Page 18 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • September 16, 2009 clergymen and so few African-Americans had opted for communism, despite being actively recruited so the Reds could stick it to 1940s America for being such a racist country. We find that ludicrous today, but in the 1940s, when most blacks could not vote or eat at lunch counters or get into labor unions, and when the armed forces were still segregated, American racism was a good argument for communism. Unfortunately for the communists, it was about the only good argument. Trumbo was a great catch for the communists because of his talent as a writer and because of his background. Unlike most communists of the era, he was what oldtimers used to call “a real American,” whose French and Irish ancestors had lived in the United States since before the American Revolution. He was raised in Colorado as a Christian Scientist, and his adolescent rebellion against the strictures of this devout faith may have been the beginning of his attraction to a system just as authoritarian and nowhere near as benign. He also grew up quite poor and spent almost 10 years wrapping loaves of bread in a bakery while working as a part-time journalist. The resentment of the have-not for the haves may have entered early into his thinking, and politics aside, he was a rather kindly man. He married his wife Cleo on the rebound when she discovered the man she dumped Dalton to marry was already married. One of Trumbo’s prize-winning screenplays, released under an assumed name, was inspired by his hatred of bullfighting. Others championed the downtrodden. If he had not meddled in extremist politics, he might not be remembered as he is today, but his movies probably would be. Something about communism attracted him, and he became a “fellow traveler” in the 1930s, though he did not become a dues-paying communist until 1943. Nothing could shake his belief in communism: not the 1938 purge trials where Stalin murdered many loyal Bolsheviks, the mass killing of Christian and Jewish clergy that same year, or the Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 1939, where the two worst dictators of era joined hands to divide up Poland. Trumbo followed the party line so thoroughly that, in early 1941, one of his novels, “The Remarkable Andrew,” invoked the ghost of Andrew Jackson to keep America out of the British and French attempt to save Poland from a Nazi-Soviet takeover. Jackson’s wounding by a British officer during the American Revolution and his defeat of the British Army at New Orleans in 1812 are facts. Whether Jackson would have liked Stalin better than Winston Churchill is conjectural. Trumbo also pulled out all the stops to make sure that “Darkness at Noon,” Koestler’s anti-Stalinist masterpiece, not be made into a Hollywood film. Hewing to the party line during the Hitler-Stalin Pact was the sort of thing that made at least a strong sympathy for Stalin undeniable. When Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, Trumbo and his publisher agreed to take Trumbo’s book “Johnny Got His Gun” – pacifism made palpable – out of the hands of the public in case Stalin needed our help against Hitler, his former ally. After the war broke out, Trumbo, who said he had no religious beliefs, wrote “A Guy Named Joe,” about a pilot who is killed bombing a “Nazi aircraft carrier” protected by “pocket destroyers” (neither of which existed), but comes back as a ghost to protect a young flight trainee, show him how to fly, and how to pick up women. Joe eventually overcomes his jealousy when the young pilot takes over Joe’s former girlfriend. The woman takes a deadly mission off the young pilot’s hands and with Joe (Spencer Tracy) whispering unseen behind her in the cockpit of a P38, she carries out a dangerous bombing run, saves the guy she loves, and is bid farewell by the unseen, influential Joe, who leaves for Valhalla. The idea that people who fight heroically can enter Valhalla without practicing Christian virtues cropped up during Napoleon’s time, and was also big among the German units of the Nazi Waffen SS, who buried their fallen troopers not beneath Christian crosses but beneath the Runes of Tyr, a sort of arrow pointing into the sky, with their weapons next to them. Perhaps ironically, the runes turned the SS graves into magnets for souvenir hunters who wanted the guns and medals for keepsakes or quick resale. Introducing Valhalla into the Hollywood spectrum of inspiration was something new, though it was done elsewhere. “There’s a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere,” a war-time hit song, presents a crippled mountain boy wishing he could join up so he could rise up to “a little land so many miles away” after getting killed and join “Lincoln, Custer, Washington and Perry/Nathan Hale and Colin Kelly too.” The songwriter didn’t enlist. Trumbo served as a combat correspondent at the very end of the war, and used his anecdotes to point out that he had seen combat, not always at a safe distance. Trumbo was an excellent writer. The documentary, while overdone in spots, demonstrates that his talent was indisputable. His writing in “Spartacus” and “Exodus” made for memorable movies. Trumbo’s service to the communist cause was also indisputable. Hostility toward Britain and France when these two troubled but civilized nations stood against Hitler and Stalin was utterly outrageous. Edging out other writers because they saw through the evil of Stalin and said so was rather vicious. The fact that the man loved animals enough to hate bullfighting, stayed married to a beautiful woman, and wrote some worthwhile films once Stalin was dead does