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This documentary has some first-rate actors reminiscing about their acquaintanceship with Trumbo during those McCarthy-era years, and reading his letters. If you think sitting and listening to actors read letters would be boring - this DVD will change your mind. People such as Paul Giamatti bring Trumbo to life via these sometimes acerbic, sometimes affectionate, always literate letters.
The readings and reminisces are interspersed with footage of the HUAC hearings, showing the Hollywood celebrities who felt pressured to "name names," and those who refused and suffered the consequences. There is also home movie footage and photographs providing snapshots of Trumbo's family through some of the good times and the bad. We see Trumbo as being above all a family-man, sustained through the years of Black List ostracism by these relationships. So at its core, this turns out to be an unexpected love story.
Whether the people who were blacklisted had entertained Communist sympathies or not - this film puts a personal face on the ordeal of being blacklisted for one's beliefs - or suspected beliefs.
What do you say about a man who stood his ground without reservation? A visionary who fell from grace, and found dignity to be different.
In 1946 thru 1960 Trumbo weathered the assault of the United States Government, a Senator from Wisconsin Joseph R. McCarthy, and hollywood's disgrace. The House on Un-American Activities, et al, imprisoned him for a year, and took away his only means to survive, writing. The man who gave us, "Johnny Got His Gun" was deprived by a man without intellect or judgment to render such opinion(s).
Dalton son, Christopher directed the film. In my opinion made it real, without error, and that is what Trumbo demanded. This film will make you cry, and laugh, and a little of both.
You are Spartacus, James Dalton Trumbo,
"Barcelona fell, and you were not there, and I was not there, and perhaps if we had been, the city would have stood and the world would have been changed and better. But we were here, and here together we remain, and our city won't fall, and if it should, better that we lie buried in its ruins than be found absent a second time."
The film has some interesting moments. The excerpts from Trumbo's novels and screenplays make clear that he was talented. The story of the Trumbo family scraping out a living during the blacklist is fascinating. There are also many great photos of Trumbo, his family, and his friends.
Trumbo's letters take up too much of the film. Granted, he was a witty correspondent and some of the letters are brilliant. But I quickly started to lose interest. The actors' readings add little; the filmmakers could easily have used one anonymous narrator and gotten the same effect.
There is not enough about Trumbo's life story in the film. The viewer hears nothing of his early life or of his later years; the focus is on his time as a screenwriter. There are hints of alcoholism, profligate spending, and truculence, but the man never emerges. The most-frustrating aspect of the film is that it omits any discussion of Trumbo's true political views, which are at the heart of his life story.
Trumbo is not a bad movie, but I want to know more about him.
Thus it becomes a matter of priciple for Dalton Trumbo and the other Hollywood writers to make that stand. All they has to do was to inform on friends. Those who had participated in the crime of speaking their own minds.
I write this on Veteran's Day. A day many gave their lives so that others could speak freely, even if they themselves adamantly disagreed with there politics or religion. It was a matter of the American Spirit itself, forged in the crucible of war, where many died or were wounded just so that their sons & daughter could live "free". Trumbo and the others also took that symbolic stand. The Supreme Court, aka Supreme Denial, refused to hear their case when they were marched off to jail. Many subsequently committed suicide. It was economic warfare on the ten who dared speak against the power. Some crumbled. Those that survivived suffered divorces, poverty, and other degradations, as a consequence of not only talking American, but being American - not bending over to the tryanny, but standing up against the powerful for the principals upon which this country was founded.
Ironicaly, the Supreme Court, aka Supreme Denial, in Buckley vs. Valeo in 1976 ruled that Free Speech is $$$$, thereby guaranteeing economic capital's purchase of the peoples' political capital. Corporations, with remorseless impunity, could corrupt the peoples' elections, strangling anychance of meaningful representation of the poor/middle classes.
This documentary has Kirk Douglas, his son Michael, Donald Sutherland, Liam Neeson, and others reading the letters of those writers and Trumble. That is worth the price of admission alone.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I grew up watching Trumbo on the Johnny Carson show, so I knew a little bit about him. I learned unknown facts and bits of his personality that I didn't know from this video. Read morePublished 3 days ago by LG Bess
Not the movie. Actually a documentary. It was good but I was thinking that it was the movie that is nominated for an Academy Award.Published 7 days ago by JohnnyG
Wait for the movie. This documentary with others' ultra-dramatic reading of Trumbo's words was more like a Freshman drama class.
Totally over acted. Shame.
This is an amazing, must-see movie about the ways the American public was manipulated by politicians and power-mongers. Interesting how these things cycle. Read morePublished 14 days ago by cgf