Tag Archives: Charlie Chaplin

When Charlie Chaplin Put Dan James In The Movies

The outlaw Jesse James agitated Daniel Lewis James Sr. a great deal. D.L. could not make up his mind. Was cousin Jesse really an outlaw and criminal? Or was Jesse James something more? D.L. wondered, was Jesse more like D.L.’s son, Dan James Jr.? – A champion and warrior for social justice.

When Charlie Chaplin put Dan James into Chaplin’s movies, the answer became clear. In the House on Un-American Activities Committee, America blacklisted Chaplin and Dan from movie making.  The U.S. Government assassinated Charlie Chaplin and Dan James …just like Jesse James.

 

Frank & Jesse James – Warriors for Social Justice

“All For the Underdog”

An Excerpt from Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma and Silence, by Eric F. James

Fresh from his graduation from Andover, Dan James Jr. clerked briefly in T.M. James & Sons in Kansas City. But beyond the door of the family store, social reform summoned him.

The era of the post-Depression was a turbulent and violent one. Workers were losing jobs. Families were losing homes. People were starving.

Dan read the writings of Karl Marx. In Texas and Oklahoma, Dan organized field workers, while working the oil fields, hauling truckloads of number six pipe. By the mid-1930s, he joined the Young Marxist League. Participating in a public demonstration in Kansas City sponsored by the League landed Dan in jail, about the same time his cousin Barbara James-McGreevy was jailed for demonstrating on behalf of birth control.

Bailing out Dan from jail, D.L. suggested Dan commit his politics to paper. Father and son collaborated on a play, titled Pier 19, about the General Strike of San Francisco in 1934, known as “Bloody Thursday.” Dan had worked with the longshoremen’s organizer, Harry Bridges, as an errand gopher. Shortly thereafter, Dan realized, “I was not supporting myself, and it was time to join my comrades in the working class.”

Finding himself with Charlie Chaplin, who was a neighbor on Fountain Avenue in Hollywood and occasionally a guest at Seaward, the James family retreat in the Highlands above Carmel-By-The Sea in northern California, Dan James and Chaplin authored the movie The Great Dictator.

Dan observed the improvisations of the British mime upon a draft outline, taking detailed notes at every turn. The two collaborated on the story. More important to them both were the themes of the story. The process was repeated until Chaplin was satisfied his story and message was captured on celluloid.

In Chaplin’s new talkie, Dan provided distinctly American verbiage that the British born Chaplin could not. Dan embedded his own themes. The film opens in Dan James’ words, spoken by Chaplin.

Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator

“This is the story of the period between two world wars, an interim during which insanity cut loose, liberty took a nose dive, and humanity was kicked around somewhat.”

Giving voice to America’s most beloved mime, Dan James broke his family heritage of silence to openly challenge governmental authority, once more in the name of liberty.

Just as his cousin Jesse James had done against unjust authority. Just as his great-grandfather’s band of rebel preachers had done with federal government. Dan James challenged no less than the tyrannical governments of Germany’s Hitler and Italy’s Mussolini.

The collaborative relationship between Chaplin and Dan James was close. In Chaplin, Dan James found his mentor. He called Chaplin his surrogate father. At extended lunches between filming, the two argued strenuously over social issues.

At night, the Communist Party provided Dan a social life, filled with fundraising events for numerous social causes. Chaplin has been regarded historically as being a member of the Communist Party, although Dan’s daughter Barbara states Dan never saw Chaplin at meetings.

“He did not know whether Chaplin was a communist, but from working with him closely for four years and some odd months, he doubted it very much. He thought Charlie was too sensitive to oppressive institutions to be fooled into joining the Communist Party.”

End of excerpt.

_____________________________________

The Bloody San Francisco Longshoremen’s Strike of 1934

While making movies, Dan James told Charlie Chaplin of his experience in San Francisco when Dan worked for Harry Bridges, the longshoremen’s organizer. Chaplin seized upon Dan’s story immediately and put the scene into his 1936 movie Modern Times.

In Modern Times, Chaplin’s lovable and classic Tramp, representing everyman, stumbles onto a seaside dock. He notices the dock’s shipping building is shut down. A truck passing by drops a red warning flag, from its load. The Tramp picks up the red flag, signaling to the disappearing driver. As the truck disappears, the Tramp finds himself engulfed by the striking dock workers on the march. Authorities arrive. They seize the Tramp. Based solely upon guilt by association, the Tramp disappears into the justice system and is removed from society.

