McCarthyism, Elia Kazan & On the Waterfront

American politician who served as
a Republican U.S. Senator from the state
of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957.
Claimed there were large numbers of
Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers
inside the United States federal government
and elsewhere.
Granted almost unlimited powers to investigate
alleged communist subversion in the
Ultimately, his tactics and inability to
substantiate his claims led him to
be censured by the United States Senate.
The practice of making accusations of disloyalty,
subversion, or treason without proper regard for
(The 1952 Arthur Miller play The Crucible used
the Salem witch trials as a metaphor for
McCarthyism, suggesting that the process of
McCarthyism-style persecution can occur at any time
or place. The play focused on the fact that once
accused, a person had little chance of exoneration,
given the irrational and circular reasoning of both the
courts and the public. Miller later wrote: "The more I
read into the Salem panic, the more it touched off
corresponding images of common experiences in the
An investigative committee of the United States
House of Representatives.
The committee's anti-Communist investigations
lead to the Hollywood Blacklist.
Blacklisted artists lost their jobs and were
ostracised by the entertainment industry, some,
like Charlie Chaplin, even fled America.
(No direct involvement of McCarthy)
Was a member of the American Communist
Party in New York, for a year and a half in the 30s.
Was called on by HUAC to identify Communists
from that period under oath.
He initially refused to provide names, but
eventually named eight former Group
Theatre members who he said had been
Kazan later explained that he took "only the more
tolerable of two alternatives that were either way
painful and wrong"
"On the Waterfront'' was, among other
things, Kazan's justification for his decision to
testify before the HUAC. In the film, when a
union boss shouts, `You ratted on us, Terry,'
the Brando character shouts back: `I'm
standing over here now. I was rattin' on
myself all those years. I didn't even know it.'
That reflects what some feel was Kazan's
belief that communism was an evil that
temporarily seduced him, and had to be
opposed." (Roger Ebert)