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Bishops Castle Film Society

Trumbo - 9 Jan 2019

dir. Jay Roach. US. 2015. 124m

It falls to Jay Roach, director of the Austin Powers movies, to make this heartfelt, solid picture about an important period in American history: the petty Maosim of 1950’s Hollywood, when studios voluntarily submitted to their own self-purifying “blacklist” to appease anti-communist witch-hunters in Congress on the House Un-American Activities Committee, or HUAC. The movie business wouldn’t hire communists and encouraged Washington’s grisly, new public theatre of denunciation and shame, with witnesses permitted to save their skins by identifying reds under the Tinseltown bed naming names.



Oscar nominated Bryan Cranston toys theatrically with the role of a persecuted screenwriter, Trumbo, with mannerisms and props: moustache, cigarette holder, whiskey glass. Helen Mirren turns in a screechy performance as the Wicked Red-Baiting Witch of the West – Hedda Hopper, the poisonous and anti-Semitic gossip columnist who fanned the red-scare flames to boost circulation. Michael Stuglbarg is very good as Edward G Robinson, the leftist actor wincing and grimacing and hating himself for naming names and selling out to the committee to protect his own skin, bullied by Hopper and John Wayne, played by James Elliott.

‘Trumbo is no masterpiece, but the story of a writer imprisoned in America for his political beliefs needed to be told.’ (The Guardian).



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