TRUMBO, opening in cinemas February 18, is a fascinating look at one of the darkest chapters of Hollywood’s “golden age”.
In the wake of World War II, as relations between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. deteriorated and the fear of the “Red Menace” reached unprecedented heights, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated tens of thousands of Americans suspected of being communist sympathisers. Many lost their jobs, their reputations and even their families as suspicion and paranoia swept the nation.
In October 1947 the HUAC convened hearings aimed at rooting out communists in the film industry. Scores of prominent actors, directors, producers and screenwriters were publicly berated about their association with an array of organisations deemed to be “un-American”. Threatened with the loss of their livelihoods, many witnesses gave evidence against friends and colleagues. Ten of those called to testify refused to answer any questions, denying the committee’s right to ask them about their political beliefs and denouncing the hearings as a violation of their civil rights. All ten were sentenced to prison for contempt of Congress. The best known amongst them was prolific screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.
Portrayed by Academy Award® nominated Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Trumbo was a fixture on the Hollywood social scene and a political activist supporting labour unions, equal pay and civil rights. Placed on the blacklist, with every major Hollywood studio refusing to hire him for fear of being associated with his perceived radical political views, he also earned the eternal enmity of powerful anti-communist gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren).
With an irrepressible creative talent, Trumbo did find his way back onto the big screen, writing several scripts under pseudonyms during his exile, including Roman Holiday and The Brave One, both of which won Academy Awards under aliases.
Trumbo opens in cinemas February 18.
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