Man on a Tightrope

Man on a Tightrope ★★½

After Kazan's testimony for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which degraded his reputation within the film industry, Kazan decided to direct a feature to make him look less like a pussy. What did he direct? A film against the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. An anti-communist film. A film promoting the Cold War fears of the American public. In other words, Kazan remained a pussy.

Now, there's plenty to criticize about the governments in Europe and Asia that utilized forms of communism, Marxism, etc., but the matter of importance is Kazan refusal to stand for beliefs he once held and his decision to point out members of leftist groups whom he knew. This context really dampens the quality of Man on a Tightrope, which is a competent enough escape drama about a circus troupe crossing the border to safety. The knowledge that Kazan went along with the witch hunts that helped spurred many terrible actions after World War II, not only from McCarthy's terrible hearings, but through the United States' various agencies and top officials, including the president himself, muddies a somewhat forgettable film that entertains nonetheless into a work with little redemption. Therefore, I can't praise Man on a Tightrope as anything more than a coward's plea for attention.