John Howard Lawson is constructed as the epitome of the humorless, rigid, dogmatic, unsmiling, doctrinaire Communist, mixing ruthlessness promiscuously with insensitivity. He may very well be the most notorious U.S. Communist; therefore, the inexorable gravity of anticommunism may help shed light on why this screenwriter's image has been so tarnished. Lawson had a complicated family life due to his difficult relationship with his son (Jeffrey), and perhaps his brother, and also Jeffrey's mother, Sue. Lawson's heavily criticized reluctance to acknowledge his party membership in congressional hearings and elsewhere has been subject to retrospective reevaluation. Lawson was convinced that the “blacklist” played a major role in Hollywood's manifold postwar problems. One cannot comprehend the ferocity unleashed against this man and his community unless one begins to understand how both came to be.
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