Saturday, September 15, 2007


Everyone has heroes. Sometimes you find they have feet of clay [cliche alert].

A hero of mine is Orson Welles. In last week's LRB there's a review, by J Hoberman, of several biographies. Here's a quote.
As Welles was editing The Lady from Shanghai, the House Un-American Activities Committee turned its attention towards Hollywood. The FBI, whose files described Citizen Kane as ‘nothing more than an extension of the Communist Party’s campaign to smear one of its most effective and consistent opponents’, namely William Randolph Hearst, had long been interested in Welles. He was regarded as a threat, and placed on the FBI Security Index largely because of his political activities on behalf of the committee organised to defend the beleaguered Communist labour leader Harry Bridges and the 17 Mexican-American youths charged with murder in the 1942 Sleepy Lagoon case.[†]

Welles submitted himself to the 1947 interview with Hedda Hopper, a red-baiting ally of the FBI, in an attempt to get right with the authorities: ‘I’m sick of being called a Communist,’ he protested. ‘It’s true that I’ve worked for some of the things the Communist Party has advocated. But that was merely coincidental. I’m opposed to political dictatorship [and] organised ignorance.’
Let's say that I dispute his disavowal of being called "a Communist" but agree with "I’m opposed to political dictatorship [and] organised ignorance".

No comments: