Demonizing Dalton

Trumbo

trumbo_ver2

Director: Jay Roach

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Louis C. K. Michael Stuhlbarg, Helen Mirren, John Goodman, Stephen Root, Roger Bart, Dean O’ Gorman, Alan Tudyk, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Director Jay Roach really gives audiences an opportunity to witness Bryan Cranston’s acting talents first hand as Cranston plays the Oscar nominated role of blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in California in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950’s.

With the rise of McCarthyism in the early 1950’s and the vindictive Committee on Un-American Activities whose sole aim was to root out the perceived communist threat within Hollywood and many other facets of American society, the anti-communist witch hunt become notorious for ruining reputations and lives of artists, actors, directors and screenwriters. Even the famous playwright Arthur Miller was perceived as a threat and his persecution was illustrated in his classic play The Crucible.

trumbo

Dalton Trumbo, wonderfully played by Cranston, is an unconventional yet brilliant screenwriter who becomes one of the Hollywood Ten perceived by the Committee as harbouring Communist sympathies. Trumbo was, as his friend Arlen Hird played by Louis C. K. said, a Socialist with Champagne tastes. His flamboyant cigarette smoking, his unusual method of writing screenplays in the bath, his reliance on Benzedrine were all traits of a fierce creative genius who was ripe for prosecution.

Michael Stuhlbarg also gives an impressive performance as Edward G. Robinson who will do anything to maintain his lavish lifestyle.

In one of the great artistic injustices, Trumbo is found in contempt of the Supreme Court and sentenced to a Kentucky penitentiary for close to 18 months. Upon Trumbo’s release he is faced with the prospect of supporting his wife Cleo played by Diane Lane (Unfaithful) and three growing children, one of which is his feisty daughter Nicola superbly played by Elle Fanning (Maleficent).

Trumbo approaches a B-Grade studio, King pictures and soon does rewrites under a pseudonym under the guidance of the studio boss, Frank King boisterously played by John Goodman (The Gambler, Barton Fink). Helen Mirren (Woman in Gold, The Queen) pops up looking suitably glamorous as the Hollywood actress turned gossip columnist Hedda Hopper who ambivalently supports the Communist witch hunt and soon suspects that Trumbo is indeed writing Oscar winning screenplays under another screen writer’s name.

roman_holiday

The Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck romance Roman Holiday was credited to Ian McLellan Hunter, played by Alan Tudyk in Trumbo, but was actually written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo. Roman Holiday won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and went to McLellan Hunter acting as Trumbo’s front.

In steps Kirk Douglas played by Dean O’ Gorman who secretly approaches Trumbo to write a screenplay about a man taking on the world. That film was to become the blockbuster Spartacus.

spartacus_ver2

Besides the cinematic historical value of Trumbo, the injustices he suffered both personally and artistically, what carries Jay Roach’s film, is Bryan Cranston (Argo) who never falters in his brilliant portrayal of the legendary Dalton Trumbo.

Trumbo is a brilliant film, perhaps slightly uneven at times, but a fascinating portrayal of one man’s quest to get his name cleared and eventually receive the recognition from Hollywood that he deserves, especially for his talented contribution to film.

Trumbo is highly recommended viewing especially for cineastes and film historians, a brilliant portrayal of Hollywood in the 1950’s and the persecution of intellectuals by the American government of the time, whose paranoia concerning the cold war with Russia reached unreasonable proportions.

 

Comments are closed.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
February 2016
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
29  
  • Biden’s Antitrust Squeeze May Grease the Wheels for TV Deals (Column)
    The Biden administration made a statement earlier this month when the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the $2.1 billion sale of Simon & Schuster. Merrick Garland’s body block of the deal that ViacomCBS struck with Bertelsmann’s Penguin Random House sends the message that the White House is paying attention to the pace […]
    Cynthia Littleton
  • Disney’s ‘Encanto’ Leads Muted Thanksgiving Box Office, ‘House of Gucci’ Lands Impressive Debut
    Disney has reclaimed its rightful place at the top of Thanksgiving box office charts. “Encanto,” the studio’s new animated musical fable, collected $40 million since Wednesday, a robust tally at a time when family audiences haven’t been eager to return to cinemas. It’s become holiday tradition for Disney to release a family friendly movie around […]
    Rebecca Rubin
  • Domenico Procacci on Making Directorial Debut With Davis Cup Docuseries ‘The Team,’ Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)
    Italian producer Domenico Procacci, after shepherding more than 100 movies and several TV series, including Netflix’s upcoming Elena Ferrante adaptation “The Lying Life of Adults,” via his Fandango shingle, is debuting as a director with six-part documentary series “The Team.” Variety speaks to Procacci exclusively about what prompted him to go behind the camera for […]
    nvivarelli
  • BTS Lights Up L.A.’s SoFi Stadium on Night One of Permission to Dance Tour
    BTS kicked off its four-night takeover of Los Ang’s SoFi Stadium on Saturday night with a much-anticipated sold-out show that thrilled tens of thousands of proud Army who packed into the venue. The two-hour set, for the boy band’s Permission to Dance On Stage tour, was rife with confetti, smoke, pyrotechnics and — of course […]
    Angelique Jackson
  • ‘Dying to Divorce’ Review: A Sobering Documentary That Scrutinizes Turkey’s Femicide Problem
    “Dying to Divorce” begins and ends with an onscreen counter, ticking over as rapidly as a zealous taxi meter — if only it were measuring anything so banal. Instead, it’s a representation of Turkey’s appalling rate of femicide over recent years, the screen below the counter filling up with the names of women murdered by […]
    Guy Lodge
  • Read More
    Different providers offer different cell phones, so take a look at the options from each provider to choose the right one for you. You may also want to look into any promotions that the providers have to offer, such as free cell phones in exchange for signing a contract. Tags: 2gmhass90