Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Jules Dassin, 1911-2008

The Siren has a friend who is a film editor, and over the years this gentleman has corrected her more than once when she pronounced Dassin "Das-SAHN," in the French way. "He's American," the editor would say. "Don't forget." Dassin would have approved. "I'm American, and that I will stay," he said, in this excellent interview over at the WGA site.

The Siren has been thinking about her editor friend's reminder this morning. Because along with the Sunrise jokester from the Oscars, here's another writer the Siren would like to nominate for permanent hiatus: whoever wrote Jules Dassin's obituary for the Associated Press.

Dassin, a leftist activist whose more than 20 films also included "Topkapi," abandoned Hollywood in 1950 during the Communist blacklisting era.


Dassin, who was active in leftist political causes, was denounced by Hollywood contemporaries as being a Communist enough to be placed on the era's infamous blacklists.

He moved to London in 1950 to shoot his next film, "Night and the City." Dassin then lived in Italy and France before returning to the cinema with "Rififi."

Did you get the part where he was a leftist? Are you sure? Should we mention it again? Lefty-left-left-leftist, got that? How about the fact that Dassin left the Communist party in 1939? Oops, no space for that. He moved to London to do Night and the City, who knows why. Then Dassin "abandoned" the U.S. after being denounced by vaguely plural "contemporaries" and put on the blacklist. They wouldn't let on just anybody, you know, you had to be "Communist enough." Then Dassin lived in Italy and France and after soaking up the Euroscene he returned with Rififi.

That's what these leftists do, you know. Just up and leave us with nary a backward glance:

He could not find work in Europe for five years, as producers felt American distributors would automatically ban any film with his signature. When Rififi opened, critics wrote about Dassin as if he were European. The New York Herald Tribune reported in 1961, 'At one ceremony, when the award to Rififi was announced, [Dassin] was called to the dais, and a French flag was raised above him: "It should have been a moment of triumph but I felt awful. They were honoring my work and I'm an American. It should have been the American flag raised in honor."'

The Siren knows she sounds grumpy. Well, it's bad enough to lose Richard Widmark and Abby Mann in the same week. It is worse to hear that an American director of exceptional talent, the maker of at least three excellent movies (Brute Force, The Naked City and Thieves' Highway) and two great ones (Night and the City, Rififi) has died at the ripe old age of 96, and then see that the obituary flashing across the newswires is a slanted piece of crap.

It's been sixty years, people. You can stop pretending that protecting us all from Jules Dassin movies was essential for national security.

All right, the Siren feels better now. Surely the day will bring good posts from good bloggers to wash the taste of the AP out of her mouth. The Siren has spent a lot of time reading farewells to the great Richard Widmark. Meanwhile there's the WGA interview. And, there is always Youtube.

P.S. Speaking of Richard Widmark--please check out this post over at Scanners, where Jim Emerson meticulously reconstructs the oft-retold Andrei Tarkovsky incident at Telluride. Glenn Kenny, meanwhile, pays his respects to Dassin's "inspired" run from Brute Force to Rififi. And Steve-O at Film Noir of the Week pays tribute by analyzing the pitch-dark Brute Force.


Greg said...

The Lapper feels better too having read this honorable tribute. I've wanted to do a whole series on the blacklist but then I think, it's too overwhelming for a blog entry and too important to be reduced to a blog series of posts. Nevertheless, when I read the tripe written by the AP reporter I get my ire up all over again.

Just the other day I was reading about those blacklist days again in one of my film books on the forties and seeing pictures of Adolph Menjou, Walt Disney, Ginger Rogers and others testifying against writers and directors made me feel as sick as it did the first time. Then looking at the pictures of Bogie and Bacall protesting the whole stinking affair renewed my love for them.

I also recently re-read the story of Kirk Douglas being told Dalton Trumbo would have to use a pseudonym for Spartacus to which Douglas asked something that seemingly no one had asked before: Why? Such a simple question really and yet it carried profound weight. As we all know Douglas' question had no proper, civilized answer and Trumbo's name went on the credits.

Thanks for paying the proper respects to Dassin. It's a function of the blogs of which I'm proud. Obituaries for artists used to be relegated to staff reporters and only at the bigger outlets, to critics and historians. Now people with a passion for film are heard each time one of the film community leaves us and we're the better for it.

