Oscar winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was one of the most high profile victims of the anti- communist hysteria that swept through postwar America. When he refused to name names in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947, he was cited for contempt and sentenced to imprisonment joining the swelling ranks of "dangerous radicals" who were blacklisted by the major studios over the next decade.
This film transforms one of Hollywood's darkest periods into a jauntily entertaining slice of history that cuts a little deeper when it addresses the politics and individual tragedies of the blacklist era. It features a compelling central performance from Bryan Cranston who captures the real flavor of the dapper, gentlemanly Trumbo who remains an eternally reasonable, decent fellow even as his life is thrown off course by his principled stance.
Particularly delightful and wickedly funny is the magnificent supporting performance by Helen Mirren as the acid tongued gossip columnist, Hedda Hopper. Other fine performances are given by Diane Lane as his wife and Elle Fanning as his daughter both of whom were enlisted in Trumbo's elaborate blacklist-era ruses which enabled him to keep working. Also doing great work is Michael Stuhlbarg as Edward G. Robinson, a liberal activist who tragically names names to keep working as an actor. Many other Hollywood stars, including Ronald Reagan, are shown in clips from newsreels of the era.
Join us here at your Varsity Theatre as we take a look back at one of movie makings most fascinating eras. You'll be glad you did!
Excerpted from Rex Reed's New York Observer review:
“Bryan Cranston brings the complex personality of Trumbo to life with substance and humor. Gorgeous, constantly evolving Diane Lane is wonderful as Trumbo’s loyal, understanding wife, and so are Elle Fanning as his daughter and John Goodman as B-movie huckster Frank King, who gave Trumbo odd jobs writing junk scripts during his days as a blacklisted pariah. The movie walks a fine line between the struggle of a compromised talent and the assault on First Amendment civil liberties by bogus politicians who vowed to uphold them. Hopefully, Trumbo will broaden the knowledge of young audiences today that remain ignorant about Hollywood’s darkest past.”