Trumbo

Trumbo

82%
  • Trumbo
    2 minutes 19 seconds
    Added: May 21, 2008

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Trumbo Reviews

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flixsterman
flixsterman

Super Reviewer

January 10, 2009
I don't often seek out documentaries myself but this one is well worth the extra effort if you can find it. A compelling narrative about a courageous and extremely intelligent human being.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

August 12, 2010
In the beginning, there was the word and in the end, there was only the word, which in the case of the documentary
"Trumbo" are the letters and screenplays penned by famed writer Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood 10, held in contempt of Congress(Not to be confused with contempt for Congress) for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee(HUAC) and jailed for a year.(Ring Lardner Jr. said he would have hated himself in the morning if he had.) After being blacklisted for ten years as a result and struggling to find any work, Trumbo's first onscreen credit was for "Exodus," due to Otto Preminger and his enormous brass balls.(Even with his liberal credentials, Preminger was never called before HUAC because as bullies, they were deathly afraid of him. It would have been funny if he had been, though.) Unlike I had originally presumed, this was only the first of many bricks in the blacklist to be taken down.

That's not the only misconception that "Trumbo" seeks to correct, although it confuses HUAC with Senator Joe McCarthy. They were two separate entities, amongst the many red baiters out to ruin people in the 1950's. In front of the committee, the writers pled the first, not the fifth amendment, because they felt had done nothing wrong by freely associating with the Communist Party which was the only political organization active in political change at the time. The documentary seeks to illustrate Trumbo's role in these events by interviews(some with him before he died in 1976), archival footage, film clips and actors reading Trumbo's letters which is a mixed success at best. This takes the movie out of the realm of being a documentary and into a performance piece(Actually, this was adapted from a play). The best are Nathan Lane reading the only positive letter ever written from father to son on the subject of masturbation and Paul Giamatti reading a letter to the phone company. All of which provides a complete portrait of the writer as a cantankerous soul(nice people generally do not usually make good fighters). But for the best insight on the blacklist, check out "The Front."
Jeff T

Super Reviewer

September 9, 2008
Fascinating man being given a not-quite-as-fascinating-as-he-is documentary treatment. But still, an amazing story.
TonyPolito
May 22, 2010
Instead of viewing more of today's mass-pulp cinema, filled with fictional cardboard-heroes fighting against-all-odds, click into this, the TRUE story of one man who actually DID stand on righteous principle, against a system in-the-wrong, regardless of the personal and professional price that it would eventually extort.

Trumbo, as one of ten Hollywood writers facing the witch-hunt that was McCarthyism, informs the Un-American Activities Congressional panel that, constitutionally speaking, it has no legal right to deny or probe an American citizen's political beliefs, that being the very tyranny from which the First Amendment aims to protect. The price for so informing them, of course, was a Hollywood blacklisting.

This is a surprisingly impressive and moving telling of Trumbo's story. Collated into the archival footage telling the timeline of events are nine A-list actors honoring the man by reciting repeatedly from his personal papers. These monologues make incredibly plain the extraordinarily gifted writing, personal integrity and innermost thoughts of the man as he persevered through being ostracized, blacklisted and imprisoned - and eventually schemed his own redemption.

Also interwoven are scenes from films authored by Trumbo that the viewer here learns are not just high-minded eloquent scriptwork but rather a reflection of Trumbo's personal values, beliefs and actions (eg, the refusals to betray as told in "Spartacus" & "Papillon").

An extension of 1993 stagecraft. All rights to this film were purchased by (the now defunct) Red Envelope Entertainment branch of Netflix.

RECOMMENDATION: Highly worthy intellectual viewing.
jam233
September 6, 2009
A unique documentary, actors read personal letters Dalton Trumbo wrote. It's an effective approach. Professionally made, very good score. Very informative.
andrewmil
July 9, 2008
ruined by a terrible sci-fi channel worthy synth score, but good for the acting. best michael douglas scene since d-fens took out neo nazi frederic forrest execution style
May 23, 2008
I didn't quite like the way it was told (via a bunch of hammy actors soliloquy) but an Interesting story.
Robyn M.
April 20, 2013
Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was arguably the most famous of the "Unfriendly Ten" who were blacklisted in 1947 in the first flash of America's Communist witch-hunts. Seems today somewhat outrageous and comical. But sadly History still continues its search for creative thinkers who go against the grain and think for themselves. The Documentary cherishes Trumbo's memories through letters, pictures, and interviews by beloved family and friends including some of Hollywood's biggest names. The real shame is preventing talent from shining!
December 28, 2011
seems we're about to face another McCarthy era. this movie should be required viewing for all those who face scrutiny for their belief in freedom, by those who have been indoctrinated with lies.
vic40186
July 20, 2011
Trumbo is a fantastic documentary feature that perfectly mixes tragedy and comedy and introduces audience to the world and work of this wonderful writer, artist and person. I would really like to have a tribute like this on my 100th birthday.
July 14, 2011
Yuh gotta watch this stuff. It's important nobody forgets.
June 4, 2011
One of the best documentaries I have ever seen! If you are interested in 20th-century American history and/or First Amendment issues, you must see this!
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

