Albert Maltz (1947)
October 28, 1908|
Brooklyn, New York
|Died||April 26, 1985
Los Angeles, California
|Occupation||Fiction writer and screenwriter|
Albert Maltz (October 28, 1908 – April 26, 1985) was an American playwright, fiction writer and screenwriter. He was one of the Hollywood Ten who were jailed in 1950 for their 1947 refusal to testify before the US Congress about their involvement with the US Communist Party. They and many other US entertainment industry figures were subsequently blacklisted, which denied Maltz employment in the industry for many years.
Born into an affluent Jewish family, in Brooklyn, New York, Maltz was educated at Columbia University and the Yale School of Drama. He became a communist out of conviction, later telling an interviewer: "I also read the Marxist classics. I still think it to be the noblest set of ideals ever penned by man.... Where else in political literature do you find thinkers saying that we were going to end all forms of human exploitation? Wage exploitation, exploitation of women by men, the exploitation of people of colour by white peoples, the exploitation of colonial countries by imperialist countries. And Marx spoke of the fact that socialism will be the kingdom of freedom, where man realizes himself in a way that humankind has never seen before. This was an inspiring body of literature to read."
During the 1930s, Maltz worked as a playwright for the Theater Union, which was "an organization of theater artists and [pro-Communist] political activists who mounted professional productions of plays oriented towards working people and their middle-class allies." In 1932, his play Merry Go Round was adapted for a film. At the Theater Union he met Margaret Larkin (1899–1967), whom he married in 1937. He won the 1938 O. Henry Award for "The Happiest Man on Earth", a short story published in Harper's Magazine, and a collection of short fiction The Way Things Are, and Other Stories was published the same year. These writings and his 1940 novel The Underground Stream are considered works of proletarian literature.
In 1944 he published the novel The Cross and the Arrow, about which Jerry Belcher noted that it was "a best seller chronicling German resistance to the Nazi regime. It was distributed in a special Armed Forces edition to more than 150,000 American fighting men during World War II." In 1970 he published a new collection of short stories Afternoon in the Jungle.
After working on Casablanca, Maltz' first screenwriting credit was for This Gun for Hire (1942). He worked regularly as a screenwriter until his blacklisting; his last assignment for some years was The Robe (1953), although he didn't receive a credit until decades later. In 1960, Frank Sinatra engaged Maltz to write a screenplay for The Execution of Private Slovik, but in the end Sinatra was pressured into dismissing Maltz from the project. Maltz was finally employed again on Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), which was a vehicle for the popular actors Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine. His last credit (as John B. Sherry) is for Hangup (1974).
For his script for the 1945 film Pride of the Marines, Maltz was nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay. His screenplay for Broken Arrow won the 1951 Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Western. However, due to his blacklisting at the time, fellow MPAA screenwriter Michael Blankfort agreed to put his own name on the script in place of Maltz's as the only way to get it accepted by any of the Hollywood movie studios, and as such, Blankfort was named the winner. In 1991, in the course of correcting screen credits for blacklisted screenwriters, the Writers Guild of America officially recognized Maltz as the only credited screenwriter for Broken Arrow.
Ostracism within the CPUSA and recantation
In February 1946 Maltz published an article (written in October 1945) for the The New Masses in which he criticized fellow Communist writers for producing lower-quality work, owing to their placing political concerns above artistic ones. He also referred positively in his article to the work of James T. Farrell, a Trotskyist. This article brought upon Maltz venomous attacks from fellow CPUSA members, both in print and in person at party meetings. He was accused of "Browderism" and in order to retain his good standing with the party he had to humiliate himself by publishing in the Daily Worker a rebuttal of his own article. Furthermore, he "publicly denounced himself onstage at a writer’s symposium chaired by party members."
- The Way Things Are, and Other Stories (1938)
- The Underground Stream (1940)
- The Cross and the Arrow (1944)
- The Journey of Simon McKeever (1949)
- A Long Day in a Short Life (1957)
This filmography is based on the Internet Movie Database listings.
- This Gun for Hire (1942)
- The House I Live In (1945)
- Pride of the Marines (1945)
- Cloak and Dagger (1946)
- The Red House (1947)
- The Naked City (1948)
- Broken Arrow (1950) (originally uncredited)
- The Robe (1953) (originally uncredited)
- Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970)
- The Beguiled (1971) (as John B. Sherry)
- Scalawag (1973)
- Hangup (1974) (as John B. Sherry)
- Fraser, C. Gerald (April 29, 1985). "Albert Maltz, a screenwriter blacklisted by industry, dies". The New York Times.
- Belcher, Jerry (April 28, 1985). "Writer Albert Maltz, One of the 'Hollywood 10,' Dies". The Los Angeles Times.
- Hyman, Collette (1996). "Politics meet popular entertainment". In Mullen, Bill; Linkon, Sherry Lee. Radical Revisions: Rereading 1930s Culture. University of Illinois. p. 211. ISBN 9780252065057.
- Albert Maltz at the Internet Movie Database
- "Margaret Larkin, Writer, 67, Dead". The New York Times. May 11, 1967. Subscription required.
- Maltz, Albert (1970). Afternoon in the jungle; the selected short stories of Albert Maltz. New York: Liveright. p. 218. ISBN 0871405253. LCCN 74131272.
- Internet Movie Database: WGA Awards for 1951
- "Corrected Blacklist Credits (as of 7/17/00)". Writers Guild of America, West. Archived from the original on 2008-06-16.
- Maltz, Albert (1983). The Citizen Writer in Retrospect. Regents of the University of California (Archive.org). Retrieved 31 August 2014.
- Capshaw, Ron (October 27, 2016). "The Recantation of Albert Maltz: A Pre-History of PC Stalinism". Tablet.
- Burnett, Colin (2013). "The "Albert Maltz Affair" and the Debate over Para-Marxist Formalism in New Masses, 1945–1946". Journal of American Studies. 48 (1): 223–250. doi:10.1017/S0021875813000728.
- Maltz, Albert; Gardner, Joel; Ceplair, Larry (1983). Hollywood blacklist oral history transcript, 1975–1979 : Albert Maltz. UCLA Library. Transcript of 36 hours of interviews archived at the UCLA Center for Oral History Research. Gardner wrote that the interview was essentially Maltz' dictated autobiography.
- Dick, Bernard F. (1989). "Albert Maltz: Asking of Writers". Radical Innocence: A Critical Study of the Hollywood 10. University Press of Kentucky. p. 82. ISBN 9780813133577. A careful, extended study of Maltz' plays, short stories, novels, and screenplays.
- Miller, Gabriel (2005). "Albert Maltz (1908-1985)". In Lauter, Paul. Heath Anthology of American Literature: Fifth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved 2013-08-15. Maltz' story, "The Happiest Man on Earth", was included in this anthology, and Miller wrote a short biography of Maltz to accompany the story.