Guilty by Suspicion

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Guilty by Suspicion
File:Guilty by suspicion.jpg
Promotional movie poster for the film
Directed by Irwin Winkler
Produced by Steven Reuther
Alan C. Blomquist
Nelson McCormick
Arnon Milchan
Written by Irwin Winkler
Starring Robert De Niro
Annette Bening
George Wendt
Sam Wanamaker
Martin Scorsese
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Michael Ballhaus
Edited by Priscilla Nedd-Friendly
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
(Time Warner)
Release dates
March 15, 1991
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States/France
Language English
Budget $16 million
Box office $9,480,198

Guilty by Suspicion is a 1991 American drama film about the Hollywood blacklist and associated activities stemming from McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Written and directed by Irwin Winkler, it starred Robert De Niro, Annette Bening and George Wendt.

The film was entered into the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.[1]

Plot summary

David Merrill (De Niro), a director in 1950s Hollywood, returns from abroad to find that a rising tide of McCarthyism and the Red Scare has led to his not being allowed to work in films. He will only be allowed to direct once he implicates colleagues as Communist agents. He must decide whether to turn informant, or to stick to principle at the cost of his life's work.



The film opened to good reviews and earned praise for Robert De Niro's performance. Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half out of four stars and wrote that the film "teaches a lesson we are always in danger of forgetting: that the greatest service we can do our country is to be true to our conscience."[2]


Before the film was released, a fight broke out over the film's script clean up which happened between director Irwin Winkler and former blacklisted writer Abraham Polonsky: through others, Polonsky learned Winkler changed the political convictions of the De Niro character. He was resentful of the change over. In the rewrite, the David Merrill character was changed from a Communist Party member to a relatively apolitical liberal. Winkler based his conception of Merrill on blacklisted director John Berry, who would come back to Hollywood film though it took time to get off the blacklist. Polonsky was so offended that director Irwin Winkler changed the main character that he not only had his name taken off of the picture, he also refused an executive producer credit that would have earned him a substantial fee.


  1. "Festival de Cannes: Guilty by Suspicion". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  2. "Guilty By Suspicion". Chicago Sun-Times. The Chicago Sun-Times. 1991-03-15. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 

External links