John Howard Lawson


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Lawson, John Howard

 

Born Sept. 25, 1895, in New York. American playwright, art historian, and social activist.

Lawson’s early plays—for example, Loudspeaker (1927) and Marching Song (1937), about an automobile plant strike—were infused with antibourgeois sentiment and experimental in form. He wrote the screenplays for such progressive films as Heart of Spain (1937), Blockade (1938), and Counter Attack (1945). His book Film in the Battle of ’Ideas (1953; Russian translation, 1954) revealed the reactionary role of Hollywood, the mouthpiece of official propaganda. Theory and Technique of Playwriting and Screenwriting (1949; Russian translation, 1960), written from a Marxist point of view, presented an artistic and theoretical history of drama from Aristotle to the present. Lawson, as one of Hollywood’s progressive figures, was hounded by the McCarthyites in 1947.

WORKS

The Hidden Heritage. New York, 1950.
In Russian translation:
“O tvorchestve Folknera.” In W. Faulkner, Osobniak. Moscow, 1965.

REFERENCES

Rabkin, G. Drama and Commitment. Bloomington, 1964.
Bruning, E. Das amerikanische Drama der dreissiger Jahre. Berlin, 1966.
References in periodicals archive ?
Hollywood under the microscope Files reveal the FBI's amazing efforts to identify suspected communists among Hollywood figures, including writer John Howard Lawson, suspected of being Communist Party members.
John Howard Lawson, a left-wing playwright from New York, came to Hollywood, where he was elected the first president of the Screen Writers Guild.
John Howard Lawson, the "Hollywood Commissar," wrote the screenplay for Cry the Beloved Country (1951), but was originally omitted from the credits.
Vale, Ryskind writes that New York playwright John Howard Lawson, "the grand pooh-bah" of the Hollywood Reds, only went out to California in 1937 because the Communist Party ordered him there.
Waldorf Statement says the studios won't hire writers including Dalton Trumbo, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson; director Edward Dmytryk.
Screenwriter John Howard Lawson, who secretly led the Communist Party in Hollywood, declared that the executive committee would "never adopt a statement of policy which repudiates Communism or endorses private enterprise:' When Reagan suggested that the statement be circulated to the full membership of HICCASP to get their views, Lawson responded--at least in Reagan's recollection--that the rank and file "would not be politically intelligent enough or educated enough to make such a decision."
Directed by Zoltan Korda, written by John Howard Lawson and Zoltan Korda, starring Humphrey Bogart, Bruce Bennett, J.
He speaks in-depth about Albert Maltz, Elia Kazan, Edward Dmytryk, John Howard Lawson, Dalton Trumbo, Paul Robeson, Dorothy Parker, Abraham Lincoln Polonsky, amongst others; names that, in some way, will be remembered because of their involvement (and, in some instances, their betrayal) of the CPUSA.
Processional by John Howard Lawson is set in West Virginia in 1925, and employs an innovative and vibrant melange of drama, vaudeville, grotesquery and slapstick to depict a savage critique of western capitalism.
Essay 1, "The 1920s: Workers In (and Out of) Jail" (1-8) precedes Processional, by John Howard Lawson (9-82) and Singing Jailbirds, by Upton Sinclair (83-150).
This cycle of songs is a left-wing take on the current events of its era (labor, fascism, banking, feminism) and was so popular that it settled in for a more than three-year run on the Broadway stage with songs like "Doing the Reactionary" and "Vassar Girl Finds a Job." The other play, John Howard Lawson's Processional, demonstrates how labor's narrative could forge new directions on the stage.
Baird Shuman, Clifford Odets [NY: Twayne, 1962]; and John Howard Lawson, Theory and Technique of Playwriting and Screenwriting [NY: Hill and Wang, 1960].)