Review: When Hollywood Was Right by Donald T. Critchlow

At a time when the Republican’s have shut down the federal government, it feels fitting that I discuss this book now. I’ve never known a Hollywood that wasn’t ostensibly liberal, by the time Reagan was elected and I was born, both the author Critchlow and I seem to agree that this was the end of the public dominance of right wing Hollywood.

whwrHollywood was not always a bastion of liberalism. Following World War II, an informal alliance of movie stars, studio moguls, and Southern California business interests formed to revitalize a factionalized Republican Party. Coming together were stars such as John Wayne, Robert Taylor, George Murphy, and many others who joined studio heads Cecil B. DeMille, Louis B. Mayer, Walt Disney, and Jack Warner to rebuild the Republican Party. They found support among a large group of business leaders who poured money and skills into this effort, which paid off with the election of George Murphy to the U.S. Senate and of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan to the highest office in the nation.Synopsis from Goodreads

Much like economic power or governance the political stance of Hollywood switches back and forth. Today Hollywood is very much a democratic left, but it has not always been this way.

Critchlow has clearly done his research, When Hollywood was Right is a detailed book. Do not go begin reading with the idea that you are in for an easy ride, it is an in depth account of the Hollywood right, from the 20s right through to the 80s.

While it did lack a story telling narrative that I prefer, the academic flow is perfect for anyone needing this book for University or reference. While it is not a book I would read singularly for fun, it was a very insightful journey through right wing Hollywood. Afterall, I did not chose it for its entertainment value, but for the knowledge I would gain – this is a subject I knew little about.

I was expecting a chapter or two on McCarthyism and while Critchlow touched on the beginnings of communist persecution in the 40s he does not delve further. However, as McCarthyism was a persecution of liberal Hollywood and as this is a book on the Hollywood Right,  it made sense that it was not given focus.

When Hollywood Was Right; How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics by Donald T. Critchlow is published on the 5th November by Cambridge University Press; this copy was kindly given to me via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review , thank you! 


2 thoughts on “Review: When Hollywood Was Right by Donald T. Critchlow

  1. Mcarthyism was not a persecution of Liberal Hollywood or Hollywood at all. HUAC investigated Hollywood, not McCarthy. And Huac persecuted Communists and members of front groups, not liberals.


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