Michael Hollister

        Michael A. Hollister
Novelist & Critic


Patrick Garry, novelist

Apocalypse Now
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Big Chill
Billy Budd
The Bostonians
Citizen Kane
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Coming Home
Daisy Miller
The Day of the Locust
Dr. Strangelove
Easy Rider
A Farewell to Arms
The Front
Gone with the Wind
Good Night, and Good Luck
The Graduate
The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Gatsby
Guilty by Suspicion
High Noon
Huckleberry Finn
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Key Largo
The Majestic
Meet John Doe
The Old Man and the Sea
On the Waterfront
The Player
The Red Badge of Courage
The Scarlet Letter
The Shrike, based on Miss Lonelyhearts
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Sun Also Rises
Triumph of the Will
The Way We Were
Wise Blood
The Wizard of Oz
The World According to Garp

Peter Carafiol
Free Speech
Hollywood Novels
Communist propaganda
(Film review excerpt from novel Hollyworld)

Guilty by Suspicion

    In gratitude for all [his grandmother Sarah Eisley] did for him, he invited her to accompany him to a movie downtown called Guilty by Suspicion. He wanted to do a paper on it for a course. She thanked him, but declined, saying that she would rather not watch propaganda. She had read that the original story was about experiences of the Communist screenwriter Abe Polansky, a geeky bald guy in thick glasses. Polansky is played by the handsome Robert DeNiro and the movie turns him from a Communist into an innocent liberal.

    That evening he walked downtown to the theater.

    Afterward, in his paper, he replied to a review by the most prominent movie critic on television, the pudgy and pink-faced Roger Ebert, who called it one of the best pictures he had ever seen. Ebert's book of reviews was an ongoing bestseller. Burke pointed out that, contrary to Ebert, liberals were not blacklisted, nobody was blacklisted for attending a few meetings of anything, Dalton Trumbo was a screenwriter not a director, the star Gary Cooper testified against Communists not for them, the Blacklist ended in the fifties not the seventies, Senator Joe McCarthy did in fact identify Communist spies in sensitive government jobs, and Communists were not asked to name other Communists for legal reasons, as Ebert supposes, but simply in order to prove their loyalty to the United States.

    Ebert claims that the hearings "did not really further the campaign against subversion." In rebuttal, Burke quoted Edward Dymytrk, the 20th Century Fox director and former Communist, who testified that the hearings stopped the Reds from taking over all the unions in the motion picture industry, which would have given control of content to our enemy the Soviet Union. Ebert sides with the totalitarians and declares that history has vindicated the Communists who refused to cooperate with the United States. He did not notice the execution of the Rosenbergs, nor the fall of the Berlin Wall, nor the end of the Soviet Union, nor the jubilation expressed by the millions of people liberated from Communist tyranny, nor the translation of secret Soviet cables in the Venona Project that vindicated both the House Committee and Senator McCarthy. As a propagandist for Red Hollywood, so faithful to the Great Blowfish that he had grown to resemble it, Ebert says the House Committee was "opposed to what this nation stands for." He does not even capitalize the word Communist, reducing it to a harmless general belief, rather than acknowledging that it is the most destructive ideology in history, responsible for almost a century of untold human suffering.

    The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, representing forty-six countries, eventually recognized over a hundred million dead victims and strongly condemned totalitarian Communist regimes for "massive human rights violations" during the twentieth century, including assassinations, executions, concentration camp deaths, deportation, starvation, torture, slave labor "and other forms of mass physical terror." The resolution was proposed by a Swede, passed by a margin of over two to one and was fiercely opposed by the Communist parties and other leftists in France of course, as well as in Belgium, Spain, Greece and Russia, where half the population still admired Stalin. Opponents called the resolution "McCarthyism."

    Roger Ebert did not get to vote.

Hollyworld, pages 323-24.

Three historical novels dramatize Hollywood's global influence from the 1930s to the present age of terrorism, through the life stories of Sarah McCloud, a farm girl from Oregon, and Ryan Eisley, the son of a beer distributor from Ohio.

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Hollywood and spirituality in the 1930s. The first marriages of Sarah and Ryan illustrate effects of popular culture on morality. When her husband Burke leaves her, Sarah must separate from her little boy and goes to work in a defense plant. Ryan rises from gas pump attendant to movie director at the Fox studio, with sordid adventures at a Hollywood brothel and an orgy hosted by a horror star. He adapts stories pertinent to his life, including a comic biopic of theologian Jonathan Edwards. Their lives converge to an inspirational ending as the nation rallies after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, a time when Americans felt united as a country. In the climax, Burke fights in the battle of Tarawa. (2004)  
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Hollywood in the 1940s-50s, with deep focus on directors, writers and politics. Sarah marries Ryan and they produce independent films adapting American classics, while she tries to overcome his infidelities with scripts and actresses. Their lives and films dramatize the dominant political and aesthetic conflicts in Hollywood. Their first collaboration is a true untold story of heroism by black tank commanders in WWII. Then they become involved on both sides of the Blacklist scandal with Women in Hemingway starring John Huston, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Tracy and Hepburn influence them while making Blithedale, Orson Welles takes over their Pierre and Stalin courts Judy Garland in their Flowering Judas. (2005)  
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Click Book to Order
The Eisleys film Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, then during the 1960s Ryan turns countercultural and documents the black civil rights, hippie and anti-Vietnam War movements. Their son Davin serves as a medic in Vietnam, while Sarah tries to hold their family together, becomes a film critic in San Francisco, then moves to Portland and enters the Hollyworld of higher education. Their story is interwoven with films including Billy Budd, Dr. Strangelove, The Graduate, Woodstock, Easy Rider, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters, Apocalypse Now, Reds, The Big Chill, The Player and The Passion. It exposes Communist propaganda movies, ridicules political correctness, satirizes Marxist movie stars and professors and culminates with the Iraq War. (2006)  
Peter Carafiol
Free Speech
Hollywood Novels
Communist propaganda