The North Star

Released by RKO at the Palace and Victoria Theatres in New York City on November 4, 1943.  Music by Aaron Copland.  Lyrics by Ira Gershwin.  Screenplay by Lillian Hellman.  Directed by Lewis Milestone.  Produced by Samuel Goldwyn.  Cast included Walter Huston, Walter Brennan, Eric von Stroheim, Anne Baxter, Jane Withers, and Farley Granger.

Samuel Goldwyn approached Ira to work with composer Aaron Copland on a group of folk-songs for this tale of heroic Soviet peasants struggling to withstand the onslaught of the German army during World War II.  A number of the film’s songs were published, but they did not prove to be any more popular than the film itself.  During the Hollywood blacklist era, the pro-Soviet position of THE NORTH STAR was cited by members of the House Un-American Activities Committee as evidence of Communist infiltration into Hollywood.  Ira himself was called to testify before the California Senate’s version of the Un-American Activities committee in 1948 regarding his involvement with the Committee for the First Amendment, which had been organized to support the so-called Hollywood Ten.