"I had to sell out my own girl--so would you! I was under the toughest orders a guy could get! I stood by and watched my brother slugged...I started a riot that ran red with terror...I learned every dirty rule in their book--and had to use them--because I was a communist--but I WAS A COMMUNIST FOR THE FBI."

"Starring Frank Lovejoy, with Dorothy Hart, Philip Cary, Gordon Douglas, Bryan Foy. Screen Play by Crane Wilbur. Based on the experiences of Matt Cvetic, as told to Pete Martin. And published in the Saturday Evening Post."

"It's all here! Every breathless moment of the FBI's most relentless counter-attack!"

All the world may be a stage, but for Matt Cvetic and Herb Philbrick, real-life volunteer undercover agents for Hoover's FBI throughout most of the forties, the courtroom was the venue that catapulted them into the glamorous world of show giz. Cvetic had infiltrated the CP in Pittsburgh, while Philbrick had used his uncanny intellgience to penetrate Red cells in Boston. When the two of them testified independently in 1949, helping to convict several top Party members of conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government [under the Smith Act], their fortunes were as good as made.

(During this period, a popular TV series called "I Led Three Lives" portrayed Philbrick's exploits.)

Cvetic, a hard-drinking lout who reportedly once thrashed his sister-in-law badly enough to hospitalize her, sold his first-person account to The Saturday Evening Post, which serialized his heroics as "I Posed as a Communist for the FBI" (written with the help of Pete Martin). A radio series followed. Then, in 1951, Warner Brothers released the film version, with Frank Lovejoy portraying the man who (it is suggested) singlehandedly brought the Communist Party to its knees. Pittsburgh celebrated the film's April premiere with a "Matthew Cvetic Day," complete with parade. Incredibly, I Was a Communist for the FBI was nominated for an Academy Award as the best documentary of the year.

  • Harvey Matusow played a similar role as ex-communist.
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    Document URL: http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/commie-for-fbi.html
    Last modified: Thursday, 31-May-2007 09:42:39 EDT