I'm no good at tributes myself but I did put up a banner on my blog for Dassin from Topkapi. The other banner had already been up for almost a day and a half which is far too long for my taste anyway (if you haven't noticed). Sorry not to use one of your favorite Dassin films but it's what I had available to me.

The Siren said...

Jonathan, I like Topkapi. It has several elements I adore. There's Maximilian Schell in his prime--phwoar. There's a fabulous exotic locale shot in the early 60s before things got overly built up. There's the caper element. There's Peter Ustinov. God I love him. Did he come up in your "honey-baked ham" post? He plays biiiiig but I get pleasure out of him every time. Anyway, Topkapi is not Rififi but I think it should be remembered fondly.

Some later AP-sourced obits seemed to have been edited quite a bit. My days of working at a wire service tells me that someone along the chain looked and did not like the original. I had problems with the Times obituary too but at least they were based on critical perceptions.

Greg said...

I've never written up Peter Ustinov's big acting but I do so love it. I even love him in Death on the Nile where he has made no attempt whatsoever to physically resemble Poirot, choosing instead to make the role his own creation.

Karen said...

Never apologize for crabby dissent, O Siren, when it is so entirely merited.

I confess I adore, adore, adore The Naked City and screen it often for my friends. I love the location shooting in my beautiful town, and I love Hellinger's voice-overs, and I love the characters. I also really like The Canterville Ghost, tho' I know I shouldn't. Robert Young is such a pain--as is Margaret O'Brien, whom I actually often find surprisingly effective--but OH that Charles Laughton!

I do not, however, enjoy Dassin as an actor in Never on Sunday, where I find him too loud, too over-projecting, too jarring. It may be the character--who is a Ass--but it may be his performance, too. As a rule, I prefer him as a director.

So, thank you for setting the Dassin record straight. I think there can't be enough books and blog posts and newspaper articles in the WORLD to do justice to the blot that was HUAC--much less the blacklist--and that a respectable news agency can show this kind of sheer animal ignorance is proof that I'm right.

And thank you for linking to Jim Emerson's post on Telluride, which is a story with which I was not familiar, and which I found very moving indeed, and a most appropriate tribute.

The Siren said...

Jonathan, one of these days I'm gonna write up Billy Budd, which is a great movie.

Karen, I should have mentioned The Canterville Ghost as well, at least as a shout-out to Gloria, Laughton's No. 1 fan. I wonder what it was like on the set for Dassin? He was so young and relatively inexperienced and Laughton, though brilliant, could be a handful to direct. Anyway I liked the movie a lot as a kid and still do, though it's been too long since I saw it to discuss its relevance to Dassin's growth as a director. If any.

as to his acting in Never On Sunday, I just didn't find the movie charming, at all. It's probably my least favorite of the ones I have seen, though I haven't seen that whole run of films he did with Mercouri in the 1970s. I even liked Circle of Two better than Never on Sunday.

Jack Swank said...

Love your post! What a body blow cinema has been taking lately! I'd have to say, though, that I prefer "Naked City" to "Night and the City," though. But both show off what an eye Dassin had for urban landscapes.

Rich said...

Here's something no one else has mentioned -- maybe it's just me. Jules Dassin and Elia Kazan both started making gritty thrillers in the late 40's. Kazan made "Boomerang" in '47, when Dassin made the masterful "Brute Force." In 1950 Kazan made "Panic In The Streets" and Dassin made the superior "Night and the City." Then Dassin gets blacklisted, and Kazan makes "Streetcar." Kazan rats out his friends, Dassin stays true to his principles.

Kazan had the career that Dassin should have had. Kazan -- or "Looselips" as Zero Mostel called him -- sold his soul for 10 big years in Hollywood. Dassin kept his integrity and had to scramble to survive.

I'll take any single frame of any film Dassin made (especially "Night and the City") over the entire overheated Kazan canon.

Bob Westal said...

Hey, Campuspe. I've been distracted lately but came across your righteously indignant post as I was working on my old double-tribute to Dassin and Abby Mann. (Well, probably mostly to Dassin.) Good one.

I could go on, but I still haven't started on Abby Mann. But the more I think about it, as heretical as it is, the more I kind of agree with Rich. Not that I don't think Kazan made some great films -- and, lord knows, he's not the only morally questionable artist of merit to have ever lived -- but Jules Dassin's films, or at least the ones I've seen, are united by an unpretentious humanism, which is really, to me, the best aspect of real liberalism. To me, there is something sort of showy about Kazan's version of liberalism, and I've never been able to fully swallow "On the Waterfront," since he's so clearly defending himself for naming those names by creating a false analogy between naming names on former or current CP members (not spies, just members of an unpopular political party) and protecting the Mafia.

