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. ...
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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
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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