“I think sometimes in revulsion from Communism – and revolting they are – you find yourself tempted to go too far the other way. This impulse you must resist.”
Mary C. McCall Jr — defending herself at the HUAC
Mary C. McCall Jr.
Today’s date is: May 12, 2018
Three days ago it was 95 degrees outside and it was 95 degrees inside. A broken swamp cooler and no ice cubes in the tray. Mister, I wasn’t going anywhere, I wasn’t going to move. Finding a free movie to watch was a chore, everything was a chore. I finally settled on a flick that I’d never seen before; Maisie starring Ann Sothern and Robert Young, produced in 1939.
It was a funny little movie with a great starring character. Maisie is a Brooklyn-born chorus girl who arrives in Wyoming only to find that the show has folded and now she is stranded. She is many things; beautiful, smart, sharp, honest, sober and good.
Midway through the movie, I’ll have to paraphrase, she says, “Something better happen soon or this will be just another Hollywood Western romance movie.”
Wotthehell? I sat up, delighted to see the movie fold into itself as if self-aware.
And sure enough, in short order we have: a dead body, an accused boyfriend, a mysterious letter, Maisie has left town, a courtroom scene and more. Bam, bam, bam; the movie delivers something oh-so-much more.
I had hardly noticed the opening credits. The screenwriter was Mary C. McCall Jr. An odd name. It turns out, new to me, that there was a whole series of Maisie movies like Congo Maisie and Maisie Goes to Reno. I watched another and then another; I was hooked. Great writing, snappy and funny dialogue, topical humor.
Mary C. McCall Jr.
Mary C. McCall Jr. was one of the founders of the Screen Writers Guild. She became the first female president of the SWG in 1942. Along with writing many screenplays, she was an out-spoken advocate for writers, fighting the producers to get screen credit for example.
A quick read of The Mary C. McCall Years: When a Woman President called the shots at the Guild is very interesting. We learn of her advocacy but also the political side and, inevitably, the House Un-American Activities Committee. Reading between the lines, one might think that her accusal was politically driven by the heads of the studios. As ever, nasty stuff.
The article in The Wrap called Who is Mary C. McCall says that in 2009, “Last Friday, the Writers Guild purged Mary C. McCall Jr. from the history of the Guild.” Looking into many articles on Ms. McCall, I am confused; she is not always mentioned in the history of the Writers Guild. But sometimes she is mentioned.
Another quick glance at her IMDB shows that after a full and strong career of writing terrific screenplays, after 1954 and the HUAC accusations that she only wrote episodes for television. Shows like Gilligan’s Island, Sea Hunt and I Dream of Jeannie.
I am a new fan. I want to see all of her stuff. Writing to be admired.
I’d like to get to know more about Mary C. McCall Jr.