In general, I've always felt Kazan was maybe slightly overrated but couldn't quite put my finger on it, perhaps it's that lack of the simplicity that Dassin achieved. I know that Dassin's films are more than a little underrated. Is it possible that, on some level, being a better person means that, sometimes anyhow, you make movies? Probably not, but it's a nice thought, isn't it?

tes said...

Thanks for mentioning Noir of the Week here. I've been watching Dassin (and Widmark) almost 24/7 this week. I can't get enough of Brute Force or Widmark in (surprisingly) Road House.

One thing I have to admit: I was wrong about The Naked City. It's a brilliant film. In the past I lumped it with other docu-dramas like House on 92nd Street, but clearly it's a much better film than that. And what an opening with the New York skyline!

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...


Greg said...

I look forward to a write up of Billy Budd especially since I feel that Robert Ryan and Melvyn Douglas are two great actors that don't get enough mention today in discussions of classic film, despite their enormous talents.

And to Rich and Bob: I remember last year when I was doing an Oscar series of picking the Best Pictures year by year and I went with Rear Window over On the Waterfront for 1954 and one of the reasons I cited was the creepy feeling I get watching Waterfront where Kazan and Schulberg are defending themselves by equating Communist Party members to gangsters (actual Party members I mean, like the artists in the States, not Soviet dictators who were like gangsters). That has always bothered me.

At the same time, and I'm not trying to be indecisive here, I can't imagine being told that I was going to lose my job unless I named someone and then if they named someone they wouldn't lose their job. Having a family to support I'm sure I would be afraid of being threatened in such a way. I wouldn't want my six year old's life to be turned upside down because I didn't say someone's name. On the other hand, my wife has a great job and I could look for other work without causing too much commotion. Given the fact that I have made career changing positions before based on much less than the coercion at work here I firmly believe I would go the Woody Allen route in The Front and tell them what to do with themselves.

I'm just saying that while I disagree with Kazan and Edward Dmytryk's decision to go back and name names I do understand that there was a lot of fear going around and some (Dassin) could cope with it better than others (Kazan).

Kazan's greatest sin, I believe, was not naming names, but going so far as to make a movie defending it. Others named names and did no such thing. It is the making of On the Waterfront itself that blackens Kazan's reputation for me. It feels like kicking a man when he is down. It feels petty and small. And I am bothered by the fact that this is rarely mentioned when praise is being heaped upon it.

DJA said...

Kazan's greatest sin, I believe, was not naming names, but going so far as to make a movie defending it.

And, of course, in Dassin's movie, he's the one who plays the snitch. The portrayal of Cesar displays an astounding level of empathy for the people who fucked him over and destroyed his career.

Operator_99 said...

28 minutes of silence for a master.

surly hack said...

Thanks for posting this. I've been out of touch and hadn't heard the sad news. Thankfully, I also missed that Associated Pap obit.

Only a few weeks ago I watched the extras on the Night and the City dvd, including a too brief interview with Dassin. At least I remember wanting it to go on longer. I love that film, Brute Force and Thieves' Highway--though I've only been able to see the latter once.

And steve-o, I also love Widmark in Roadhouse--no suprise to me--and Lupino too.

Too many gone.

Peter Nellhaus said...

In terms of naming names, it may be worth mentioning that when Dassin returned to the U.S., he did the African-American remake of .

Peter Nellhaus said...

Aaargh. The Informer.

Alex said...

I would disagree. Yes, most of the obits portray Dassin's politics with a crayon, but politics was the driver for most of his work.

And the McCarthy era was a lot more foundational than one might think. Immediately after WWII, literally everything (politics, economics, culture) was truly up for grabs. The global Right had been badly discredited (as Welles alludes to in The Lady from Shanghai, the global Right was largely very supportive of figures like Franco and Chiang Kai-shek) by WWII. In the US and UK, such major figures as Taft and General Wood either secretly or openly opposed the war. Taft, the greatest leader of the Republicans throughout the mid-century, continued to oppose WWII throughout (and afterwards), consistently arguing that FDR's "communistic" war efforts were a greater threat to the US than the Nazis or Japanese.