______________________________________

In Chaplin’s 1940 movie The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin drew upon the extraordinary writing skills of Daniel Lewis James Jr. to present an authentic American voice of protest for social justice.


________________________________________

More from “All For the Underdog”

“The House Un-American Activities Committee [HUAC] had commenced its investigations into Communism in the entertainment community and wreaked havoc with our whole world. The studios helped with their patriotic duty to expose Communist propaganda by refusing to hire anyone who did not cooperate with the Committee. This was the famous ‘Blacklist.’ People often think of the Blacklist as something the government did, but it was the ‘patriotic’ studio heads who instituted it.  The government just forced people into the position where they had to deal with it. Cooperation meant recanting your communism and naming all the people that you knew were (or had been) in the Party.

The catch 22 was that you couldn’t tell the truth about yourself without being a stool pigeon. At the outset, there was no clear way to address the problem without going to jail or ratting. That was when the Hollywood Ten went to prison. They were our friends and acquaintances.”

The House Un-American Activities Committee – HUAC Second from right sits the future U. S. President Richard M. Nixon

…Under investigation in the HUAC hearings, Barbara [Barbara James, Dan’s daughter] perceived that “Pop and Mama and other ex-Commies in the same boat, got given three basic choices.

“Tell the Committee that you have a right to free association under the First Amendment, and your political beliefs are protected from government interference. People who did this went to jail for the rest of the term of the Congress in session, which was generally about 10 months.

“Tell the Committee that you are not a Communist and that you will not tell them whether you have ever been a Communist. After the Smith Act became law, the Party was an illegal organization, so you could refuse to answer questions about people who were in the Party by citing the Fifth Amendment prohibition against self-incrimination. You didn’t go to jail, but the studios blacklisted you and you could not get work. You may wonder why the Studios invented and used the Blacklist. In one word – union busting. It was a great way to break the Screen Writers’ and Screen Actors’ Guilds, as well as to get cited as patriots.

“Tell the Committee you were a Communist; you are ever so sorry, and name everybody you know who was in the Party with you, including your closest friends. You may also wonder why the Congressmen on the HUAC were so adamant about ‘naming names.’ Politicians need publicity, and any time they could get someone to name a celebrity, they would get big media coverage. Pop was a very small fish, but I think their main object in grilling him was the hope that he would name Chaplin. They had the wrong small fish.”

The copy of Voltaire’s Candide, owned by Daniel Lewis James Sr.

…Dan James had hoped to produce his father’s first edition of the book Candide. The author Voltaire had published the book under the pseudonym, Monsieur Le Docteur Ralph. With his visual aid in hand, Dan intended to confront HUAC.

If HUAC continued to prevail in their ruthlessness, if Congress continued to deprive one’s freedom of association, and if the United States government continued to despoil freedom of expression, all writers would be forced to disguise their identities like Voltaire.

Dan was cut off. As Barbara said, “He got run over by a well-oiled train. They didn’t let him get his book out of his pocket, and he was only allowed to say that he refused to incriminate himself.” Dan James was blacklisted as a Hollywood screenwriter. In effect, his own federal government had exiled him. Just as Dan James predicted, his identity as a writer was forced underground.

…Dan James watched as his screenwriting career expired in slow motion.

__________________________________

RELATED

First Preview of a Play About Daniel Lewis James Jr.

Words Spoken by Charlie Chaplin – Written by Daniel Lewis James

Beating the Bushes for How Daniel Lewis James Jr. Died

Banned Books Validate Superior Intelligence & Worthwhile Reading

What is Your Favorite Story About the James Family?

Kathy Griffin’s Life on the Blacklist

Dixie-Chicking – Blacklisting in the Entertainment Industry


The Sift – May 14, 2018

The Sift is a periodic omnibus of significant, but smaller, ingredients of history, genealogy, and news, received behind the scenes & sifted daily at Stray Leaves.

__________________________________________________________________________

Daniel Lewis James Movie “The Great Dictator” Banned by Thailand’s Ruling Junta

Blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Daniel Lewis James and first cousin of Jesse & Frank James, still makes news in the 21st century. Read “Thailand’s Junta Got Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’ Blocked From YouTube.”

