Hollywood screenwriter Walter Bernstein passes away


Screenwriter Walter Bernstein, among the many final survivors of Hollywood’s anti-Communist blacklist whose Oscar-nominated script for The Front drew upon his years of being unable to work beneath his personal title, died on Saturday. He was 101.

The trigger was pneumonia, in accordance with his spouse, the literary agent Gloria Loomis.

A World War II correspondent for the army who additionally had been revealed in The New Yorker, Walter Bernstein was in the beginning of what appeared a promising movie profession when the Cold War and anti-Communist paranoia led to his being blacklisted in 1950, a destiny which ruined the lives of a lot of his friends and led some to suicide. Job gives to Bernstein had been rescinded and onetime mates stopped talking to him. FBI brokers seemed by way of his trash, confirmed up at his door and adopted him outdoors.

“I was starting to look around when I left my house, looking over my shoulder when I walked down the street, bracing myself for the inevitable encounter,” he wrote in his memoir Inside Out revealed in 1996. “Even expecting it, I was startled when it came, and there would be the sudden sour taste of fear for a moment and then a shaming wave of anger, not at them but at myself for being afraid. I could never really get angry at them. They were only doing their job, like delivering milk.”

Unwilling to offer the House Un-American Activities Committee names of suspected Communists, the best way director Elia Kazan and others had been spared from banishment, Bernstein discovered employment by way of the usage of “fronts,” folks keen to lend their names (and obtain a part of the proceeds) for scripts he had written.

His fronts included an actor’s spouse hoping to assist her husband break by way of in motion pictures and a good friend of a good friend, a man named Leo, who had a playing behavior to help. Few had been conscious at any given time that Bernstein had contributed to such hit CBS tv sequence because the crime drama Danger and to You Are There, hosted by Walter Cronkite and that includes re-enactments of historic occasions starting from the Boston Tea Party to the dying of Cleopatra.

While many had been blacklisted only for supporting left-wing causes, Bernstein really was a member of the American Communist Party and remained so till 1956, when the Soviet Union invaded Hungary and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev revealed the various brutalities of Joseph Stalin, who had died three years earlier. Bernstein would bear in mind his choice with “relief” over not abiding Soviet dogma and “sadness” for the individuals who had been fellow idealists.

“I had left the Party, but not the idea of socialism,” he wrote in his memoir, “the possibility that there could be a system not based on inequality and exploitation.”

The blacklist started to weaken within the late ’50s and ended for Walter Bernstein in 1959 with That Kind of Woman, starring Sophia Loren. He was quickly engaged on The Magnificent Seven, the Hollywood adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s basic Seven Samurai, and on an A-list movie that led to tragedy, Something’s Gotta Give. Marilyn Monroe was forged as a shipwreck survivor who returns to her husband and youngsters after being presumed misplaced. But Monroe was typically late or absent altogether from the set and was fired in June 1962. Two months later, she was discovered useless from an obvious suicide.

In the Seventies, Bernstein was in a position to make use of his personal story for what grew to become his most acclaimed undertaking, The Front, starring Woody Allen as a stand-in for blacklisted writers and that includes Bernstein’s good friend Zero Mostel, who additionally had been ostracized within the ’50s. Bernstein obtained an Academy Award nomination in 1977 and a Writers Guild of America prize for finest display screen drama. Around the identical time, Allen gave him an performing cameo within the Oscar-winning Annie Hall.

His different writing credit included the Burt Reynolds soccer comedy Semi-Tough and movies by such previous mates as Martin Ritt (The Front, The Molly Maguires, a narrative of rebelling miners he as soon as cited as his private favourite) and Sidney Lumet (Fail-Safe). Bernstein himself directed Little Miss Marker, a 1980 launch primarily based on the Damon Runyon brief story.

In 1994, he obtained a lifetime achievement award from the Eastern department of the Screen Writers Guild. Into his 90s, he taught screenwriting at New York University and was an adviser to the movie college on the Sundance Institute, based by Robert Redford.

Walter Bernstein was married 4 occasions, most just lately to Loomis, and had 5 youngsters. Over his lengthy life, he additionally loved an eclectic vary of mates and acquaintances, from authors Irwin Shaw and Shirley Jackson to songwriter Irving Berlin and actress Bette Davis, who, Bernstein was shocked to be taught, shared his admiration for the writings of Karl Marx. “The most wonderful books,” she referred to as them.

Descended from Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Bernstein was born and raised in New York City and by his teenagers had discovered his passions for motion pictures and politics. As an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, he reviewed motion pictures for the campus newspaper till he was fired for panning the favored 1937 fantasy Lost Horizon. In his spare time, he learn Marx and Engels, Steinbeck and Dreiser, and sought out movies by Sergei Eisenstein and different Russian administrators.

“The books had opened my head,” he wrote. “The movies opened my heart.”

He was drafted in 1941 and spent a lot of World War II as a reporter for the Army publication Yank, submitting dispatches from the Middle East, Sicily and Yugoslavia, the place he grew to become the primary American to interview the nation’s longtime chief, Josip Broz Tito. After the warfare ended, in 1945, he joined the employees of The New Yorker and obtained a 10-week contract to work for Columbia Pictures in Hollywood. He stayed 10 months, lengthy sufficient to be observed by authorities brokers and to find his love for motion pictures wasn’t dispelled by studying how they had been made.

“I had been initiated into the mystery, participated in the sacred process,” he wrote in his memoir. “Making a movie was like building a cathedral, the hard and skilled work of many hands. Then you looked at it when it was finished and, if you were blessed, you saw Chartres. If not, you saw St. Patrick’s on Fifth Avenue. It was still a cathedral. Even as an acolyte, I could still enter the dark, embracing cave and feel mysteriously freed.”


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