Monday, June 1, 2009

post-WW2: separate & professional but still fighting like a unit

Ian McLellan Hunter, blacklisted in the U.S. and writing teleplays and screenplays in England and Europe under assumed names (including Samuel B. West), wrote and/or helped write two episodes of the British TV series, The Four Just Men, based on 1921 and 1939 films that had been based on Edgar Wallace's novel Just Men. In the novel, four British veterans of WWI pledge to use their different professional specialties to fight postwar injustice. In the 1959-60 series the four are WW2 vets, spread out now that the war is long done but still fighting like a unit.

"Crime and mystery series that starred Jack Hawkins (as British M.P. Ben Manfred), Hollywood song and dance man Dan Dailey (as US journalist Tim Collier -who was based in Paris), Richard Conte (as New York Professor of Law, Jeff Ryder) and Vittorio de Sica (as Italian hotelier Ricco Poccari) all of whom had been members of the same unit during the war. They took turns each week in tackling an injustice (the episode being set in either London, New York, Paris or Rome) and each was aided by a female assistant, one of whom was future 'Avenger' Honor Blackman."

This show was a production of ITC and also of Sapphire Films. Sapphire was the group that put out "Adventures of Robin Hood," which had a pinko coloring to it and for which Ian Hunter also wrote.

great society before Great Society

Don't you love how planful & totalizingly synthetic--willing to generalize--intellectuals were circa 1960? This quality becomes more and more remarkable to me the further into the details of the books and projects of the time I get.

Howard Mumford Jones took over the American Council of Learned Societies in 1955 (ACLS was in turmoil then) and by 1960 he published a book to make the case generally. Imagine an intellectual today talking about one society? Humanities saves all.

Nicholas Joost and the 1920s rage

Nicholas Joost had been a Chicago-area professor and, for several years in the early 50s, was an associate editor at Poetry magazine. After a while his main interest became The Dial, the avant-garde magazine whose heyday had been the 1920s. Eventually he would write several books about the Dial but first, from 1956 through 1960, he helped prepare a major exhibit on the Dial put on at the Worcester Museum (in Massachusetts). Joost's manuscripts (at Georgetown) include correspondence of the late fifties and they seem (to judge from the finding aid) almost entirely taken up with the Dial exhibit. I haven't seen the exhibit catalogue for the show, which opened in '59 and ran through part of '60, but I'm soon going to be in touch with the folks now at Worcester, get a copy of the catalogue and find out what institutional records they have kept. I've long been curious about specific reasons why the 1920s were so much the rage in the mid and late 1950s, why specifically Fitzgerald's fiction had such a comeback, why American modernists circa 1925 was of such great interest. This Dial show and its reception will, I think, give me some further clues.