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The Short Season

HUSTLING FULL-TIME IN THE CATSKILLS by Elliot Podwill   MY PARENTS BLUNDERED badly in 1945, a year after I was born. They lived in what is today the South Bronx, and my father made the long commute to Brooklyn to work in the huge Navy Yard. The war years brought him prosperity as a welder of […]

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October 18: The Master Race

Director and screenwriter Herbert Biberman released his film, The Master Race, through RKO on this date in 1944. The movie portrayed Nazi leaders on the verge of military defeat who infiltrate a Belgian village to cultivate a future for “Aryans” and then sow seeds of discontent as Allied troops arrive. TimeOut magazine calls the film […]

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July 12: The Screen Actors Guild

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) was founded on this date in 1933 with the aim of lessening the contractual power of Hollywood’s movie studios over the lives of actors. Jewdayo locates no Jews among the union’s founders, but it was Eddie Cantor who sparked the growth of membership from eighty to more than 4,000 when […]

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April 26: Albert Maltz

Novelist and screenwriter Albert Maltz, who won two Oscars as well as the O. Henry Memorial Award before being blacklisted and imprisoned as one of the Hollywood Ten, died on this date in 1985 at the age of 76. Maltz’s 1944 novel, The Cross and the Arrow, chronicled German resistance to Nazism (and was distributed to […]

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February 17: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Actor and director Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is scheduled to play Edward Snowden in a forthcoming Oliver Stone film, and starred as aerial tightrope walker Philippe Petit in Robert Zemeckis’ film The Walk, was born in Los Angeles on this date in 1981. His parents were among the founders of the Progressive Jewish Alliance; his father […]

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July 24: High Noon

High Noon, Hollywood’s greatest Western, directed by Fred Zinnemann, written by Carl Foreman, and produced by Stanley Kramer was released on this date in 1952, one day after Foreman’s 38th birthday. The film, ranked number 27 on the American Film Institute’s 2007 list of great films, tells the story of a newly married U.S. marshal […]

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Belafonte’s Uncompromising Career

A Fearlessly Progressive Star by Paul Buhle From the Spring, 2015 issue of Jewish Currents Reviewed in this Essay: Becoming Belafonte: Black Artist, Public Radical, by Judith E. Smith. University of Texas Press, 2014, 221 pages. LAST NOVEMBER, when Harry Belafonte accepted the “Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award” from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and […]

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March 10: The Salt of the Earth

Herbert Biberman’s film, The Salt of the Earth, opened on this date in 1954. Biberman (1900-1971) was one of the “Hollywood Ten,” a group of leftwing directors and screenwriters blacklisted and jailed (Biberman for six months) for contempt of Congress after refusing to answer questions posed by the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities in 1947. […]

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January 18: Leo Hurwitz and Frontier Films

Pioneering documentary filmmaker Leo Hurwitz, who helped to found Frontier Films, the first nonprofit documentary production company in the United States, died at 81 on this date in 1991. A victim of the McCarthy blacklist during the 1950s and ’60s, he nevertheless managed to make fifteen documentary films, including Native Land (1942) about American labor […]

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