Film Review: TRUMBO

Directed by Jay Roach
Written by John McNamara and Bruce Cook (book)
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Michael Stuhlbarg, David James Eilliott, Louis C.K.

Dalton Trumbo paid a heavy price for his involvement with the Communist Party in the thirties and forties. As one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of blacklisted writers, he spent eleven months in jail despite the fact that being a member of the Party was not illegal. His inability to write screenplays under his own name continued until Otto Preminger gave him screen credit for EXODUS in 1960. He. however, wrote many scripts under various pseudonyms and won two Oscars. TRUMBO tells his story.

TRUMBO, the movie, seemed to vacillate in how it wanted Dalton Trumbo presented. Yes, he was a man done wrong, jailed, ostracized, driven to live in Mexico, but he was also able to make a lot of money and didn’t spurn a sumptuous lifestyle despite his professed sympathy for unions and socialism. There was no subtlety in any performance in this film with the exception of Diane Lane (Mrs. Trumbo). Everyone was larger than life. Perhaps they were, but it got tiring after a while. And I never did get a sense of how a man who lived so lavishly could be a Communist. Still I would recommend it if only moderately because this era is so rarely portrayed. There are lots of villains in this film and few people act admirably. Including sometimes, Trumbo himself.

Patti Abbott
In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.