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Norma Barzman's extraordinary memoir, The Red and the Blacklist, fizzes with the wit and energy of the classic Hollywood comedies of the forties. But it is also laced with the fear and claustrophobia found in the forties film noirs, as Norma and her husband Ben Barzman are driven from Hollywood—during the postwar McCarthyite witch hunt—into an emotionally difficult 30-year Norma Barzman's extraordinary memoir, The Red and the Blacklist, fizzes with the wit and energy of the classic Hollywood comedies of the forties. But it is also laced with the fear and claustrophobia found in the forties film noirs, as Norma and her husband Ben Barzman are driven from Hollywood—during the postwar McCarthyite witch hunt—into an emotionally difficult 30-year exile in France. While their hair-raising and amusing adventures continue, Ben battles depression as he attempts to rehabilitate his career, while frustrating Norma's own aspirations as a writer. She seeks solace in a string of affairs, one of them ending in a pregnancy that she aborts. However, Norma's passion for life, Ben and her seven children, and her radical instincts, shine throughout this dazzling memoir. 20 black-and-white photographs are included.


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Norma Barzman's extraordinary memoir, The Red and the Blacklist, fizzes with the wit and energy of the classic Hollywood comedies of the forties. But it is also laced with the fear and claustrophobia found in the forties film noirs, as Norma and her husband Ben Barzman are driven from Hollywood—during the postwar McCarthyite witch hunt—into an emotionally difficult 30-year Norma Barzman's extraordinary memoir, The Red and the Blacklist, fizzes with the wit and energy of the classic Hollywood comedies of the forties. But it is also laced with the fear and claustrophobia found in the forties film noirs, as Norma and her husband Ben Barzman are driven from Hollywood—during the postwar McCarthyite witch hunt—into an emotionally difficult 30-year exile in France. While their hair-raising and amusing adventures continue, Ben battles depression as he attempts to rehabilitate his career, while frustrating Norma's own aspirations as a writer. She seeks solace in a string of affairs, one of them ending in a pregnancy that she aborts. However, Norma's passion for life, Ben and her seven children, and her radical instincts, shine throughout this dazzling memoir. 20 black-and-white photographs are included.

44 review for The Red and the Blacklist: The Intimate Memoir of a Hollywood Expatriate

  1. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    as a film studies major in college, i had the pleasure of attending a lecture given by norma barzman, discussing the book and her time in hollywood/the entertainment industry. both the lecture and the book fueled a greater passion for hollywood history and an understanding of socialism in america. the book is different enough from a lot of other generic studio-era accounts out there, i felt like i was getting real, first-person behind the scenes knowledge from someone that truly believed mccarth as a film studies major in college, i had the pleasure of attending a lecture given by norma barzman, discussing the book and her time in hollywood/the entertainment industry. both the lecture and the book fueled a greater passion for hollywood history and an understanding of socialism in america. the book is different enough from a lot of other generic studio-era accounts out there, i felt like i was getting real, first-person behind the scenes knowledge from someone that truly believed mccarthy was an ass, unlike most people of that generation who are either dead or still afraid to speak about it. that you just don't get on TCM.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    A wonderful, fascinating, literate memoir about a period of American political history which has long intrigued me. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Norma on the eve of her LA Times book review back in 2003 and found her to be an extraordinarily colorful woman. Her book is a reflection of all that she is -- brilliant, funny, sad, introspective, and honest.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eddie

