Cinema Educational Guild

In recent months the Committee has received letters from many states written by individuals who wish to determine the reliability of a little folder entitled "Red Stars—No. 3." This is one of the many publications issued by the Cinema Educational Guild, Inc., Post Office Box 46205, Cole Branch, Hollywood 46, California. We have been receiving such inquiries from people in California for several years,

and have answered these letters as they were received, but in view of the mass of correspondence and the nature of the inquiries we have been getting recently, it is imperative that we devote some portion of this report to the origin, growth, and activities of the organization, together with some comments on its responsibility.

Myron C. Fagan, national director of the Cinema Educational Guild, a non-profit corporation, was an active playwright and producer in New York City when he was only twenty years of age—in 1907. He came to Hollywood in 1920 and ten years thereafter was working for Pathe Pictures as a writer-director. After RKO acquired the Pathe concern, Fagan worked as a free-lance writer.

In 1945 Fagan wrote a play called "Red Rainbow" which was concerned with the threat of domestic Communism to the security of the United States. There was solid opposition to its production from the pro-Communist elements in the New York entertainment world, and Fagan was unable to secure the requisite financial backing to produce it. He then took the play to Hollywood, and found the opposition even more solid.

Two years later Fagan wrote and produced a play called "Thieves Paradise," the theme of which dealt with Communism behind the Iron Curtain. There was considerable opposition to its production, but it was opened at the Las Palmas Theatre in Hollywood on December 26 1947. The leading man was Howard Johnson and from the time the production opened he was subject to a plan of telephone harassment which sent him to St. Vincent's Hospital with a nervous breakdown after six performances, and the play was forced to close. The constant campaign of early morning threats to both Johnson and his mother was too much for him to bear and he was in no condition to resume his role even after he was released from the hospital. The matter was thoroughly investigated by both Actors Equity and the American Board of Arbitration, and the facts as related above were fully corroborated.

On April 12, 1948, "Thieves Paradise" was again opened at the Hollywood El Patio Theatre under the sponsorship of a group of women's organizations. This time it finished its scheduled run despite threats to close it down, and by now Fagan had obtained considerable information concerning the extent to which the motion picture industry had been infiltrated by Communists. He made a curtain speech at one of the performances of his play, naming 100 prominent people in the picture business as "reds, fellow-travelers, and dupes."[106] In various other publications he continued his campaign to expose the infiltration, and formed the Cinema Educational Guild as a non-profit California corporation in January 1949.

Since its creation the Guild has issued many booklets, form letters, circulars, folders and other material—virtually all dealing with Communism. Fagan has lectured extensively, and supports his activities through the sale of publications, lecture fees, dues of members who have joined the Guild and from contributions. Some of the publications of the organization are: Red Stars in Hollywood, 1948; Moscow over Hollywood, 1948; Moscow Marches on Hollywood, 1949; Unmasking the Reds in Hollywood, 1949; Reds Behind World Federalism, 1949; Red Treason in Hollywood, 1949; Documentation of Red Stars In Hollywood,

1950; Documentation of the Reds Behind World Federalism, 1950; Reds in the Crusade for Freedom, 1950; What is this Thing Called Anti-Semitism?; 1952, Our Year of Decision!; Red Stars No. 3.

Shortly after the organization of the Guild, Fagan accelerated his anti-Communist activities. During the spring of 1952 Cinema Educational Guild Productions announced the presentation of "Red Rainbow", "Gallant People", and "Thieves Paradise" at the Beau Arts Theatre in Los Angeles, orchestra seats selling at $9.00 each for the three plays.

There can be no doubt about the general truth of much of Mr. Fagan's statements concerning infiltration of the motion picture industry—indeed the entire entertainment world—by Communists. He has taken much of his information from the reports of the California Committee on Un-American Activities, and much from reports of various other official bodies and Federal committees. But he has never had access to the confidential files containing the basic evidence on which the statements in our own reports are based, and he has therefore been forced to operate under a considerable handicap. Thus in many cases persons who were affiliated with a front group or two for a short time have been listed currently as subversive in his publications along with others who have heavy documentation commencing in the early '30s and continuing to date.

