There is something alluring when Hollywood projects their yesteryear on the big screen. Martin Scorsese did it with The Aviator, Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins did it in Hitchcock. This year’s Trumbo takes a look at one of the darkest periods in Hollywood history, the 1950’s blacklist. If multiple Emmy winner Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) was looking for that splashy project to make the full transition to feature films, he certainly hit the nail on the head playing Dalton Trumbo. Cranston is absolutely brilliant playing the gruff voiced, Geraldo Rivera looking, eccentric, but genius screenwriter. What might sound like a heavy and a dramatic film is actually pretty funny thanks to perfect casting in John Goodman (despite playing another movie producer).

     One of Hollywood’s most prolific screenwriters, Dalton Trumbo (Cranston) began to feel the backlash of his communist affiliations in the late 40’s. When the US entered a full witch hunt for communists in the 1950’s, Trumbo and nine other filmmakers, dubbed the Hollywood 10, were jailed and blacklisted. John Wayne (David James Elliott), president of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals and gossip monger Hedda Hopper (Mirren), helped to spawn fear that those affiliated with the communist party were spies, and should be blocked from working in movies. After being released from prison, Trumbo returned to his family where he began using aliases to write screenplays like Roman Holiday and The Brave One, insistent that America was a great country that would uphold the First Amendment.

Clever one liners and Cranston really create a full-fledged portrait of Trumbo keeping this film engaging.

     “You only make sense to yourself”, Trumbo is told. That might be true, but Cranston does a wide eyed, near brilliant portrayal of the man who won two Oscars under a different name (they later corrected it). Director Jay Roach (Meet the Fockers, Game Change) ventures into more dramatic material, producing his most substantial work to date. Hilarious antidotes are used early in the film to build the character, not to mention an explosive verbal altercation between Trumbo and The Duke, setting the combative stage of belief versus law. Roach doesn’t rely too much on recreating old Hollywood stars with new faces, although Dean O’Gorman who plays Fili in The Hobbit saga is smashing as a young Kirk Douglas.

     Clever one liners and Cranston really create a full-fledged portrait of Trumbo keeping this film engaging. Uninterested in shaming practices of the 1950’s, Trumbo is more interested in celebrating the hard work of the “luckiest un-lucky” screenwriter. Supporting actors like Lane, Fanning, but especially Goodman, add depth and certainly entertainment to the story. However, it’s Cranston, in nearly every scene, that makes this film worth seeing. You often wonder why so many crap movies are made, even today, and there are some funny explanations in this script that might explain why. Trumbo delivers laughs, heartfelt moments, and a look into the more embarrassing period of tinsel town.

Final Thought

Cranston gives an Oscar worthy performance.


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