Dalton Trumbo was one of many screenwriters and other artists who, from 1947 through to 1960, were blacklisted for their political beliefs in Communism. Bryan Cranston plays Dalton Trumbo in this movie, where we are led into and shown Dalton’s life and the impact of the blacklisting on him and his mostly screenwriting friends and co-workers. The impact of the blacklisting on the movie industry was quite significant with some 500 people from the entertainment industry having been black or grey listed. I just think of what amazing movies we may have missed as a result of the crushing of creativity that took place.
The cast of Trumbo is made up of some really experienced and respected names in the movie industry, such as Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Dame Helen Mirren, John Goodman and Bryan Cranston, who all showed up in person to the European Premiere at the 2015 London Film Festival. When presenting the movie to those attending the premiere, we had the opportunity to hear some great stories. Helen Mirren told us that the main reason for taking up the role was the opportunity to wear a huge amount of hats saying “I've never had a chance to wear THAT many hats”. Bryan Cranston told us that his favourite part of the movie was when he didn’t have to smoke; he told us how Dalton Trumbo was a chain smoker and always had a cigarette or cigar in his mouth.
Apart from being a chain smoker, Dalton Trumbo was also an incredibly successful screenwriter and very clever at being able to tip-toe around the restrictions set on him as a result of being blacklisted, he was awarded two academy awards while blacklisted, one of which originally being awarded to Trumbo's pseudonym, “Robert Rich”. Dalton was also the writer of other popular movies, such as Exodus and Spartacus. Throughout the movie we see the adverse impact of Dalton’s actions as a result the blacklisting on his family life, risking the relationships with his wife and children.
I found Trumbo to be very well written by appropriately tackling particular parts of the movie with light-hearted humour while allowing the actors to shine in their roles with an equal proportion of very serious acting, especially on those subjects that could be controversial or sensitive, such as the political beliefs. I felt it used enough of all the right ingredients to make up the Trumbo cake, enough of Dalton’s communist views to give you an insight without it being too forceful along with equal parts humour and seriousness, with a dash of emotion.
I do wonder if the attraction to this movie would be because of the big-name actors in this movie rather than the movie itself. I can see people wanting to see this movie because it has that bloke who played Walter White in Breaking Bad, rather than its subject and how Dalton Trumbo’s actions impacted the movie industry.
In summary, Trumbo was a very good movie, a well written story that was entertaining and effective with incredible acting, touching on a potentially contentious issue with impressive delicacy.