The Right in the US often explicitly refused to participate in WWII, or primarily used the war effort to engage in war profiteering, segregation, whining and other malingering. Since the Left/liberals were largely successful in planning and prosecuting WWII, the Right needed a massive effort to regain the upper hand after the war.

It's therefore not a surprise when we find all of the primary post-WWII Right leadership (Nixon, Reagan, and many more) built their political careers on the back of the McCarthy effort. The McCarthy effort wasn't just a few screenwriters being questioned by HUAC, it also included:

1. a general purge of the universities.
2. a purge of labor activists, including a gigantic purge in Hollywood.
3. the passage of anti-labor laws (1947's Taft-Hartley Act).
4. a purge of government research institutes (for example, game theorist John Nash was purged from RAND for homosexuality).

surly hack said...

Defamed in obit by AP
As commie, a Red, and lefty
Whose writers insist
On reviving blacklist
And won’t let the dead R.I.P

The Siren said...

Thanks, everyone, for all the comments to this post. If I'm not responding individually this time it's because after the initial burst of indignation the whole thing makes me sad. I do love Dja's point about Dassin's character in Rififi. A real artist can imagine himself in anyone's shoes, I suppose.

Alex, I am delighted to see you back here and your point about the whole wretched era is interesting indeed. Here in NY I still occasionally talk to people who were personally affected by the anti-Communist hysteria, often via parents who lost jobs. But because of the length of the thread I am not sure whether you're disagreeing with some part of the post?

surly, there are few occasions so gloomy they can't be lightened by a limerick. :)

camorrista said...

As much as I concur with your posters' high estimates of Dassin's (best) work, I think some of them undercut their arguments by using Kazan as their whipping boy. Especially since they seem to base their derogation of Kazan on what they regard as his moral failings.

Kazan named names. Many of the people subpeonaed named names. Some invoked the First Amendment; others invoked the Fifth. (Some, like Lillian Hellman, invoked both--though her admirers would prefer not to know that.)

Dassin didn't name names, but he didn't confront the committee either, and he didn't go to prison; and he didn't--despite the inference of some his fans--lose his career; neither did Losey; nor did anyone who exiled himself to Europe. Nobody knows what kind of career Dassin might have had had he stayed in Hollywood, but to assume it would have turned out wonderfully is just silly.

As to Kazan, well, he had plenty of talented company in his snitching--Jerome Robbins, Sterling Hayden, Burl Ives, Budd Schulberg, Edward G. Robinson, and on and on. However cowardly or self-serving you may regard them, if their art (or craft) degenerated after their testimony, it's not apparent to me.

And may I suggest that to fling around the words overrated and overheated about the director who gave us "Boomerang," A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," "Panic in the Streets," "A Streetcar Named Desire," "East of Eden," "Baby Doll," and "A Face in the Crowd" is itself pretty overheated.

As to "On the Waterfront," yes, it's an apologia, but not an empty one. The premise of "Waterfront" is that informing is a sin, but letting systemic evil thrive is a worse sin. In an era when we depend on snitches in the military to expose what's happening at Guantanamo, is that really so hard to understand? To assume, as Kazan's present-day critics releflexively do, that he made the movie simply to justify his behavior is so self-righteous (and so adolescent about motives) as to be comical.

Bela said...

I thought Jules Dassin had died long ago. I was probably thinking of his son Joe, who was a very well-known singer in France and who died much too young, years ago.

Jonathan Lapper, have you seen Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun? Apart from Paths of Glory, I can't think of a more effective or affecting indictment of war.

Topkapi is fantastically entertaining.

Noel Vera said...

Let's cut the bull; On the Waterfront is an act of self-justification stretched to feature length, distorting along the way what the HUAC hearings were all about. Dragging Guantanamo into this does the movie no favors.

I don't find Kazan's work worthless--Streetcar has its moments, and Baby Doll is wonderful. Waterfront didn't have Tennessee Williams working in it, so I'll assume the strident black-and-white sense of morality and overheated dramaturgy isn't Williams' fault.

surly hack said...

Why, to restore Kazan, must we make an apologia for his apologia? Many caved in--and the terrible pressure they were under makes them victims first, not villains. But Kazan went on to dramatize and valorize his own compromise. As an artist who built a rep on dramatic truth, Kazan's post-testimony justifications deserve a special scrutiny and clear-eyed moral assessment.

The Siren said...

I didn't weight in on Kazan because I did a post on him some time back. The essence was -- as a person, feh. But I love him as a director and I think Waterfront is one of his best. He's definitely trying for the committee analogy but it's so farfetched a comparison I've never had any trouble getting past it.

