Adrian Scott was born into a middle-class Irish Catholic family in Arlington, New Jersey, on 6th February, 1912. He worked as a writer on various magazines before moving to Hollywood. Scott wrote Keeping Company (1940), The Parson of Panamint (1941), We Go Fast (1941) and Mr. Lucky (1943).
Scott now became a producer where he helped to create the genre later known as "film noir". Movies produced by Scott included My Pal Wolf (1944), Murder, My Sweet (1944), Cornered (1945), Deadline at Dawn (1946), So Well Remembered (1947) and Crossfire (1947), a film that won four Academy Awards.
After the Second World War the House of Un-American Activities Committee began an investigation into the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry. In September 1947, the HUAC interviewed 41 people who were working in Hollywood. These people attended voluntarily and became known as "friendly witnesses". During their interviews they named several people who they accused of holding left-wing views.
Scott appeared before the HUAC on 28th October, 1947, but like Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Dalton Trumbo, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Samuel Ornitz and Ring Lardner Jr, refused to answer any questions. Known as the Hollywood Ten, they claimed that the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution gave them the right to do this. The House of Un-American Activities Committee and the courts during appeals disagreed and all were found guilty of contempt of Congress and Scott was sentenced to twelve months in Ashland Federal Correctional Institution and fined $1,000.
Scott married Joan LaCour, the executive secretary of the Television Writers of America in 1955. As Scott was blacklisted his wife agreed to submit his work under the name Joanne Court. Patrick McGilligan, the film historian who co-authored Tender Comrades (1997) has claimed: "I think of her as a stand-in for all the wives - and, in some cases, husbands - who were affected by the blacklist profoundly, horribly in her case, and never found their voice. Joan found her voice partly as a consequence of the blacklist, as a front for her husband. She emerged as a very sharp writer in her own right, not Oscar-nominated or famous but with a very interesting career." This included writing for television programmes such as Adventures of Robin Hood, Ironside and Lassie.
Blacklisted by the Hollywood film studios, Scott sued RKO Pictures for wrongful dismissal. The case continued until rejected by the Supreme Court in 1957. The couple moved to London but after the blacklist was broken by Dalton Trumbo, the writer of Spartacus (1960), Scott was invited back to Hollywood by Jennings Lang, who was supervising new products at Universal Studio. Joan later recalled: "He was deliriously happy. I was not. I wept all the way back on the plane; he was ecstatic to be coming back home and working in Hollywood. It was redemption. I was miserable, but he didn't want to know. I hated change. But also I'd fallen in love with London."
Adrian Scott soon became disillusioned with life in Los Angeles. "He got assigned to work under this little pipsqueak of a kid who was young enough to be his son, an awful young guy. He was not nice and it was such a putdown, so demeaning. And that's when he was 61 and got diagnosed with lung cancer... The triumphant return was a disaster."
Adrian Scott died of lung cancer in Los Angeles, on 25th December, 1973.
There is currently in vogue a thesis pronounced by Dalton Trumbo which declares that everyone during the years of blacklist was equally a victim. This is factual nonsense. Adrian Scott was the producer of the notable film Crossfire in 1947 and Edward Dmytryk was its director. Both of these men refused to co-operate with the HCUA. Both were held in contempt of the HUACand went to jail.
When Dmytryk emerged from his prison term he did so with a new set of principles. He suddenly saw the heavenly light, testified as a friend of the HUAC, praised its purposes and practices and denounced all who opposed it. Dmytryk immediately found work as a director, and has worked all down the years since. Adrian Scott, who came out of prison with his principles intact, could not produce a film for a studio again until 1970. He was blacklisted for 21 years.
Elizabeth Farnsworth: Paul Jarrico, once you found out you were blacklisted, once you could no longer work in Hollywood, what did you do? How did you manage to produce Salt of the Earth.
Paul Jarrico: The hard way. I and Herbert Biberman and Adrian Scott, both of whom were - had been members of the Hollywood Ten and were blacklisted, of course, formed a company to try to use the growing pool of talent of the blacklistees. And we had several projects underway with - that is to say being written and came across - I came across by coincidence - this strike and in New Mexico in which Mexican-American zinc miners were on strike, the company got an injunction, saying that company - that striking miners may not picket - the wives said the injunction doesnt say anything about their wives - well take over your picket line, and the men were reluctant to, as they put it hide behind womens skirts. But there really was no other alternative. The women found themselves on the picket line being attacked by force, arrested in droves.
Elizabeth Farnsworth: And did people try to stop you from making this film?
Paul Jarrico: Well, of course. There was a concerted effort to stop the making of the film after it became known that we were making the film. We had started the film in quite a normal fashion with contracts with Pate Lab to develop our film and rental of the equipment from Hollywood, people who supplied such things. A whistle was blown by Walter Pigeon, the then president of the Actors Guild, and the FBI swung into action and movie industries swung into action and we found ourselves barred from laboratories, barred from sound studios, barred from any of the normal facilities available to film makers, and we found ourselves hounded by all kinds of denunciations on the floor of Congress and by columnists.
The public was told that we were making a new weapon for Russia, that since we were shooting in New Mexico, where you find atom bombs, you find Communists, and every kind of scurrilous attack - vigilante attacks - on us while we were still shooting developed.
Our star, who had come up from Mexico to star in the film - LeSoro Regueltos - was arrested and deported before we were finished shooting her role. We had difficulty getting permission to shoot the remaining scenes with her in Mexico, which we absolutely had to have, and so on.