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“Hiding in Plain Sight”

“Hiding in Plain Sight”

Political Passing, Communist Fears, and Hollywood

Chapter:
(p.93) Chapter Four “Hiding in Plain Sight”
Source:
Projections of Passing
Author(s):
N. Megan Kelley
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496806277.003.0005

This chapter focuses on political passing, in which the specter of passing was utilized in Hollywood films produced in the context of the Cold War. Films about political passing called into question who was who and the nature of identity. The notion that somebody could pass politically mirrored fears about racial passing, complicated by postwar obsessions with Communism. The chapter examines how anti-Communist films such as My Son John and Woman on Pier 13 tackle the “enemy within” and portray Communists as caricatures, either gangster-like or hyperintellectual, thus making visible what was supposed to be an invisible threat. It also considers the way anti-Communism in Hollywood exploited anxieties that were linked to postwar ideas about identity.

Keywords:   political passing, Hollywood films, Cold War, identity, racial passing, Communism, anti-Communist films, Woman on Pier 13, anti-Communism, enemy within

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