Hollywood writers finally get the credit

Fifty years after Hollywood was torn apart by post-war red scares, the Writers Guild of America has voted to change the credits on 24 films to reflect the real names of their black-listed writers.

The major studios, who in many cases tacitly went along with the McCarthyite witch-hunts, will be asked to restore the names of ten writers on the films, made between 1952 and 1971, from Born Free to Inherit the Wind. One of the few surviving writers, Bernard Gordon, 78, thanked the Guild for "correcting the record and giving credit where it is long overdue".

But he also said the action came four decades too late to help his Hollywood career. Among the films Mr Gordon wrote was Hellcats of the Navy, a 1957 comedy which was the only film in which Ronald Reagan and his future wife Nancy Davis appeared together. Mr Gordon's name will now be added to that of a second writer on the film, David Lang.

"I am sure angry at the way I was treated by all the major studios," Mr Gordon told the New York Times. "They blacklisted me, and I couldn't get any work in this damn town."

He later built a successful career in Europe. A prolific writer, he will get new credits on seven films. The Guild, with 7,500 members on the west coast, acts as the official arbiter of writing credits.

They may go unnoticed by audiences, but are the lifeblood of scriptwriters, who often complain of being at the bottom of the Hollywood food chain, their work butchered by producers and petulant actors.

A credit meant a guarantee of more work, and a rise in salary, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, when writers were more firmly under the studios' thumb than they are today. Pay rates would be directly linked to the number of credits a screenwriter had under his belt.

The guild's executive director, Brian Walton, said it was moving to correct these "sad an unfortunate actions of the past".

The films run from The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, in 1952, to Custer of the West, Earth vs the Flying Saucers, and The Robe. The news came much too late, however, for writer Lester Cole.

In 1966, he adapted Joy Adamson's book of her life with African lions for the film Born Free, but under the pseudonym Gerald LC Copley. While the film was hardly an artistic gem, its irresistible animal footage made it a huge commercial success.

Mr Cole, one of the celebrated "Hollywood Ten", died in 1985, aged 81.

Writer or co-writer on 40 screenplays, he was a founder of the Writers Guild, but also a lifelong socialist who joined the Communist Party in 1934. Before the Second World War he worked on 24 films.

But when he refused to name names before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947, he was fined and eventually imprisoned, with his career destroyed.

Unbowed, he ended his 1982 autobiography, Hollywood Red, with a quotation from Friedrich Engels: "Until there is world socialism, man remains in a stage of his prehistory."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk