Down and Out in Hollywood, Trumbo Prevails

There's Paul Giamatti reading a letter to an official at the phone company, with whom Trumbo developed a lively correspondence: "When we Reds come into power, we are going to shoot merchants in the following order: (1) those who are greedy, and (2) those who are witty. Since you fall into both categories, it will be a sad story when we finally lay hands on you."

Others are what Askin calls "passionate cri de coeurs." David Strathairn reads a letter Trumbo wrote when his daughter's schoolmates tormented her: "Small, childish conspiracies are directed against her, patterned in secret after the conspiracies of the parents. And she is quietly and incessantly persecuted and boycotted and shunned as long as the school day lasts. This slow murder of the mind and heart and spirit of a young child is the proud outcome of the patriotic meetings held by a few parents under the sponsorship of the PTA and the Bluebirds."

"By using different actors," said Askin, it creates a "universality to Trumbo as an American citizen." Although the Hollywood blacklist was specific to a certain era, "dealing with Constitutional issues and freedom of speech is always relevant."

For Strathairn (who played Edward R. Murrow in "Good Night and Good Luck") battles to preserve liberties such as freedom of speech are "constantly being fought," he said.

From Trumbo, "we can learn that there were those before us who had the courage and the rage and the insight and the spirit to confront the injustices and the greed and the fear," he told ABCNEWS.com. "It's a never-ending song."

Strathairn recalled reading Trumbo's 1939 novel "Johnny Got His Gun" about a man whose body is shattered during World War I but whose mind remains lucid. Strathairn read it during the Vietnam War era, and "the style of 'Johnny' sort of dovetailed with the way people were starting to think," he said.

The book "was an awakening for me to a state of mind and to the causes of that state of mind," the actor added.

Comeback

In early 1957, along with millions of other Americans, the Trumbo family watched the Academy Awards ceremony, comfortably seated in their living room. To the surprise of many, the Oscar for best original story went to "The Brave One," written by one Robert Rich -- who was not in the audience and had not sent an emissary.

"Winning that award was a tremendous break for my father," recalled Chris Trumbo. "What he's got now is a mystery and he's able to in effect control it."

There are those who suspected that Rich was in fact Trumbo, and he used that to his advantage in the press. "He's charismatic, charming, funny, and he'll write the story for you," his son said. "It was part of his arsenal, rather than a statue."

Even so, it would be another four years before the name Trumbo would emerge from the shadows. In early 1960, Otto Preminger announced that Dalton Trumbo would receive credit for "Exodus," and later that summer, Kirk Douglas followed suit with "Spartacus."

Trumbo, at long last, had triumphed.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5331376. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5331376. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5331376. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5331376. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5331376. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5331376. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5331376. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5331376. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5331376.
Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...