Trumbo (2007) - Rotten Tomatoes

Trumbo (2007)



Critic Consensus: Trumbo celebrates the life and work of blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo with measures of humor and sadness.

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Movie Info

A documentary adaptation of the popular regional theatrical monologue -- in which such heavyweights as Paul Newman, Nathan Lane, and Joe Mantegna essayed the lead on various occasions -- Trumbo recounts the life and times of legendary Hollywood scribe-turned-HUAC scapegoat Dalton Trumbo. As with its source production, the film takes as its base material highly personal, detailed, and emotive letters written by Dalton Trumbo to his son, Christopher; the latter, in turn, molded the missives into a screenplay for this production. Here, however, in lieu of one actor portraying Dalton, a number of celebrities take turns narrating from the script, including Lane, Paul Giamatti, Brian Dennehy, Donald Sutherland, and others. As a visual accompaniment, the film intercuts home-movie footage from the Trumbos' lives; incisive interview material with Trumbo, his family, friends, and collaborators; and haunting glimpses of the HUAC trial hearings with the Hollywood Ten, led by Senator Joseph McCarthy; as well as extracts from The Sandpiper, Johnny Got His Gun, Spartacus, and other productions authored by Trumbo. Peter Askin, who helmed the stage play, directs. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Trumbo

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (21)

The transporting power of this experience is in the passionate and almost outlandishly eloquent verbal expression Trumbo poured into his correspondence, and the vividly American principles he defends.

November 10, 2008 | Full Review…

It will serve as a fine entry point for younger auds interested in learning about theprice paid by moviemakers and their families swept up in the 1950s anti-Communist net.

October 18, 2008

The film is an enlightening recap of '50s Red Scare politics, and a parade of actors giving meaningful, earnest readings of Trumbo's speeches and letters.

October 18, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/4

It's a pleasure to meet a truly moral man in a documentary that rightly heralds his name.

October 18, 2008 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

A ousing documentary as ornery, orotund and captivating as its subject.

October 18, 2008 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Although it glosses over a few relevant details, Trumbo also functions as a passionate defense of truth from a writer who embodied all of the virtues that America claims to value.

September 12, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Trumbo

In the beginning, there was the word and in the end, there was only the word, which in the case of the documentary "Trumbo" are the letters and screenplays penned by famed writer Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood 10, held in contempt of Congress(Not to be confused with contempt for Congress) for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee(HUAC) and jailed for a year.(Ring Lardner Jr. said he would have hated himself in the morning if he had.) After being blacklisted for ten years as a result and struggling to find any work, Trumbo's first onscreen credit was for "Exodus," due to Otto Preminger and his enormous brass balls.(Even with his liberal credentials, Preminger was never called before HUAC because as bullies, they were deathly afraid of him. It would have been funny if he had been, though.) Unlike I had originally presumed, this was only the first of many bricks in the blacklist to be taken down. That's not the only misconception that "Trumbo" seeks to correct, although it confuses HUAC with Senator Joe McCarthy. They were two separate entities, amongst the many red baiters out to ruin people in the 1950's. In front of the committee, the writers pled the first, not the fifth amendment, because they felt had done nothing wrong by freely associating with the Communist Party which was the only political organization active in political change at the time. The documentary seeks to illustrate Trumbo's role in these events by interviews(some with him before he died in 1976), archival footage, film clips and actors reading Trumbo's letters which is a mixed success at best. This takes the movie out of the realm of being a documentary and into a performance piece(Actually, this was adapted from a play). The best are Nathan Lane reading the only positive letter ever written from father to son on the subject of masturbation and Paul Giamatti reading a letter to the phone company. All of which provides a complete portrait of the writer as a cantankerous soul(nice people generally do not usually make good fighters). But for the best insight on the blacklist, check out "The Front."

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

I don't often seek out documentaries myself but this one is well worth the extra effort if you can find it. A compelling narrative about a courageous and extremely intelligent human being.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Fascinating man being given a not-quite-as-fascinating-as-he-is documentary treatment. But still, an amazing story.

Jeff Talbott
Jeff Talbott

Super Reviewer

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