Theodore Dreiser

Theodore Dreiser

Theodore Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1871. The ninth child of German immigrants, Sarah and John Paul Dreiser, he experienced considerable poverty while a child and at the age of fifteen was forced to leave home in search of work.

After briefly attending Indiana University, he found work as a reporter on the Chicago Globe. Later he worked for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, the St. Louis Republic and Pittsburgh Dispatch. In his autobiography, Newspaper Days he recalls reporting a meeting addressed by Terence Powderly: "Some are silk purses and others sows' ears and cannot be made the one into the other by any accident of either poverty or wealth. Just at this time, however, after listening to Mr. Powderly (a significant man in connection with that movement) and taking notes on his speech, I came to the conclusion that all laborers had a just right to much better pay and living conditions, and in consequence had a great cause and ought to stick together - only I was not one of them." He later moved to New York City where he attempted to establish himself as a novelist. Dreiser was influenced by books by authors such as William Dean Howells, Frank Norris, Charles Edward Russell and David Graham Phillips.

Dreiser worked for the New York World before Frank Norris, who was working for Doubleday, helped Dreiser's first novel, Sister Carrie (1900), to be published. However, the owners disapproved of the novel's subject matter (the moral corruption of the heroine, Carrie Meeber) and it was not promoted and therefore sold badly.

Floyd Dell got to know Dreiser during this period: "Theodore Dreiser - a large, cumbrous, awkward, thoughtful, friendly person, with no small talk but with a great zest for serious conversation. A brave lover of the truth, and a rugged, stubborn and gallant fighter for it. I respected him deeply, and laughed at him - a combination which he found it hard to understand."

Dreiser continued to work as a journalist and as well as writing for mainstream newspapers such as the Saturday Evening Post, also had work published in socialist magazines such as the New York Call. However, unlike many of his literary friends such as Floyd Dell, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, Max Eastman and Jack London, he never joined the American Socialist Party.

Theodore Dreiser in 1890s.
Theodore Dreiser in 1890s.

Dreiser's second novel, Jennie Gerhardt was not published until 1911. With the support of the literary critic, Floyd Dell, who considered Dreiser, a major writer, Sister Carrie was republished in 1912. Arnold Bennett was one of the many critics who praised the book and described it as the "best novel that has ever come out of America".

This was followed by two novels The Financier (1912) and The Titan (1914) about Frank Cowperwood, a power-hungry business tycoon. These books were influenced by Lawless Wealth: The Origin of Some American Fortunes, a book about the American Tobacco Trust, written by Charles Edward Russell. This was followed by The Genius (1915).

Dreiser was highly critical of the capitalist system: "In my personal judgment, America as yet certainly is neither a social nor a democratic success. Its original democratic theory does not work, or has not, and a trust - and a law-frightened people, to say nothing of a cowardly or suborned, and in case helpless, press, prove it. Where in any country not dominated by an autocracy has ever a people slipped about afraid to voice its views on war, on freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the trusts, religion - indeed, any honest private conviction that it has. In what country can a man be thoroughly browbeaten, arrested without trial, denied the privilege of a hearing and held against the written words of the nation's Constitution guaranteeing its citizens freedom of speech, of public gathering, of writing and publishing what they honestly feel? In what other lands less free are whole elements held in a caste condition - the Negro, the foreign born, the Indian?"

A group of left-wing writers including Dreisler, Floyd Dell, John Reed, George Jig Cook, Mary Heaton Vorse, Michael Gold, Susan Glaspell, Hutchins Hapgood, Harry Kemp, William Zorach, Neith Boyce and Louise Bryant, who lived in Greenwich Village, often spent their summers in Provincetown, a small seaport in Massachusetts.. In 1915 several members of the group established the Provincetown Theatre Group. A shack at the end of the fisherman's wharf was turned into a theatre. Later, other writers such as Eugene O'Neill and Edna St. Vincent Millay joined the group. Many of the productions that appeared at Provincetown were later transferred to New York City. This were initially performed at an experimental theatre on MacDougal Street but some of the plays, especially by Glaspell and O'Neill were critical successes on Broadway.

