Trumbo details the story of Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston), one of the Hollywood Ten, who was imprisoned for eleven months for contempt of Congress, and blacklisted by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for his political beliefs, and his struggle to be reinstated into the Writers’ Guild of America.
Such political beliefs were…wait for it…Communism, and being a member of the Communist Party of the USA.
Back in the 1940s and 50s, America had dived headfirst into the Cold War and, out of fear and paranoia of Communism and Commies, began an attempt to censor Communist speech, movies, and literature. Both Republicans and Democrats alike were terrified of Communism, and it was understandable that they would want to censor Communist material.
Dalton Trumbo was one of ten screenwriters that was censored for his Communist ideals and ideas.
Some history on the guy: Dalton Trumbo was born in 1905. He was a reporter at his high school and the University of Boulder for two years. His writing career began in the 1930s. He became a supporter of Communist Russia in the 1930s, became an ardent anti-fascist and a full-on supporter of Leninism, supported the Loyalists in Spain, hoped for unity against Hitler, and called for a boycott of all German products.
Trumbo married Cleo Fincher in 1938. They had two children, Christopher and Melissa “Mitzi”.
When the Nazi-Soviet pact was made in 1939, Trumbo, showing his hypocrisy, quickly switched his viewpoint, becoming a vehement pacifist, and even supporting Hitler. Trumbo and the Reds in Hollywood, alongside the USSR, supported Hitler when the Nazis invaded Poland, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, and France, and when Hitler started executing blitzkrieg on London. In fact, he and the Hollywood Commies tried to ease Hitler’s burden of conquest by demonizing Hitler’s enemies and accusing Great Britain of being unworthy of American assistance. He and they even accused President Roosevelt of treason by giving weapons to the British in their time of need.
Trumbo’s most famous work, his novel, Johnny Got His Gun, was published in 1939. It was a very bitter anti-war-for-any-cause-whatsoever novel that details a World War 1 infantryman who becomes a quadruple amputee, as well as deaf, mute, and blind. Most of the book details this infantryman reminiscing on life and the futility of war and medical ethics.
In 1941, as Winston Churchill courageously led his nation in defying Hitler, Trumbo wrote a novel, The Remarkable Andrew. It was truly desperate in denying that Britain was a democracy, and charged FDR with treason for seeking to aid the British in their attempts to fight off the Nazis.
And then, when the Nazi-Soviet pact collapsed, Trumbo quickly showed his hypocrisy again, becoming pro-war to the point of fanaticism. He and the rest of the Hollywood Commies turned against Hitler in June when the Nazis invaded much of the Soviet Union. Trumbo and the Hollywood Commies now demanded that the USA give major military and economic aid to the USSR. Fans of Johnny Got His Gun wrote to Trumbo requesting copies. In response, Trumbo turned these names in to the FBI, accusing them as slanderous, defeatist, and pacifist. After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Trumbo shot A Guy Named Joe and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo out of his butt in a frenzied attempt at being pro-war. Only now had he and the Hollywood Commies become “patriotic”, believing that US help was crucial to the survival of the Soviet Union.
Trumbo knew full well of his own hypocrisy, and yet he still wanted people who thought differently from himself, the CPUSA, and the USSR to be attacked until they recanted, and then have them censored. He wrote to a fellow Communist screenwriter, Herbert Biberman, that “whenever a book or play or film is produced which is harmful to the best interests of the working class, that work and its author should and must be attacked in the sharpest possible terms.”
Trumbo was an obsessive disciple of Josef Stalin, having called him “one of the democratic leaders of the world”, and having prevented a film being made that was based on Leon Trotsky’s biography of Stalin.
When fellow Communist screenwriter Albert Maltz published a defense of artistic freedom in literature, asserting that literature should not be judged on the politics of its author. Trumbo, and the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA), participated in a flat-out inquisition and sessions of browbeating and intimidation until Maltz publically recanted. Maltz, who was later brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and was jailed for refusing to testify, informed historian Gerda Lerner that his appearance before HUAC was nothing compared to the CPUSA scare tactics used against him.
Well before the blacklist, Trumbo and the rest of the CPUSA had formed their own “Redlist”. In The Worker magazine, Trumbo boasted that he and the rest of the CPUSA had successfully stopped the making of Hollywood films based on books banned by Stalin, such as Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon and Victor Kravchenko’s I Chose Freedom.