I don't think anyone said Dassin didn't have a career. The shame of him having to leave the US was that immediately after completing his best film, he had to twiddle his thumbs for almost five years. He even started a movie in Italy which had to be aborted when the Italian producers got cold feet. I don't know of any profession where an enforced, lengthy hiatus at the peak of your talent is a great idea. Also, Dassin did come back to the States to testify, but was never called after Dmytryk and Tuttle named him.

Alex said...

Sure, let's define the areas of agreement and disagreement:

1. We both agree that the obits' portrayal of Dassin is cartoonish.

2. We disagree in how those portrayal are cartoonish.

3. You argue (seemingly, at least) that Dassin's politics are not notably controversial or possibly that his artistic work wasn't closely related to his politics. Since the second argument isn't really sustainable, you're probably arguing the first.

4. Your argument (I think) is that Dassin's politics are not particularly notable now, because of several potential proposals (you may believe all or none of them, I'm simply trying to reconstruct your arguments):

a. McCarthyism was an inexplicable, bizarre and isolated episode of hysteria that had no lasting impact on the American regime.

b. That Dassin's politics were in reality not a substantive challenge to the American regime (then or now).

This is where the heart of our disagreement comes from. I conversely argue that not only is (a) not correct, but that McCarthyism (or more correctly, the Right's successful retaking of the American regime in the 1945-1953 period) is in fact the equally fundamental reality of our own time.

This isn't just seen in that most of the major politicians on the Right built their careers precisely upon their work in that period - Nixon and Reagan, for just the two best known examples. It's that our current regime is formed around policy initiatives from the Right - Taft-Hartley, for instance. It's also that US academia's direction was completely changed by that era: such things as brutally enforcing an apolitical stance upon the previously left analytic school of philosophy, the suppression of the institutionalists in economic theory in favor of "apolitical" Keynesians and then the neoclassical school, and much much more (urban planning, race relations, ad infinitum).

Dassin's challenge to his day's politics was also much more radical and thorough-going than the above piece portrays, too. And we can see that Dassin's critiques apply equally well to our own day because people today are effectively remaking his themes in equally effective critiques of our present regime - the TV Show Oz built upon Brute Force, Frownland or Fat City or Quietly On By built upon Night and the City, Narc built upon Riffifi (or The Sopranos versus Riffifi or everything Michael Mann has done versus Riffifi).

camorrista said...

"Let's cut the bull; On the Waterfront is an act of self-justification stretched to feature length..."

Remarks like this--moralistic, B-movie macho ('Let's cut the bull', indeed) and indecently smug about the motives of a complicated man in a complicated time ("Waterfront" was released in 1954, and I'd bet that the commenter wasn't even born then, meaning his knowledge of Kazan & Schulberg & HUAC & the Blacklist is strictly secondary)--that make me regret the insinuation of biography into criticism.

I wonder how those so eager to condemn "Waterfront" would judge it if Kazan's testimony had remained secret. Kazan exploited an incident in his life to devise a metaphor; Arthur Miller exploited a parallel incident to devise his metaphor ("The Crucible"). Kazan snitched, so, in the eyes of his virtuous critics, his metaphor stinks; Miller didn't, so his doesn't. (Though one could easily argue that Miller's metaphor is far more overwrought than Kazan's--nobody was tortured or executed by HUAC: Miller least of all: his passport was delayed for a few months.)

Pound's poetry isn't diminished because he was a tool of the Nazis; and neither are Wodehouse's books; or Chevalier's or Darrieux' performances. Artists often do bad things, or even live bad lives (see Picasso, or Frost, or Celine, or Genet, or Brecht, or Li Po). But that's material for a biographer, not a critic. Or so I keep wishing (obviously in vain).

The Siren said...

A., your post is fascinating but I guess your interpretation illustrates the old saw that people always write about more than what they think they are writing about. At first I thought, "where'd he get all that?" but upon re-reading myself, your (b) is indeed what I'm implying. I don't think Jules Dassin was a threat to the republic. I do think his politics affected his themes and choice of subject matter.

as for (a), I do think McCarthyism and the HUAC hysteria have reverberations for the present day. I'ma gonna leave it at that.

Your last graf is a fine tribute to the director, I think. We should all do something so good that people are still riffing on our originals fifty or sixty years later.