But those who realized their mistake and left the front organizations in disgust and disillusionment are often still carried as subversives on the Fagan lists, and therein lies the danger from any unofficial organization that undertakes to publish lists of alleged subversive organizations and individuals. They do not have the facilities, nor the authority, nor the experience to handle these matters in an expert fashion and therefore they produce an enormous amount of harm by falsely accusing individuals who are not only loyal but who have profited greatly by their unfortunate experiences in having been lured into Communist-front groups. As we have many times declared in former reports, a Communist front is created for the express purpose of attracting non-Communist liberals and then subjecting them to a careful, subtle and delicately-conceived program of propaganda until they are persuaded to take up the study of Marxism and are brought constantly closer to the Party itself; or who are sufficiently loyal and alert and well-balanced to detect the real objectives of these hypocritical organizations then leave them forthwith. Statements in some of the Guild publications to the effect that the contents are based on materials in the files of this Committee leave the implication with laymen that the compiler of the publication had access to our files. We wish to make it clear that this is not the case, and that our files are only accessible to responsible official agencies, for obvious reasons.

We do not wish to impugn the sincerity of Mr. Fagan, but we do wish to make public the facts about his Cinema Educational Guild, and our opinion concerning the erroneous nature of many of the statements contained in its publications. Some official agencies have regarded certain statements in these tracts and booklets about Mr. Fagan as hardly compatible with an expert approach to the counter-subversive field. Thus: "In presenting this profile we have one objective: to establish the fact that in matters of theatre and of Hollywood, Myron C.

Fagan is a Voice of Authority... quite as unquestionable as the Voice of J. Edgar Hoover in matters of our National Security."[107] This sort of self-serving declaration is seen in several of the Guild publications, and has tended to alienate many substantial agencies that are quite aware of the basic correctness of many of the assertions, but dislike the pontifical attitude of the statements, and the Guild's position that once a person has been affiliated with a Communist front, he is forever damned.

There are heavy evidences of anti-Semitism throughout many of the booklets and in many of the Fagan speeches. Thus in: "What is This Thing Called Anti-Semitism?" (1951), he declares, "Significantly, the B'nai B'rith is composed of less than 5% of the Jewish population in America... The other 95% are dominated by the 5%—all of whom are kept under control by the B'nai B'rith secret police, known as the A.D.L.[108] The A.D.L. is fully as ruthless as Moscow's M.V.D.[109]—only they cannot as yet resort to the murderous methods of the M.V.D.... because, as yet, America is a free nation."[110]

Claiming that the Christian Science Monitor, Chet Huntley, and the A.D.L. had made libelous statements against him, Fagan joined them all in a libel suit in 1950. He then accused his attorney of having sold him out, and brought charges against the lawyer before the California State Bar Association. After long investigation, protracted exchanges of heated correspondence, hearings and appeals, the Bar decided there was nothing to the charges and summarily dismissed them.

The most recent list of alleged Communists, fellow-travelers and dupes circulated by Cinema Educational Guild contains—among other names, those of Alvah Bessie, J. Edward Bromberg, Morris Carnovsky, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Lionel Stander, Gale Sondergaard, and Dalton Trumbo. There is substantial evidence of Communist affiliations of each. Also named were Norman Corwin, Charles Chaplin, John Cromwell, Benny Goodman, Rose Hobart, John Huston, Frederic March, Lewis Milestone, Sam Ornitz, Larry Parks, Irving Pichel, Paul Robeson, Adrian Scott, Franchot Tone, and Sam Wanamaker. Each is accused of having a record of front affiliations and activities, and each has been affiliated with some fronts. The list also contains the names of Melvyn Douglas, Myrna Loy, Gregory Peck, Walter Wanger, and Mary McCall, Jr. Each has been accused of some connection with Communism or fronts, and in many cases the proof is flimsy, and in other cases some of the individuals named above have emerged as ardent anti-Communists.

