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Cradle Will Rock

3.6 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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(May 16, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

Powerful and sweeping, the critically acclaimed CRADLE WILL ROCK, starring Hank Azaria, Joan Cusack, John Cusack, Bill Murray, and Susan Sarandon, takes a kaleidoscopic look at the extraordinary events of 1930s America. From high society to life on the streets, director Tim Robbins (DEAD MAN WALKING) brings Depression-era New York City to vivid life. It's a time when DaVincis are given to millionaires who help fund the Mussolini war effort and Nelson Rockefeller commissions Mexican artist Diego Rivera to paint the lobby of Rockefeller Center. A time when a young Orson Welles and a troupe of passionate actors risk everything to perform the infamous musical "The Cradle Will Rock." As threats to their freedom and livelihood loom larger, they refuse to give into censorship. Based on actual events, CRADLE WILL ROCK will move you.

Product Details

  • Actors: Hank Azaria, Bob Balaban, Jack Black, Rubén Blades, Joan Cusack
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Buena Vista Home Video - Mill Creek
  • DVD Release Date: May 16, 2000
  • Run Time: 132 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CWNU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,113 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Cradle Will Rock" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The time was 1936-the painful apex of the Great Depression. This was the world inhabited by the plethora of characters in this film. Most of them were real people-augmented by fictional counterparts. Composer Marc Blitzstein was real-as was his Brechtian musical. Its opening night is still considered the most extraordinary night in the history of American theatre. Rockefeller, Hearst, Diego Rivera, Orson Welles, and John Houseman were all real-and they did have a struggle with Actor's Equity and Federal Theatre Project (1935-39).

Tim Robbins, director, kept the film moving at a frenetic pace-flowing smoothly-overlapping several sub-plots and vignettes-and pulling it all together for the opening night of the landmark Marxist musical play. He cast his lovely lady-Susan Sarandon, in the small part of Mussolini's mistress Margherita. She shined as usual. Hank Azaria was very intense and effective as the composer Blitzstein-who heard "music" while immersed in the strife of the times. Ruben Blades played the artist Diego Rivera quite effectively-but that part will always belong to Alfred Molina after his turn in FRIDA (2002). John Cusack played NY mayor Nelson Rockefeller. Angus MacFadyen hammed it up a bit much as the young tiger-Orson Welles. Carey Elwes played John Houseman with a bit of a limp wrist. Cherry Jones was very good as Hallie Flanagan-head of the FTP. Vanessa Redgrave had a ball playing Countess LaGrange. Philip Baker Hall was the fictitious steel magnate-Gray Mathers. Bill Murray did a grand job playing ventriloquist-Tommy Crickshaw. Joan Cusack was prissy-good as muckraker Hazel Huffman. Emily Watson lifted our spirits playing down-on-her-luck Olive Stanton. John Turturro stood out as the young actor and family man-Aldo Silvano. The supporting cast was huge.
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Format: DVD
Although ultraconservatives will undoubtedly dismiss `The Cradle Will Rock' as blatant leftwing propaganda, the rest of us will see it as a fascinating rumination on the intricate relationship that has always existed between politics and art. Writer/director Tim Robbins, whose left-leaning sympathies are common knowledge in the film industry, has managed to create a screenplay of amazing complexity and depth, functioning on an enormous number of levels - political, historical, aesthetic, personal - without ever losing clarity and focus. He has set up a dizzying array of characters, yet each one is fleshed out with enough depth and particularity to make him or her a vital part of the overall tapestry.
Set in the turbulent 1930's, Robbins' tale focuses on the National Theatre Company, an organization set up by Roosevelt during the Depression to provide out-of-work artists a vehicle through which to ply their trade and culture-starved audiences a chance to revel in the glories of live theatrical performances. Unfortunately, it was also a time of great civil and political upheaval, with Communism and Fascism battling for supremacy abroad and many Americans divided along similar lines in their loyalties. With passions running deep, it was only a matter of time before many in the United States Congress began suspecting the NTC of Communist sympathizing - and it was a short road from there to the eventual dismemberment of the organization. The film centers on the production of a controversial musical play called `The Cradle Will Rock' that portrays the glorious coming of unionism to a steel factory, a scenario that parallels the events in the lives of several of the characters in the film.
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Comment 38 of 44 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Cradle Will Rock is a piece of theater history. It was made during the Great Depression in the 1930s when times were hard and entertainment was escapist. However, Cradle Will Rock was a generic story that made a dramatic statement about the times and how hard life was. It was so strong, it was banned, but the actors believed in the message so much they performed anyway at the risk of their jobs, something scarce and vital in those days.

The writing in this film is incredibly well done and the cast is amazing. It is overflowing with notable actors (John Cusack, Hank Azaria, Susan Sarandon, Cary Elwes, Bill Murray, etc) and famous characters (Diego Rivera, William Randolph Hearst, Orson Welles, etc). Most films about this era are disappointing because they don't seem to capture it without being preachy or overly sentimental. This one is not perfect, but it is much closer. Aside from the historical stories, the film is actually interesting to watch and the characters are relatable.

The music is done well too. The characters do not just burst into song; they have a reason for singing when they do, which is not too terribly often.

The only complaint I have is the historical accuracy of some of the real characters. As a fan of silent films, I was disappointed to see that the few scenes with Marion Davies managed to portray her as a drunk and a dimwit. Even Hearst was portrayed to be rather overbearing and pompous. Still, they were a minor part of the action and did not ruin the film.
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