Blacklisted writers get overdue credits

August 04, 1996|By David Robb | David Robb,HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

The Writers Guild of America has revised its official records and awarded screen-writing credits to three writers who were denied them during the blacklist era.

The guild is awarding credit to Michael Wilson for "Friendly Persuasion," to Abraham Polonsky for "Odds Against Tomorrow" and to Bernard Gordon for "Day of the Triffids."

The new credits are part of the guild's continuing effort to correct the official records of writers who were blacklisted during the late 1940s through the early 1960s. Perhaps as many as 100 films were written or co-written by uncredited blacklisted writers, but until now, the guild has only restored credits for the writers of seven films: Albert Maltz for "Broken Arrow"; Ned Young for "The Defiant Ones"; Dalton Trumbo for "The Brave One," "Roman Holiday" and "Gun Crazy"; Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman for "The Bridge on the River Kwai"; and most recently, a shared credit for Wilson on "Lawrence of Arabia."

Wilson, who died in 1978, was blacklisted in 1951 after refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Abe Polonsky is receiving credit for co-writing "Odds Against Tomorrow," a 1959 United Artists release about a bank heist that goes sour because of racial hatred among the robbers.

The film's original screen-writing credit was given to John O. Killens and Nelson Gidding, but according to the WGA, "Mr. Killens acted as a front for Abraham Polonsky."

The official credits for "Odds Against Tomorrow" will now read: "Screenplay by Abraham Polonsky and Nelson Gidding."

Bernard Gordon was one of the most prolific blacklisted writers during the 1950s. Although the WGA is now giving him credit for "Day of the Triffids," the guild's own records reveal that he also wrote or co-wrote at least eight other films under pseudonyms.

Philip Yordan, the producer of "Day of the Triffids," was the only credited writer on the 1962 sci-fi classic; the film starred Howard XTC Keel as a scientist battling man-eating plants from outer space. Yordan, however, has acknowledged that his name was put on the film -- and Gordon's taken off -- because of the blacklist.

Pub Date: 8/04/96

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