Dan James gave Charlie Chaplin the unique American verbiage the British actor required when Dan co-wrote The Great Dictator with Chaplin. His story is featured in the chapter “All For the Underdog” in Volume I of Jesse James Soul Liberty.

___________________________________________________________________________

Farewell Barbara Pierce Bush – James In-Law

Each time I must enter the passing of another James family member into the master genealogy database for Stray Leaves, I do so with a measure of sadness. On rare occasion, such as in recent minutes, I do so with difficulty.

Barbara Pierce Bush was not of James blood. She is an in-law to her Bush family who is our blood. Like many in-laws of our family, Barbara Bush was a stellar influence whose impact never will be under-measured but celebrated instead.

For those among our family who found themselves at odds with Bush politics, none that I know ever found themselves at odds with the political understanding and insights that Barbara provided. She connected the dots with effective savvy and sometimes necessary glue.

Barbara Bush is a unique American treasure. Prayers will be left for those she left behind. For each tear, there will be a smile, followed by the music of laughter. She is a person well worth remembering and celebrating.

___________________________________________________________________________

Phillip K. Smith III Exhibits in Milan

Phillip K. Smith III
Phillip K. Smith III, Artist

Phillip J. Smith III has a new installation, “Open Sky,” in Milan, Italy.

Smith denies he is a third great-grandson of Susan Prudence James & John Wesley Smith, despite bearing all the customary genetic physical features of James descendants, including the telltale ear formation.

Smith is not the first to deny his kinship. Nor will he probably be the last. His art is rather ironic since it is constructed around the use of mirrors and reflective imagery. On the other hand, outside of Stray Leaves research into Smith’s ancestry, his art may be his only reflection of his self-constructed identity.

Open Sky
Open Sky by Phillip K. Smith III, Milan Italy, 2018

___________________________________________________________________________

Think You’re Anglo-Saxon?

Think you are Anglo-Saxon? Read this story, then check your DNA & your knowledge of archeology.

___________________________________________________________________________

Beware Minnesota Historical Society & Good Riddance as Executive Director of Kentucky Historical Society Departs 

Kent Whitworth-Minnesota Historical Society
Kent Whitworth

 

BEWARE MINNESOTA!!!

Former Executive-Director Kent Whitworth is the fool who bamboozled the Board of Directors of the Kentucky Historical Society into filing a lawsuit against its own members! He charged me and other members with trying to create a shadow government. Really! After filing his frivolous lawsuit, he then failed to prosecute it.

God only knows what nonsense he has in mind at the Minnesota Historical Society for the history of the Younger brothers and the James Gang.

___________________________________________________________________________

Query from Logan County (KY) Public Library

This week Mark Griffin queried me. Mark is the reference specialist at the Logan County Public Library in Russellville, Kentucky. Mark questioned, “Have you come across any information saying Gov. Thomas Crittenden of Missouri ever met with Gov. Luke Blackburn of Kentucky in Louisville to discuss the matter of Jesse James?”
My answer was as follows:

“I don’t know of any specific meeting, however, the following is known. Thomas T. Crittenden was a close ally and supporter of the James family, the family relationship stretching back at least a couple of generations and closer, following the killing of Jesse James. Crittenden had put out the $10,000 reward for Jesse’s capture, not for his murder.

Luke Pryor Blackburn
The wicked Dr. Luke Pryor Blackburn

“Dr. Luke Pryor Blackburn, born in Woodford County, Kentucky, contained two epidemics in Natchez, Mississippi in 1848 and in1854, one of yellow fever and another pf cholera. He also was a physician to Gen. John Anthony Quitman. Next to Quitman’s plantation on St. Catherine St. was the Forks of the Road slave market, operated by three brothers of the James family – Thomas Green, David Daniel, & John Duke James. The father of the James brothers, Thomas James, was a charge d’affaires to the Spanish government. Later he retired to Hyde’s Landing in Nashville, Tennessee where Frank and Jesse visited and lived periodically. Blackburn and the James surely would have known one another in this period.

