Communist (and FBI informant) Dalton Trumbo, hero of the Red Scare. That's how New York Times reporter Michael Cieply portrayed him in Tuesday's Arts section story "Voice From the Blacklist, Through Voices of Others."
"Sixty years after a Congressional panel grilled 10 uncooperative writers, directors and producers about their supposed Communist connections, Hollywood still quarrels over the heroes and villains of its Red Scare."
Notice how the phrase "Red Scare" comes without quotation marks, as if that liberal term is the objective view.
"The propriety of giving Elia Kazan -- one who 'named names' -- an honorary Oscar in 1999 remains a contentious subject. And only five years ago Stanley Kramer's widow bitterly battled the makers of a television documentary that depicted her late husband using the blacklist to deny his former partner Carl Foreman a producer's credit on 'High Noon.'
"But on Monday night in Toronto, one of the era's acknowledged heroes, the jailed and blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, was expected to deliver some posthumous words that might finally put to rest the hunt for good guys and bad.
"The admonition occurs in the first few minutes of 'Trumbo,' a documentary directed by Peter Askin and written by Trumbo's son, Christopher Trumbo. The film is making its debut as part of the Toronto International Film Festival's Real to Reel series.
"In a speech actually delivered in 1970, now re-enacted by the actor David Strathairn, Trumbo said, 'There was bad faith and good, honesty and dishonesty, courage and cowardice, selflessness and opportunism, wisdom and stupidity, good and bad on both sides; and almost every individual involved, no matter where he stood, combined some or all of these antithetical qualities in his own person, in his own acts.'"
Cieply didn't get into "hero" Trumbo's willingness to sabotage his own art and turn FBI informant when it served the Soviet Union. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the formerly pacifist novelist reversed course and turned on his erstwhile comrades in un-arms. Glenn Garvin provided details of Dalton Trumbo squealing on anti-war citizens to the FBI in the April 2004 edition of Reason, in response to a letter from Trumbo's son Christopher (writer of the "Trumbo" documentary).
Garvin noted how Trumbo forwarded to the FBI letters from erstwhile fans who opposed American involvement in World War II:
"I share with the men of your organization a sincere desire to see an end to all such seditious propaganda as criminal slander of the Commander in Chief, defeatism, pacifism, anti-Semitism and all similar deceits and stratagems designed to assist the German cause."