Trumbo

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  • Documentary, Historical , produced in 2007 USA
  • Actors: Joan Allen, Brian Dennehy, Michael Douglas, Paul Giamatti
  • Directed by: Peter Askin
  • Rating: 7.7 out of 10
  • Plot Summary: In 1947, novelist and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN, KITTY FOYLE) was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee, which accused him of being a communist. He refused to answer certain questions, resulting in his imprisonment and becoming one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of Hollywood professionals (including director Edward Dmytryk and writer Ring Lardner Jr.) who were unable to get work in their chosen fields, under their own names, for many years. After reading ADDITIONAL DIALOGUE: THE LETTERS OF DALTON TRUMBO by Trumbo's son, Christopher, director Peter Askin (COMPANY MAN, the stage version of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH) got together with Christopher, first collaborating on the theatrical production of TRUMBO, followed by the cinematic version. In the documentary, Askin uses archival footage and home movies of Dalton Trumbo, along with interviews with Dustin Hoffman, Kirk Douglas, writer Peter Hanson, theater impresario Emanuel Azenberg, and Christopher and Mitzi Trumbo (one of Dalton's daughters), to craft an engaging portrait of a tough, brilliant man who had a deep sense of pride and an entertaining, unique way with words. The heart of the film consists of staged readings of some of Dalton Trumbo's writings, including personal letters to friend--and to the phone company--by such actors as Brian Dennehy, Michael Douglas, Paul Giamatti, Nathan Lane, Liam Neeson, David Strathairn, and others. The words are read with both reverence and sly humor; Donald Sutherland, one of the stars of the 1971 antiwar film JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN--the script was written by Trumbo, based on his own novel--gives an impassioned reading of an excerpt from that story that is especially moving. But the film is about more than just one fascinating character; it is also about a frightening period of American history that is still relevant today.
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