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One of the Hollywood Ten (2000)

20 Apr

109m; Spain

Director: Karl Francis

Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Greta Scacchi and Ángela Molina

Synopsis (Wikipedia): The film opens at the 1937 Academy Awards, where Biberman’s wife, Gale Sondergaard (Greta Scacchi), wins the first ever “Best Supporting Actress” Oscar. Although the anti-Fascist sentiment in her acceptance speech gets her labeled a “commie” by some observers, she and Biberman (Jeff Goldblum) are placed under contract at Warner Bros. He first comes under scrutiny more for his Jewish background than his political activities. Yet, with Cold War paranoia growing, a group of Hollywood directors and actors — Biberman, Sondergaard, Danny Kaye, and Dalton Trumbo among them—are labeled Communists and questioned before Congress. After refusing to testify against his colleagues, he is imprisoned in the Federal Correctional Institution at Texarkana for a period of six months. Once released, he discovers his Hollywood career is finished.

Sondergaard suggests her husband direct a screenplay about the real-life 1950-51 strike waged by Mexican-American miners against the Empire Zinc Company in Bayard, New Mexico written by Michael Wilson, also a victim of the blacklist, and Biberman’s brother Michael. She feels the lead role of Esperanza Quintero, who rallied the wives of the unemployed miners and urged them to support their husbands, is an ideal way to jump-start her stagnating career. Biberman agrees, but after meeting with the people who participated in the strike and being inspired by their passion, he decides all roles should be played by ethnic actors. Because the film has no studio backing and most Hollywood players fear being associated with Biberman and the project, he eventually casts local residents from Grant County, New Mexico and members of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, Local 890 to fill most of the roles. Juan Chacón, the Union Local president, is cast as the fiery Ramon Quintero opposite Mexican actress Rosaura Revueltas as his wife Esperanza. Will Geer is one of only five Hollywood actors to accept a role in the production.

The FBI investigates the film’s financing, attempts to steal the film’s negatives, tells film-processing labs not to work on the film when they are unable to locate them, incites locals who are unhappy with the film crew’s presence to set fire to many of the sets, and eventually deports Revueltas on bogus charges. Biberman stands his ground and completes the film, using scenes with Revueltas that were shot in her native Mexico and then smuggled into the US.

Contact: Director Karl Francis: info@karlfrancis.com Jeff Goldblum’s agent: Keith Addi, johnb@industryentertainment.com

 

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