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Hollywood Ten Trials: 1948-50

"i Would Hate Myself In The Morning"

In succession, writers Dalton Trumbo, Albert Maltz, Alvah Bessie, Samuel Ornitz, Herbert Biberman, producer Adrian Scott, director Edward Dmytryk, and writers Lester Cole and Ring Lardner, Jr.—all destined to be known, along with Lawson, as "The Hollywood Ten"—were treated to the same questions and the same denial of permission to read their statements. All were cited for contempt of Congress. Lardner, asked repeatedly if he were a Communist, replied at last, "I could answer, but if I did, I would hate myself in the morning."

The 11th witness was Bertolt Brecht. A successful German play-wright, he had been in Hollywood for six years, had taken out first citizenship papers and announced his plan to remain permanently. To date, he had but one screen credit. "I was not a member, or am not a member," he told Chairman Thomas, "of any Communist Party." Immediately, Brecht took a plane for Europe and settled in East Germany.

Shortly, a secret conference in New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel brought together Hollywood's leading studio heads, including Nicholas Schenck, Joseph Schenck, Walter Wanger, Samuel Goldwyn, Louis B. Mayer, Dore Schary, Spyros Skouras, and many others, as well as Eric Johnston, president of the Motion Picture Association of America. They issued a statement:

We will forthwith discharge or suspend without compensation those in our employ and we will not re-employ any of the ten until such time as he is acquitted or has purged himself of contempt and declares under oath that he is not a Communist.

On the broader issue of alleged subversive and disloyal elements in Hollywood our members are likewise prepared to take positive action.

We will not knowingly employ a Communist or a member of any party or group which advocates the overthrow of the Government of the United States by force or by any illegal or unconstitutional methods.

The studio heads also promised not to be "swayed by hysteria or intimidation from any source"—paradoxically, the very causes of their secret meeting and public statement.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1941 to 1953Hollywood Ten Trials: 1948-50 - Hollywood Divided Into Two Camps, The Right To Remain Silent, "i Would Hate Myself In The Morning"