The point to bear in mind is that such a list implies that everyone named on it is a red—dangerous, active, disciplined, and dedicated. In some instances this is undoubtedly true. In others it is sheer nonsense. Mr. Fagan may well be one of the nation's outstanding experts on matters theatrical, but that does not necessarily qualify him as an expert in the field of counter-subversive intelligence. If his lists were thoroughly documented, that would be one thing, but to simply state that the information is corroborated by the files of some official committees is something else. Mr. Fagan has no access to these files, as we

have stated, and the evaluation of evidence must be made in the light of passing time, changing conditions, changes in the Party line, the purposes and degree of virulence of each of the front organizations, and many other factors that should be taken into consideration by experts.

There is no question in the mind of this Committee that it is necessary to arouse the people to the dangers of Communism, and that any sound and adequate program in this direction is to be encouraged. But, however sincere the motives, if the techniques used in accomplishing this objective tends to smear innocent people and cast suspicion on every individual who has ever been affiliated with the Communist front organization, despite overwhelming evidence that the individual is completely loyal, this actually serves to spread confusion and bewilderment and to destroy the confidence of many people in the accuracy and objectivity of official agencies operating in this extremely challenging and controversial field.

Having been operating for more than twenty years, this Committee is quite aware of the fact that any effort to combat Communism will provoke immediate accusations from the Communists and their supporters of smearing, irresponsibility, and all the rest of their vituperative charges. And these accusations will be hurled against the F.B.I. and the Immigration Department, and Military and Naval Intelligence, Federal and State committees and any other agency—official or otherwise, expert or irresponsible—for the very simple reason that any effort to unmask the activities of Communist subversion in this country will inevitably meet with this sort of opposition. But it is now more important than ever to eliminate irresponsibility in this field and put an end to hysteria and sensationalism for its own sake, and to keep the public and the Legislature and the Congress constantly abreast of the situation and informed concerning the nature, techniques and operations of subversion in all its aspects.

In addition to the publications of the Cinema Education Guild that we have already mentioned, there are also available a series of news-bulletins, selling for fifty cents each, or five copies for two dollars, some of the titles being as follows: Reds in the Anti-Defamation League, Now We Must Outlaw the U.N., How To Abolish the U. N., United Nations on Trial in Washington, D.C., How We Are Being Brainwashed, This is the A.D.L., Mr. Hoover, Don't Give Up the Ship, Ammunition to Fight Treason, They Said it Couldn't be Done, U.S. Abolished by Order of the U.N., Plotters of Treason: The Genocide Plot, Analysis of the World Revolution, Only Impeachments Will Save Our Country, Documentations: Of the U.N. Plot to Take Over the U.S.

There have also been folders circulated by the Guild and calling for the impeachment of Chief Justice Earl Warren, "for giving aid and comfort to the Communist conspiracy, the mortal enemy of the United States and the American people," and this has led to some accusations that the Guild is an adjunct of the John Birch Society. Since we may be called upon to investigate the John Birch Society, having been requested to do so by the head of that organization, we deem it inappropriate to comment here on any details in connection with its nature, operation, or connections while that investigation is in progress.


The Case of Mary McCall

We wish to close this portion of this report by pointing out that Red Stars—No. 3 currently circulated throughout the United States and issued last year, contains the name of Mary McCall listed among the alleged roster of "reds, fellow-travelers, and dupes." In July of 1954 this Committee issued invitations to individuals in the motion picture industry, and generally throughout Southern California, to appear before us if they desired and to testify concerning circumstances under which their names appeared on Communist-front organizations. One of the several individuals who availed themselves of this opportunity was Mrs. Mary McCall Bramson, professionally known as Mary C. McCall, Jr., a screen-writer widely known and respected throughout her profession. Mrs. McCall had served on three occasions as president of the Screen Writers Guild, and is the only woman to have ever enjoyed that distinction.

She stated that she had been listed as a member of the Writers Congress Advisory Committee in 1943 and pointed out, as had other witnesses, that the predominant membership of that organization, was completely loyal and anti-Communist, but that after the end of World War II it became apparent to her that a small and disruptive minority in the Screen Writers Guild seemed to be card-holding and hard-working members of the Communist Party, sought to prolong the life of the Hollywood Writers Mobilization and that the executive secretary of the Mobilization was a woman who, Mrs. McCall was convinced, was a member of the Communist Party. That individual, Pauline Lauber Finn, had been identified as a Communist by testimony before this Committee, and Mr. Robert Rossen who for several years had played a dominant role in the Hollywood Writers Mobilization and Screen Writers Guild and who masqueraded as liberal, finally admitted that he had been, during all of his tenure in office, an active member of the Communist Party.

