Ayn Rand and 'Song of Russia'

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While the U.S. Constitution limits the government's power to censor, it does nothing to stop those holding political power from using public funds to propagandize the masses. The power to broadcast lies can be just as potent as the power to suppress the truth.
Because our "independent" news media are often willing accomplices in manipulation of public opinion, the effect of propaganda or even its existence is often not seen at the time it is being disseminated. During World War II, few Americans were aware that screenwriters were dominated by active or former members of the Communist Party. Even fewer knew that the President of the United States "urged Hollywood to make pro-Soviet films to dispel 'prejudice' against Soviet Communism." See http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/fdrs-crimes/
It was only because of the sudden change in mortal enemies from Nazis to Commies at the end of World War II that the public became aware of the essential role Hollywood played in producing an utterly false image of the Soviet Union in the 1940's.
Before she won wide notice as a novelist, Ayn Rand came briefly into the spotlight as one of the few anti-communist Hollywood writers willing to testify against pro-Soviet propaganda in films. She spoke before the House Un-American Activities Committee on October 20, 1947. Her focus was on the MGM film Song of Russia, written by a former member of the Communist Party and a former member of the Young Communists. Her complete testimony can be read here: http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/texts/huac.html
And now, courtesy of YouTube, Song of Russia can be viewed in its entirety online:


I find it enlightening to watch the film in conjunction with criticisms by Rand, the screenwriter, Russian emigre and political theorist.

What's the lesson in all this? Let's not be too quick to accept what those in Big Government or Big Media say about who our "friends" and "enemies" are.

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Another movie in the same line is The North Star (1943), also produced by Samuel Goldwyn.

It’s on YouTube too: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhgYYEqnR-A

"Ayn Rand and the Noble Lie" on ARI Watch analyzes part of Rand’s HUAC testimony.

It's worth repeating:

What's the lesson in all this? Let's not be too quick to accept what those in Big Government or Big Media say about who our "friends" and "enemies" are.

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AR and Lillian Hellman (who wrote Song of Russia) kept popping up in each others' lives and afterwards. When Tallulah Bankhead was knocking 'em dead in Hellman's The Little Foxes in the 30s, her husband, John Emery, was dying in Rand's We the Living adaptation. Letters p. 43 reproduces her reply to a fund-raising solicitation from Dashiell Hammett, Hellman's lover. Long after their deaths, cable TV premiered biopix of them the same weekend.

Several years ago ARI did some public presentations at the Hollywood branch library, with one on Rand's political activites in her movie days. They said that the communists tried and failed all through the 30s to gain influence in the industry. What finally put them over was the war and the founding of the Office of War Information to coordinate the propaganda effort between Washington and Hollywood. The communists went out for the forward positions and pretty much had their way for the next several years.

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Lillian Hellman (who wrote Song of Russia)

Song of Russia is credited to Leo Mittler (story), Victor Trivas (story), Guy Endore (story), Paul Jarrico (screenplay), Richard Collins (screenplay). but not to Hellman. I wonder if you could be thinking of another pro-Soviet film, The North Star, written by Hellman and discussed by Mark in Post #2?

Thanks for the information about Washington's role in spearheading Hollywood's pro-Red slant. One further example of how in "the land of the free" the feds don't need state-owned mass media to manufacture agitprop.

Incidentally, Robert Mayhew has written a rather pricey book about Rand and Song of Russia. Given Mayhew's disgraceful role in sanitizing Rand's works before publication, I think I'll pass on this one.

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