AGITPROP! AN EVENING OF SOCIAL JUSTICE FILM & TELEVISION
Talk about noir situations… where democratic institutions and social progress over the past 50 years feel increasingly at risk.
As these startling developments continue, Midcentury Productions decided that the great social justice dramas of the past were never more urgently in need of being screened in front of present-day audiences. Works that frankly discuss racism, abortion rights, anti-Semitism, and economic inequality—just to name a few of America’s most pressing (and historically problematic) social maladies. Many of these works were directed, produced and written by individuals whose careers were shattered by the Blacklist. We urge you to attend on this very special evening—let’s all fight for our future by honoring those in the past who did the same.
PHOTOS [UPPER]Open Secret [LOWER]Crossfire, Open Secret, The Defenders
THE DEFENDERS “The Benefactor” (first aired 4/8/62)
An astonishing look at a pre-Roe v. Wade world, where a principled doctor tries to use his trial on charges of performing illegal abortions as a platform to change the law. The first great social justice episode of a classic socially conscious TV series, the likes of which have not been seen again!
John Ireland and Jane Randolph star as a newlywed couple who discover a sinister plot against Jews in an otherwise “normal” suburb.
Austrian emigré John Reinhardt made a series of solid B-noirs in the late 40s/early 50s. OPEN SECRET is among his best, one that contains its own sharply-observed look at anti-Semitism in America. Screenwriter Henry Blankfort was soon hauled before HUAC. The deep shadows of prejudice are captured in the film’s nightmarish chiaroscuro supplied by veteran George Robinson. A fabulous rediscovery after more than six decades of neglect!
CROSSFIRE (1947, dir. Edward Dmytyrk)
Seventy years ago CROSSFIRE had a tumultuous reception, garnering five Oscar nominations but almost as many subpoenas from the House Un-American Activities Committee. Director Dmytryk and producer Adrian Scott were eventually blacklisted. All of this came about in reaction to a film that is arguably the greatest social justice noir of all time, with Robert Ryan in the first of his incredible portrayals of hopeless bigots who are capable of violence at the drop of a hat.
After a Jewish man (Sam Levene) is murdered, Detective Findlay (Robert Young) must proceed through a baffling nocturnal labyrinth made spookier by the pent-up energy of soldiers returning from World War II. The trail leads to Gloria Grahame, who received her first Oscar nomination for portraying a conflicted B-girl whose recollections may prove crucial to the case. With Robert Mitchum as taciturn, world-weary Sergeant Keeley, perfecting his approach to noir characters that would result in many indelible performances.
AGITPROP! An Evening of Mid-Century Social Justice: Upcoming Showtimes