The 1940s and 1950s represented an intensely political period for Hollywood as the US fought a global war against fascism then embarked on a Cold War against ‘international communism’. For much of the 1930s, despite the politicisation of a number of writers, actors and directors and despite pressure from the guilds and a number of anti-fascist organisations, Hollywood was slow to deal with the emerging threat posed by Nazi Germany. With the exception of Warner Bros., which responded early on to Nazi anti-Semitism, the interest of the studios in the march of fascism tended only to increase in step with the closing of markets in fascist countries. Following on from Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), a personal project of Harry Warner’s that dramatised the domestic threat posed by the German– American Bund, came a trickle of anti-Nazi films, among them Foreign Correspondent, The Great Dictator and The Mortal Storm, all of which were produced and released in 1940. At the same time, though, a Congressional Committee on ‘Un-American Activities’, which had first been created in 1934, began to shift its attention away from American fascists and towards those on the Left. Reflecting growing political opposition to Roosevelt and the New Deal, Martin Dies, a conservative Texas Democrat, proposed investigating Communism in Hollywood as early as 1939. The following year, his House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC, though then called the Dies Committee) visited Los Angeles and conducted a series of hearings. A good deal of publicity was created and a number of prominent film stars, among them Fredric March and James Cagney, appeared before Dies to clear themselves from highly speculative and poorly researched charges that they harboured Communist Party sympathies. 1