First Hit: Although I didn’t like the main character much, this was an excellent well executed film.
This is one of a few new films that reach back into the 1950’s and the cold war with Russia. All of them, including this one, are very good.
This movie is about how Congress, more specifically a few Republican members, decided to railroad anyone in Hollywood that was connected with the Communist party. The fear based thought of these politico was a reminder of some of the fear based thought we have today in the Republican candidates.
The film doesn’t focus on Communism or anything other than people sticking up for their beliefs under the rules set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights in the United States. This is the heart of the story and how a group of writers, led by Trumbo (Bryan Cranston), were blacklisted from writing Hollywood scripts and therefore making a living because they were Communists.
Famous Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) was a major source for identifying Hollywood folks who had communist leanings. When actors and sympathizers like Edward G. Robinson (Michael Stuhlbarg) couldn’t find work, they named names as well.
Led by John (Duke) Wayne (Davis James Elliot), a group of Hollywood stars jumped on the Congressional band wagon and supported rooting out and keeping Communists from getting work. Trumbo’s family suffered and did everything he could to keep his family with a roof over their head.
He also helped his writer comrades as well. But of course it was hard and it hurt his relationships with his wife Cleo (Diane Lane), family, and especially his admiring daughter Niki (Madison Wolfe and Elle Fanning). On his side was B level film producer Frank King (John Goodman) and fellow writer Arlen Hird (Louis C.K.).
Bryan Cranston was very good. He embraced this character fully and made it work very well. Mirren was fantastic as Hopper – very believable. Davis James Elliot was very good as John Wayne. He embraced the man I ran into once in Newport Center coming out of a bookstore. Stuhlbarg was fair as Robinson however, my history of watching the real Edward G. on film this performance didn’t quite match up. Lane as Trumbo’s wife was perfect: Strong, intelligent and also devoted with perseverance. Both Wolfe and Fanning were great as daughter Niki. Extra kudos to Fanning as she showed once again how to command the screen and scene when needed. Goodman was very good as B film producer King. C.K. was very strong as blacklisted writer Hird. John McNamara wrote a very strong script. Jay Roach did a great job of piecing together real historical footage and filmed footage.
Overall: This was a valuable story and came through the lens elegantly.