not make him William Shakespeare, Nathan Hale, or Colin Kelly. He was a commie stooge. PBS should have said so. I really enjoy watching “Spartacus,” the screenplay that got Dalton Trumbo off the blacklist, even though there are a lot of anachronisms and other issues. To start, Gracchus, the good-guy Roman played by Charles Laughton, is shown in the wrong century. Spartacus was not born a slave, and did not meet his wife at gladiator school. He was killed in battle rather than executed, and the gladiators did not behave with democratic virtues. Outside of all of that, it is a great movie. It’s just not great history. “Spartacus” would have been based on “The Gladiators” by Arthur Koestler, but it wasn’t, perhaps, because Koestler had already dropped out of communism and had written “Darkness at Noon,” an attack on Stalin’s “show trials” of 1938. Instead, it was written by Howard Fast. Fast was still a communist while he was working on “Spartacus,” according to Kirk Douglas, who produced the film and who found Fast’s Marxist dialectic at least as offensive as dialect comedy would have been. Douglas was not a communist, but he was an intelligent man and realized that Americans were not ready for Mommsen cut with Marxism. He dragged Trumbo into the writing end of “Spartacus.” Trumbo, who wrote better drunk that most screenwriters do sober, batted out the script sitting in a bathtub with a typewriter on a board above the water and a parrot Douglas had given him crawling around on his head and shoulders to keep him from passing out. He wrote a screenplay that, despite some Marxist overtones, was rightly praised as “the thinking man’s epic.” I think I have seen it five times, and let my children watch it. The parrot can be seen in action in the documentary, “Dalton Trumbo,” that recently aired on PBS. That production also shows what one segment of Hollywood thinks it knows about Trumbo: He was wrongly denounced as a communist by informers and his career was temporarily destroyed, and permanently damaged, by lying denunciation. The film does make it at least marginally clear that “the blacklist” was imposed by the studios, not by the federal court system, and that Trumbo went to jail not for being a communist, or having it said that he was one, but for “contempt of Congress.” Trumbo is shown admitting that he did have a great deal of contempt for that particular Congress. If the film had explored a little deeper, viewers would have sent that one of the congressmen shown shouting at him went to prison for paying salaries to phantom employees who never worked but split their paychecks with the congressman. A few other members of that Congress were outrageous racists. John Rankin of Mississippi supported the relocation of Japanese-Americans on purely racial grounds, while even J. Edgar Hoover was satisfied to incarcerate the five percent guilty minority and let the 95 percent innocent majority enjoy their rights as citizens. But FDR and good old Dr. Seuss agreed with Rankin, so we know what happened. Rankin also believed the communists were behind the African-American Civil Rights Movement, and apparently did not find it puzzling that so many of the leaders were Dalton Trumbo: Whitewash does not work well on bright red Area Local photographers participate in new ‘Portraits of Love’ project Wholesale Photo and Digital Imaging Center and Keith Hopkins Photography, both in Midland Park, are participating in the Portraits of Love Project, a volunteer effort aimed at sending family portraits to soldiers around the globe this holiday season. Once the family portraits are shot, they will be uploaded to a website, www.pmdaportraitsoflove.com, and a print will be sent, free of charge, directly to the soldier in Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever they are deployed around the world. The goal of the overall project is to send 10,000 free family portraits during the month of September. “This project is the photo industry’s way of giving back to our soldiers, and thanking them for the sacrifices they have made for our country,” said Jerry Grossman, the president of the PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMDA), who has spearheaded the effort. “Our industry is uniquely qualified to bring an important piece of home to our soldiers, and we’re pleased to be able to organize this effort.” Designed to help bring a piece of home to soldiers around the world, the project enlists the talents of volunteer photographers across the country who are opening their studios for this worthy cause. Interested families may contact the photographers directly to set up an appointment. Wholesale Photo and Digital Imaging Center, based in the Midland Park Shopping Center at the corner of Godwin Avenue and Goffle Road, may be reached at (201) 444-0777. Information is also posted on its website, www. wholesalephoto.com. Keith Hopkins Photography at 216 Godwin Avenue, Midland Park is at (201) 670-9559. Over 275 photographers have joined the program so far, including The portraits will be uploaded to a website, www.pmdaportraitsoflove.com, and a print will be sent, free of charge, directly to the soldier in Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever they are deployed around the world. The goal of the project is to send 10,000 free portraits. “This project is the photo industry’s way of giving back to our soldiers, and thanking them for the sacrifices they have made for our country,” said Jerry Grossman, the president of the PMDA who has spearheaded the effort. “Our industry is uniquely qualified to bring an important piece of home to our soldiers, and we’re pleased to be able to organize this effort.”