Cradle Will Rock (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

Cradle Will Rock (1999)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Witty and provocative.

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Movie Info

The art and theater world of 1930s New York City is the backdrop for the new Touchstone Pictures film "Cradle Will Rock." As labor strikes break out throughout the country, New York City is alive with a burgeoning cultural revolution. "Cradle Will Rock" is a tapestry of interwoven stories: Nelson Rockefeller commissions Mexican artist Diego Rivera to paint the lobby of Rockefeller Center, while Italian propagandist Margherita Sarfatti sells Da Vincis to millionaires to fund the Mussolini war effort. A paranoid ventriloquist tries to rid his vaudeville troupe of communists, and a 22-year-old Orson Welles directs his Federal Theater group in an infamous stage production of "The Cradle Will Rock," closed down on the eve of its opening by U.S. soldiers. Based on true events, "Cradle Will Rock" relives an exciting and dangerous time in American history, when individual courage prevailed censorship, and artists risked their livelihood by continuing to perform and paint according to conscience.

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Cast

Hank Azaria
as Marc Blitzstein
Ruben Blades
as Diego Rivera
Joan Cusack
as Hazel Huffman
John Cusack
as Nelson Rockefeller
Cary Elwes
as John Houseman
Philip Baker Hall
as Gray Mathers
Cherry Jones
as Hallie Flanagan
Angus Macfadyen
as Orson Welles
Bill Murray
as Tommy Crickshaw
Vanessa Redgrave
as Countess LaGrange
Susan Sarandon
as Margherita Sarfatti
Jamey Sheridan
as John Adair
John Turturro
as Aldo Silvano
Emily Watson
as Olive Stanton
Bob Balaban
as Harry Hopkins
Kyle Gass
as Larry
Barnard Hughes
as Frank Marvel
Barbara Sukowa
as Sophie Silvano
Victoria Clark
as Dulce Fox
Erin Hill
as Sandra Mescal
Daniel Jenkins
as Will Geer
Tim Jerome
as Bert Weston
Gil Robbins
as Congressman Starnes
Chris McKinney
as Canada Lee
Adele Robbins
as Augusta Weissberger
Henry Stram
as Hiram Sherman
Lee Arenberg
as Abe Feder
Allan F. Nicholls
as George Zorn
Rob Carlson
as National Guardsman
Dina Platias
as Lucille Schly
Pamela D. Henry
as Alma Dixon
Steven Tyler
as Lehman Engel
Kenneth Finn
as Trombone
David D'Angelo
as Alto Saxaphone
David Ratajczak
as Percussion
Stephen Spinella
as Donald O'Hara
Brian Brophy
as Pierre De Rohan
David Costabile
as Beaver Man
Marla Schaffel
as Beaver Woman
Dominic Cortese
as Beaver Accordion Accompanist
John F. Carpenter
as William Randolph Hearst
Gretchen Mol
as Marion Davies
Gill Robbins
as Congressman Starnes
Harris Yulin
as Chairman Martin Dies
Ned Bellamy
as Paul Edwards
Scott Sowers
as Reporter
Bobby Amore
as Reporter
Sarah Hyland
as Giovanna
Todd Stockman
as Puppeteer
Patrick Husted
as Vaudeville Theatre Manager
Jay Scott Green
as Plate Twirler
Carolyn West
as Assistant Plate Twirler
Steven Skybell
as Bertol Brecht
Susan Heimbinder
as Eva Blitzstein
Audra McDonald
as `Joe Worker' Singer
Robert Ari
as Liberty Committee No. 1
Michele Pawk
as Liberty Committee No. 2
Gregg Edelman
as Dream Larry Foreman
Matthew Bennett
as Dream Cop
Michael Rivkin
as Protester
Keira Naughton
as Protester
Corina Katt
as Frida Kahlo
Edward James Hyland
as Worker in Theatre
Boris McGiver
as Man on Street
Chris Bauer
as Carpenter
Leonardo Cimino
as Man in Line
Carrie Preston
as Administrator
Mary Robbins
as Disgruntled Worker No. 1
Chris Talbott
as Disgruntled Worker No. 2
Susan Bruce
as Disgruntled Worker No. 3
Ian Bagg
as Disgruntled Worker No. 4
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Critic Reviews for Cradle Will Rock

All Critics (68) | Top Critics (14)

Remarkably complex, funny and thought-provoking.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
CNN.com
Top Critic

Robbins has made the classic mistake of thinking that art that's persecuted for its political ideals must be good art.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Salon.com
Top Critic

Robbins is so convinced of his movie's political correctness that he couldn't see its lack of dramatic cohesion or luster.

January 1, 2000
Newsday
Top Critic

A confused, unrefined agitprop movie.

January 1, 2000
New York Post
Top Critic

Willfully superficial.

January 1, 2000
Village Voice
Top Critic

Rock actually rocks out as one of the year's most purely entertaining movies.

January 1, 2000
USA Today
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Cradle Will Rock

½

In a word: "Disgusting". Not only is this film radically Marxist (even the Depression-era unions and FDR are depicted as selling out the workers as they march toward revolution!), but it's the most anti-Semitic film I ever recall seeing from a modern Hollywood production. Although the film's central hero, Marc Blitzstein, was of Jewish heritage as a matter of historical fact, that aspect of his heritage is never mentioned. The only references to Jews in "Cradle Will Rock" are a few gratuitous (i.e., completely unnecessary) mentions of Jews as friends of the lucripetous, rich characters and as friends of fascists, and in the person of Sarandon's character -- a sycophantic Jewish woman enamored with Mussolini who helps plunder Italy's cultural heritage (literally for bags of American cash!) and who implores Diego Rivera to compromise his art and Marxist ideology for Rockefeller cash. The apparent suggestion in "Cradle Will Rock" that Jews were complicit in their own persecution in the 1930's for the sake of money is disgusting, morally repugnant and wholly unworthy of the talent involved in this project. I am absolutely shocked and appalled at this film. Although I agree that the production values were better than average and the impressive all-star cast's acting was better than average (Caution: Sarandon's Italian accent and persona were of surprisingly low, street busking quality!), the film's radical Marxist and anti-Semitic messaging leave little option other than an extremely low score. Recommendation: Skip "Cradle Will Rock" unless you're a Marxist or neo-Nazi.

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer

Huge cast made it fun to watch, along with the 30's atmosphere. Yet another example of how John and Joan Cusack cannot be apart in movies (much to my dismay). I had no idea the 30's had so much anti communist attacks. A neat piece of history. I especially liked Diego's painting.

Curtis Lilly
Curtis Lilly

Super Reviewer

Oh Tim, Tim Tim. Your storm of political correctness has resulted in this film that no one went to see...for good reason. It is probably one of the most boring additions to film lore. You can do better buddy.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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