Robin Hood

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The current epic film Robin Hood is one of this summer’s hits, another telling of that famous tale of outlaws and arrows. In this edition of The Fishko Files, WNYC’s Sara Fishko takes us back to one memorable version of Robin Hood that contains some peculiar twists of history and mystery....


In 1947 the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) came to Hollywood to investigate Communist Party affiliations and sympathies in the movie industry. They held hearings, and many members of the Hollywood community refused to answer HUAC’s questions about their political beliefs and associations, causing them to be held in contempt of Congress. On December 3, 1947, the Motion Picture Association of America buckled under the pressure of HUAC and issued the Waldorf Statement, which supported a blacklist of those who refused to cooperate with the Committee.

If blacklistees named their friends and coworkers as Communists or Communist sympathizers, they were offered removal from the list. Many saw such action as a betrayal, and wouldn’t name names. Those who refused became known as unfriendly witnesses. The consequences for them were great and varied: Some worked under assumed names, and some never worked in Hollywood again.  

"The Adventures of Robin Hood" television series -- produced in the U.K. in the 1950s -– was one example of a place where writers found work during the blacklist period.

To hear more Fishko Files exploring 1950s culture and politics:

Paul Buhle’s new book is "FDR and The New Deal, for Beginners." Click here to learn more.

Mix Engineer: Wayne Shulmister

Assistant Producer: Laura Mayer