Only a few high-priced lawyers maneuvering desperately stood last week between "the Hollywood ten" and jail. Two of the noisy leftist screenwriters and directors had been convicted of contempt of Congress, fined $1,000 each, sentenced to one-year jail terms for refusing to tell the House Un-American Activities Committee their political affiliations. Last week the Supreme Court decided, 6 to 2, not to hear their appeals.
While the court's action dealt only with Writers Dalton Trumbo and John Howard Lawson, it was equally decisive for the eight other members of the Hollywood ten indicted for the same offense. They had signed stipulations waiving jury trials and agreeing to be bound by the law as decided in the Trumbo-Lawson cases. Barring some unexpected legal reversal, all ten faced jail.
If any of them should be sent to the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Conn., they would step into as odd a situation as any they ever conceived for a movie plot. One of the inmates at Danbury is New Jersey's pudgy, broken ex-Congressman J. Parnell Thomas, who is behind bars for padding his congressional payroll and pocketing the proceeds. It was he who presided over the committee that cited the Hollywood ten for contempt.