Cover image for Hollywood exile, or, How I learned to love the blacklist : a memoir
Hollywood exile, or, How I learned to love the blacklist : a memoir
Gordon, Bernard, 1918-2007.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Austin : University of Texas Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 303 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1998.3.G662 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The Hollywood blacklist ended or curtailed the careers of hundreds of people accused of having ties to the Communist Party. Bernard Gordon was one of them. In this memoir, he tells an insider's story of what it was like to be blacklisted and how he and others continued to work un-credited behind the scenes, writing and producing many box office hits of the era. The author goes on to describe how his shortened screenwriting career led him to work in Europe, and he recounts the making of many movies of which he was the writer or producer, with anecdotes about stars like Charlton Heston, David Niven, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner and James Mason.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

During the years of the Hollywood blacklist, when left-wing writers were formally banned from working on major studios' feature films, screenwriter Gordon led an ironic existence. A member of the Communist Party, he was subpoenaed by the dreaded House Un-American Affairs Committee but never testified. His summons, though, was enough, and Gordon was forced to spend the bulk of his career working abroad under a pseudonym or uncredited. But living in Madrid and Paris in the '50s and '60s, when the dollar was king, Gordon, his wife, and daughter lived like royalty. He wrote mostly science fiction and B movies. He did pen some notable films, such as the original The Thin Red Line and Hellcats of the Navy, for which he wrote love scenes for anti-Communists Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Gordon's plush expatriate life is tempered by thoughts of what his career could have been if not confined to a furtive existence. Still, his is an intriguing story of triumphing over adversity during a black era in U.S. history. --Ted Leventhal

Publisher's Weekly Review

Oddly, this colorful, personal recollection by screenwriter/producer Gordon is a success story, as he was eventually associated with some 20 films, working with stars like Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and David Niven, and directors like Nicholas Ray and Frank Capra. He worked for seven years as a Paramount reader and assistant story editor, but was fired after he was named during the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings. "The fact that I never testified did not relieve me of my blacklist status. I had to work under a pseudonym... for about ten years until the blacklist was broken." Recalling when his lifelong friend Julian Zimet (aka Julian Halevy) wrote The Young Lovers, Gordon notes, "Even among New York publishers, the blacklist issue was raised, and Julian had to adopt a pen name for his book." The two friends relocated to Europe, where they collaborated on a stack of uncredited screenplays. Gordon's long-time affiliation with the Philip Yordan-Samuel Bronston Madrid studio is the core of this book, which offers illuminating insights into the era of "runaway productions," when historical epics were made economically in Spain. Woven throughout is an absorbing profile of the energetic, enigmatic Yordan, whose entrepreneurial lifestyle and "whirlwind career" would make a movie in itself. Gordon never pulls his punches in this anecdotal autobiography, filled with intimate details and vivid novelistic passages. A born storyteller, he writes with warmth and humor, and there's an emotional edge to his razor-sharp recall. 33 b&w photos. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gordon, a member of the Committee Against Silence, has written a personal and political account that's as engaging and insightful as Walter Bernstein's Inside Out (LJ 9/15/96). Gordon was a reader and assistant story editor at Paramount for seven yearsÄuntil he was named by a "friendly" witness in 1947. Although subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, he never testified. Subsequently, he forged a career as a freelance screenwriter (Hellcats of the Navy and 55 Days at Peking) and a producer. Gordon treats the Communist Party evenhandedlyÄspeaking fondly of its goal of democratic socialism and frankly criticizing its weaknesses. He unashamedly discusses his party membership and the catastrophic personal costs he paid for it (including financial ruin and loss of his passport). The book is also effective as a reminiscence of his enduring marriage to wife Jean and his encounters with film personalities (including a laugh-out-loud exchange between Paul Lukas and Ava Gardner). Recommended for academic and public libraries.ÄBruce Henson, Georgia Institute of Technology Lib. & Information Ctr., Atlanta (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Gordon--whose film work includes such disparate titles as El Cid and the cult classic Day of the Triffids--has written one of the most readable, vivid, revealing, and thought-provoking memoirs of the Hollywood blacklist in recent memory. Unlike many others involved in the fray, the author readily admits he joined the Communist Party because he honestly believed communism would make for a better America. This engrossing tale tells of life on the blacklist, including the use of fronts and pseudonyms, cleaning up disjointed scripts for others, and working with blacklisted expatriates in Europe. Gordon includes some wonderful anecdotes about individuals--Charlton Heston, David Niven, Sophia Loren, the ultimate self-promoter Philip Yordan. More than most writers on the subject, he offers an honest appraisal of the intended and unintended results of the blacklist. He makes no excuses for his actions. He clearly maintained his sense of humor, morality, and politics. Though Gordon claims not to write well, he is wrong: this narrative will make readers consider what they were denied during those dark years. His final line about the US needing a lot of fixing is not easily forgotten. Libraries should place this book next to Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle's equally compelling Tender Comrades (CH, Jun'98). All collections. M. D. Whitlatch; Buena Vista University

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Filmography Index