“During the Civil War, Blackburn served with Sterling Price together with A.J. James.  A.J. was attorney general under Gov. Beriah Magoffin when Magoffin refused to send four regiments to Lincoln for the war. During the war, Magoffin’s descendants are a first cousin of Blackburn.  A.J. James served under Preston Leslie, and it is said under Gen. Joseph Orville “Jo” Shelby, who is Blackburn’s nephew. After the war, James would become Secretary of State. In retirement, A.J. James was president of the Farmers Bank of Frankfort, with Blackburn’s cousin Edmund Haynes Taylor on its Board of Directors.

Andrew Jackson "A.J." James from The Sift at Stray Leaves
A.J. James

“In the Civil War period, Blackburn shipped infected clothing to the North and to Lincoln, in particular, intending to kill him. Months after the war ended, Quantrill and the James brothers rode through Kentucky en route to Washington. It is said they intended to assassinate Lincoln. They were halted by Maj. James Bridgewater. Quantrill was killed. Frank James surrendered. Blackburn’s nephew Jo Shelby testified at Frank’s trial and Frank was exonerated.

“Blackburn is related to a small number of James. He also is kin to Presidents George Washington, James Madison, and the Lee family of Virginia of Gen. Robert E. Lee, as well as V.P. Richard Mentor Johnson. He also is related to my second wife through her grandfather R. J. Reynolds. Most of these kinships are in the third to fifth cousin categories.

“Given all of these relationships, it is entirely possible that Dr. Luke Pryor Blackburn talked with Gov. Crittenden.”

I referred Mark Griffin to Dr. Thomas J. Sabetta of the University of Kentucky, who recently was a panelist at the 2017 James-Younger Gang & Family conference. Dr. Sabetta currently is writing two books, one about Capt. Delos T. “Yankee” Bligh who pursued the James Gang, and another on “Dynamite” Dick Mitchel, a rider with John Hunt Morgan, Basil Duke, Sue Munday, and Sam Berry.

__________________________________________________________________________

Historic James Related Home For Sale

4090 Lexington Rd, Paris, KY 40361
4090 Lexington Rd, Paris, KY 40361. Childhood home of Elizabeth “Betsy” Wright, spouse of Justice John Thomas James

In this historic home in Paris, Kentucky grew up Elizabeth “Betsy” Wright, the spouse of Justice John Thomas James, a son of Capt. John James & Dinah Allen. Their long line of James descendants includes living family today. Notable among them is Richard “Dick” Overgard, who first contributed the data on this line to Stray Leaves almost 20 years ago.

Other notables in this line also include Sheriff John Payne Kelly Sr. of Kelly’s Ford in Culpeper County, VA., made famous in the Civil War. The Sheriff married Betsy’s daughter Margaret Wright James. Their son Granville James Kelly Sr. was postmaster at Kelly’ Ford and the father of Alexander Doniphan Kelly. At Kelly’s Ford, this family essentially knew everyone personally in and around Kelly’s Ford, including those associated with the escape of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincon’s assassin.

The home and property currently is for sale.

___________________________________________________________________________

Hite Family Reunion at Belle Grove

Hite Reunion logo
Hite Family Reunion 2018

This summer you can get a leg up on This Bloody Ground, Vol. II of Jesse James Soul Liberty.

Join the Hite Family Reunion 2018 at their historical, ancestral home, Belle Grove Plantation.

From this citadel, the Hite-Bowman family entered the frontier of Kentucky to inform, direct, and protect Frank & Jesse James’ pioneer grandfather John M. James in the wilderness. The keynote speaker is Richard Hite, whose book Sustainable Genealogy we have reviewed and recommended.

Hite Family at Belle Grove Plantation
Hite descendants visit Belle Grove Planatation

___________________________________________________________________________

Matrilineal  Ancestry Key to Choctaw & Chickasaw Descendants of the James Family

Susannah James from The Sift at Stray Leaves
Susannah James Colbert, matriarch of a line of James descendants of Chickasaw blood.

Our new and most recent research at Stray Leaves has taken a decided turn towards our James descendants of Choctaw & Chickasaw blood. Recently, we mounted a new searchable genealogy database, devoted to these two lines of unique James descendants.

A key thing to know when learning about the Choctaw and Chickasaw is how they differ fundamentally from our Anglo bloodlines.

