4½ Out Of 5 Stars


Bryan Cranston delivers a superb performance to shed light into an intriguing period of time.  


A family eagerly awaits for the announcer to say the magic words.  They suddenly erupt in such exuberance for the words red, ‘Ian McLellan Hunter”.  Everyone can’t believe it, their father, her husband, has won the Oscar for creating the story that on that same night gave a young Audrey Hepburn her Oscar.  Spawning from a screenplay, that of an inconspicuous princess who sneaks out of royalty and falls in love while discovering the real world.  Soon after, Ian McLellan Hunter rightfully feels obliged to meet with and give the Oscar to Dalton Trumbo … the man who really … won such Oscar.  

Bryan Cranston inches just a little further into the realm of household recognition and longevity as the ever so talented screenwriter “Dalton Trumbo” who at one point was the highest paid writer in Hollywood, known for some of the most impressionable and memorable movies in history (Roman Holiday, Spartacus, The Brave One, Exodus, etc.).  Director Jay Roach takes us through a history lesson in a way that feels as if we’re not sitting in a classroom at all (my problem with Spielberg’s Lincoln), as he recreates the antiquity of old school Hollywood in Trumbo, based on the book “Dalton Trumbo” by Bruce Cook.  

Passionate in his position on the government and how America should conduct herself, Trumbo was blacklisted amongst many such as the whimsical Louis C.K.  Slowly unable to receive work as a screenwriter, testifying in press hearings to be broken and admit that he’s a communist, facing scrutiny for his beliefs and constantly being put to the test to be broken, even being put in prison as part of such scrutiny, his family in isolation from others, spearheaded by gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) joined by the likes of some well known Hollywood faces like John Wayne, who will top at nothing to take down Trumbo and those who think alike, Trumbo fights on.  He never gave up.  And the first objective to cross off on his list is to get back to doing what he loves best, writing.  Now working under aliases for a low budget production company/small distributor (helmed by Frank King played by the as always brilliant John Goodman), Trumbo writes and he writes.  He finishes the first script in 3 days.  King gives him more and more work and at least 5 Trumbos to be conservative about it are needed.  Thus ensues the working blacklist of the rest of the writers outcasted and even prisoned as well.  

Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) testifying under scrutiny to admit if he's a communist or not.  
I loved learning about the historical events as they unfolded.  How those still in Hollywood who were friends with those blacklisted were outcasted as well, just not officially.  I didn’t know Edward G. Robinson went through what he did for being friends with Trumbo.  People couldn’t get work if they named names.  They lost their homes, their reputations as credible actors and industry men and women, it was tragic to witness and intriguing to want to invest more in this period of time once the credits rolled.  It was reassuring when people stood by Trumbo on his path such as Kirk Douglas.  Which comes at no surprise as the tough mobility of a character of such deems appropriate.  When Douglas fought to use his spectacle the classic Spartacus (1960) as leverage to keep Trumbo’s name, his real name, in the credits and to see it highlighted in all of its glory at the premiere, I wanted to cry along with him to finally be recognized for one’s work.  I don’t know how I would’ve handled such a rotten tomato as a fellow writer.  Douglas by the way, still alive, stated it was quite compelling to re-witness the events again and that it “captured the spirit of the man I admired”.  

From the opening images of the hands responsible for such a narrative, and when the beautiful film noir music kicks in, I was hooked.  All within a matter of the first 10 seconds or so.  The first sign that you know it’s going to be brilliant!  Trumbo never gave up, a reminder that we all should never give up as well for what we seek to achieve in life.  

Trumbo (2015)
Drama/Biography, 124 Minutes, R
Based on the Book, “Dalton Trumbo” by: Bruce Cook
Screenplay by: John McNamara
Directed by: Jay Roach
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, John Goodman, Louis C.K., Elle Fanning, Michael Stuhlbarg, & Helen Mirren 

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