|Was||Writer Screenwriter Novelist|
|From||United States of America|
|Field||Film, TV, Stage & Radio Literature|
|Birth||28 October 1908, New York City, New York, U.S.A.|
|Death||26 April 1985, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A. (aged 76 years)|
Albert Maltz (; October 28, 1908 – April 26, 1985) was an American playwright, fiction writer and screenwriter. He was one of the Hollywood Ten who were jailed in 1950 for their 1947 refusal to testify before the US Congress about their alleged involvement with the Communist Party USA. They and many other US entertainment industry figures were subsequently blacklisted, which denied Maltz employment in the industry for many years.
Born into an affluent Jewish family, in Brooklyn, New York, Maltz was educated at Columbia University, where he was a member of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity and the class of 1930, and the Yale School of Drama. He became a communist out of conviction, later telling an interviewer: "I also read the Marxist classics. I still think it to be the noblest set of ideals ever penned by man.... Where else in political literature do you find thinkers saying that we were going to end all forms of human exploitation? Wage exploitation, exploitation of women by men, the exploitation of people of colour by white peoples, the exploitation of colonial countries by imperialist countries. And Marx spoke of the fact that socialism will be the kingdom of freedom, where man realizes himself in a way that humankind has never seen before. This was an inspiring body of literature to read."
During the 1930s, Maltz worked as a playwright for the Theater Union, which was "an organization of theater artists and [pro-Communist] political activists who mounted professional productions of plays oriented towards working people and their middle-class allies." In 1932, his play Merry Go Round was adapted for a film. At the Theater Union he met Margaret Larkin (1899–1967), whom he married in 1937. He won the O. Henry Award twice: in 1938 for The Happiest Man on Earth, a short story published in Harper's Magazine, and in 1941 for Afternoon in the Jungle, published in The New Yorker. His collection of short fiction The Way Things Are, and Other Stories was published in 1938. These writings and his 1940 novel The Underground Stream are considered works of proletarian literature.
In 1944 he published the novel The Cross and the Arrow, about which Jerry Belcher noted that it was "a best seller chronicling German resistance to the Nazi regime. It was distributed in a special Armed Forces edition to more than 150,000 American fighting men during World War II." In 1970 he published a new collection of short stories Afternoon in the Jungle.
After working on Casablanca, Maltz's first screenwriting credit was for This Gun for Hire (1942).
For his script for the 1945 film Pride of the Marines, Maltz was nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay.
In 1947 he became one of the Hollywood Ten, who refused to answer questions before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about their Communist Party membership. For refusing to respond, each was cited for contempt by Congress, sentenced to a year in jail and fined $1,000 - and like the others, Maltz was blacklisted by studio executives.
After his blacklisting he struggled to get work or credit. His screenplay for Broken Arrow won the 1951 Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Western. However, due to his blacklisting at the time, fellow MPAA screenwriter Michael Blankfort agreed to put his own name on the script in place of Maltz's as the only way to get it accepted by any of the Hollywood movie studios, and as such, Blankfort was named the winner.
His last assignment for some years was The Robe (1953), although he didn't receive a credit until decades later.
In 1960, Frank Sinatra engaged Maltz to write a screenplay for The Execution of Private Slovik, but in the end Sinatra was pressured into dismissing Maltz from the project. Maltz was finally employed again on Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), which was a vehicle for the popular actors Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine. His last credit (as John B. Sherry) is for Hangup (1974).
In 1991, in the course of correcting screen credits for blacklisted screenwriters, the Writers Guild of America officially recognized Maltz as the only credited screenwriter for Broken Arrow.
One of Maltz's literary agents was Maxim Lieber, whom he visited in Warsaw, Poland, after Lieber fled the States in 1950. Maltz referred to him as "my friend and former agent."
Ostracism within the CPUSA and recantation
In February 1946 Maltz published an article (written in October 1945) for The New Masses in which he criticized fellow Communist writers for producing lower-quality work, owing to their placing political concerns above artistic ones. He also referred positively in his article to the work of James T. Farrell, a Trotskyist.
This article brought upon Maltz venomous attacks from fellow CPUSA members, both in print and in person at party meetings. He was accused of "Browderism" and in order to retain his good standing with the party he had to humiliate himself by publishing in the Daily Worker a rebuttal of his own article. Furthermore, he "publicly denounced himself onstage at a writer's symposium chaired by party members."
- The Way Things Are, and Other Stories (1938)
- The Underground Stream (1940)
- The Cross and the Arrow (1944)
- The Journey of Simon McKeever (1949)
- A Long Day in a Short Life (1957)
- Tale of One January (1989)
This filmography is based on the Internet Movie Database listings.
- This Gun for Hire (1942)
- The House I Live In (1945)
- Pride of the Marines (1945)
- Cloak and Dagger (1946)
- The Red House (1947)
- The Naked City (1948)
- Broken Arrow (1950) (originally uncredited)
- The Robe (1953) (originally uncredited)
- Moneta (The Coin) (1962) (USSR)
- Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970)
- The Beguiled (1971) (as John B. Sherry)
- Scalawag (1973)
- Hangup (1974) (as John B. Sherry)