Taking The Fifth
A write-up of a write-off: Van Heflin winces at the carnage.
A mini-blacklist theme develops over at The Forgotten, as we follow blacklistee John Berry’s angry demand for justice TAMANGO with Leo McCarey’s angry demand for commie heads on plates, MY SON JOHN. It’s sometimes ugly viewing, but pretty educational in a number of unintended ways.
Meanwhile I watched John Berry’s THE HOLLYWOOD TEN, a little documentary he made in support of some friends who were going to jail for refusing to answer questions to Congress about their past political affiliations. Intriguingly, Berry does the same trick of panning from one face to the next, holding for a moment of truth, and then panning to the next guy, which appears several times in TAMANGO. Quite effective.
The Ten themselves are a varied bunch, some very confident on camera and some constantly referring to notes, which makes them look unfortunately shifty. But Samuel Ornitz, whose heavy build and scarred lip might make him a natural to play a gangster-commie in something like THE WHIP HAND, has a voice like Thomas Gomez and a natural sympathy and dignity, and Dalton Trumbo is a screen natural. The whole pack is like a bunch of intellectuals just arrived from Central Casting, complete with bow ties and pipes. How the great American public must have mistrusted them!