Halloween public lectures 2: Cold War politics in 1950s Hollywood

Posted by mjs76 at Oct 25, 2011 04:20 PM |
James Dean, Marlon Brando and the House Un-American Activities Committee.

On Monday 31 October the University of Leicester offers an eclectic triple bill of public lectures which will not only educate and inform you but will also save you the trouble of constantly answering the door to children demanding sweets.

Sandwiched inbetween our two scientific lectures is something melding arts and social sciences. As part of the Department of History of Art and Film’s weekly series of public lectures, Brian Neve from the University of Bath will speak on '”Independence” and constraint: Elia Kazan, Hollywood and the Cold War.’

Elia Kazan was one of America’s greatest directors of both stage and screen. He directed Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (on Broadway and in Hollywood) and gave James Dean his first starring role in an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. A former actor, Kazan co-founded the Actor’s Studio in New York in 1947 and, with Lee Strasberg, introduced ‘method acting’ to America.

Kazan was born in Turkey and his family moved to the USA when he was four, Kazan’s immigrant view of America in the early 20th century coloured his work which dealt with hard-hitting social issues. He tackled racism in Pinky, union corruption in On the Waterfront and anti-Semitism in Gentleman’s Agreement. During a stellar career Kazan received three Tonys, four Golden Globes and two Oscars plus an Honorary Oscar.

Sadly, for all his directorial success, Kazan is also remembered for his testimony to the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee, which sought out ‘reds under the bed’ in Hollywood. Kazan had been a member of the Communist Party for 18 months in the 1930s and, when called before HUAC in 1952, named eight other artists as former Communists. Bad feelings run deep and when Kazan received his Honorary Oscar in 1999 some of the audience refused to applaud.

Brian Neve is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Bath and author of Film and Politics in America: A Social Tradition and Elia Kazan: the Cinema of an American Outsider. His lecture, which is free and open to the public, takes place in the Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 3, from 5.30pm on Monday 31 October 2011.

If you enjoy radio-isotopes as well as Hollywood history, why not come along to campus for the Geology lecture at 4.00pm? And if high altitude electrical phenomena are your bag, you can pop next door to Lecture Theatre 1 at 6.30pm for the Leicester Physics Centre talk on ‘red sprites’.