[Marxism] Fwd: On Native Land » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jul 3 11:40:04 MDT 2015

Recently I have begun a project that should be of some interest to 
radicals, particularly film buffs like me. I will be creating a database 
of links to radical films that can be seen on the Internet for free, or 
for a nominal fee. Most of these films will be viewable on Youtube but 
one that I saw this week is available on veoh.com, a Video streaming 
website that is part of qlipso.com, a social networking company that was 
launched out of Israel. My advice is to not let this stand in the way of 
watching “Native Land”, a 1942 documentary co-directed by Leo Hurwitz 
and Paul Strand, two leading figures in the Communist Party-led cultural 
front that was so brilliantly analyzed in Michael Denning’s “The 
Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century”.

The film was a virtual who’s who of the CP artistic community. In 
addition to Hurwitz, who was blacklisted during the 1950s, and 
photographer Paul Strand, who was not a party member but embodied their 
esthetic, it featured Paul Robeson as narrator and music by Marc 
Blitzstein best known for his musical play “The Cradle Will Rock” that 
was directed by Orson Welles. (In 1999 Tim Robbins directed a 
serviceable film based on the play’s difficulties getting staged.)

“Native Land” consists of a series of dramatic reenactments of how 
corporate America used gun-thugs and spies to crush the trade union 
movement, especially in the Deep South. The technique might be familiar 
to you if you’ve seen Errol Morris’s “The Thin Blue Line” or Andrew 
Jarecki’s “The Jinx”, which had actors reprising the alleged crimes of 
real estate heir Robert Durst. In one reenactment, Howard Da Silva plays 
a snitch named Jim hired by the bosses to secretly take down the names 
of trade union members for blacklisting purposes. (This was a time when 
the CIO was nothing close to the immensely powerful machine it would 
become.) There was an immense irony in this since Da Silva was a CP’er 
who was blacklisted in the 1950s. Jim’s fellow spy was played by Art 
Smith, another victim of the witch-hunt whose career effectively came to 
an end in1952.

full: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/03/on-native-land/

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