By Bill Dudley

“Breaking Bad” may have ended but Bryan Cranston’s career is hotter than ever.

After several years in the works, he plays controversial author Dalton Trumbo. This story covers nearly 25 years in the life of one of America’s most progressive and talented screenwriters. There was a time in America before many of us were born, that your politics could keep you from getting work. Trumbo was a labor progressive self admitting communist, and that didn’t set well with some of Hollywood in post WW2 America. Actor John Wayne and syndicated gossip, columnist Hedda Hopper worked in unison to destroy Trumbo, and the other 9 writers of the Hollywood Ten.

After much success as a very creative screenwriter, Trumbo was blacklisted in the late 1940’s for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He received no support from Ronald Reagan who was then President of the Screen Actors Guild. Trumbo and other members of “The Hollywood 10” were then forced to write under phony names to support their families, many with children,(Trumbo had three). Trumbo’s long suffering wife Cleo (Diane Lane) stuck with him thru it all, with all 3 children (including Elle Fanning), pitching in by secretly delivering scripts to producers who paid the writers about a 10th of what they were worth.

Attention to detail is always what I watch for in a period piece, “Trumbo” has it all right with the cars, trucks, typewriters, and refrigerators. They did use some 1980’s Christmas lights for a scene from the 1950’s, but I’m sure only I noticed. Cranstons wigs and mustaches change constantly as the film churns on, but his performance is top notch.

Helen Mirren is outstanding as the very conniving Hedda Hopper. You will hate her after just 5 minutes. I wasn’t as impressed with the actors portraying Edward G. Robinson, and John Wayne. Louis CK was outstanding as fellow writer Arlen Hird, who accurately chain-smokes thru the entire movie, although suffering from lung cancer. Trumbo is never caught without a drink or cigarette either, especially while writing scripts in the bathtub.

John Goodman, also stands out in his (somewhat) limited role as studio head Frank King, who hires Trumbo to write his B movies. Ironically, Trumbo won an Oscar for one of those screenplays, “The Brave One.”  He also won using a friend’s name for “Roman Holiday.”

There are some heroes in “Trumbo:” It was actor/producer Kirk Douglas who demanded that Trumbo be credited for “Spartacus,” ( none other than President John F. Kennedy crossed picket lines to see “Spartacus,” which became the beginning of the end for blacklisting)). Director Otto Preminger also fought around the same time for Trumbo with “Exodus.”

If you think politics are scary today, see “Trumbo!”  It was much worse in post WW2 America. See the best and the worst of legendary Hollywood come to life in “Trumbo.” The film will only be in select theaters until November 25th. “Trumbo” is not only a true Hollywood story, it is a testament to how a strong family can stick together thru great adversity. ”Trumbo” is about hope, courage, hard work, and family strength. One of the best films of the year.

Director: Jay Roach Adapted Screenplay: John Mc Namera

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