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 »
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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
Freedom of speech should be important to everyone.
This episode of "American Masters" was originally a film and was later shown on PBS as part of this series. Interestingly, before this it was a play--all written by Christopher Trumbo and all about his father, the famous blacklisted screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo. Back during the Red Scare Trumbo was one of the infamous hostile witnesses who refused to cooperate with the House of Representatives and movie industry in their effort to ferret out suspected commies. As a result, his career was severely damaged...practically destroyed. How he learned to get around this blacklist as well as what he thought about all this is addressed in the film. How? Well, a variety of highly respected actors all recreate the writings of Trumbo and provide his voice (as he died back in 1975). Additionally, many people who knew him or knew of him contribute to this look at the very cranky writer's life and career. Well worth seeing--very well made and compelling today in this climate of political correctness--not exactly comparable to the blacklists and Red Scare but at times darned close!
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