John Berry, blacklisted film-maker (obituary)

The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 1, 1999

John Berry, 82; was blacklisted for his film

PARIS - American filmmaker John Berry, 82, who was blacklisted in the 1950s after making a documentary in support of the Hollywood 10, has died in Paris, where he lived for many years, French news media reported yesterday.

In Los Angeles, the industry publication Daily Variety wrote that Mr. Berry died Monday after a bout with pleurisy.

No cause of death was given in the reports on French television.

Mr. Berry made movies during a career that spanned nearly a half-century. He was something of a cult figure among French cinema aficionados.

He was born in New York City in 1917 and became a successful child actor. He was hired by the Mercury Theater but quickly turned his attention to film.

He worked as assistant to Billy Wilder and Orson Welles, and went on to make a series of movies, including Casbah in 1948 and He Ran All the Way in 1951.

Blacklisted in 1950 after making The Hollywood Ten, a documentary supporting American directors accused of being members of the Communist Party, Mr. Berry left the United States for France. The Daily Variety report said he fled to avoid testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Embraced by the French film establishment, Mr. Berry made several commercial successes, including Ca Va Barder (Things Are Going to Get Tough) starring Eddie Constantine. He also worked in London as a theater director. He returned to the United States in 1974 to make the movie Claudine. Other hits included Thieves and The Bad News Bears Go to Japan in 1978. His most recent film, A Captive in the Land, deals with two men who are separated by language, culture and ideology and who must stick together to survive.

According to Daily Variety, Mr. Berry was in the process of editing the film adaptation of Athol Fugard's Bosman and Lena, filmed in South Africa in May.

1998 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.


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