Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Auteur! Auteur! - Herbert Biberman

Herbert Biberman was born in Philadelphia to an artistic family; his brother was famed American artist Edward Biberman. Herbert, however, found his way to Hollywood. Mr. Biberman was anti-war, opposing the United States' entry into World War II right up until it was obvious that Nazi Germany needed to be stopped. Because of this, the FBI originally suspected him of being a Nazi despite his Jewish faith.

After the war, Mr. Biberman's actions ran afoul of HUAC and he was imprisoned alongside the Hollywood Ten on contempt charges. After his release, Herbert found himself blacklisted and his membership in the Director's Guild was stripped from him. Despite this, he decided to work independently, directing a film about Mexican-American workers and their fight against a greedy company. The film initially earned him few plaudits, with the government trying to ban the movie. Pauline Kael would castigate the film, painting it as a communist plot. The film would eventually find a wider audience, becoming a film archived by the very same government that sought to block it years before.

Biberman passed away in 1971 and his membership in the Director's Guild would be restored posthumously.