Trumbo (2015)

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The career of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo is halted by a witch hunt in the late 1940s when he defies the anti-communist HUAC committee and is blacklisted.

Release Date:October 27, 2015
Production Company:Groundswell Productions, Inimitable Pictures, ShivHans Pictures
Production Countries:United States of America
Director:Jay Roach
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:movie business, screenwriter, parent child relationship, communist, biography, hollywood, writer, communism, blacklist, mccarthyism, film, 1940s, movie industry
  • Are you now or have you ever been . . .
    November 30, 2015

    Trumbo (2015), which is based on the life of Dalton Trumbo, was directed by Jay Roach. It stars Bryan Cranston as Trumbo.

    Trumbo was the highest-paid writer in Hollywood, and he was really, really good. Although it was legal to be a member of the Communist Party, Trumbo actually went to jail because he wouldn't name names before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

    Sadly, many actors and screenwriters ran afoul of the HUAC witch-hunt. Some named names. In this movie, that person is Edward G. Robinson (Michael Stuhlbarg). (Historically, but not included in the movie, director Elia Kazan did the same thing.)

    The HUAC was supported by a cheering squad, among whose ranks was gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, played brilliantly by Helen Mirren.

    The HUAC wasn't satisfied with sending people to jail. They wanted to destroy them. They accomplished this by enforcing the blacklist. Anyone on the blacklist couldn't find work in Hollywood. All doors were closed to them. Some moved to Europe, others wrote and directed using substitutes or false names.. Many of them were desperate, because they were cut off from any income despite their the ability to work effectively in their profession.

    John Goodman is brilliant in the supporting role of Frank King, a studio owner who has never overestimated the intelligence of the people that flock to his Grade B movies. Diane Lane plays Dalton Trumbo's wife, Cleo Trumbo. It's not really a great role, because she truly does have to portray the long-suffering wife. Still, she manages to pull it off. Helen Mirren plays Hedda Hopper. Hopper loves the fact that millions of viewers read her column every day, and that gives her a power that even studio heads don't have. Mirren is one of the great actors of our day, and this is another movie where she demonstrates just how great she is.

    A positive aspect of this movie is that it shows a writer actually writing. We get multiple scenes of Trumbo pounding on his typewriter, fueled by alcohol and benzedrine. Most movies about writers show every part of their lives except writing. Director Roach doesn't make that mistake.

    We saw Trumbo on the large screen at the excellent Little Theatre in Rochester, NY. It will work almost as well on the small screen. Trumbo may turn out to be the best film of 2015. Don't miss it!