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Paul Jarrico (1915-1997)

Paul Jarrico

Paul Jarrico was a respected and successful film producer, screenwriter, and social activist. He was blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

Jarrico was born on January 12th in Los Angeles, California. His father Aaron Shapiro, a Russian immigrant, was a lawyer, a socialist and a poet. His mother Jennie Kraus was from Belorussia. They later met each other in the US and got married.

Jarrico joined the Young Communist League while studying in UCLA. In 1937, he became a member of Communist Party USA.

During the 1930s, he began his career in Hollywood as a screenwriter for Columbia Pictures. During WWII, Jarrico was sent to North Africa and Italy as a merchant marine. After returning to the US, he resumed his job in Hollywood and worked with Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures.

In 1943, Jarrico co-scripted “Song of Russia” with Richard Collins. The creation of the Movie was supported by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to gain sympathy from the public for the Soviet Union in their war against the Fascist Germany.

While working on “The White Tower” film, he was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee- which in reality means activity against capitalists.

Jarrico refused to testify before the Committee, but gave evidence on April 13th1951, arguing that the treatment of the Hollywood Ten meant that it was impossible for him to cooperate with the HUAC. "Ten of my friends, very dear friends, have gone to jail for coming before this body and saying that Congress may not investigate in any area in which it may not legislate, and since the Constitution of the United States specifically states that Congress shall make no law restricting the freedom of speech, and since countless decisions of the courts have held that this provision of the Constitution means that Congress cannot investigate into areas of opinion, of conscience, of belief, I believe that in asking that those men be cited for contempt of Congress and in successfully sending these men to jail, that this committee has subverted the meaning of the American Constitution."

As a result, Jarrico was blacklisted and his passport confiscated. Consequently, film producer Howard Hughes dismissed him. Jarrico engaged in a protracted legal battle with Howard Hughes and bravely led the struggle to have the credits of his similarly blacklisted colleagues restored.

In 1954, defying Jarrico went to New Mexico and produced the movie “Salt of the Earth”, with blacklisted screenwriter Michael Wilson and blacklisted director Herbert J. Biberman. The movie itself became the only blacklisted film in the history of Hollywood.

In 1992 and at the end of the Cold-War, the Movie was chosen as one of the one-hundred films to be preserved in the Library of Congress, for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.

After the release of his passport in 1958, Jarrico moved to Europe where he lived for over 20 years. While in Europe, he co-scripted several movies and wrote scripts for television under the pen name Peter Achilles.

In 1966, he divorced Sylvia Gussin, his wife of 30 years and married French woman Yvette Le Floc’h. Jarrico and Yvette separated in 1977. Jarrico married Lia Benedetti in 1992, in the United States.

Following his return to the United States, Jarrico taught film writing courses at the University of California in Santa Barbara; lectured on film theory, the blacklist period and McCarthyism, in US and Europe. He was an inspiring professor for those who believed they were not able to write.

On Tuesday October 28th, Jarrico was killed in a car accident south of Oxnard, while returning home from an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the HUAC’s first hearings.

The following are Paul Jarrico’s most famous scripts:

  • No time to Marry (1937)

  • I am the Law (1938)

  • The Little Adventures (1938)

  • Beauty for the Asking (1939)

  • The Face Behind the Mask (1941)

  • Tom, Dick, and Harry (1941)

  • Men of the Timberland (1941)

  • Thousands Cheer (1943)

  • The Search (1948)

  • Not Wanted (1949)

  • The Las Vegas Story (1952)

  • The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By (1953)

  • The Girl Most Likely (1957)

  • Jovanka el’ Altr (1960)

  • All Night Long (1961)

  • Call Me Bwana (1963)

  • Seaway (1965)

  • The Treasures of the Aztecs (1965)

  • Die Pyramide des Sonnegottes (1965)

  • La Balada de Johnny Ringo (1966)

  • The Doctor Says (1967)

  • Beyond The Mountains (1968)

  • Le Rouble a deux faces (1969)

  • Atentat u Sarajevu (1976)

  • Bilitis (film) (1977)

  • Messenger of Death (1988)

  • Stalin (1992)

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