Since his early days of journalism Dreiser "began to observe a certain type of crime in the United States that proved very common. It seemed to spring from the fact that almost every young person was possessed of an ingrown ambition to be somebody financially and socially." Dreiser described this as a form of disease. He added that he observed "many forms of murder for money...the young ambitious lover of some poorer girl... for a more attractive girl with money or position...it was not always possible to drop the first girl. What usually stood in the way was pregnancy."

This information inspired Dreiser's greatest novel, An American Tragedy (1925). The book was based on the Chester Gillette and Grace Brown murder case. One critic pointed out that the novel is a "story of a man struggling against social, economic, and environmental forces - as well as forces within himself - that slowly drown him in a tide of misfortune." It has been argued that the novel was an example of naturalism, an extreme form of realism, that had been inspired in part by the scientific determinism of Charles Darwin and the economic determinism of Karl Marx.

Thomas P. Riggio commented: "Although the novel was a critical and commercial success (in fact, Dreiser's only best-seller), he was not yet finished battling such literary vice crusaders as the Watch and Ward Society. The novel was banned in Boston, where the sale of the book led to a trial and an appeal that dragged on in the courts for years. This, however, was now an isolated instance. Dreiser seemed finally to have won over even his most severe critics, many of whom were now applauding the book as the Great American Novel."

Dreiser become involved in several campaigns against injustice. This included the lynching of Frank Little, one of the leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World, the Sacco and Vanzetti Case, the deportation of Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman and Mollie Steimer, the false conviction of the trade union leader, Tom Mooney, who spent twenty-two years in prison for a crime he did not commit and the Scottsboro Case. His biographer, Jerome Loving, has argued: "Dreiser was an obstinate man. Once he set his mind to something, nothing could change it. As an adult, he also seems never to have admitted either regret or embarrassment over his actions, no matter how ridiculous or wrong-headed some of them might seem today.... His energy would go strictly to social causes, no matter how far afield they would take him from his life in literature or how unflatteringly they might cast him in the public eye."

In 1928 Dreiser wrote: "On thinking back over the books I have written, I can only say this has been my vision of life - life with its romance and cruelty, its pity and terror, its joys and anxiety, its peace and conflict. You may not like my vision but it is the only one that I have seen and felt, therefore, it is the only one I can give you." Dreiser, a socialist, wrote several non-fiction books on political issues. This included Dreiser Looks at Russia (1928) and Tragic America (1931).

Malcolm Cowley recalls that he attended a meeting in April 1931 that was addressed by Dreiser: "Dreiser stood behind a table and rapped on it with his knuckles. He unfolded a very large, very white linen handkerchief and began drawing it first through his left hand, then through his right hand, as if for reassurance of his worldly success. He mumbled something we couldn't catch and then launched into a prepared statement. Things were in a terrible state, he said, and what were we going to do about it? Nobody knew how many millions were unemployed, starving, hiding in their holes. The situation among the coal miners in Western Pennsylvania and in Harlan County, Kentucky, was a disgrace. The politicians from Hoover down and the big financiers had no idea of what was going on." Dreiser then went onto argue that "the time is ripe for American intellectuals to render some service to the American worker."

During the Great Depression Dreiser wrote: "I feel that the immense gulf between wealth and poverty in America and throughout the world should be narrowed. I feel the government should effect the welfare of all the people - not that of a given class." He became a member of the League of American Writers and was an active supporter of the Popular Front government during the Spanish Civil War. As Thomas P. Riggio pointed out: "Dreiser wrote little fiction in the 1930s. He devoted much of himself to political activities. A partial list provides an idea of the range of his social interests: he fought for a fair trial for the Scottsboro Boys, young African Americans unfairly accused of rape in Alabama; he contributed considerable time to the broadly-based political and literary reforms sponsored by the American Writer's League; he spoke out against American imperialism abroad; he attacked the abuses of the financial corporations; he went to Kentucky's Harlan coal mines, as chairman of the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, to publicize the wrongs suffered by the striking miners; he investigated the plight of tobacco farmers who were cheated by the large tobacco companies; he spoke on behalf of several antifascist organizations and attended an international peace conference in Paris; he became an advocate in America for aid to the victims of the Spanish Civil War."

