Sahara was a wartime epic of John Howard Lawson. Helen Slote Levitt and Julian Mayfield were among the legions inspired by this still-stirring movie. World War II and the resultant alliance between Moscow and Washington eroded the difficulties brought to Lawson and his Party by the 1939 nonaggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union. It was his wartime movies, as well, that burnished Lawson's reputation as a filmmaker—particularly Sahara. As with other wartime films in particular, its script was scrutinized by U.S. government authorities. The problem for Lawson was that in 1947 his antagonists were after larger game than a mere affluent screenwriter—ultimately they were after the organized left, notably the Communist Party, and its alternative view of how society should be administered. Lawson's prodigious organizing attracted the attention of the California legislature. During the war, the affluent Lawson backed his government with a full-throated fervor.
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