Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon was born on 6th September, 1909. He studied at Yale Drama School with Elia Kazan. He joined the Group Theatre and directed the play, Black Pit, by Albert Maltz. He also worked on Golden Boy, Casey Jones and Thunder Rock.

As well as working on Broadway with plays such as Home of the Brave and The Male Animal, he moved to Hollywood and directed films including Boston Blackie Goes to Hollywood (1942), One Dangerous Night (1943), The Web (1947),Another Part of the Forest (1948) and Cyrano de Bergerac (1950).

After the Second World War the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began to investigate people with left-wing views in the entertainment industry. Gordon was named as a member of the American Communist Party but on two appearances before the HUAC, he refused to be a co-operative witness. However, blacklisted and unemployable, Gordon decided in 1958 to become an informer.

With the blacklist lifted, Gordon directed Pillow Talk (1959), Portrait in Black (1960), Move Over Darling (1963), The Impossible Years (1968) and How Do I Love Thee? (1970). Michael Gordon died in Century City, California, on 29th April, 1993.

Primary Sources

(1) Michael Gordon explained to Victor Navasky how and why he gave the names of former members of the Communist Party in 1958.

Ben Kahane gave me to understand it was a token affirmation of these names who had been self-acknowledged; and in a few instances these were so widely known it was not a question. In the actual procedure itself, the names were read to me. For a police state you have to alter decent behaviour - loyalty to friends. Particularly when you are talking about criminal activities. An act of self-abasement is required to regain respectability.

I felt disloyal to a principle when I co-operated. I've tried to avoid talking about this, I debated whether to have this interview. In the interest of accuracy I did not want to take a self-serving position with respect to this matters. I don't think there was any individual who was not racked by the most tortured intellectual conflicts. We weren't playing for nickels and dimes. We were playing for our lives.