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Archive for July 16th, 2016

manchuriancandidate-41

by John Greco

Frank Sinatra was never shy about expressing his political beliefs. As far back as 1945, he made The House I Live, an eleven minute short film with a plea for tolerance. By 1960, Frank was back on top of the entertainment world. He was one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood. Still a political liberal, Sinatra wanted to produce and direct a serious film. He chose William Bradford Huie’s non-fiction book, The Execution of Private Slovik (1954), the story of the only American soldier executed since the Civil War. Sinatra hired Albert Maltz, who coincidently happened to have written the The House I Live In script to do the adaptation. Maltz was one of the original Hollywood Ten blacklisted in Hollywood. By 1960, HUAC and the witch hunts were over, though remnants of the stink it created remained. Many writers still could not get a job, at least under their own name.

After it was announced that Maltz would adapt the controversial novel, a political storm began with the winds blowing from both the left and right, all heading straight at producer Frank Sinatra.  John F. Kennedy was running for President and the Kennedy family feared a backlash would hurt JFK’s chances. On the right, Eisenhower was in his last year as leader of the free world with his lap dog Nixon anxiously waiting to take the throne. While researching the story of Eddie Slovik, author William Bradford Huie discovered that Eisenhower had given approval for the execution to proceed after turning down a direct plea from Slovik for clemency. The Republicans did not want to stir up old wounds fearing it would hurt Nixon’s chances of reaching the White House. The pressure kept mounting on Sinatra and he eventually dropped the project.[1]
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