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|Index||13 reviews in total|
I saw this at the Toronto Film Festival on September 12, 2007. During
the post-screening Q & A, several audience members were saying that the
producers should do everything they can to get the film distributed. It
seems that they picked up on the idea that first amendment issues of
fifty years ago still resonate. This excellent documentary includes
many interviews of Dalton Trumbo who, as one of the Hollywood Ten, was
blacklisted from 1947 to 1960--when he was finally given screen credit
for the films Exodus and Spartacus.
The producers of those films were also interviewed: Otto Preminger in archival footage and Kirk Douglas in a recent (and poignant) interview. The best part of the film is the lively Trumbo himself in interviews from the 1940s to the 1970s. The entire package is elevated artistically by a cast of top-notch actors who give great performances using only Trumbo's words, from his letters and other writings. The best of these is Nathan Lane's reading of Trumbo's letter to his son on the subject of masturbation.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I thought I knew Trumbo. You know, saw his movie and many movies which
he wrote. I also knew he was one of the Hollywood 10. So superficially,
yes, here is a guy I like, one of the good guys.
But I did not know he was SUCH a good guy. Here is a man who fought for his principles, who went through terrible duress... and was never broken. Here is a man who sees how his little daughter is ostracized and mentally tortured for being the daughter of a Commie, and writes a beautiful and indignant letter to the principal of her school in response. Here is a man who playfully writes to his teenage son telling him it's OK to masturbate. Here is a man who writes to his friends, telling them of his troubles, thanking them for their support, and who says he was of course in contempt of the Committee: he felt nothing but contempt for them.
And although I was moved all along, I had to break into tears when he mentioned the fall of Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War and how he would have liked to have been here, and maybe if "we" had been here, Barcelona would not have fallen and a better world would have been possible... or else fall with the city and be buried in its ruins, as nothing else mattered.
Here is an unsung hero. We need many, many more men like him.
When many people think of movies several thoughts came in mind: Who are
the actors? Is this a good movie? Who directed? But many times we
forget to ask ourselves who wrote it and why someone wrote this kind of
movie? After all writers are the real movie creators, they develop a
story, plot, scenery, what period the story is set, everything comes
from a good story. Author, novelist and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo
(1905 - 1976) was one of the greatest writers of all time not only
on-screen but off-screen too. Many of his credits are well known films
such as "Papillon", "Johnny Got His Gun", "Spartacus" and "Roman
Holiday". But why is he so famous you may wonder. Sadly, Trumbo was
enlisted in the Black List of artists considered to be Comunists by the
House of Un-American Ativities in the late 1950's. After that he was
arrested for a year, released but he couldn't work anymore because he
was one of the Hollywood Ten figures to not answer some of the
"Trumbo" is a documentary about the man in all of his forms: writer, father, person, husband, friend and more. Directed by Peter Askin and written by Christopher Trumbo (Dalton's son) based on his own play, this documentary is an original look into the life and work of one the greatest screenwriters of all time. Not only that. An ensemble cast appears performing and reading many letters written by Trumbo during his different moments in life. Michael Douglas, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Josh Lucas, Donald Sutherland, Liam Neeson, Brian Dennehy, Nathan Lane and Paul Giamatti puts the emotion by reading and performing Dalton's vision of the world, his fights against the people who harmed him and many others brilliant pieces of writing.
Here there's testimonies of people who met him, like his son, some friends, Dustin Hoffman, Kirk Douglas (who helped Trumbo during the period when he couldn't write by giving Trumbo an screen credit for his work on "Spartacus") and we seen archive footage of Trumbo himself in many interviews. This great man was a strong supporter of freedom of speech, a great liberal that was misunderstood in his time when many thought that he was Comunist because of the subjects and the way dealt with it in his films. But he was also a fighter, that fought against all the problems he had, stood up for those who were his friends, an peaceful and funny warrior. To quote his own words: "I don't look for trouble but they look for me".
An interesting subject that appears here is all of Trumbo's works on movies during the Black List period using a fake name (The Front). He wrote many movies using a front, one of them is "Roman Holiday" and the other was "The Brave One" (under the name of Robert Rich). "The Brave One" won an Academy Award of Best Screenplay in 1957 and no one attended at the Ceremony to pick the Oscar. Of course, Trumbo couldn't show up because he was forbidden to write, Motion Picture Association wouldn't let. But the Oscar was given to him years later. It's a very interesting thing that doesn't happen these days, screenwriters nowadays doesn't have that kind of experience to put into an screenplay. Trumbo did that, used his own hard experience in movies like "Spartacus", "Papillon" and "Johnny Got His Gun". If you pay attention to this movies when they appear in the documentary you will notice that the characters quotes are a reflexion over Trumbo's life but at the same time it's something that fit very well in the movies. Highly recommended! 10/10
For those of us too young to remember first-hand the evils of that
horrid period in American history known as McCarthyism and the rampant
loss of freedom & justice during its barbaric witch-hunts, this is a
profoundly important film to watch.
