Through a focus on the life of Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976), this film examines the effects on individuals and families of a congressional pursuit of Hollywood Communists after World War II. ... See full summary »
Through a focus on the life of Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976), this film examines the effects on individuals and families of a congressional pursuit of Hollywood Communists after World War II. Trumbo was one of several writers, directors, and actors who invoked the First Amendment in refusing to answer questions under oath. They were blacklisted and imprisoned. We follow Trumbo to prison, to exile in Mexico with his family, to poverty, to the public shunning of his children, to his writing under others' names, and to an eventual but incomplete vindication. Actors read his letters; his children and friends remember and comment. Archive photos, newsreels and interviews add texture. Written by
He was Hollywood's greatest screenwriter. His words still resonate today. He defied a committee, he defied the system. They took his honor. They took his freedom. So Dalton Trumbo went to war. But the ending could only be written by him. See more »
Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was arguably the most famous of the "Unfriendly Ten" who were blacklisted in 1947 in the first flash of America's witch-hunts. But that's pretty much all that the casual observer knew about him before his son, Christopher, presented his letters in the two-hander "Trumbo." Now Peter Askin's documentary, which includes dramatized readings from Trumbo fils' epistolary drama, fills in the historical gaps with newsreels, interviews, and a minimum of film clips ($). The importance of this documentary is that it shows how unquiet Trumbo was, how his insistent visibility helped break the Blacklist, and how the forces that tried to make the Blacklistees toe the line are still running things. For any doctrinaire Right-wingers reading this summary, "Trumbo" isn't about Communism, it's about thought control -- something both Left and Right seem to be fixated on imposing. The power of this film comes from its varied, non-manipulative portrayal of an indomitable creative spirit.
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