Guilty By Suspicion


Guilty By Suspicion (1991)
Director: Irwin Winkler
Actors: Robert De Niro
Runtime: 105 min

The beginning of the Cold War brought a new wave of anti-communist hysteria and “witch hunts” in the U.S. The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations headed by Senator McCarthy took the leading role, accompanied by the House Committee on Un-American Activities – best known for its persecution of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians and other entertainment professionals suspected of sympathizing with communism. In late 1947, the House Committee on Un-American Activities started a series of public hearings questioning Hollywood movie-makers suspected to be members or supporters of the Communist Party. At these hearings people were humiliated and forced, in order to save their careers, to name their friends who have at any time had any sympathy for communism. At the very beginning of this process, ten people refused to testify citing the First Amendment (the rights to freedom of speech and assembly), after which they were accused of contempt of Congress and sentenced to prison terms. This was the start of the Hollywood blacklist. Those on the list were subjected to media lynching, hounded by the FBI and boycotted by movie studios. Hollywood was an integral part of the repressive apparatus that destroyed thousands of lives and left hundreds of entertainment professionals without work and dignity. Many of them, such as Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles, left the United States or went underground to find work.

This movie takes place in the early 1950s and the main protagonist is a movie director faced with a choice: to betray his friends or to be boycotted by the movie industry and left without work or livelihood.

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