Dreiser published America is Worth Saving (1941). Theodore Dreiser joined the American Communist Party in July 1945. He summed up his reasons for his decision: "Belief in the greatness and dignity of Man has been the guiding principle of my life and work. The logic of my life and work leads me therefore to apply for membership in the Community Party."

Jerome Loving, the author of The Last Titan: A Life of Theodore Dreiser (2005) has argued: "Dreiser may have also chosen to become a formal member of the party because of the harassment he had received from the FBI and what was to become the Congressional Committee for Un-American Activities. The latter was already looking askance at the movie industry for its alleged sympathies with communism."

Theodore Dreiser died on 28th December 1945. Henry L. Mencken, who had been a great supporter of Dreiser during his lifetime, argued: "No other American of his generation left so wide and handsome a mark upon the national letters. American writing, before and after his time, differed almost as much as biology before and after Darwin. He was a man of large originality, of profound feeling, and of unshakable courage. All of us who write are better off because he lived, worked, and hoped."

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) In 1888 Theodore Dreiser began to consider the possibility of writing short-stories. In his autobiography, A Book About Myself , Dreiser wrote about the research he carried out before embarking on a literary career.

I set to examining the current magazines. I was never more confounded than by the discrepancy existing between my own observations and those displayed here, the beauty and peace and charm to be found in everything, the almost complete absence of any reference to the coarse and the vulgar and the cruel and the terrible. But as I viewed the strenuous world about me, all that I read seemed not to have so very much to do with it. Perhaps, as I now thought, life as I saw it, the darker phases, was never to be written about. The kind of thing I was witnessing no one would want as fiction.

(2) Theodore Dreiser, The New York Call (30th November, 1919)

In my personal judgment, America as yet certainly is neither a social nor a democratic success. Its original democratic theory does not work, or has not, and a trust - and a law-frightened people, to say nothing of a cowardly or suborned, and in case helpless, press, prove it. Where in any country not dominated by an autocracy has ever a people slipped about afraid to voice its views on war, on freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the trusts, religion - indeed, any honest private conviction that it has. In what country can a man be thoroughly browbeaten, arrested without trial, denied the privilege of a hearing and held against the written words of the nation's Constitution guaranteeing its citizens freedom of speech, of public gathering, of writing and publishing what they honestly feel? In what other lands less free are whole elements held in a caste condition - the Negro, the foreign born, the Indian?

(3) Theodore Dreiser, Newspaper Days (1922)

Again, I attended various churches to hear sermons, interviewed the Irish boss of the city - one Edward Butler, an amazing person with a head more or less like that of a great gnome or ogre, who immediately took a great fancy to me and wanted me to come and see him again (which I did once) and who, as I discovered later, held the political fortunes of the city in his right hand. I wrote up a fire or two, a labor meeting or two, and at one of these first saw Terence V. Powderly, the head of that astounding, albeit mushroom, organization known as the Knights of Labor.

It was in a dingy hall at 9th or 10th and Walnut, a dismal region and a dismal institution known as the Workingman's Club or some such thing as that, which had a single red light hanging out over its main entrance. This long, lank leader, afterwards so much discussed in the so-called "capitalistic press," was sitting on a wretched platform surrounded by local labor leaders and about to discuss the need of closer union between all classes of labor, as he subsequently did.

In regard to all matters which related to the rights of labor and capital at this time, I was ignorant as a mongoose. Although I was a laborer myself, in a fair sense of the word, yet I was more or less out of sympathy with these individuals, not as a class struggling for their "rights" (I did not know truly, what their rights or wrongs were) but rather as individuals. I thought, I suppose - I cannot remember what I did think, but it comes back to me in this way-that they were not quite as nice as I was, not as refined and superior in their aspirations and therefore not as worthy, perhaps, or at least not destined to succeed as well as myself. I understood, or let me say felt, then dimly what subsequently and after many rough disillusionments I came to accept as a fact: that some people are born dull, others shrewd, some wise and some undisturbedly ignorant, some tender and some savage, ad infinitum. Some are silk purses and others sows' ears and cannot be made the one into the other by any accident of either poverty or wealth. Just at this time, however, after listening to Mr. Powderly (a significant man in connection with that movement) and taking notes on his speech, I came to the conclusion that all laborers had a just right to much better pay and living conditions, and in consequence had a great cause and ought to stick together - only I was not one of them. Also I concluded that Mr. Powderly was a very shrewd man and something of a hypocrite - very simple seeming and yet not so.

