It took me a while to get around to seeing this picture (since there always seemed to be one I wanted to see more), but I am glad I did (thanks to Robin’s nagging).
The literate screenplay, written by John McNamara, is based on the novel about screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston), written by Bruce Cook.
In the late 1940’s, Trumbo is a very successful and wealthy screenwriter. He and some of his close friends and colleagues were members of the Communist Party. They were progressives looking to better the country. Unfortunately, after the cold war started, the House Committee for Un-American Activities, along with some powerful Hollywood players such as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren), put intense pressure on major movie studio heads to black-list those the Committee considered to be dangerous, left-wing radicals. Trumbo and some of his friends (“The Hollywood Ten”) were then black-listed by the Hollywood power elite and unable to work. Trumbo and numerous others even went to jail for contempt of Congress, demonstrating courage, self-sacrifice, and integrity by refusing to cooperate with the Committee’s investigation. The film covers the relevant political events of this situation, and reveals the profound stress on the black-listed individuals and their families during the McCarthy era.
The film was entertaining as well as being informative about one of the more shameful periods in American history. It was neither didactic nor overly sentimentalized. It will work fine as a rental, but, if you are interested in this topic, it’s worth seeing on the BS now before it leaves the theaters.