1960 January 20

Hollywood Blacklist Broken: Producer Otto Preminger Credits Dalton Trumbo for “Exodus” Script


Hollywood Producer/Director Otto Preminger announced on this day that blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo would receive full credit for the script of his film, Exodus. Preminger’s announcement was a major step in ending the blacklist of Hollywood writers and directors.

At about the same time, Kirk Douglas hired Trumbo to write the script for Spartacus. The release of Exodus was delayed until early 1960, and so when Spartacus was released in late 1960 it was the first time since he had been blacklisted that Trumbo’s name appeared on screen as a screen writer.

Trumbo had appeared before HUAC on October 28, 1947, and was cited for contempt and eventually imprisoned and blacklisted. The Hollywood blacklist began on December 3, 1947 following the stormy HUAC hearings in October, where ten screenwriters and directors refused to answer questions about the political associations.

Exodus was the first film to bear Trumbo’s name since Emergency Wedding in 1950. Trumbo won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for The Brave One under the pseudonym “Robert Rich” on March 27, 1957. The Academy finally awarded Trumbo his Oscar on May 2, 1975.

Otto Preminger also took several other moves to challenge censorship under the Hollywood Production Code (see July 8, 1953; October 24, 1954).

In addition to Trumbo, some of the other notable Hollywood figures who were blacklisted were Ring Lardner, who after the blacklist ended, became famous as the author of the script for M*A*SH, which also became a very successful television series (see his testimony on October 30, 1947); and Michael Wilson who, after the blacklist ended, inserted a wicked parody of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the original film of PLanet of the Apes, which was released on February 8, 1968.

See Trumbo’s encounter with HUAC, which led to the Blacklist:

Learn about Trumbo’s life and career: Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo, Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical (2015)

See the 2015 film: Trumbo (2015)

Watch an Interview with Preminger:

Read: Foster Hirsch, Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King (2007)

Learn more about Otto Preminger: Otto Preminger, Preminger: An Autobiography (1977)

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