Former editor launches Hollywood book

Former Local Government Focus national editor Kevin Brianton recently introduced his book Hollywood Divided: The 1950 Screen Directors Guild Meeting at the Wheeler Writers Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

Associate Professor Brian McFarlane, who is one of Australia’s most highly respected film critics and writers, launched the book in February.

Professor MacFarlane said the work combined detailed research, good writing and raised key issues about a dark chapter in American history.

“This is the period of Senator McCarthy and HUAC – the House of UnAmerican Activities Committee, which took a particular interest in Hollywood,” he said.

“Brianton’s research has been extraordinarily thorough, but the result is a wonderfully good read.”

The book highlights the 22 October 1950 meeting of the Screen Directors Guild to discuss the dismissal of Joseph Mankiewicz as the guild’s president after he opposed an anti-communist loyalty oath that could have expanded the blacklist.

The meeting involved almost every major director in Hollywood including Cecil B. DeMille, John Ford, George Stevens and others.
The book was published by University of Kentucky Press on November 2016 and has been named as one of the ten top film books by the Huffington Post, the major American online newspaper.

During 2011, Dr Brianton edited LG Focus during the day, and wrote the book during his non-working hours, before joining La Trobe University as a lecturer in 2012.

“The book focuses on the McCarthyite period with all its delusions of communist conspiracy, undermining American capitalism,” he said.

“Indeed, the dramatic events of that evening have become mythic, and the legend has overshadowed the more complex realities of this crucial moment in Hollywood history.

“The year 1950 was a time of massive fear and the world became a little unhinged.

“Many reviewers have noted the similarity between today’s political climate and the world of the Red Scare.”