Wednesday, January 25, 2012

John Howard Lawson

John Howard Lawson


Lawson appeared before the HUAC on October 29, 1947, but like Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott, Dalton Trumbo, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Samuel Ornitz and Ring Lardner Jr, he refused to answer any questions. Known as the Hollywood Ten, they claimed that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution gave them the right to do this. The HUAC and U.S. appeals courts, however, disagreed and all were found guilty of contempt of Congress and Lawson was sentenced to twelve months in Ashland Prison and fined $1,000. In his 1951 HUAC testimony, Edward Dmytryk testified that Lawson had pressured him to put communist propaganda in his films.

Lawson had organized and led the attack on Albert Maltz when Maltz published an article, "What Shall We Ask of Writers", in The New Masses, challenging the didacticism of the American Communist Party's censorship of writers. Surprised by the ferocity of attack from his fellow writers, including Lawson, Howard Fast, Alvah Bessie, Ring Lardner, Jr., Samuel Sillen, and others, Maltz publicly recanted.

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