Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/892/22377

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 March 2016

Film review: 'Trumbo' - from the red carpet to the blacklist and back again

Scott Jones
Dalton Trumbo, photo Huntington Theatre Company/Creative Commons

Dalton Trumbo, photo Huntington Theatre Company/Creative Commons   (Click to enlarge)

Imagine losing your job for the views you hold. Imagine being imprisoned for membership of a legal political party. Imagine being vilified and physically assaulted for being a socialist. Imagine it takes place in the name of 'democracy', in the 'land of the free'.

This was the reality of life in 'McCarthyite' America in the 1950s for thousands of people who went to prison, or were prevented from working or even travelling. Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy was prosecuting a vicious, public campaign against socialists and democratic rights.

The movie Trumbo tells the story of the 151 film industry stars who were blacklisted for alleged communist sympathies. Specifically the 'Hollywood Ten' whose fame and wealth didn't stop them being jailed by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

The title character, Dalton Trumbo, was a screenwriter who joined the Communist Party of the USA in the 1940s.

He opposed fascism and supported workers in struggle. Like many of his generation, he was radicalised by the Great Depression and political polarisation of the 1930s. Trumbo aligned himself with the labour movement.

Bryan Cranston, a latecomer to Hollywood stardom following his starring role in Breaking Bad, plays Trumbo fantastically. He brings to life a man who was obviously very passionate, funny and talented in a relevant and insightful film.

Assisted by comedian Louis CK, who plays a fictional character, he leads the Hollywood Ten when they are subpoenaed by the HUAC to testify before Congress regarding communism in the movie industry.

They refuse to directly answer questions leading to 'contempt of Congress' charges. Trumbo serves eleven months in prison.

Ironically in prison he meets J Parnell Thomas, former head of the HUAC, who like a 'true patriot' was imprisoned for tax evasion!

After his release, the blacklisted Trumbo struggles to find work. Along with other blacklisted writers he is forced to write screenplays under false names. This eventually leads to Trumbo winning two Oscars, for Roman Holiday and the Brave One.

This success leads those in the know to recruit him to write Spartacus. Star Kirk Douglas insists Trumbo is named when the film is released and the effectiveness of the blacklist is therefore broken.

However, the blacklist was much more effective in ruining the lives and careers of an estimated 12,000 union activists, workers and teachers, something not mentioned in the film. And blacklisting of union activists and socialists still goes on today, even in Britain.

Despite the vehement and ruthless demonising of socialist ideas and socialists during the McCarthy era, the USA of today is seeing millions embrace 'democratic socialist' Bernie Sanders in the race for president. Seattle has twice elected revolutionary socialist Kshama Sawant to city council. And socialism became the most looked-up word of 2015.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 9 March 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Housing crisis: can't pay, will stay!

TUSC names first 2016 election challengers

Young people could have to work to 75

Union confirms TTIP will boost EU NHS sell-offs

'Heathrow 13' climate activists avoid jail time

Osborne's 10.4 billion tax lie

Benefit fraud: 85% of allegations untrue

Them & Us


Workplace news and analysis

"Our wages have been frozen for nine years" - a day in the life of a court worker

"Pay the rate" demand construction workers

Thousands to strike in defence of sixth form colleges

Yorkshire union reps and members share experiences

Workplace news in brief


Junior doctors

Junior doctors: striking to win

Junior doctors' strike: organise to kill off Hunt's contract

Solidarity with junior doctors!


What we think

Refugee crisis: cruel capitalist regimes responsible

A chance for the trade unions to lead the EU referendum debate


Housing crisis

We need socialist policies to end the housing crisis

Life on Cameron's 'sink estates': "This is my home!"


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Take out a May Day greeting!

Thousands march in solidarity with Kurds in Turkey

Far right frustrated and embarrassed in Newcastle

Glasgow council use scare tactics under pressure to fight cuts

Enthusiastic reception for anti-austerity ideas in south Wales

Campaigns round-up


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Film review: 'Trumbo' - from the red carpet to the blacklist and back again

Theatre: 'Tinned Goods' - women during miners' strike

TV: 'Deutschland 83' - spy thriller's capitalist bias

Letters


 

Home   |   The Socialist 9 March 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Film:

triangleExciting Cuban spy thriller exposes US-sponsored terrorism

triangleFilm: Da 5 Bloods - entertaining but politically constrained

triangleFilm: Greed directed by Michael Winterbottom

triangleWeinstein found guilty

triangleBrilliant Korean film exposes class inequality

Review:

triangleFrom slavery to Black Lives Matter - racism and capitalist injustice exposed

triangleTwo-metre rule under 'review' - Another case of profit before safety

triangleTV Review BBC Panorama: PPE shortage - how many lives will be lost?

triangleTV review: The Trial of Christine Keeler

Socialist:

triangleSouth East Wales Socialist Party: World in Crisis - Can capitalism overcome it?

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: The US presidential election

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: How can we change the system?

Prison:

triangleStreatham attack: Johnson's bill can't stop terror

triangleTV: Crime and Punishment - this brutal watch is a damning indictment of cuts and capitalism

USA:

triangleUSA - another cop killing of unarmed black man sparks widespread protests

Great Depression:

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: The Great Depression - When capitalism crumbled

Blacklisting:

triangleTrade union conference to force secret police disclosure

Communism:

triangle100 years since the foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain

Democratic rights:

triangleHong Kong: The fight for democratic rights

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

23/9/20

Pay

A day in the life of a salon worker

23/9/20

Socialist Party

Why we joined the Socialist Party

23/9/20

Football

TV: The English Game - how the working class made football the people's game

23/9/20

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

16/9/20

Labour Party

Non-fiction: Left Out - the inside story of Labour under Corbyn

9/9/20

Black Lives Matter

Video game developer attacks Black Lives Matter

2/9/20

Iraq

TV: Once Upon a Time in Iraq

2/9/20

Housing

Manctopia: billion pound property boom

19/8/20

George Orwell

75 years since the publication of Animal Farm: From 'two legs bad' to 'two legs better'

22/7/20

Cuba

Exciting Cuban spy thriller exposes US-sponsored terrorism

22/7/20

Letters

The Socialist inbox

22/7/20

Socialist Party

I joined the Socialist Party to fight back

15/7/20

Housing

TV: Ross Kemp - Living with Forced Out Families

15/7/20

Bolsheviks

Books that inspired me: The Mother

15/7/20

Black Lives Matter

How the FBI and Chicago police murdered a Black Panther

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999