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Cradle Will Rock (1999)

 -  Drama  -  12 April 2000 (France)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 7,655 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 157 user | 71 critic | 31 from Metacritic.com

A true story of politics and art in the 1930s U.S., focusing on a leftist musical drama and attempts to stop its production.

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Title: Cradle Will Rock (1999)

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Cast

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Storyline

In 1930s New York Orson Welles tries to stage a musical on a steel strike under the Federal Theater Program despite pressure from an establishment fearful of industrial unrest and red activity. Meanwhile Nelson Rockefeller gets the foyer of his company headquarters decorated and an Italian countess sells paintings for Mussolini. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

1930s | theatre | depression | union | play | See All (48) »

Taglines:

Art is never dangerous -- unless it tells the truth. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

12 April 2000 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Abajo el telón  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$93,998 (USA) (10 December 1999)

Gross:

$2,899,970 (USA) (21 April 2000)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite the fact that this was filmed in Super 35, "Filmed in Panavision" is listed in the end credits. See more »

Goofs

During the discussion in the Federal Theatre Project office early in the film, a (color) wall map of the USA can be seen including Alaska and Hawaii. Neither of these states were part of the union in 1936. See more »

Quotes

Congressman Starnes: You are quoting from this Marlowe. Is he a Communist?
Hallie Flanagan: I am very sorry. I was quoting from Christopher Marlowe.
Congressman Starnes: Tell us who Marlowe is, so we can get the proper reference, because that is all we want to do.
Hallie Flanagan: Put in the record that he was the greatest dramatist in the period immediately preceding Shakespeare.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is a heart in the credit roll with the following initials inside; SS, EMLA, JHR & MGR (SS is likely 'Susan Sarandon,' EMLA for Sarandon's daughter Eva Amurri, JHR & MGR for Robbins' & Sarandon's sons Jack Henry & Miles Robbins). See more »

Connections

Referenced in Gangs of New York (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

The Cradle Will Rock
Written by Marc Blitzstein
Performed by Henry Stram, Timothy Jerome (as Tim Jerome), Victoria Clark (as Vicki Clark),
Erin Hill, Daniel Jenkins (as Dan Jenkins) and Chris McKinney
Courtesy of RCA Records
See more »

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User Reviews

This Rocks
5 November 2000 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

Tim Robbins is a good actor. Not great, but it is clear in his acting that he has a passion for the theater. Now he has written and directed something that elevates him to world class.

The simple first: Tim has learned from Altman how to make a camera move in such a way that the viewer becomes part of the action. Some of his long, multithreaded action shots are breathtaking. More, this is used to tie together dual threads and multiple stories. Altman again, but even Altman is inconsistent in this.

But Tim can do something Altman cannot. He tunes this ensemble so tightly it seems that they are siblings. Many individual performances deeply charm, reach high.

That alone makes this a must see. But there's more. This is yet another play about a play, a common enough genre that has a very specific set of pitfalls. Robbins the writer cleverly avoids this with a facile trick. Uncareful viewers will see this as a simple, left-leaning story about artistic McCarthyism (Jesse Helms anyone?). But that is a ruse. The story is just the excuse.

Watch it again and look for why the play couldn't be put on. It was the unions, as much coopted by the system as Rockefeller that was the real threat and who the players defy at the end. This ahistorical fact was inserted for a reason.

Also watch for how the whole thing is nested in Faust, with a deeper recursive level with the players as the puppets in Faust. The puppet thing is worked a few other ways with Murray of course, but also so many others until we feel that the only non-puppets are the actors.

I think this is one of those cases where Robbins exceeded his own intellect, but it still works as a deeply recursive self examination, even of itself, because he trusted his instincts as dramatist (and presumably the actors' instincts as well).

I rate this high for intelligence. It achieves what Altman has not. Some seem to object that some of the characters are silly: Wells and Houseman and the Countess. But this is deliberate. They are playing players IN A PLAY. That's the point. Perhaps it would have been better to not use historical names since it confuses people who might look for accuracy.

Some misgivings though. Sarandon's performance was the weakest. Cinematically, the crushing of the mural during the performance was blunt editing. The pacing was off -- it should have been better integrated with the pacing of the play's action. The transposition of the dummy to modern Broadway was radically less subtle than the dummy theme's life in the rest of the play. If you didn't tease it out early, you'd be confused.


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