Title ID 60Collection ID333
Title[The Stringless Yo-Yo]
Date[ca. 1960s]
CollectionHarvey Matusow
KeywordsBroadcasting Central Government Law Enforcement Political Movements Political Demonstrations Social Movements
LocalNew York
NationalUnited States North and Central America
ProductionHarvey Matusow various
EditorHarvey Matusow
ParticipantsAngus Cameron; Albert Eugene Kahn; Orval Faubus (Governor of Arkansas); Senator Joseph McCarthy; Senator McClennan (?); Harvey Matusow; Congressman Willis; Mr Wilson
FormatBlack & White Sound
Duration67 min. 11 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


Harvey Matusow explores his complex relationship with the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in two reels of film. A range of archival images and sounds are edited together in a non-linear, avant-garde format.


Reel 1 - This reel of film contains an eclectic mix of images and sounds, often edited together in a rapid and seemingly disjointed fashion. Archival images of student demonstrations in America, a street execution in Asia, photographs of prominent figures of state, animated designs and cartoons, clips from feature films and shorts (including Len Lye's Swinging The Lambeth Walk (1940)), and American television commercials and programmes are edited together with courtroom coverage of the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) proceedings. Congressman Wilson is interviewed by a press reporter about a Communist conspiracy. Angus Cameron and Albert Kahn, publishers of Harvey Matusow's upcoming book "False Witness" are interviewed by a member of the press about their subpoenas. Harvey Matusow himself is seen in various courtroom appearances and at a press interview, defending his actions and committing to telling the truth.

Reel 2 - This reel has a less convoluted style than that of reel 1. It contains prolonged footage of Harvey Matusow courtroom appearances before the HUAC, at which he attempts to justify his actions as an informant in the McCarthy hearings, admits to perjury, and accuses other witnesses of similar behaviour. Matusow's verbal wit and intelligence are evident in these courtroom scenes - his occasionally audacious style of presentation disarms the Committee senators, amuses the spectators, and attracts the camera's gaze. Also included on this reel of film is a direct address by Harvey Matusow, footage of his various arrests, and images of American student demonstrations and arrests. The reel ends with the words 'The Stringless Yo-Yo' and with animated designs that have been scratched onto the film itself.


A Still from [The Stringless Yo-Yo] (1960s) - Harvey Matusow

Contextual information

In [The Stringless Yo-Yo] (1960s) Harvey Matusow edited newsreel footage from his recent past (some of which he purchased) with a range of other moving images to produce a film which sits within the experimental, or avant-garde, genre. It is highly probable that the film was only exhibited within the confines of the counter-culture to which Matusow was connected with during the 1960s and 1970s.

Harvey Matusow was born in New York in 1926. He joined the American Communist Party in 1946 but switched allegiance when the McCarthy era took hold in 1950. Between 1951 and 1954 he was an official (paid?) government witness, supplying the FBI with information on Communist Party members and activities. In 1955 however he was charged with perjury for the false information he gave regarding union leader Clinton Jencks. His sentence was quashed under appeal but he was immediately charged with further counts of perjury by a Grand Jury in New York - he was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Matusow became involved with the arts counter-culture in New York and London following his release - he moved to London in 1966, finding that he had been blacklisted in the United States. Matusow returned to the States in the 1990s where he ran a public access TV station and performed under the clown persona 'Cockyboo'.

[The Stringless Yo-Yo] (1960s) forms part of Harvey Matusow's varied archive - he began depositing items at the University of Sussex in the late 1960s. Screen Archive South East currently houses the collection's audio-visual material, including the film [Matusow Hearing] (1955), a compilation of rushes from Matusow perjury hearing. [Goddard Interview with Matusow] (late 1950s?) and United Press: Interview with Matusow (late 1950s?) contain press interviews with Matusow which were conducted at the time of his hearings. Screen Archive South East also holds another of Matusow's experimental films entitled The Enchanted Pot (1960s?) and several home movies.

Related titles

Related resources


Lichtman, Robert M. Deadly Farce: Harvey Matusow and the Informer System in the McCarthy Era. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

This book details Harvey Matusow complex career, paying particular attention to his role in McCarthyism. A copy of the book is available at the British Library.

Kahn, Albert Eugene. The Matusow Affair: Memoir of a National Scandal. New York: Moyer Bell, 1987

Harvey Matusow publisher, Albert Eugene Kahn, recalls the events surrounding Matusow involvement in the McCarthy era. A copy of the book is available at the British Library.

Matusow, Harvey Marshall. False Witness. New York: Cameron & Kahn, 1955

Harvey Matusow describes his career as a paid government witness and as an aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy during the investigations into un-American activities. A copy of the book is available at the British Library.


The Harvey Matusow Archive, University of Sussex

The Harvey Matusow Archive at The University of Sussex Special Collections, "is a vast and eclectic repository of potential interest to anyone researching twentieth-century American politics, cultural history and underground movements. Separated into two distinct collections, the first is an archive of papers relating to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Communist ‘witch-hunts’ of the 1950s, the second documents underground culture (art, magazines, music) of New York and London in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Together, the two halves of the Harvey Matusow Archive colourfully illustrate the extraordinary career of a man actively involved in both, whose political affiliations were as eccentric and volatile as his cultural interests. The material spans the 1940s to the early 1970s and is housed in over a hundred boxes." The majority of the collection was donated to The University of Sussex by Harvey Matusow himself, on the belief that it would not be treated objectively in the United States of America. The Collections are now held at The Keep and can be searched using the online catalogue.

The Harvey Matusow Archive at The Keep


Time Magazine

Time Magazine published various articles about Harvey Matusow, notably in the period of his court hearings. These articles can be searched via the Time Magazine online archive.


Remembering Harvey Job Matusow 1926-2002: The Stringless Yo-Yo

This is the official website of Harvey Matusow which includes a preview of his online autobiography entitled The Stringless Yo Yo.