chapter  1
14 Pages

Introduction: HUAC, Hollywood and the Evolution of the Red Menace

Often referred to as “a golden era,” the 1930’s were a glorious time for the movie industry, an industry that stood as arguably the most recognizable in the world. Hollywood, for millions across the globe, symbolized a “dream factory,” a mythological Eden where stars roamed pristine streets awash in Southern California’s tender sun. It was the hallmark of the California “image,” a place of both physical and mystical lore that not only produced “dreams,” but in itself represented one. “There in the studio the dream reawakened,” commented Edmund Morris on young Ronald Reagan’s arrival at Republic Productions studio in the spring of 1936, “it was a dream that had possessed him more than seven years before, of being ‘carried into a new world’ where things really mattered.”1 Hollywood was more than just the films it produced. As a place, it represented the heartbeat of a numinous universe where sun, sand, and eternal warmth lured curious souls in search of fame, fortune, and adventure in a certified land of enchantment. It was a city within a city, a “paradise,” an urban jungle of “blue-trunked trees, tiled and whitewashed houses obscenely brilliant with bougainvillea,” towering palms and majestic hills.2