook posts.) Fanatical Red-hunters, or those who exploited the nation’s fears simply in order to elevate themselves professionally or socially, used people’s past opinions and activities against them.

Once blacklisted, entertainment professionals could not get jobs. Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo had to ghostwrite, hiding his identity for years, even after anonymously winning Oscars for Roman Holiday and The Brave One.

Anyone who spoke out in support of the Hollywood Ten might be investigated themselves. For example, when the Ten testified in front of HUAC, a group of actors formed the Committee for the First Amendment. They signed and ran a petition in newspapers, and traveled to Washington, DC, to sit in support in the audience. Many were later hauled in front of the hearings themselves.

Despite all this, some screenwriters and studios still dared to push content to the “subversive”—themes or characters which challenge conventional thinking. 

From Here to Eternity showcased the emotional devastation of WWII, while On the Waterfront focused on the plight of dockworkers during a strike against management (and the first onscreen use of the curse-word “hell”). Roman Holiday won the Best Screenplay Oscar anonymously for the man who ghostwrote it—one of the “infamous” Ten, the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo. Hitchcock’s Rear Window explored the existence of quiet desperation in every day lives. And works like Singing in the Rain expanded the artistic vision and panache of cinema.

          Other films remain rooted in 1950s stereotypes and definitions, sexism and prejudices.

See links below for a taste of the most popular films, TV shows, and movie stars of 1952-1955, and to further information about blacklists: 

Roman Holiday 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twi3lQIDkiU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-PmluGC2wk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6af1dAc9rXo

 

From Here to Eternity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5OxBOZGlaQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7XxhdIOXo4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lfk-JTdQ_0I

 

On The Waterfront 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBiewQrpBBA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LtHot2GQTc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYBAPVjJykY

 

Singing in the Rain

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu4v5hB1dKk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_EVHeNEIJY

 

Oklahoma

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrGwxrqzGe4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G85aEsgMDwA

 

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1afa_Clw4d4

 

The Wild One

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlKWlx-Yxkg

 

Calamity Jane

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lquz78eV2uA

 

Stalag 17

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQh3qoGYVTg

 

Rear Window

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m01YktiEZCw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFollUtH108

 

 

For more information see:

 

The Red Channels

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128005395  

 

The Blacklist: 

http://www.npr.org/2017/02/21/516427212/what-a-classic-50s-western-can-teach-us-about-the-hollywood-blacklist?sc=17&f=13&utm_source=iosnewsapp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=app

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91576667

 
 

 

TV SHOWS:

Here are a few episodes of the undercover FBI agent show I LED 3 LIVES, which was so important to Richard, and the Pick Temple Show, where Ginny shows her pluck and natural abilities as an aspiring “camera girl.” I've also included a peek at the most popular shows of 1953-54.  The variety hours and talk shows have the feel of the vaudeville and radio programs that proceeded them. The comedies typically focus on the era’s idealized, suburban family with a stay-at-home mom and a dad as the “breadwinner” and “king-of-the-castle”—even if he was slightly goofy for the sake of the audience’s laughter. In them you’ll experience the cultural context of Richard and Ginny’s dreams, limitations, and self-definitions. 

 

I Led 3 Lives

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5SUwJTf58o

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9Z-p1HJi8E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=busF38lIzSY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHoza5H2JSE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaNVd84OnV4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TaPkuiyDW8

 

Pick Temple Show

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RA3hWPyVT8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5tWAUk1g9I

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jg-S2Qm7N-k

http://kidshow.dcmemories.com/pick.html

 

I Love Lucy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NPzLBSBzPI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOfuoA146Y0

 

Dragnet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtApm_dpWpk

 

Jack Benny Program

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C4Af55Wy1k

 

Make Room for Daddy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXYiC74x9_s&list=PLhY2NtXqJwsFyKzl-N2MAeOfje7AYK11h

 

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWPeCxWkU1Y&index=6&list=PLs3QVVdErCGz-uC7J-f1qXywHr3k8ywLl

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8ZGGNfV44A&list=PLs3QVVdErCGz-uC7J-f1qXywHr3k8ywLl&index=9

 

What's My Line

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnLqssSkd-g&list=PLqsaqh5sqUxqkNGHbNWOy9fK82pcv1jw-&index=39

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByfAMNmROek&index=58&list=PLqsaqh5sqUxqkNGHbNWOy9fK82pcv1jw-

      with Eleanor Roosevelt as mystery guest

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrry_ttDLqU

       with Edward R. Murrow as mystery guest

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzwhjkxZC2k

 

Arthur Godfrey Show

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C9dhJ4yRAU

 

Howdy Doody Show

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pK0hNljoTg

 

 

IMAGES OF 1950s MOVIE STARS: 

Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, and Henry Fonda 

Bacall,Bogart,Fonda_crop.jpg

 

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey_Hepburn_1956.jpg

 

 

Gregory Peck

Gregory_Peck_in_Roman_Holiday_trailer.jpg

 

 

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell

Marilyn_Monroe_and_Jane_Russell_at_Chinese_Theater.jpg

 

Grace Kelly:

Grace_Kelly_MGM_photo.jpg

 

Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart

Wonderful_Life.jpg

 

Deborah Kerr

Deborah_Kerr_in_Young_Bess_trailer.jpg

 

 

Debbie Reynolds (holding her baby, Carrie Fisher)

debbie-reynolds-today-161228-08_87828a987f5a68adbca09dcf4e50603b.today-inline-large.jpg

 

Burt Lancaster

Burt_Lancaster_-_publicity_1947.JPG

 

Kirk Douglas (with Jane Wyman in Glass Menagerie, at the time also Mrs. Ronald Reagan)

GlassMenagerieTrailer.jpg

 

Elizabeth Taylor

Taylor,_Elizabeth_posed.jpg

 

James Dean

 James_Dean_in_East_of_Eden_trailer_2.jpg

 

Gary Cooper

Gary_Cooper_in_High_Noon_1952.JPG

 

And last, but CERTAINLY not least.....Cary Grant

Cary_Grant_in_Every_Girl_Should_Be_Married_trailer.jpg

 

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