Trumbo DVD Review

DVD Review by Jarred Tito

The Premise
In 1947, Dalton Trumbo (Cranston) was Hollywood's top screenwriter until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs. TRUMBO recounts how Dalton used words and wit to win two Academy Awards and expose the absurdity and injustice under the blacklist, which entangled everyone from gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Mirren) to John Wayne, Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger.

The Review
T​r​umbo is a classic example of a well made 'Hollywood' historical piece. It has all of the slick filmic qualities including the cinematography and set designs, costuming and acting. It also has all of the hallmark acting and script writing qualities that we have come to expect, and more to the point, demand from a movie which a star studded cast and crew.
Bryan Cranston from 'Breaking Bad' and 'Malcolm In the Middle' provides an outstanding performance in the role of Trumbo. Cranston, well known for his comments of how he is unashamedly a lover of acting, sinks his teeth fully into this well written script around a controversial period of Hollywood's darker times.

Like most recounts this period piece is careful to include each of the major events that occurred during the USA's crack down on the Communist Party. At the time the belief was that the Communists were threatening to dampen the esteemed pride and rebuild of a country still recovering from emotional and financial strain of WW2. This film allows us to grasp the notion of just how powerful the medium of Hollywood was, or at least was perceived as being, during the 'Cold War.' With political pressure coming from both the heads of state right through to the prominent political acting figures of the day, the stage is set for a long and emotional struggle which sees many notable personalities unmasked.

Silver screen legends like John Wayne and Kirk Douglas along with the heads of major studios like MGM and Paramount feature throughout this film whose scenes helped to create some wonderful dramatic moments. Dean O'Gorman, from New Zealand, plays Kirk Douglas and is particularly good in the role. He has an extraordinary resemblance and not too bad at all with his acting chops. Possibly a face and name that we may get to know a little more in the future.

I found this film to be quite gripping at points, like a good chapter in a book that you can't put down. Yet at other times I felt myself willing the pace of the film to speed up. Louis C K, yes the comedian, plays a great supporting role and does add a certain amount of much needed comic relief, although his role is quite serious. He provides excellent one liners, which at a guess, I would say he was given license to improvise.

The Verdict
Certainly a film for thought that I would recommend to those who enjoy a good, meaty piece of historical drama for slow and meaningful digestion. It is certainly the type of film that you would expect to be present during the 'award' ceremonies so don't be surprised if the writers as well as Bryan Cranston receive some sort of acknowledgements. A good watch overall which I would happily recommend.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 26th December 2015
Rating: M – Contains offensive language & adult themes
Duration: 124 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Elle Fanning, Helen Mirren, Alan Tudyk, Diane Lane, Louis C.K., John Goodman, Stephen Root, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Michael Stuhlbarg, Dean O'Gorman
Director: Jay Roach (Meet The Fockers, Dinner for Scmucks)

The Extras
Dalton Trumbo won two "Best Writing, Motion Picture Story" Academy Awards during the 1950s but was unable to accept either of them, since both movies' credits had used "fronts" (real people who agreed to take credit for the scripts while Trumbo was blacklisted). The first movie for which Trumbo won an Oscar was the Audrey Hepburn-Gregory Peck romantic comedy Roman Holiday. For this movie, Trumbo's front was Ian McLellan Hunter (who actually was also a screenwriter in his own right); Hunter was also later blacklisted. In 1993, after both Trumbo and Hunter were both dead, the Academy attempted to retrieve the Oscar that had been presented to Hunter and present it instead to Trumbo's widow, but Hunter's son, Tim, himself a director (River's Edge, Tex, etc.) refused to relinquish it, so the Academy instead presented Mrs. Trumbo with a new statuette. On Roman Holiday's 2003 DVD release, Trumbo was credited in place of Hunter. The second movie for which Trumbo won an Oscar was the family drama The Brave One. For this film, Trumbo's front was named Robert Rich; unlike Ian McLellan Hunter, Rich was not actually a screenwriter himself but just a nephew of the movie's producers. The Academy re-presented that Oscar statuette to Trumbo in May 1975, roughly a year and a half before Trumbo's death.

Alan Tudyk entertained his on-screen son, Elijah Miskowski, and the other kids on set by performing the voices of King Candy (Wreck It Ralph), Duke (Frozen), and Alister Krei (Big Hero 6). The boys were impressed to discover he was also the marine voice from Halo 3 and it made Alan the "kid magnet" during the early shooting of Trumbo.

This is the third feature film in four years in which John Goodman played the owner or an important employee of a movie company, following "The Artist" (2011) and "Argo" (2012). Interestingly, both prior films won Oscars for Best Picture.

Jay Roach claimed that many of the scenes featuring Trumbo writing alone at his desk or in the bathtub were improvised by Bryan Cranston while the cameras rolled, and that Cranston was genuinely composing complete sentences on the page.

Helen Mirren and Richard Portnow also appeared together in the film Hitchcock (2012), another film set in old Hollywood. That film was largely about the production of Psycho (1960), which featured Janet Leigh. This film concerns the production of Spartacus (1960), which featured her husband, Tony Curtis.

Based on a true story.

The real Otto Preminger was both a director and an actor. His acting credits included 'The Hobbit (1977)(TV)'. Dean O'Gorman appeared in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.

Trumbo's membership card number in the Communist Party was 47187.