(4) Jerome Loving, The Last Titan: A Life of Theodore Dreiser (2005)

Dreiser was an obstinate man. Once he set his mind to something, nothing could change it. As an adult, he also seems never to have admitted either regret or embarrassment over his actions, no matter how ridiculous or wrong-headed some of them might seem today. As he had told Marguerite Tjader Harris, now another of his intimate companions, he wanted to do something other than write novels. His energy would go strictly to social causes, no matter how far afield they would take him from his life in literature or how unflatteringly they might cast him in the public eye. One of the first was the notorious case of the Scottsboro Boys. Nine black youths accused of raping two women, later regarded as prostitutes, were convicted in Alabama that spring. After a short trial, eight were sentenced to death and the ninth, only thirteen years old, was given life imprisonment. Dreiser, along with Lincoln Steffens, publicized the outrage. Other protesters included the NAACP, the American Communist Party in the form of the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, Clarence Darrow, Burton Rascoe, and John Dos Passos.

"The State of Alabama has now set July 10th as the date for the judicial massacre of eight children," Dreiser wrote in an open letter in May. He was appealing for funds for a new trial, which was finally granted after several delays in the sentencing. Ultimately, the Scottsboro defendants were tried four times in all, the last trial in 1936 resulting in the acquittal of four of the accused. Dreiser may have helped here. In a pamphlet entitled Mr. President: Free the Scottsboro Boys, sponsored by the Communist Party in 1934, he appealed directly to President Roosevelt. The case was in its fourth year, and two electrocutions were still scheduled. Dreiser was following an American literary tradition, going back at least to Ralph Waldo Emerson, who in 1838 protested to President Martin Van Buren about the involuntary removal of the Cherokee Indians from their gold-rich lands in Georgia to the territory of Oklahoma, resulting in the infamous "Trail of Tears." The Scottsboro case has taken a similar place in American history and lore. Dreiser likened the planned executions to "judicial lynchings," and was no doubt reminded again of the lynching he had witnessed outside St. Louis. In a letter to the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, he wrote: "The whole Southern attitude toward the Negro has become a national ill."

That summer he went to Pittsburgh with William Z. Foster, the Communist Party's candidate for president in 1932, and Joseph Pass, who had been active in the party's activities in the South. The Communist-backed National Mine Workers had challenged the United Mine Workers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor, in organizing attempts in Pennsylvania. Violence followed in one of the nearby mining towns. At first Dreiser tried to remain neutral between these two labor groups, but after visiting, by his own count, fifteen mines where he interviewed miners and their wives and returning to New York, he publicly sided with the NMW, saying the AF of L was in cahoots with the big corporations and discriminated against minorities and immigrants." The Pittsburgh venture, however, was merely a dress rehearsal for Dreiser's much more publicized and ultimately embarrassing encounter with the coal miners' strikes in Harlan County, Kentucky, in November. Here Dreiser fell into what became known in the national press as the "toothpick trap."

(5) Theodore Dreiser, foreword to a collection of his writings (1928)

On thinking back over the books I have written, I can only say this has been my vision of life - life with its romance and cruelty, its pity and terror, its joys and anxiety, its peace and conflict. You may not like my vision but it is the only one that I have seen and felt, therefore, it is the only one I can give you.

(6) Floyd Dell, Homecoming (1933)

Theodore Dreiser, who had been living uptown, moved down into the Village, and I saw a good deal of him-a large, cumbrous, awkward, thoughtful, friendly person, with no small talk except a few favorite joshing sillinesses, but with a great zest for serious conversation... And, equally at heart, a brave lover of the truth, and a rugged, stubborn and gallant fighter for it. I respected him deeply, and laughed at him - a combination which he found it hard to understand; the suppression of Sister Carrie, the hostility of a conventional world of criticism, and the admiration of a faithful few, had given him some of the traits of the martyr-hero, which rather oddly consorted with his Balzacian ambitions. I admired the things he could do in writing which nobody else could do - the simple and poignant truths of life; and I thought his philosophic notions bosh and his historical ideas mere uneducated ignorance. I found that he did not agree with those critics who praised him for the immense amount of bricks and mortar that were visible in his towering structures of fiction - the multiplicity of details which such critics called "realism". He was not especially interested in the details, but was using them, and perhaps over-using them, earnestly in trying to achieve beauty. He once told me with honest tears in his eyes that a novel had no excuse for existence unless it was beautiful. And by beautiful I knew that he meant true to the deep emotions of the human heart, not to the mere visible surface aspects of life.

