Oral Histories

Interview of Albert Maltz

Novelist and screenwriter. One of the Hollywood Ten, who were imprisoned and blacklisted in the post-World War II Hollywood blacklist.
The Citizen Writer in Retrospect
Hollywood Blacklist
Social Movements
Communist Party
Film and Television
Biographical Note:
Novelist and screenwriter. One of the Hollywood Ten, who were imprisoned and blacklisted in the post-World War II Hollywood blacklist.
Gardner, Joel
Maltz, Albert
Persons Present:
Maltz and Gardner.
Place Conducted:
Maltz's home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Joel Gardner, senior editor, Oral History Program; B.A., M.S., French, Tulane University; M.A., Journalism, UCLA.Gardner prepared for the interview by researching the history of screenwriting in the 1930s and '40s. Already familiar with the literary setting, he delved into Maltz's published works--stories, novels, and essays--and his screenplays. He also read widely in the political history of the period. Finally, he read from the transcript of Maltz's testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, summations of the committee's investigations of the motion picture industry, and about the years of black-listing that followed those investigations.Maltz made voluminous notes prior to each session. He cited a variety of sources, quoting directly onto the tape. Occasional questions interrupted the recounting of the autobiography, for, in the interviewer's perspective, the interviewee dictated his life story in the presence of an oral historian.
Processing of Interview:
Prior to transcription, two tapes (XVI and XVII) were misplaced. Deborah Young, assistant editor, was dispatched to conduct a replacement session October 25, 1979. Subsequently the original tapes were located. The replacement tape and transcript are available to researchers. During transcription blank spots were discovered on several tapes. These were filled by means of the interviewee's cassettes.Editing was done by Young. She checked the verbatim transcript against the original tape recordings and edited for punctuation, paragraphing, spelling, and verification of proper nouns. Words and phrases inserted by the editor for clarity have been bracketed.Maltz reviewed and approved the edited transcript, which was then final typed. While proofreading, Rick Harmon, editor, became concerned about some apparent inconsistencies. These were submitted to the interviewee, corrected, and inserted into the text. During indexing (by Mitch Tuchman, principal editor), further queries arose, and Maltz patiently and generously dealt with those as well.
36 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
Interviews in this series preserve the recollections of selected individuals in Los Angeles who were affected by the Hollywood blacklist during the Joseph R. McCarthy-J. Edgar Hoover era.
Testimonials to the authenticity of The Cross and the Arrow--Churchill's iron curtain speech and the beginning of the cold war--Resumes work on Johnny Dragoo--Factory work and job monotony--Asked to write script for The Red House--Hitchhiker as inspiration for The Journey of Simon McKeever--Organizes western branch of Authors Guild in L.A.--Executive board of Arts, Sciences, and Professions Committee--Production complications with The Robe--Adrian Scott and Crossfire--Tracks down hitchhiker--Bright outlook for future.
Truman Doctrine and loyalty oath--Premature antifascism--Truman--Conference on Thought Control--HUAC investigation of motion picture industry begins--Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals--Subpoenaed by HUAC--An open letter from the Unfriendly Nineteen.
Naked City--Mark Hellinger and Jules Dassin--History of HUAC--Nineteen formulate policy to oppose committee--Lawyers for the Nineteen map strategy--Committee for the First Amendment--Preparations in Washington on the eve of the hearings--Hearings begin.
Hearings open--Friendly witnesses: Jack Warner, Sam Wood, Louis B. Mayer, John Charles Moffitt, James McGuinness, Lela Rogers--John Howard Lawson takes the stand.
Effects of the blacklist on family members--Fronts--Hellinger--Raising funds for defense of the Hollywood Ten--Campaign for public support--Hollywood on Trial by Gordon Kahn--Supporters--Herbert Biberman--Variety ad campaign--Confrontation with producers at the Screen Writers Guild meeting--Public reception: good and bad--Grand jury indictment, citation from Congress, booking--Arraignment in Washington, D.C.--Naked City opens in New York--Political climate of the time.