Tom Basham

Trumbo

In This Just OUT on December 12, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Trumbo-PosterI just saw “Trumbo” and I feel compelled to give my testimony. I wasn’t alive when most of these events took place, when most movies were black and white and you could be white and be on a black list.

Dalton Trumbo (Brian Cranston from “Godzilla“) wrote movies in five different decades and under dozens of names. He’s one of the screenwriters known as the “Hollywood Ten” who got caught up in the “Special Committee on Un-American Activities” that Senator McCarthy was so proud of.

With the rise of fascism in Europe, some people in this country responded by going one notch above the liberal Democrats to take a look at the Communist Party. Trumbo was one of those Americans whose opinion was different from the rest of the country and it cost him almost everything. He didn’t do much to further the Communist cause, but he was still painted with the big red brush. He and nine of his fellow screenwriters refused to answer to the Committee. So, they were all fired by the movie studios and sent to jail.

These writers committed no crimes, yet were held in contempt of Congress. Trumbo had contempt for the committee as well. He waited for the country he loved to acknowledge their error in judgment and vouch for the principle of free speech and his right to assemble. He and the other nine stood up for these things they believed in and they stood alone. Worse than that, they were ostracized by just about everybody in the country.

At least, people aren’t judged today if they have an NRA card in their pocket or a Qur’an under their arm.

This movie does a great job exploring Trumbo’s personal struggle in the course of his historical heresy before the court of public opinion. All he had left was his family and his imagination. The only weapon he had to wield was the power in his pen.

With an eclectic cast made up of some of the best character actors working today, Director Jay Roach (“Meet The Fockers”) shines a light on many of the Hollywood icons who stayed in the shadows while their friends and associates suffered the scorn of an ignorant public. This stain on the Hollywood Ten lasted for decades, but the shame on those that let it happen can never be redeemed.

I was in a theater all by myself when I saw this movie. That’s much like the life of the great writer Dalton Trumbo, alone, in a room or a bathtub, battling the world. Winning two Academy Awards (“The Brave One” and “Roman Holiday”), under the names of other people, was still not enough to let him back in the club. It took someone with the courage of Spartacus to stand up for him. For that, I must give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. Don’t let me be the only one to see how Trumbo wrote himself back into the movie business.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:
 https://bashmovies.wordpress.com

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