(7) In April 1931 Theodore Dreiser invited a group of left-wing writers to his home. Malcolm Cowley wrote about the event in his autobiography, The Dream of Golden Mountains (1934)

Dreiser stood behind a table and rapped on it with his knuckles. He unfolded a very large, very white linen handkerchief and began drawing it first through his left hand, then through his right hand, as if for reassurance of his worldly success. He mumbled something we couldn't catch and then launched into a prepared statement. Things were in a terrible state, he said, and what were we going to do about it? Nobody knew how many millions were unemployed, starving, hiding in their holes. The situation among the coal miners in Western Pennsylvania and in Harlan County, Kentucky, was a disgrace. The politicians from Hoover down and the big financiers had no idea of what was going on. As for the writers and artists - Dreiser looked up shyly from his prepared text, revealing his scrubbed lobster-pink cheeks and his chins in retreating terraces. For a moment the handkerchief stoooed moving.

The time is ripe," he said, "for American intellectuals to render some service to the American worker." He wondered - as again he drew the big white handkerchief from one hand to the other - whether we shouldn't join a committee that was being organized to collaborate with the International Labor Defense in opposing political persecutions, lynchings, and the deportation of labor organizers; also in keeping the public informed and in helping workers to build their own unions. Then, after some inaudible remarks, he declared that he was through speaking and that we were now to have a discussion.

(8) On May, 1931, Theodore Dreiser, Lincoln Steffens and a group of writers sent an open letter to Governor Miller of Alabama about the Scottsboro Case.

No state in this union has a right to speak of justice as long as the most friendless Negro child accused of a crime receives less than the best defence that would be given its wealthiest white citizen.

(9) Theodore Dreiser, letter to Ralph Fabri (20th January, 1933)

I feel that the immense gulf between wealth and poverty in America and throughout the world should be narrowed. I feel the government should effect the welfare of all the people - not that of a given class.

(10) Thomas P. Riggio, Theodore Dreiser (2000)

Dreiser had close relations with the liberal thinkers and artistic avant-garde of the 1910s. He associated with leading political radicals like Max Eastman, Daniel DeLeon, and Floyd Dell; supported the birth-control movement of Margaret Sanger; befriended the anarchist Emma Goldman; and wrote for leftist journals such as The Masses, as well as for magazines with more purely aesthetic goals, like Seven Arts. Dreiser was eclectic in his interests, and although generally progressive in his social thought, he was too eccentric and independent a thinker to fit into any one ideological mode.

After 1911, H. L. Mencken became the most visible publicist on the American scene, and his reviews in the Smart Set promoted Dreiser as America's greatest living realist. Despite such support, the threat of censorship haunted Dreiser for over two decades. Publishers often refused to print manuscripts as Dreiser wrote them. Editors substantially cut both fiction and non-fiction before publication. For example, the Century Company severely truncated the original text of A Traveler at Forty, omitting over forty chapters and diluting many of the sequences that did appear in print...

Although the novel was a critical and commercial success (in fact, Dreiser's only best-seller), he was not yet finished battling such literary vice crusaders as the Watch and Ward Society. The novel was banned in Boston, where the sale of the book led to a trial and an appeal that dragged on in the courts for years. This, however, was now an isolated instance. Dreiser seemed finally to have won over even his most severe critics, many of whom were now applauding the book as the Great American Novel. Dreiser soon sold the motion picture rights; the first film version appeared in 1931, followed in 1951 by a remake entitled A Place in the Sun. For the first time Dreiser could afford to live something of the high life he had desired since his youth. He moved into a fashionable Rodin Studios apartment at 200 West 57th Street, across from Carnegie Hall. There he held open house gatherings on Thursday evenings at which he entertained famous and talented celebrities from every walk of life. In addition, he built a country home at Mount Kisco, in upstate New York, which he called Iroki (Japanese for "the spirit of beauty").

