Film in Context: I was a Communist for the FBI

Dan Leab looks at a classic Cold War movie and the shadowy figure who inspired it.

The icy moment marking the outbreak of the Cold War after 1945 remains a matter of vigorous debate. Yet, whatever the many controversies about the outbreak of this 'war' and US responsibility for it, there can be no doubt that by the late 1940s the Cold War was being waged fiercely at home and abroad by the Truman administration. Anti-Communist hysteria marred American life. Among the forces heightening the social paranoia were self-appointed vigilante groups such as the American Legion and the Catholic War Veterans, parts of the media including powerful reactionary press lords and journalists, and various federal and state legislative investigating committees, most notably the Un-American Activities Committee of the House of Representatives (HUAC).

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