David Merrill (Robert De Niro), a fictitious 1950s Hollywood Director, returns from filming abroad in France to find that his loyalty has been called into question by the House Committee on...
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David Merrill (Robert De Niro), a fictitious 1950s Hollywood Director, returns from filming abroad in France to find that his loyalty has been called into question by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and he is unable to work until cleared. Before being called, his highest priority had been his work to the extent of leaving his wife (Annette Bening) and son (Luke Edwards) alone for several months at a time. He initially refuses to implicate others or himself in a private meeting with Roy Cohn and a studio lawyer. This decision initially to stick to his principles first leaves him unable to work in his profession, even with films and producers he never would have worked with before. Harassment by the F.B.I. leaves him unable to work on Broadway, with advertising agencies, or even in a small film repair shop. Finally, having fallen so far, and tempted with a new offer to direct a film from his old studio (if he testifies), he agrees to go before the Committee, initially ...Written by
Mike Harris <email@example.com>
Robert DeNiro plays David Merrill, a movie director who is 'Zanuck's wonder boy' at Fox as the movie opens. He's been in Europe for awhile so does not know the full impact the HUAC has been exerting on actors in Hollywood. Zanuck asks David to 'purge himself' so instructs him to meet with a man who has a lot of questions for him, all having to do with people he might or might not know (real actors names are mentioned in this scene) and DeNiro complies, but only to a point, because his best friend Bunny Baxter (George Wendt) is the last name on the 'list.' David can't deal with any of it anymore and storms out of the meeting.
Eventually he finds out the hard way that because he is being uncooperative, he is being portrayed as a Communist sympathizer and cannot get anymore work as a director in movies so he moves to New York to try to get work in the theatre.
Movie has a strange feel to it. There is something underlying in almost every scene, a strange current that flows through the movie because so much of this is about what is unsaid, what is damaging and what is the right thing to do. Husbands betray wives, best friends name best friends, and no one knows how to destroy this thing that has invaded them.
DeNiro, Annette Bening, George Wendt and Chris Cooper are riveting. Sam Wanamaker, Martin Scorsese, Tom Sizemore and Ben Piazza are very good in small roles. Patricia Wettig goes slightly over the top as an actress whose child was taken from her.
Not fun, but worth seeing, and for fans of old cars, DeNiro drives around in the most beautiful white convertible you've ever seen. Wish I knew what type of car it is! 8/10.
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