By the late 1920s Dreiser had become famous as an old warrior in the battles for literary freedom in America, a war that in fact had been won by this point. Despite his new-found security, he championed an array of public causes in the last two decades of his life. Although the Great Depression and the threat of American involvement in another World War were strong stimulants to social activism, this was not a new direction for Dreiser. He had always prided himself on being what he called "radically American," which for him had included his freedom to defend the rights of speech of socialists, anarchists, and other radical groups who had criticized American capitalist values.

A dramatically new phase of Dreiser's activism began in 1927, when the Soviet government invited him to be present at the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution in Moscow. He agreed to go upon condition that he be allowed to extend his stay and tour the Soviet Union to see what he called the "real, unofficial Russia." He arrived as an American "individualist," eager to question the reality of an ostensibly humane economy that claimed to have abolished social hierarchies. He left not totally convinced of the value of the new experiment, but when he returned to America in 1928 to find the first breadlines he had seen since 1910, he was outraged and began to compare the efforts of the Russians to what he perceived to be the neglect of an American government controlled by monied interests.

The personal significance the Russian program eventually came to have for Dreiser appeared in a muted way in the first newspaper articles he wrote after returning to America in early 1928. He speculated in the New York World that in the new Russia it might "be possible to remove that dreadful sense of social misery in one direction or another which has so afflicted me in my life in America ever since I have been old enough to know what social misery is." This aspect of his feelings about Russia emerged more powerfully in the 1930s, a decade in which Dreiser was one of many American intellectuals whose idealization of the Soviet Union was stimulated by the economic breakdown and social malaise of the Depression years.

Dreiser wrote little fiction in the 1930s. He devoted much of himself to political activities. A partial list provides an idea of the range of his social interests: he fought for a fair trial for the Scottsboro Boys, young African Americans unfairly accused of rape in Alabama; he contributed considerable time to the broadly-based political and literary reforms sponsored by the American Writer's League; he spoke out against American imperialism abroad; he attacked the abuses of the financial corporations; he went to Kentucky's Harlan coal mines, as chairman of the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, to publicize the wrongs suffered by the striking miners; he investigated the plight of tobacco farmers who were cheated by the large tobacco companies; he spoke on behalf of several antifascist organizations and attended an international peace conference in Paris; he became an advocate in America for aid to the victims of the Spanish Civil War.

Dreiser attempted to collect his thoughts and research on the social problems of the day in Tragic America. This volume of over four hundred pages is an argument against the organizations that Dreiser felt were responsible for the lack of economic equity in American society. Gathering together a large amount of raw data, he focused his attack on large corporations, religious and educational institutions, the depositories of wealth, and the leisure class in the United States. In 1932, he thought he had found a vehicle for his views in the American Spectator, a new journal whose editorial board included Eugene O'Neill and George Jean Nathan. Dreiser withdrew after a year, protesting that the magazine was too literary and not concerned enough with the vital social issues of the day.

(11) Jerome Loving, The Last Titan: A Life of Theodore Dreiser (2005)

Mencken later branded Dreiser's membership in the Party as "an unimportant detail in his life". Yet Dreiser considered himself a full-fledged communist and a "Bolshevik". His political activities since the early 1930s had clearly been in concert with ostensible communist aims with regard to the working class. And not long before he took up formal membership, he had received a check from the Soviet Union for the equivalent of $34,600 in back royalties.

In a letter to the recently installed head of the American Communist Party, William Z. Foster, which Dreiser approved if in fact he didn't altogether compose, he cited his reasons for joining the party. As Helen noted, besides his link with the common man, he thought that communists around the world had stood up to the evils of fascism. He also felt that as an artist he wasn't alone, citing the party memberships of Pablo Picasso of Spain, Louis Aragon of France, Martin Andersen Nexo of Denmark, and Sean O'Casey of Ireland. "Belief in the greatness and dignity of Man has been the guiding principle of my life and work. The logic of my life and work leads me therefore to apply for membership in the Communist

Party."

Dreiser may have also chosen to become a formal member of the party because of the harassment he had received from the FBI and what was to become the Congressional Committee for Un-American Activities. The latter was already looking askance at the movie industry for its alleged sympathies with communism.