Behold the newest member of the Marvel Universe. He wears big glasses and a bushy mustache not as a disguise but as part of his everyday Hollywood attire. Trumbo slays the evil empire by …
Wait. I’m mixing studios and genres here, obviously.
But director Jay Roach certainly took John McNamara’s script based on Bruce Cook’s book Dalton Trumbo and turned this man who wrote movies for the big screen and turned him into a hero. In case you missed the real-life story and this little movie when it was in the theaters …
Trumbo was one of the industry’s top screenwriters in 1947 when the Communist hunters came knocking on his door. And, yes, he was a member of the party, and wasn’t afraid to tell the world why that was not against the principles that made his beloved country, America, great. Of course, the Red Scare brought his group known as the “Hollywood Ten” in front of a ravaging Congressional committee, as well as the poison pen of gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.
They got blacklisted. Trumbo fought the only way he knew how. He wrote scripts under pseudonyms to feed his family. And won awards, turning Hollywood on its ear as more and more people turned to his side.
Bryan Cranston is terrific as the craggy, mercurial Trumbo, who rallies his writing Reds and churns out cheap copy by the bushel in his bathtub with the great pearls of winning stories still swirling in his mind.
Diane Lane won me over as his harried but steadfast spouse, too, and Helen Mirren absolutely sent shivers down my spine as the single-minded and imperious Hopper.
All the smaller parts fit well into the puzzle, too, from Louis C.K. as a fellow writer who puts up with Trumbo’s bombast while he battles his own demons to John Goodman as a small-time studio head who cares not a hoot about the Tinsel Town hierarchy to Madison Wolfe and Elle Fanning as Dalton’s wickedly smart and devoted daughter Niki in her pre- and teen years.
And yes, even when things seem to be crumbling around him, Trumbo’s way with words – the way he stood up to John Wayne’s bluster in public, for instance – certainly makes this odd and eccentric character seem like a superhero for his industry and his generation.
What is your favorite movie about the power of freedom of speech, and why? Which is your favorite movie about Hollywood in the 1940s, and why? Which is your favorite Bryan Cranston project, and why?