It was a dark period in the forging of the United States, one of many for a nation aspiring to greatness. The fostering of paranoia in order to expunge enemies, imagined or real, is an unfortunate device employed by those with distorted dreams. The victims, in this case, included folk musician Pete Seeger, writer Dashiell Hammet, singer/actor Paul Robeson, attorney Ben Myers, composer Hanns Eisler, jazz musician Arte Shaw, actor Edward G. Robinson, folk singer/actor (and everyone’s grandpa) Burl Ives, playwright Bertolt Brecht and screen writers Lester Cole and Dalton Trumbo, to mention a very few on a very long list. It was the era of House Un-American Activities Committee’s (1947-1956) pursuit of Communists and their supporters, particularly in Hollywood and other sectors of the entertainment industry. It was called the Second Red Scare and thousands were affected. The event became known as McCarthyism after the Committee head from 1950, Republican Senator Joe McCarthy. McCarthyism is now synonymous with the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.
On Tuesday March 1 Spotlight Films will be presenting Trumbo, an homage to Dalton Trumbo who, along with others, stood up to the HUAC.
In 1947, Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston, tv series’ Malcom in the Middle and Breaking Bad) was Hollywood's top screenwriter until he and other artists, most notably The Hollywood 10, were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs. Trumbo (directed by Jay Roach, Meet the Fockers, Austin Powers) recounts how Dalton used words and wit to win two Academy Awards (The Brave One and Roman Holiday) and expose the absurdity and injustice under the blacklist, which entangled everyone from gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren, The Queen) to John Wayne (David James Elliott), Kirk Douglas (Dean Gorman) and Otto Preminger (Christian Berkel). Other performers include John Goodman as Frank King and Diane Lane as Cleo Trumbo (Dalton’s wife).
Dalton Trumbo also won the Cannes Grand Prize Jury Award for Johnny Got His Gun, which won and was nominated for several other awards. He also wrote the screen plays for Spartacus and Exodus which were credited to others because of his being black listed. Director Otto Preminger was later instrumental in Trumbo getting credit for the latter while Kirk Douglas, the protagonist in Spartacus, ensured he was eventually credited for that film.
Cranston is up for Best Actor at the Oscars and has also won Best actor at the South Eastern Film Critics Association Awards and also at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Trumbo is also nominated for 30 other awards.
Trumbo will be shown at 7:30 pm at the Gem Theatre. Thanks to Maureen and Marius Paquet of the Gem Theatre, Bleecker Street of IMdB, Wikipedia and our sponsors and patrons.
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