Radical Hollywood

The Untold Story Behind America’s Favorite Movies

A controversial and fascinating rewriting of the history of cinema’s golden age

“This groundbreaking account . . . is one of the few complete and cohesive histories . . . of progressives in Hollywood.” —Publishers Weekly

Radical Hollywood is the first comprehensive history of the Hollywood Left. From the dawn of sound movies to the early 1950s, Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner trace the political and personal lives of the screenwriters, actors, directors, and producers on the Left and the often decisive impact of their work upon American film’s Golden Age.

Full of rich anecdotes, biographical detail, and explorations of movies well known, unjustly forgotten, and delightfully bizarre, the book is “an intelligent, well argued and absorbing examination of how politics and art can make startling and often strange bedfellows” (Publishers Weekly). Featuring an insert of rare film stills, Radical Hollywood relates the story behind the story of films in such genres as crime, women’s films, family cinema, war, animation, and, particularly, film noir.


“Spectacularly informative.”
National Review
“A bounty of fun facts about a flood of movies from the 1930s and 1940s.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“A highly readable, affectionate history that invites a new appreciation of our most distinctly American cultural creations.”
Z Magazine

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