Trumbo

Trumbo

DVD - 2009
Average Rating:
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Documents the rise of Dalton Trumbo's career in Hollywood and his subsequent public humiliation for being among the 'Hollywood Ten' blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1940s for communist associations. Exiled and penniless, he wrote under various pseudonyms, and even won an Academy Award. Viewed by many as a moral and just man, Dalton stood for the American value and right of free expression.

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f
Fuzzy_Wuzzy
Oct 23, 2017

To say that this Hollywood, celebrity documentary (about a 15-year blacklisting of screen-writer, Dalton Trumbo) could've been a whole lot better would truly be an understatement.

It was in 1947 that Trumbo was brought forward before those witch-hunters, the House Un-American Activities Committee, in order to testify against others in the film industry who were suspected of having Communist ties. Trumbo, of course, refused to cooperate (hence the blacklisting).

What inevitably lost this potentially promising documentary (about pigheaded democracy) some serious points was the overall approach that it took towards its subject where irksome, grandstanding actors (all a bunch of annoying talking heads) read, out loud, letters that Trumbo had written before, during, and after his blacklisting. It was all a heap of totally redundant drivel, IMO.

*Note* - In 1976 - Dalton Trumbo died at the age of 71.

c
COURIER3
Aug 07, 2016

Never knew of the man until I seen the documentary. Interesting.

s
sdetasnady
Jul 27, 2016

Interesting documentary made by Trumbo's son could have been more interesting had there been no "name" actors reading out his letters: most of them grandstand, others merely read the words, but all in all it comes off as a distracting technique.

b
BlueHippo
Jun 20, 2016

A totally documentary video about this man. Actors and actresses read from his letters, statements, and other documents. There was some very interesting footage of congressional hearings and some great historical pictures and other footage. I see that several people really liked this video. Overall, I thought it was pretty boring. I have checked out the more recent film called "Trumbo" with Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, and Helen Mirren and I think I will like that better

xaipe Feb 04, 2016

Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was one of the most famous of the "Unfriendly Ten" which included Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Katharine Hepburn, Melvyn Douglas and Fredric March who were all also blacklisted in 1947 in the first flash of America's witch-hunts in the Army McCarthy hearings. But that's pretty much all that the casual observer knew about him before his son, Christopher, wrote a play based on his father's blacklist-era letters, called Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted" which was adapted as an off-Broadway production directed by Peter Askin. Now Peter Askin's documentary, which includes dramatized readings by such familiar names as Joan Allen, Brian Dennehy, Michael Douglas, Paul Giamatti, Nathan Lane (who played Trumbo in the play), Liam Neeson, David Strathairn, and Donald Sutherland fills in the historical gaps with newsreels, interviews, and some film clips. The importance of this documentary is that it shows how much of a boat rocker Dalton 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. "Trumbo" isn't really about Communism, it's about thought control, and the power of this film comes from its varied, non-manipulative portrayal of an indomitable creative spirit. This excellent documentary is a good accompaniment to the recently released movie "Trumbo."

v
voisjoe1_0
Nov 22, 2015

This 2009 Trumbo documentary is relevant in 2015 because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was highly racist and jingoist in the 1950’s and is basically the same today. Today, while 22% to 38% of Americans consider themselves to be non-white, the Academy is still 93% white and increasing its diversity to other races by only 1% a year. This would be one explanation of why minorities were nearly totally excluded from motion pictures from the 30’s to the late 50’s and why none of the Oscar actor nominees in 2015 were minority. When just a handful of white film directors and writers in the 1940’s to 1950's were pursuing film themes of workers’ rights and civil rights, this small threat was considered so big that these courageous people were blacklisted from working in American motions pictures for more than a decade. This massive exclusion of diverse ideas surely is one of the major sources of today’s racist and jingoistic American society.

m
Monolith
Feb 22, 2014

Incredible ignorance and paranoia running rampant in the '50s, and unforgivable injustice to countless innocents, including these artists as a result (pushing some of them to suicide). I had mixed feelings about the celebrities' participation in this documentary reading Trumbo's letters; while I found it an admirable tribute, I also found it somewhat distracting. Still an excellent look back at a very sad chapter. (Looking forward to Bryan Cranston in 2015's film about the man.)

s
SeaMom2one
Nov 11, 2011

AMAZING!! Why is this not required in every US History class!!!

It has been a long time since I have watched a documentary that I could not pause, could not stop watching.

t
Twayne
Sep 14, 2010

Excellent documentary, but with the source material being so compelling it may be hard for it not to be good.

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