Bela said...

'Pound's poetry isn't diminished because he was a tool of the Nazis; and neither are Wodehouse's books; or Chevalier's or Darrieux' performances.'

I couldn't disagree more. As long as one person acts honourably, it makes anyone else's dishonourable actions worse. As long as one writer - for instance, E M Forster - denounces Nazism in a climate where anti-Semitism is accepted and more or less condoned, any writer who spouts out hysterical, anti-Semitic cr*p like Pound is to be condemned and shunned. Good men show everyone else up. They should be considered the standard by which to judge the others, not the other way around.

surly hack said...

Jonathan Lapper- Here is an edited version of an article I was writing on Bogart and Bacall. It's for a general audience and this section on the hearings is only part of an overview of the couple's life together, so I had to leave out a lot of very interesting detail. My own opinion on the hearings is right there up front:

When anti-Communist paranoia began to take hold In 1947, Hollywood was targeted. The Congressional House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) subpoenaed forty-one writers, actors, directors and producers to appear at hearings. Though there were Communists in Hollywood, the notion that any ideology other than capitalism had any significant influence in the film industry was nonsense. In response, a group of Hollywood liberals, including director John Huston, formed the Committee for the First Amendment (CFA). Members Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall signed the following statement:

We the undersigned, as American Citizens who believe in constitutional democratic government, are disgusted and outraged by the continuing attempt of the House Committee on Un-American Activities to smear the Motion Picture Industry.
We hold that these hearings are morally wrong because:
Any investigation into the political beliefs of the individual is contrary to the basic principles of our democracy;
Any attempt to curb freedom of expression and to set arbitrary standards of Americanism is in itself disloyal to both the spirit and the letter of the constitution.

Norman Corwin organized a CFA radio program entitled Hollywood Fights Back. The star-studded show included Charles Boyer, Judy Garland, Myrna Loy, Artie Shaw, Frank Sinatra and John Garfield. Bogart and Bacall each taped segments before they flew to Washington to attend the hearings as part of a CFA delegation. Their opposition to censorship and defense of civil rights was pitted against high-pitched Cold War political rhetoric. At a CFA press conference, a reporter yelled “Either you’re with the commies or you’re against them.” “It’s being for the Constitution or against it.” was the quiet answer.

After the close of the hearings, a familiar voice spoke for the delegation on a second all-star Hollywood Fights Back show, airing on November 2nd. “ This is Humphrey Bogart. We sat in the committee room and heard it happen. We saw it—and said to ourselves, “It can happen here.” We saw American citizens denied the right to speak by elected representatives of the people! We saw police take citizens from the stand like criminals, after they’d been refused the right to defend themselves.” Bogart didn’t write the impassioned lines, but clearly they reflected his views.

A month later, under increasing pressure in the wake of negative fallout from the hearings, Bogart made a quite different declaration to the press, this one drafted by the studio: “I went to Washington because I thought fellow Americans were being deprived of their Constitutional rights, and for that reason alone. That the trip was ill-advised, even foolish, I am very ready to admit. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do.
“I have absolutely no use for Communism nor for anyone who serves that philosophy. I am an American. And very likely, like a good many of you, sometimes a foolish and impetuous American.” Trapped in no-man’s-land, Bogart was now criticized by both the left and right.

End quote. Later, Bogart and Bacall starred in Huston's Key Largo, which itself tried to shoehorn in commentary on the post-war political climate.

Alex said...

"I don't think Jules Dassin was a threat to the republic."

But the actual republic of the time - which vociferously and heavily supported many of the leading lights of McCarthyism for 40+ years afterwards (including electing two of McCarthyism's most known leaders overwhelmingly in four different Presidential elections) - disagreed with you. The citizenry is still today - go turn on any talk radio station - is violently against Dassin's politics.

Noel Vera said...

To bela: hear, hear.

Of course, for all I know, Camorrista schmoozed with McCarthy and was there when Kazan testified, in which cse I bow to superior knowledge. I don't know anything about repressive regimes, or the pressure or fear put on people to speak out, or stay silent, no sirree.

Gerard Jones said...

Thank you, Siren, for this Dassin piece--pithy but humane. I've only recently discovered your blog but am here to stay now. Wonderful comments you inspire, too. If anyone's interested, I wrote my own piece about Dassin, a more personal take, I suppose, at my "Second Act" blog--I guess you can just click on my name here, right? I'd love to hear from anyone who's interested.