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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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Superb documentary ! The Trumbo movie with Brain Cranston is also excellent.Published 4 days ago by Novacize
Excellent movie Dalton Trumbo was persecuted for his beliefs from a government on a witch hunt for personal gain, it was masterly captured in this movie.Published 25 days ago by Keith LeBlanc
This movie grows on you and builds on great acting and shows me John Wayne and Ronald Reagan and others as maybe not so much true legends, but real people making bad judgement... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Joe Catino
In my opinion this is an outstanding documentary. I saw it once and then I purchased it for my own collection. Read morePublished 1 month ago by L. C. Jenkins
I don't know, I just couldn't get past the first 15 minutes. I am aware of quite a bit of what happened during the McCarthy era but this movie just kept getting slower and slower... Read morePublished 2 months ago by thymegarden
He was a fabulous screenwriter and a family man. He spooked out on what he believed was right according to his principles.Published 3 months ago by roberto rivera