Thursday, February 12, 2015

Embracing The Darkness Of Our Own History: Trumbo


Chances are, unless you're a student of Hollywood film history, if you've heard of Dalton Trumbo at all, it's because Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston is playing him in the upcoming biopic Trumbo, which was shot last year in New Orleans and is scheduled to come out later this year. (John Goodman, Helen Mirren and Louis C.K. also star in the film.) An old friend of mine is involved in the making of the movie, and he's been telling me about Dalton Trumbo's story for a year. I can't wait to see it!

Trumbo, who died in 1976, was a screenwriter and novelist (Johnny Got His Gun) who became something of a household name as one of the "Hollywood Ten," staunch civil liberties defenders who refused to testify before the fascist-oriented House Un-American Activities Committee. Trumbo was targeted as a Communist and blacklisted-- but won two Academy Awards while under the blacklist. Later it was revealed that he wrote both Exodus and Spartacus under the pseudonym Robert Rich.

He was convicted of contempt of Congress and served 11 months in prison. After getting out, he couldn't find any work in Hollywood and moved to Mexico City and wrote under various pseudonyms. McCarthyism and the HUAC witch-hunts were a dark part of American history. If it's buried and forgotten, we'll have learned nothing worthwhile from it.



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