The witness also mentioned her affiliation with a movement known as the Emergency Committee on KFI which, while including some persons with Communist front records, was for the most part composed of loyal and anti-Communist individuals. She stated that she had been connected with the Actors Laboratory Theatre as an audience sponsor, testified that she eventually began to see names appearing on its Board of Directors she believed to be members of the Communist Party and who had given valid evidence of their pro-Communist Party sympathies by their affiliations with a whole array of organizations known to her to be under the domination of the Communist apparatus. She was also listed as a member or sponsor of the Hollywood Democratic Committee and the Arts, Sciences and Professions Council.

Mrs. McCall explained her connection with each of these organizations in a forthright and convincing manner, answered every question put to her by the Committee, disdained to invoke the Fifth Amendment or any other Constitutional provision, and emphasized the fact that she considered extremists from the right, the fanatical and irresponsible persons with no regard for the rights of their fellow men and precious little regard for the truth, as extremely dangerous obstacles in the effort to combat the menace of Communism. Her most

interesting comments cannot be quoted in full, but the following statement fairly well summarizes the tenor of her testimony: "I think sometimes in revulsion from Communism—and revolting they are—you find yourself tempted to go too far the other way. This impulse you must resist."

After thanking the Committee for permitting her to appear and testify, Mrs. McCall concluded her evidence by stating that in her opinion: "Members of the Communist Party are in effect agents of a foreign power, and any decision as to whether they are loyal to the United States of America or to the U.S.S.R., even the loyalty of an American-born Communist member, would go to the U.S.S.R."

She also gave a lie to the familiar old Communist propaganda that the down-trodden working masses had no chance to better themselves under a capitalist form of government by declaring that her grandfather, John McCall, the son of an Irish immigrant saloonkeeper in Albany, New York, "rose by his own good name and his own efforts to be president of the New York Life Insurance Company. This was possible," said Mrs. McCall, "in this capitalistic republic of ours. I don't want anything to happen to that system because this is the kind of opportunity I want for my children."[111]

Despite this outright statement, and despite the fact that our 1955 report, like its predecessors and successors, was widely distributed and placed in every large public library in the state, the name of Mary McCall is still carried in the folder of the Cinema Educational Guild, Inc., "Red Stars—No. 3," 1960, as a "red, fellow-traveler or dupe."

We are happy to report that Mrs. McCall is successfully following her profession as a screen writer, that she has most graciously written to representatives of the Committee expressing her gratitude for allowing her to appear before us, and while we may be breaking a precedent by making this sort of a statement—we very much doubt if Mrs. McCall will ever run the risk of being involved in any Communist-front organization.

We have cited the case of Mrs. McCall as illustrative of other individuals whose names appear on the folder, names like Melvyn Douglas, who at one time drifted dangerously close to Communism, but who has for many years been consistently anti-Communist, has repudiated Communism on many occasions, and who has never, so far as we are aware, appeared on any list of alleged subversive individuals with the exception of "Red Stars—No. 3." It is not the province of this Committee to act as a monitor for every unofficial organization that undertakes to attack Communism or to point out every erroneous statement that any of them may make. In this instance, however, the Cinema Educational Guild has seen fit to declare that its allegations are based on evidence in our files. As we have seen in the case of Mrs. McCall, this is not true.

We disagree with a great many of the statements made by the Cinema Educational Guild, but if we undertook to make a separate analysis of the record of every individual mentioned by the Guild and other unofficial organizations operating in this field, we would have no time

to do anything else. It should be manifest to everyone that no unofficial list of alleged subversive individuals or organizations, unless accompanied by thorough documentation, should be accepted at face value. Of course, any such list of purported subversive persons and groups that is not accompanied by complete documentation, must be regarded with extreme caution.