In traditional Anglo bloodlines, power, family, and identity flow through the male paternal side of ancestry. Among those of Choctaw & Chickasaw blood, just the opposite is true. These Native-American tribes take their power, family, and identity from their female ancestry.

You can learn more about this matriarchal structure below where you will find a number of links and videos.

Matriarchs on chickasaw.tv
Stories of Chickasaw matriarchs can be viewed on the Chickasaw.tv video network.

___________________________________________________________________________

J. Mark Beamis – Photos from Exeter Reunion

J. Mark Beamis, son of Joan Malley Beamis and second great-grandson of Drury Woodson James, shares some photos from his recent 1973 class reunion at Exeter.

Exeter Class Reunion from The Sist at Stray Leaves

James Mark Beamis from The Sift at Stray Leaves
J. Mark Beamis, Class of 1973, Exeter College

___________________________________________________________________

CONTACT US with your Sift  

Do you have a sift we should know about? Contact Us in the menu bar above to send your sift to the Leaf Blower now.

 

What would Jesse James’ cousin, Dan James, do about Arizona ?

American’s iconic outlaw Jesse James had a modern day cousin who wrote movies and books using pseudonyms. One of the names he wrote under was Danny Santiago.

As Danny Santiago, Daniel Lewis James Jr. wrote an award winning novel, titled Famous All Over Town. Today the book is a classic, that is studied in countless college Hispanic studies programs. Dan’s protagonist is a 24 year old Chicano, named Chato Medina. Literally translated, his name means a cat from the old part of town.

Like Jesse James and Dan James, Chato had political problems. When the Southern Pacific Railroad began demolishing Chato’s neighborhood, Chato took up arms. His firearm of choice was a piece of chalk. Chato took his chalk to the streets. Everywhere he went Chato chalked his name in protest. Like Jesse and Dan who fought injustice, Chato suffered retribution. He became an outlaw and was jailed for his crimes. Like Jesse and Dan, Chato also became famous all over town.

Dan James wrote his novel after spending a significant part of his life working with his wife Lillith in the barrios of Los Angeles with the disadvantaged from the Hispanic community. Dan and Lillith introduced Hispanics kids to Hollywood celebrities, got their parents trade jobs in the film industry, lent them money when necessary, sent them to college, drank with them in their cantinas, and became godparents to a multitude of Hispanic children.

Dan’s grandfather was Jesse’s uncle Thomas Martin James. Taking some fancy European chinaware that was useless to fur traders heading into the Far West, T. M. James transformed his trading business in Kansas City into the famed T.M. James Fine China Co., later purchased by the Havilland Fine China Company. On the side of Dan’s mother Lillie Snyder, Dan’s great grandfather was Andrew Jackson Snyder. A.J. served as Brigadier General for Gov. Green Clay Smith in Montana Territory during the gold rush there. Later, as a stockman, A.J. offered to buy the Cherokee Strip to annex to his Texas ranch that sold 30,000 head of cattle per year.

Dan’s father and namesake, Daniel Lewis James Sr., wrote plays with characters that resembled Jesse James, too. Dan Sr. could never figure out, though, if his cousin Jesse was a sinner, or was sinned against. None of his plays was produced.

Daniel Lewis James, aka Danny Santiago

Dan Jr. was more like his cousin Jesse. Dan was a social activist. He worked for the longshoreman union organizer Harry Bridges. When Dan was arrested in the Bloody Thursday riots of 1934 in San Francisco, about the same time his cousin Barbara James was jailed for demonstrating for birth control, Dan Sr. suggested Dan confine his politics instead to the use of his pen.

Wielding a pen as his weapon also got Dan into trouble. Dan wrote the movie The Great Dictator with Charlie Chaplin, confronting the Fascist government of Mussolini. Like his cousin Jesse, his own government came down hard on Dan. He was brought before the House on Un-American Activities. Dan was accused of being a Communist, and he was blacklisted from making a living as a screenwriter.

Chaplin fled to his native England. Daniel Lewis James Jr. fled to the barrios of Los Angeles to continue to fight with the Hispanic community against bigotry and social inequality. Today, Daniel Lewis James would probably be in Arizona.

LINKS:

New York Times Obituary for Daniel Lewis James

Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration

What’s the Matter with Arizona?

Hey Arizona… We don’t need no stinkin’ “papers”!