August 12, 2010
In the beginning, there was the word and in the end, there was only the word, which in the case of the documentary
"Trumbo" are the letters and screenplays penned by famed writer Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood 10, held in contempt of Congress(Not to be confused with contempt for Congress) for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee(HUAC) and jailed for a year.(Ring Lardner Jr. said he would have hated himself in the morning if he had.) After being blacklisted for ten years as a result and struggling to find any work, Trumbo's first onscreen credit was for "Exodus," due to Otto Preminger and his enormous brass balls.(Even with his liberal credentials, Preminger was never called before HUAC because as bullies, they were deathly afraid of him. It would have been funny if he had been, though.) Unlike I had originally presumed, this was only the first of many bricks in the blacklist to be taken down.

That's not the only misconception that "Trumbo" seeks to correct, although it confuses HUAC with Senator Joe McCarthy. They were two separate entities, amongst the many red baiters out to ruin people in the 1950's. In front of the committee, the writers pled the first, not the fifth amendment, because they felt had done nothing wrong by freely associating with the Communist Party which was the only political organization active in political change at the time. The documentary seeks to illustrate Trumbo's role in these events by interviews(some with him before he died in 1976), archival footage, film clips and actors reading Trumbo's letters which is a mixed success at best. This takes the movie out of the realm of being a documentary and into a performance piece(Actually, this was adapted from a play). The best are Nathan Lane reading the only positive letter ever written from father to son on the subject of masturbation and Paul Giamatti reading a letter to the phone company. All of which provides a complete portrait of the writer as a cantankerous soul(nice people generally do not usually make good fighters). But for the best insight on the blacklist, check out "The Front."
Blind Pariah
July 3, 2010
If one ever wanted to make a case against the inherent banality of assigning "5 stars" or "10 tomatoes" in the business of film review, then a film such as Trumbo would give one fodder for argument.

Despite enlisting several Hollywood stars to read the letters of the man in a compelling way, this cannot be said to offer entertainment.

To be taken as a documentary, one must criticize a lack of background depth to the climate that created a politicized blacklist and an almost complete occlusion of the political philosophy expressed by those blacklisted that caused them to be vilified in the first place.

"McCarthyism" is properly used as a pejorative term to refer to the era when a Senator and his cronies sacrificed people's lives in order to aggrandize themselves optically before the public and provides a dire warning of the misuse of power in a democratic capitalist system. I think it is important for people today to pay heed to these past days and be very watchful of their "leaders" at all times, because we have seen countless examples in history of the notion that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". As an individual your entire life can be ruined by government out to scare the public into rallying to their cause, accepting the erosion of rights in the name of "safety", and pointing one out as an example to be ostracized by the community at large.

In days of Patriot Acts and other attacks on civil freedoms to stop "the terrorists", the parallels can be easily drawn.

Having said all that, it comes down to the scoring system as always, and this gets my "watch once and enjoy" 6er because of the lacks as a documentary piece, despite the vital importance of the material in general.
Kristi W.
July 3, 2010
As far as documentaries go this one was pretty good. Director Dalton Trumbo, as it turns out, was a really cool guy. He was blacklisted for who knows what when everyone was naming names for being communist. He was in jail for a while and then moved to Mexico with his family and published scripts under a whole bunch of different alternate names. If you don't know anything about this time period and its affect on the film industry, you'll definitely get a history lesson here!
The way director Peter Askin presents the information is pretty cool as well. He uses Trumbo's family members for interviews and actors who had some relation to him for readings of letters he wrote. You get an interesting sense of who and how he was when things that he wrote are read by someone who 1. knew him well enough to know how it should sound and 2. can actually act!
I don't know that it was interesting enough to watch again, but definitely worth seeing once.
kingofthecorn
June 4, 2010
(*** 1/2): Thumbs Up

Very interesting and funny.
jazza923
September 6, 2009
A unique documentary, actors read personal letters Dalton Trumbo wrote. It's an effective approach. Professionally made, very good score. Very informative.
Sitting in the dark
January 9, 2009
[color=black][font=Verdana]Felt like a classroom lecture... too dry, too long, and no drama or tension to hold your interest. The cast is amazing but they just read stuff. There's no payoff or interesting story to follow like in good docs.[/font][/color]
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