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Communications 150

April 1, 1999

Announcements:  None.

Lecture Notes:

I.  Blacklisted Writers/Independent Film: Salt of the Earth

  • This film was made by blacklisted personnel
  • It was about a labor strike that was actually occurring at the time and place in which the movie was shot, so it was very controversial
  • In a mining union in New Mexico, the Mexican-American laborers were being paid less than their white counterparts
  • Clip:  The Mexican Americans were banned from picketing at work, so they sent their wives to go in and picket for them.
    • This went against the grain of how women were usually portrayed in movies of this time (domestic)
  • The film was distributed outside of the Hollywood mainstream
  • Made under very stressful conditions
  • The lead actor was deported back to Mexico in an attempt to stop the movie from being made

II.  The HUAC and Elia Kazan: On the Waterfront

  • Autobiographical drama about how Kazan felt about HUAC
  • The waterfront union represented HUAC
  • He remained leftward in his beliefs, but still upheld the tenets of Hollywood and democracy
  • His movies brought realism to Hollywood:  degradation of the common man
  • He realized pro HUAC sentiment in Hollywood was threatening his career
  • On the Waterfront is a documentary representation of class politics
  • Kazan attempts to show exploitation and corruption of the New Jersey waterfront
  • In the late '50s, the power of HUAC had declined, but Americans continued to fight the Cold War
    • Every war since WWII, people either viewed it as a victory for the U. S., or a victory for the USSR
  • Several themes in On the Waterfront
    A.  The Informer as Hero
  • Terry Malloy is a stand-in for Kazan
  • American institutions are not perfect, but capable of addressing failures
  • Terry goes through a moral awakening, sense of Christian duty
  • When he confesses, he is the informer, and the informer is a hero
     B.  The Melting-Pot Message
  • The old world ties Terry had to the waterfront represent the ties typical in the pre-WWII era, ex.  ties of ethnic loyalty
  • After WWII, the state took a visible role in integrating urban ethnics into middle-class suburbia
    C.  Community as Nation
  • Terry replaces his ethnic ties of brotherhood to his brother, Charlie, with ties to the community and America
  • He is associated with the ideas of moral absolutes, right and wrong
  • He forms a new sense of family with the community
    D.  Christian Brotherhood
  • Father Beri was an agent of reform
  • He thought Terry needed to do his duty as a citizen
  • The protections of the First Amendment were guaranteed freedoms, therefore there was no need for ethnic associations

III.  The Reagan Eighties:  Invasion USA

  • Cold War tensions were brought up again with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
  • In Invasion USA, the US is invaded by foreigner, coded as Soviets
  • Clip:  Soviets attack a mall, and one man defends everyone against them
  • The scene in the mall establishes American affluence and consumerism
  • Made for a world-wide audience
  • Shows the world American excess through violence and destruction of material objects

IV.  Post Cold War Era

  • The rise of Gorbachev
  • 1990, relaxation of the tension of the Cold War
  • Hunt for Red October
    • A Soviet military commander (Sean Connery) is commanding a sub
    • Audience does not know until the end of the movie if he is coming to the US to attack, or if he is defecting from the Soviet Union to the US
    • Once again, hardened Communists are attracted to American capitalism

Information contained on this page does not represent the lecture verbatim.
These notes are not a substitute for class attendance.

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