At a time when terms like "patriot" are increasingly misused, abused and bastardized, the story of writer, Dalton Trumbo, and others like him who suffered grave injustices in the hands of their own fellow countrymen, needs to be heard far & wide and esp. by the young in this country.
I wished they would add this film & others like it to every high-school history-class curriculum, as they are just as relevant today. An immensely moving and heartbreaking story & an absolute must-see (be sure to read the closing credits.)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
...far more exposure on this site, and way more reviews. It's a sad
commentary that so few IMDbers have seen this film. The example of his
life and the sort of things that Dalton "Spartacus" Trumbo had to say
"back in the day" (beautifully voiced in this doc by any number of top
actors) are as timely and relevant right now as they were then, and
IMDbers are all the poorer for ignoring them (or even simply being
unaware of them).
"Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,""Rocketship X-M,""The Brave One,""Cowboy,""Spartacus,""Exodus,""Hawaii,""Papillon,""Always;" all bear the Trumbo imprint, as do dozens more, including perhaps his most enduring masterwork, "Johnny Got His Gun," based on his own novel and arguably the most blisteringly effective anti-war tale of the 20th century, even more than "All Quiet on the Western Front." Trumbo was a master screenwriter, and a fine writer besides; this eponymous doc was adapted by Trumbo's son, Christopher,from his own play, and was directed by Peter "I'm in with the Hedwig crowd" Askin, edited by longtime Michael "I'm big" Moore associate, Kurt "At the Edge of the World" Engfehr, shot by Frank "Night of the Living Dead (1990)" Prinzi, and scored by Robert "Teeth" Miller. They all did a magnificent job, with (to reiterate) no small thanks to C. Trumbo's well-crafted script and, as I've already mentioned and will mention again, the superb readings of D. Trumbo's letters by several handfuls of accomplished actors.
"Trumbo" is as perceptive and trenchant a look at personal integrity as one might ask, and an interesting little history lesson to boot. It's also a reminder that there is exactly one thing that creates the foundation for a top-quality movie: the screenplay.
The film does a terrific job of examining Dalton Trumbo's unyielding
beliefs, his cantankerous personality, and most importantly his words.
His letters are read by terrific actors like David Straithairn and Donald Sutherland, and it's in these readings that we get an insight into how sad and deep America's fear of intellectuals and artists really is.
The film has flaws, including rushing through some of the most important turns in Trumbo's professional life (e.g., his return to finally being able to take credit for his work in 1960) and there's a slight lack of emotional punch to the whole thing. But this is intelligent filmmaking, and Trumbo's words will ring in my head for a long time.
Review: I actually enjoyed this documentary which showed how hard it
was for screenwriters during the hunt for communists in America. I
liked Dalton Trumbo's clever way of writing, which was truly wasted
during this period. He wrote movies like Spartacus and in some of his
films he had to go under a different name, even though he did win a
couple of Oscars, which one of them he couldn't collect. The director
of this documentary cleverly used great actors to narrate some of
Trumbo's story through his own writings, which shows how Trumbo used
words in a extraordinary way. The only problem that I found with the
film was that it doesn't really show what movies Trumbo made or his
actually contribution to Hollywood, which is a shame because he was a
highly talented individual. The movie concentrates on the negative side
of his life more than the whole writing process which would have made a
better documentary but it's definitely worth a watch just to see how
far we have come in the movie world. Watchable!
Round-Up: I must admit, it was the list of actors that drew me to this documentary and not the subject matter, but after watching it the thing that I enjoyed the most was the way that Trumbo wrote and his life story. The actors do portray his story well and because of the fact that they are all A-Listers, it shows how much Trumbo was highly respected. It's was good to see Kirk Douglas and Donald Sutherland, who have actually worked with Trumbo, so they were talking about there experiences with this great screen writer. We could do with a person like Trumbo in this day and age because there is a lack of scripts in Hollywood which are original and classed as classics.
I recommend this documentary to people who are interested in the writing process of making a film during the blacklist period. 5/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For those of us not quite old enough to remember first-hand the evils
of that horrid period in American history known as McCarthyism and the
rampant loss of freedom and justice during its barbaric witch-hunts,
this is a profoundly important film to watch.
At a time when terms like "patriot" are increasingly misused, abused and bastardized, the story of writer, Dalton Trumbo, and others like him who suffered grave injustices in the hands of their own fellow countrymen, needs to be heard far and wide and especially by the youth in this country. I wished they would add this film and others like it to every high-school history-class curriculum, as they are just as relevant today.
An immensely moving and heartbreaking story and an absolute must-see (be sure to read the closing credits.)
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 (rather
than the typical Fifth) Amendment in refusing to answer questions under
We have insights from Donald Sutherland; we also have Michael Douglas, Nathan Lane, Brian Dennehy and Liam Neeson reading letters in their smooth, rich voices. What a great way to welcome audiences to the story of political persecution.
Trumbo himself says that "people joined the Communist Party because they felt it was doing something". He never really comes out and embraces Communism, but the whole era was a mess -- America allied with the Russians in World War II, and once the Nazis were defeated, anyone with Communist sympathies was tossed aside.
This film also has great archive footage of Walt Disney and others.
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