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Trumbo More at IMDbPro »

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27 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Dalton Trumbo: Smart, Funny and Courageous

10/10
Author: Terry Meehan from Lakewood, Ohio
16 September 2007

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.

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27 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

"Trumbo" personalizes the Blacklist

8/10
Author: nataloff-1
29 June 2008

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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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

I was blown away

9/10
Author: larean57 from Spain
19 May 2009

*** 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.

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Trumbo: The Peaceful Warrior

10/10
Author: Rodrigo Amaro (rodrigo882008@hotmail.com) from São Paulo, Brazil
24 April 2010

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 Congress's questions.

"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

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Be sure to read the closing credits...

8/10
Author: Nooshin Navidi from United States
11 September 2010

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.)

~NN

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

This is one documentary that deserves...

8/10
Author: MrGKB from Ohio
9 August 2010

*** 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.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Excellent documentary on the legendary blacklisted writer

8/10
Author: runamokprods from US
29 May 2011

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.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Freedom of speech should be important to everyone.

9/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
26 October 2015

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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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

fantastic story about holding to what you believe in, despite the odds

10/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
16 April 2015

"Trumbo" is an amazing documentary about screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a man who won an Oscar under another name in 1965 and couldn't go and pick it up.

What a story, told mostly by Trumo himself through his letters, segment of his book "Johnny Got His Gun," and interviews he gave. The letters and book portion are read by a wonderful cast: Michael Douglas, Josh Lucas, Nathan Lane, Paul Giametti, Diane Lane, David Strathairn, Brian Dennehy, Liam Neeson, and Donald Sutherland.

There are also interviews with his children, Mitzi and Christopher, Walter Bernstein, Otto Preminger, Kirk Douglas, Dustin Hoffman, Kate Lardner, and others.

We're shown a brilliant man who is an equally brilliant screenwriter. His career is stopped thanks to the blacklist, because he refused to answer "are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?" - not taking the fifth amendment which would protect him from self-incrimination, but, like the rest of the "Hollywood Ten," the first amendment where the government is prohibited from inhibiting free association, and their right to silence.

Trumbo liked a good fight, and he stuck to his beliefs, even though it meant going broke, having to move to Mexico, and ultimately writing 18 screenplays under other names or being uncredited.

It wasn't until the late '50s, when some producers began hiring blacklisted people and 1960, when Otto Preminger and Kirk Douglas broke the blacklist by crediting Trumbo for their films, that the blacklist began to lose its sting. It would take others much longer to regain their reputations, if they ever did. Many lives were ruined in its wake.

This is such a compelling documentary, but if you weren't around in that era, it probably won't have the impact it did on someone like me. When I was growing up, the most terrifying thing in the world was Communism.

In truth, it was a philosophy that sounded good to people during the depression. Philosophies on paper always sound good - unfortunately they don't work when you have human beings involved. Most people became disillusioned with it and, after attending some meetings or even joining, gave it up.

Sadly, if. like Lee Grant, you even went to the funeral of someone who was suspected of being a communist, you were blacklisted.

As Trumbo put it, the Elks were probably as influential in the end. But J. Edgar, McCarthy, and others saw Communists under every chair. It was a furor that caused a lot of damage and denied us the work of some great artists.

Highly recommended for an excellent look at what was going on during that time.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Should be on the high school required-reading list (be sure to read the *closing credits*)

9/10
Author: Nooshin Navidi from United States
6 June 2014

*** 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.)

Was the above review useful to you?


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