If it's possible to make you forget that Bryan Cranston played Hal on Malcolm In the Middle and Walter White on Breaking Bad, then the part that will do it for you is Cranston's Best Actor Academy Award nominated performance as Trumbo (2015, Rated R, Available on DVD).
I discovered Dalton Trumbo when I was in junior high and read his novel, Johnny Got His Gun. It expressed the anger and dismay many of us felt about the war in Vietnam.
|still have my copy|
Trumbo focuses on Dalton Trumbo's fall from grace. He becomes one of the "Hollywood 10" who are blacklisted by the movie industry. Their writing days, over.
But Trumbo doesn't hide his head in shame. He moves his family, including wife Cleo (Diane Lane), to Mexico, where his friends alcohol and benzedrine join him in a bathtub to write, and write, and write. His children suffer from his absence, but he's determined to support them:
Niki Trumbo: We're having birthday cake.
Dalton Trumbo: When you hear me working, you don't knock.
Niki Trumbo: But it's my birthday.
Dalton Trumbo: You don't knock. Ever.
Niki Trumbo: So the house is on fire, you don't wanna know?Dalton Trumbo: I work in a bathtub, surrounded by water. So I'm fairly certain that even if the whole goddamn country was on fire, that I can still function as this family's personal slave. And all I ask is not to be interrupted for every little slice of fucking birthday cake. What? It's ridiculous!
Using pseudonyms, Dalton Trumbo writes his way to two Academy Awards and then to the end of the Blacklist.
Cranston stands out as the prickly Trumbo. He's surrounded by a strong cast, which includes Helen Mirren as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper––quite the menace to the Reds; John Goodman as studio owner Frank King, who accepts Trumbo's writing for his B pictures; and Louis C.K. as Arlen Hird, a sympathetic character who stands in for various blacklisted writers.
Trumbo is a triumph that earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval.
This movie is not for children. If older children watch with you, be prepared to explain the witch hunt against Communists. Trumbo and the rest of the Hollywood 10 were sentenced, fined, and denied work because they refused to answer questions from the House Un-American Activities Commitee.
I watched Trumbo when my mail carrier delivered its red Netflix envelope.
Infinities of love,
|the real Dalton Trumbo|
Dalton Trumbo won two "Best Writing, Motion Picture Story" Academy Awards during the 1950s but was unable to accept either of them, since both movies' credits had used "fronts" (real people who agreed to take credit for the scripts while Trumbo was blacklisted). The first movie for which Trumbo won an Oscar was the Audrey Hepburn-Gregory Peck romantic comedy Roman Holiday (1953). For this movie, Trumbo's front was Ian McLellan Hunter (who actually was also a screenwriter in his own right); Hunter was also later blacklisted. In 1993, after both Trumbo and Hunter were both dead, the Academy attempted to retrieve the Oscar that had been presented to Hunter and present it instead to Trumbo's widow, but Hunter's son, Tim, himself a director (River's Edge, 1986), (Tex, 1982), refused to relinquish it, so the Academy instead presented Mrs. Trumbo with a new statuette. On Roman Holiday's 2003 DVD release, Trumbo was credited in place of Hunter. The second movie for which Trumbo won an Oscar was the family drama The Brave One (1956). For this film, Trumbo's front was named Robert Rich; unlike Ian McLellan Hunter, Rich was not actually a screenwriter himself but just a nephew of the movie's producers. The Academy re-presented that Oscar statuette to Trumbo in May 1975, roughly a year and a half before Trumbo's death.