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December 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Dalton Trumbo

The Writers Guild of America, whose members are familiar with rewrites, have agreed to rewrite the historical record and give Dalton Trumbo credit for writing the screenplay of the 1953 movie Roman Holiday. The movie was released at the height of the U.S. blacklist after Trumbo had invoked his First Amendment rights when he was hauled before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which was looking into the influence of Communists in Hollywood. The committee, with backing by the courts, held that the First Amendment did not apply to testimony and cited Trumbo and nine others (“The Hollywood Ten”) for contempt and jailed them. For the next decade they and others in Hollywood who had been connected with left-wing organizations were blacklisted but frequently wrote under assumed names or under the names of others. Trumbo wrote Roman Holiday under the name “McLellan Hunter,” another writer and friend, who collected the checks for the movie and passed the proceeds on to Trumbo. In announcing the guild’s decision to give Trumbo a screenwriting credit for Roman Holiday, WGA President Chris Keyser said Monday, “It’s not in our power to erase the mistakes or the suffering of the past. But we can make amends, we can pledge not to fall prey again to the dangerous power of fear or to the impulse to censor, even if that pledge is only a hope. And, in the end, we can give credit where credit is due.”