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Showing 1-10 of 28 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 84 reviews
on October 6, 2016
This is a great movie, way too underappreciated. Directed by Tim Robbins as a fast-moving series of tableaux, it provides a spirited window into the Depression era, the creation of the WPA public theater project, the growing anti-Communist fervor, pre-WWII maneuvering by the great powers, and above all the backstory of the story of the creation of something new in theater, a musical with a message, by Marc Blitstein, and a radical one at that, and the story of the heroic actors and musicians who managed to perform "The Cradle Will Rock" against all odds. See it if you've never seen it before, or even heard of it; or, like me, see it again for the third or fourth time. But who's counting?
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on January 7, 2017
I had to watch this film for a college theatre course dealing with censorship, and really enjoyed it. There are not many films of this scope that I like as much. The reason, I think, is that these movies that have so many subplots that feed into the main plot are usually so busy that they are hard to follow, or they treat each subplot so sparsely that they all seem half-baked and poorly treated. Tim Robbins seems to have the right combination, and treats each character and subplot with enough detail to keep the audience wanting more, switching scenes at strategic points that kept me glued to the film without pausing it during its entire run.

The movie makes it clear that a federal theatre probably would never work in a republic like America, because art demands complete freedom of expression. And no matter how well-intended a federally-funded theatre may claim to be, there will always be those controlling the purse-strings that will want to dictate what can and cannot be done with the money. Socialism as an idea was something that people at that time were looking into as an idea and so naturally themes of socialism were creeping into some of the work that was being created.

While some boundaries can be good for artistic creativity, it will backfire if seen by the artistic community as oppressive or governed by commerce or other less-than-pure motives. That is why these artists eventually came together and worked around the restrictions placed on them that were intended to halt the performance, and created an impromptu performance of this musical from the house.

It was a very inspiring movie, and there were a few artistic touches I enjoyed. One was the dispute between Diego Rivera painting the mural filled with communist imagery in one of John Rockefeller’s buildings. Another was the children’s beaver play being suspected of communist propaganda (which it may arguably have been, although not intentionally). And I liked the touch of having the ghost of Bertolt Brecht accompanying Marc Blitzstein’s wife’s ghost as inspirations for the direction he takes in writing and composing the play.

I had not heard of this incident in the history of the WPA, or this movie about it, and it seems to have gotten a ho-hum reaction at the box office and by the critics. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would watch it again. It's worth a look if you like movies set in the post-WWII era or are a theatre buff.
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on June 22, 2017
Intense story beautifully acted and produced. Stellar cast. Excellent direction by Tim Robbins. You'll need to to watch it more than once to really understand all the politics and deal-making that went on then. Important story -- should be part of high school US history education.
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on March 22, 2014
This makes a great companion to ME AND ORSON WELLS, for this depicts the Orson Wells production of the pro union musical CRADEL WILL ROCK as the center piece of a larger story about FDR's Federal Theatre Project. It is about the demise of vaudeville, the difficulty of federally funded socially conscious political theatre, the Great Depression and how all the arts were affected in positive and negative ways during that time. There is a great sense of fun and although many of the characters are fictional the various story threads are all true and this is definitely a more entertaining way into this history than factually based reporting. Theatre lovers will really enjoy this.
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on May 13, 2016
While there are moments of cartoonish characterizations, the movie is a sprawling success. I use this film to teach (upper levels) about an important time in American Theater, and I find the movie holds up extremely well under repeated viewings. I always discover something new that I had overlooked. And sadly, the movie feels more topical than ever.
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on October 1, 2016
great movie about the rise and fall of public art and the Public Works Administration, with plausible sketches of Diego Rivera, William Randolph Hearst and young Nelson Rockefeller. Bill Murray shows conclusively that he's not just a comic talent; our boy plays tragedy.
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on March 2, 2016
Movies about movies (or in this case plays) are often very self-indulgent and self-congratulatory on the part of the filmmakers, and this one was no exception. However, it entertainingly illuminates a dark chapter of our nation's history, where fascism was on the rise worldwide, and not fully repudiated by us.
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on August 9, 2016
Interesting look at the late 30's/early 40's. If that period intrigues you and you know how Frida Kahlo and Diega Riveria played into that part of history, this movie is for you. If you have no interest in the arts, you won't like it.
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on June 3, 2016
another video for my volunteer group, it was greeted joyfully and watched happily. I use my sustenance giving to the group to get the videos they want and this was another. It was in great shape and arrived well before the time was up.
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on March 4, 2010
I was most interested in the genre of the 30's and 40's-- What was happening and the characters who stopped the music because of prejudice and unrestrained labeling causing drastic impact on the genius of American life; the birth of the labor unions and the reasons for;the sad and arrogant behind the scene "movers and shakers" of that era; the state of the Union at that time period. This cast of stars depicted the personalities involved in a most changing/ground breaking time in American life before WWII. It was entertaining yet had a noir undertone of seriousness and darkness that required hard choices. The DVD, purchased on Amazon, was new and at a great price with a timely delivery. I recommend it!
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