Trumbo

2007, Documentary, 1h 36m

55 Reviews 25,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Trumbo celebrates the life and work of blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo with measures of humor and sadness. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Like the protagonist of his classic film "Spartacus," leftist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo has a rebellious streak. During the McCarthy era, Trumbo refuses to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee and is sentenced to 11 months in prison. Blacklisted in Hollywood, Trumbo resorts to writing scripts under a pseudonym. The film uses archival footage, interviews and actors reading Trumbo's brilliant letters and scripts to construct a portrait of an uncompromising artist.

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Critic Reviews for Trumbo

Audience Reviews for Trumbo

  • Aug 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."
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 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.
    Randy T Super Reviewer
  • Sep 09, 2008
    Fascinating man being given a not-quite-as-fascinating-as-he-is documentary treatment. But still, an amazing story.
    Jeff T Super Reviewer

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