When he wrote 'The Crucible', America was in it's hysterical with-us-or-against-us phase known as the McCarthy era.
It's hard to appreciate what it must be like living in a society when the most groundless suspicion can completely destroy a person.
Four egg sample:
Kim Hunter won an Oscar for Streetcar Named Desire as Marlon Brando's missus. An Oscar, — wow! Brando didn't get one. What happened next?
What happened next was that Kim was blacklisted by the film industry.
That was it. After Streetcar in 1950, her next large role was eighteen years later as the chimpanzee woman who kisses Charlton Heston in Planet of The Apes.
Here she explains the blacklisting in an 1985 interview for the L.A. times.
"For a long while, I wouldn't talk about it at all... I do now, because there's a whole new generation that doesn't remember. And the more one knows, the more one can see, and not allow history to repeat itself."
Kim's "sin," she tells us, was agreeing to be a sponsor of a 1949 World Peace Conference held in New York at the same time that she was in "Streetcar."
Life magazine came out with a big picture spread of all the celebrity sponsors involved and that, is what Kim reckoned, "fanned the flames."
"I was never a Communist, nor even pro-Communist, but I was very pro-civil rights and I signed a lot of petitions,... Nobody ever came to me directly and said, 'You are blacklisted,' and I don't think I ever appeared in 'Red Channels'* . There were only signals, such as the fact there were no film offers after I won the Oscar, not even from Warner Bros., which simply never picked up on the contract they had with me."
|* Red Channels was an infamous red-scare pamphlet that published the names of those 'suspected' of pro-Communist leanings so that they would find it impossible to find work.|
"At one point, I called the FBI and asked if I was posing a problem for my country that I was unaware of. Someone called on me and said, 'We have nothing on you. ... our problem's with your industry.' "
Eighteen years in the wilderness for sponsoring World peace.
Not so with Mr Arthur Miller, who unlike Kim Hunter, did actually do something that would definitely considered by many at the time to be 'Anti-American': he attacked McCarthyism.
He was so feckin' clever about it too.
Miller attacked his accusers in a very public way by writing 'The Crucible'.
A play that pointed out how frightened people fall into hysteria, and how the internal deluded logic of the witch-hunt will always find evidence in the very fact of their accusation. He stuck it to 'em, and they couldn't answer back because they'd be aligning themselves to those who burnt witches.
I've read The Crucible quite a bit over the years and it's written to be read, and it's good. Last night I had the pleasure of taking part in the Bot-Dogs rehearsed reading of it and as I had a piffling part(*'Francis Nurse'- he doesn't say much.) to do,— I had the best of all possible worlds: a really good seat, all the time to sit and watch the reading and didn't have to pay anything in.
I really enjoyed it, I'd rather see the play of course, out on a fag-break somebody explained to me an interpretation of public readings that I hadn't thought of before, she said: 'it's a lazy way of reading it' and I s'pose it is, but for me ( like as what had read it loads already ), the advantage of bringing in 'real people' was watching other things start to shine through that you hadn't thought of.
The Bot-Dogs have some quality actors at their disposal I'll tell you that much.
Incidentally,—If you're too lazy to read The Crucible and you're wondering what happens in it then I spose you could watch the Daniel Day Dublin-tram fillum of the same title.
If you're wondering what it's about though, I'd go for the George Clooney fillum Goodnight and Good Luck!
and on that note,
Goodnight and Good luck.