The Cold War Examined Essay

This essay has a total of 1166 words and 5 pages.

The Cold War Examined

The Cold War had an incredibly profound effect on the United States. It effected the
country politically, economically, as well as culturally.

Use High Noon as an allegory of the 1950s to examine issues of conformity, individualism,
community, and political commitment in the context of Congressional investigations such as
that of HUAC into the activities of the Hollywood 10. In this scenario, Marshal Will Kane
represents individuals who were willing to confront the political investigations of HUAC,
while the townspeople who deserted him may represent liberals who were afraid of being
blacklisted or censured.

Use On the Waterfront as an allegory of why some witnesses deemed it proper to name names
before Congressional committees. Director Elia Kazan did appear as a cooperative witness
before HUAC, and the film may be interpreted as a justification for his actions. Thus,
Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) decides he must inform on his former friends in a corrupt
waterfront union led by Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb, who may represent the Communist
party and the policies of Joseph Stalin.)

In the context of the pressure put on Hollywood by HUAC to "name names" and implicate
associates who may have been involved in left wing causes, films began to explore the
theme of informing. One such example, On the Waterfront (1954), was directed by Elia
Kazan, who had earlier decided to cooperate with HUAC. The decision by longshoreman Terry
Malloy (Marlon Brando) to expose the fraudulent activities of the union, led by Johnny
Friendly (Lee J. Cobb), may be perceived as justification for Kazan's denouncing of a
corrupt Stalinist Communist party. On the other hand, Carl Foreman's script for High Noon,
which John Wayne called un-American, can be read as a condemnation of Hollywood's failure
to take a stand against political censorship. In this allegory, the Miller gang represents
HUAC, while Marshal Will Kane stands for the Hollywood Ten deserted by the townspeople and
the liberals respectively. Foreman's success with High Noon earned Oscar nominations for
the film, but the screenwriter was placed on the blacklist. In the end, this western
reveals little about the history of the frontier, but a great deal regarding the
ideological and political fallout from the Cold War.

While the allegorical devices used in On the Waterfront and High Noon were obvious to the
Hollywood community, they were often lost on film audiences for whom the insecurities of
the Cold War were better addressed in science-fiction films.

With the advent of the civil rights movement, near nuclear war in the Cuban missile
crisis, the assassination of John Kennedy, war in Vietnam, and the rise of a
counter-culture, many films of the 1960s began to question the assumptions of the Cold
War, anticommunism, and consensus values. In Dr. Strangelove (1964), director Stanley
Kubrick suggests that the emperor wears no clothes, and that the establishment is not only
irrational but leading us to destruction. According to the films of the 1950s,
anticommunism would protect us against subversion, but in Dr. Strangelove the communist
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