Keep to (the) Left




The Lawless - Joseph Losey, 1950, 35mm

I have no brief for Senator Joe McCarthy, but I think that too much has been loaded on him. Of course, he was a monstrous man, and a monstrous influence, but he was only a symbol. I suppose that fear and abdication of responsibility produced the whole history of the past twenty or thirty years. The various kinds of betrayal, the various ways in which nations and peoples and individuals have been let down by politicians, by ideologues, by themselves. And the degree to which terror has become an instrument of policy and even an instrument of status.

--Joseph Losey, "Speak, Think, Stand Up", transcript of an interview with Gideon Bachmann, 1964; printed in Film Culture 50-51, 1970, p.55.

The attack in the beginning, particularly in the arts fields and maybe subsequently in the professional fields, could have been stopped by just a little bit of courage from people, like Dore Schary and later [Elia] Kazan, who were in positions of success and financial stability. If Schary had stood by what he said on the stand when he testified, and a few others too, I think it would have stopped. And indeed, when Brecht was quite open in his testimony and immensely witty and very true, the investigations did stop for nearly two years.

But in any event there was a general terror and by the time they got finished with Hollywood they had issued something around 500 subpoenas. Then it spread to the theatre, to doctors, to lawyers, to teachers, to advertising agencies. Of course, in the theatre there was one in particular who stood up and that was Lillian Hellman, but it was too late then. And doctors who didn't have a lot of money, and lawyers who were not very successful, were afraid to take the risk - particularly teachers. They were afraid to speak out and students were afraid to ask questions, because there were informers among the students and no doubt among the teachers too. The indignation was very deep in the country, but not deep enough to overcome the fear.

--Losey, Conversations with Losey (Methuen & Co, 1985), p.72-73.

C: In The Lawless, in a way MacDonald Carey learns what it's like to be hunted like a Mexican.

L: Yes. But this was prophetic because it wasn't really happening at the time. It hadn't yet happened and we didn't really foresee the consequences of what we were doing. Therefore when it came upon us, a lot of people accepted the consequences and dealt with them. But unfortunately, large numbers didn't accept them, tried to escape them, and did the most horrible and ghastly things. One of the men who informed on me, for instance, was a very close personal friend. I read the files and what he said about himself was not true. He unloaded on us his own responsibility: it was perjury - absolutely untrue. Some people were led into positions where they degraded themselves. This man's wife tried to commit suicide when she found out, much later, that he'd informed on me, and my wife too.

--Losey & Michel Ciment, Conversations with Losey (Methuen & Co, 1985), p.96-97.




Whatever he tries to do is wrong. Because it has to be wrong. Because the situation is such that whatever you do is wrong. All films about crime are about capitalism, because capitalism is about crime. I mean, quote-unquote, morally speaking. At least that's what I used to think. Now I'm convinced.

--Abraham Polonsky, speaking in Red Hollywood (Thom Andersen & Noël Burch), 1995.

M - Joseph Losey, 1951, 35mm


After all, politics is justified only by success, although the only battles worth fighting are the ones for lost causes.

--Abraham Polonsky, Red Hollywood, 1995.

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