    Excellent memoir of a Hollywood screenwriter who leaves the US because of the blacklist in the 40s and 50s.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    The edition I read had 443 pages. An amazing chronicle of a talented writing couple who, because politically they drove "left of center" and were named during the McCarthy era as "Fellow Travelers" were forced into exile abroad. In Mr. Ben Barzman's own words: "During the Blacklist and exile, I felt cheated and victimized. I experienced resentment, humiliation and rage. The feelings of exclusion, alienation, and uprootedness never really left me. As a writer, I felt circumscribed, a writer needs The edition I read had 443 pages. An amazing chronicle of a talented writing couple who, because politically they drove "left of center" and were named during the McCarthy era as "Fellow Travelers" were forced into exile abroad. In Mr. Ben Barzman's own words: "During the Blacklist and exile, I felt cheated and victimized. I experienced resentment, humiliation and rage. The feelings of exclusion, alienation, and uprootedness never really left me. As a writer, I felt circumscribed, a writer needs to be steeped in the mainstream of the culture he is writing about. I did not feel I was part if the French community". The possible enactment of Pipa and Sopa make this very relevant to today. Any censorship or criminalization of ideas and suppression of expression undermines the foundation of America. Our society is predicated on the Bill of Rights. Intellectual freedom and artistic expression rely on the First Amendment. The First Amendment is on life support and too many are pulling at the plug. If the plug is pulled, we will find ourselves in a repressive society where book banning will be the norm (already happening in virulent pockets of this Country), revision of history (already happening in the Tucson School District), and neighbors, co-workers, and friends turning you in for "bad speak" or "bad thought"; committees could be formed ad hoc to ferret out free thinkers who will coerce naming of names to go easy on a hapless person who is subpoenaed. Finally, there will be standing committees and freedom of speech will be a crime and our minds will be shackled, afraid to form an original thought lest our families suffer under the threat of starvation due to being unemployable. It is happening here and there. We must wake up and not lose what we still have. A painful, yet hopeful memoir written by Norma Barzman, a woman who lived the life of an exile. Hopeful because, although her writing dried up for two decades, she never quite let the spark be extinguished. There were moments of exhilaration and hilarity. Two couples knew that they would be imminently served subpoenas. They lived a few miles of one another. In the middle of the night, both families moved and switched houses, so that when the Federal Marshals knocked on the door and asked if Mr. X was there, they could honestly answer "No". It was Mr. X's house, but Mr. X was living in Mr. Y's house and it was Mr. Y who answered the door at Mr. X's house. After awhile this grew tedious and they switched back. Wouldn't you know, the Marshals came knocking one night at Mr.X's door and asked for Mr. Y. Mr. X, in his rightful home could answer honestly that he was not Mr. Y. So, it worked! It allowed both couples to flee to France. Brilliant! But, on the other hand, chilling as this happened in Los Angeles within living memory. A must read for anyone: those who lived during the era, the children of parents thwarted during this era, writers, film historians , intellectuals, children of the Cold War and anyone who thinks a little censorship isn't such a bad thing. Personally, I am baffled by the McCarthy era. I have read many books on the subject and still cannot, for the life of me, understand why someone espousing the economic philosophy of Communism posed such a threat to the United States. Never once was it proven that any of those who were questioned by HUAC ever advocated violent over throw of the US Government or agitated to do so. Most were children of the Great Depression who thought there might be an alternative to Capitalism. In this current climate where millions are unemployed and their homes foreclosed upon, seeing the effects of rampant greed and Capitalism squashing the 99%, we are in a petri dish growing the seeds of discontent and encouraging questioning if there is not, perhaps, a better way. If the US is the strongest, wealthiest and most powerful Country on the Planet, what harm could possibly be done by intellectuals exploring other philosophies and alternative economic theories? Isn't that why our ancestors came to this country in the first place? The only answer is that it threatens the bloated salaries of business tycoons, and politicians feeding at the public trough. In a word, greed. But the majority cannot and WILL not allow themselves to be enslaved while their labor lines the pockets of their bosses while they eke out a living on subsistence wages. A tragic era in the not so distant past that can occur again if we abnegate our Freedom of Expression and allow Pipa and Sopa to curtail Internet freedom and make expressive discourse seditious and subversive.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Charles Kerns

    The high point of the book has two Stalinist Hollywood blacklistees screenwriting the movie el Cid one day ahead of shooting for two producers: Trotsky's nephew and an expat Pole stealing money by the bucket, starring Sophia and Chuck-soon-to-be-Moses-and-head-of-the-NRA-Heston (they hate each other), in Franco's Fascist Spain with his army as extras attacking Valencia, all funded by the capitalist Dupont, captain of industry. Also, fear and loathing (House UnAmerican Activities Committee), kiss The high point of the book has two Stalinist Hollywood blacklistees screenwriting the movie el Cid one day ahead of shooting for two producers: Trotsky's nephew and an expat Pole stealing money by the bucket, starring Sophia and Chuck-soon-to-be-Moses-and-head-of-the-NRA-Heston (they hate each other), in Franco's Fascist Spain with his army as extras attacking Valencia, all funded by the capitalist Dupont, captain of industry. Also, fear and loathing (House UnAmerican Activities Committee), kiss and tell (everyone in Hwood), run and hide(in Europe to get away from J Edgar and gang), write and write (under false names), and pump out babies (why not?). All in the name of freedom, justice, and the American way. A capitalist, communist, fascist, monarchist mishmash.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julia LaCava

  7. 5 out of 5

    Justin Camilleri

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeannette

  10. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aroh Yadav

  12. 4 out of 5

    Darlene Craviotto

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Thompson

  14. 4 out of 5

    Meril

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  16. 4 out of 5

    Irmina

  17. 5 out of 5

    Riley

  18. 4 out of 5

    Russell

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  20. 4 out of 5

    John

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bob Ellis

  22. 4 out of 5

    Skye Robinson Hillis

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  24. 4 out of 5

    Peter Rader

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McLeod

  26. 5 out of 5

    Annette

  27. 4 out of 5

    susan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Monique

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  30. 5 out of 5

    flo

  31. 4 out of 5

    Isobel Gee

  32. 5 out of 5

    AdaIzaea

  33. 5 out of 5

    Lynda

  34. 4 out of 5

    beeswax

  35. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

  36. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  37. 5 out of 5

    Goovl

  38. 5 out of 5

    Daisy

  39. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Yost

  40. 4 out of 5

    Wendy D

  41. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

  42. 5 out of 5

    Milken Library

  43. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  44. 5 out of 5

    Creolecat

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