The Hollywood Ten at 75 Film Series at The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.  Made by three blacklisted filmmakers—director Herbert J. Biberman, producer Paul Jarrico, and writer Michael Wilson—Salt of the Earth depicts the struggle for fair wages of Chicano workers and their wives in a New Mexico zinc mine. Working with a largely non-professional cast, many of whom were involved in the protests that inspired the film, Salt of the Earth was also produced with the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. 

(Note: This is the edited text for Rampell’s final introduction to the April 30 screening of Salt of

the Earth at the Academy Museum for The Hollywood Ten at 75 Film Series from April 13-30
commemorating the 75 th anniversary of the Hollywood Blacklist. In a rather glorious surprise,
Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, joined the
onstage panel discussion that followed the screening of Salt.)
(June 19, 2023 is the 80 th anniversary of the electrocution of the so-called “atomic spies” Julius
and Ethel Rosenberg. Believed to be members of the Communist Party USA, the Rosenbergs
were convicted of violating the Espionage Act by helping to pass atomic secrets to the Soviets
and the only U.S. civilians executed during the Cold War. (Trump is also charged under the
Espionage Act and is widely reported to have purloined and refused to return classified
documents containing nuclear and other top secret national security information.) At the
conclusion of The Hollywood Ten at 75 film series the issue of restitution for those who were
persecuted by the Red Scare in the motion picture industry is considered:)
Today we end our Hollywood Ten at 75 film series commemorating the 75 th anniversary of the
Hollywood Blacklist. I’d like to thank the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and its staff,
especially KJ Relth-Miller, and all of you who have been attending. Our film today, Salt of the
Earth, is arguably, the apotheosis of the blacklistees, the fullest expression of their artistic vision
and their political testament. It gives us a tantalizing glimpse of what American culture might have

been if the most conscious and conscientious members of the creative community hadn’t
been largely censored and silenced by conservative cancel culture from 1947 to about 1960.
In most of the movies screened during this series we see celluloid samples of the credo of these
progressive filmmakers. In 1943’s WWII desert drama Sahara, written by John Howard Lawson,
the character who saves the Allied combatants and kills the Nazi is a Black African soldier,
played by Rex Ingram. And 1944’s None Shall Escape, probably the only Hollywood studio
feature made during WWII to show Jews rising up to militantly resist the Holocaust, was written
by Lester Cole. Like Lawson, Cole was one of the Hollywood Ten and member of the CPUSA.
Once the Cold War started, Lawson, Cole and about 300 La-La-Land leftists were made to pay
for their progressive beliefs on- and offscreen. They were persecuted for expressing ideas in the
land of the free and denounced for being “subversive.” But I for one am glad they put ideals into
their movies and feel we owe them a debt of gratitude for the stands they took. Thank you!
By 2020, with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, many believed time had come for
America to have a racial reckoning. After the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the Motion
Picture Academy realized it needed to become more inclusive and diverse, and this new Museum
affiliated with the Academy presented the Regeneration exhibition, summit and film series
highlighting the cinematic contributions of African Americans. The Academy Museum
appointed African American film historian Jacqueline Stewart to be its President and Director,
and we are experiencing a new era of heightened sensitivity.
Just as America needs a racial reckoning, we now require a political and cultural reckoning. I
don’t mean to sound disrespectful when I say: “Red Lives Matter,” too. The U.S. must rectify
and atone for its persecution of Communists, independent leftists such as Charlie Chaplin, who
was driven into exile, honest progressives like Marsha Hunt and director John Cromwell. To this
end, a new Blacklist community-based group is being formed called the Alliance for the First
Amendment, and here are some of the things we’re crusading for for those who were persecuted
by the Hollywood inquisition and for the survivors and their families:
The Hollywood Ten and all of the 300-plus Blacklisted talents will be recognized with an
Honorary Academy Award presented during the annual live Oscars telecast;
The Hollywood Ten and all of the 300-plus Blacklisted talents will be honored with a star on
Hollywood Blvd.’s “Walk of Fame”;
The appropriate Guild or other organizations will resolve all outstanding screen credit disputes,
especially for Blacklisted screenwriters who used fronts and pseudonyms;
We request the Academy Museum presents an exhibition of Blacklist artifacts and memorabilia;
The House of Representatives must officially apologize for the House Un-American Activities
Committee, and its weaponization of government against Hollywood’s creative community;
The Senate must officially apologize for its Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
persecution of Dashiell Hammett, Langston Hughes, Pete Seeger, Howard Fast and other artists
under Senator Joe McCarthy’s tyrannical rule;
The House of Representatives must rescind its resolution “Denouncing the horrors of socialism”
and the Senate will not approve it.
We demand an apology from the FBI and other intelligence agencies that persecuted artists – and
all others victimized by the Red Scare – simply for using constitutionally-guaranteed First
Amendment rights. Dissent is not espionage!
Now we turn our attention to the final movie of our Hollywood Ten at 75 film series. If there was
anything good about the Hollywood Blacklist, it was the creation – against all odds – of Salt of
the Earth by blacklisted talents, a landmark in independent filmmaking. Even though Michael
Wilson was forbidden from getting screen credit for co-writing with Carl Foreman 1957’s The
Bridge on the River Kwai – and one of the hit’s seven Oscars, a screenwriting Academy Award,
was given to a Frenchman who didn’t speak English – and Wilson couldn’t get screen credit for
1962’s Lawrence of Arabia for years, Wilson did get screen credit for 1954’s Salt of the Earth.
To close our film series commemorating the 75 th anniversary of the Hollywood Blacklist, we
have the perfect movie for the day before May Day. After the screening we have a special
discussion with the granddaughter of Salt of the Earth’s star Rosaura Revueltas, Eve Bodenstedt;
the daughter of co-star Will Geer, Ellen Geer; and the son of producer Paul Jarrico, Bill Jarrico.
(As mentioned, legendary labor leader Dolores Huerta joined the discussion.) Sit back and enjoy
the revolution – even if it might make you want to stand up and cheer.
For program details see: