By Paul Buhle
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Additional info for Hide in Plain Sight: The Hollywood Blacklistees in Film and Television, 1950-2002
Cinema had its beginnings in the storefront benches of immigrant neighborhoods, its techniques located squarely within popular melodrama, adding more than a dash of the circus, the carnival, the religious festival and assorted historic mass entertainments. But by the 1920s, the ﬁlm industry already had begun to affirm its social aspirations to move onward and upward toward the preferred consumer. Radical critics, who played important roles in the emergence of modern theater a generation or more before the advent of popular ﬁlms and television, naturally feared that movies would reduce the artistic possibilities of the theater by making cinema its mechanically reproduced replacement, now with its political LIVING ROOM MODERNISM / 9 and avant-garde heart removed.
As the Group dissolved, Ritt moved on to other acting jobs until his induction into the Air Force in 1943. There he found himself “drafted” into theater and ﬁlms again, tapped for a supporting role in the Hollywood version of Winged Victory (1944), a home front morale-booster. By the time of his 1946 discharge, Ritt was off and running. His most notable direction before turning to television was a stage dramatization of the life of Denmark Vesey, the hero and martyr who guided a slave rebellion in 1823 that shocked the 18 / HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT South.
Now, everything that had been gained might be lost—a glum sentiment reinforced as global ﬁlm production came to be centered in Hollywood, where twenties’ capitalism ceaselessly celebrated its triumph and, most hypocritically, its virtue. The pessimism, like earlier optimism about the theater, turned out to be overblown, or at least misdirected. Outside of Russia and Germany, the mainstream of the theatrical tradition had never transcended the triumphant march of middle-class realism, apart from a gentle ribbing of the subjects, while the plot complications of gender and class were most often played for conservative purposes.