In 1944, a large amount of important Hollywood writers, directors, labor union officials, and studio executives, alarmed by the infiltration of the film industry by the Reds and the rise of Red propaganda, formed the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (MPA). Its founders and members included such figures as Walt Disney, Morrie Ryskind, Ayn Rand, Hedda Hopper, Robert Taylor, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Ward Bond, Walter Brennan, Cecil B. DeMille, Dick Powell, Barbara Stanwyck, and John Wayne. While they were all from varying political backgrounds, they all despised Communism, viewing it as an antithesis of Americanism. This group was formed because at the time it looked like the Commies had taken control of Hollywood. CPUSA members had major influence in powerful unions, with the Screenwriters Guild picking Trumbo and fellow Commie Gordon Kahn to run the Screenwriter magazine. This magazine was used to praise important Red screenwriters, give lectures on history, economics, and foreign policy, and attack anti-Communism in Hollywood
Screenwriter Richard MacCauley submitted a piece to Screenwriter magazine opposing censorship by politicians and activists. Trumbo, who was the editor of the magazine, rejected the piece, denouncing the right to free speech, claiming that the “inalienable right” to free speech had directly resulted in the Holocaust: “It is difficult to support your belief in the inalienable right of man’s mind to be exposed to any thought whatever, however intolerable that thought might be to anyone else. Frequently such a right encroaches upon the right of others to live their lives. It was this inalienable right in Fascist countries which directly resulted in the slaughter of five million Jews.”
Trumbo claimed to have ghostwritten Sec. of State Edward R. Stettinius Jr’s Report to the Nation on the 1945 founding of the United Nations.
Trumbo showed his obsessive devotion to Stalinist Russia in 1946, when he blasted Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech, describing it as a disgusting fascism expression. That same year, he hosted a meeting of the CPUSA presumably to discuss putting Communist propaganda into Hollywood movies. This was at the time when the Cold War was in its developing stages, and the Soviet Union had full control over the CPUSA.
Trumbo allied with Stalin against America on every foreign policy issue as the Soviets invaded Eastern Europe and tried to invade Western Europe. He became part of a Communist effort to infiltrate Hollywood, unions, the military, the State Department, the atomic energy installations, and the White House.
In 1947, the Cold War had gone well under way. Even major liberal American figures, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, lawyer Joseph Rauh, and union leaders Walter Reuther and David Dubinsky had realized that Stalin was an enemy and that Communism was dangerous, and formed the group Americans for Democratic Action. In January, this group formed the blacklist. But Hollywood Commies, through every medium imaginable at the time, allied themselves with the USSR and against America.
Soon after, the HUAC called Trumbo to testify about Communist influences and propaganda in Hollywood, presenting his CPUSA card and card number as evidence. The card had the name Dalt. T. printed on it, it identified him as a screenwriter, it showed his current address as 620 Beverly Dr., and the CPUSA card number was 39300. In a silly attempt to save his own skin, Trumbo tried to say that the HUAC was infringing on his First Amendment rights. Trumbo refused to testify, and, with the other nine Hollywood Ten, who were all proven Communists, were convicted of contempt of Congress, and spent eleven months in prison.
Years later, Trumbo would admit to Bruce Cook, his biographer, that he would have regretted not being a CPUSA member.
After being released, Trumbo and the other nine Hollywood Ten had difficulty getting screenwriting jobs and often worked under pseudonyms, with Trumbo doing so with Roman Holiday and The Brave One. After receiving full writing credits on such films as Spartacus and Exodus, Trumbo was reinstated into the Writers’ Guild of America.
In 1949, Trumbo was part of the CPUSA attack on fellow Communist director Robert Rossen because of Rossen’s film, All the King’s Men, as they thought it was too close to an attack on one-man-rule, like Stalinist Russia.
In 1950, he took the side of Kim Il-Sung and North Korea when they attacked South Korea.
During the 1950s, Trumbo wrote but didn’t publish a manuscript titled An American Story. It dealt with a mother considered to be unfit by her husband because she supports North Korea’s invasion of South Korea. She believes that this is somehow reminiscent of the United States declaring independence from Britain in 1776.
In 1956, Trumbo left the CPUSA and remained a Stalin apologist until his death.
During the era of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement, Trumbo negatively compared Dr. King to Nat Turner, the leader of a bloody slave revolt in 1831. He attempted to verbally castigate Dr. King and his fellow civil rights activists for being nonviolent. However, Trumbo was a champion of the violent, racist, Maoist Black Panthers.
Trumbo’s last writing credit was a 1971 script for a film version of Johnny Got His Gun. He died of a heart attack in 1976. His wife eventually died in 2009.
To put it lightly, Mr. Trumbo was not a very good or very nice guy.
Actually no. I’m not going to put it lightly.
I’m also not about to defend his blacklisting. While I fully understand why, I will not stand for censorship of free speech. In fact, some of the screenwriters blacklisted were not even Communist at all.
But was the HUAC in the right, addressing Trumbo’s and the CPUSA’s insidious behavior? Ultimately, yes. Trumbo, the Hollywood Ten, and the CPUSA were adamant Communists. They followed Stalin’s policies blindly; they were full-on Bolsheviks who followed every whim of the Kremlin. Card-carrying CPUSA members were Communist activists promoting an unfriendly, oppressive totalitarian system of government. Trumbo and the rest of these men had been working their damndest, through unions and studios alike, to increase Communist power in Hollywood, to capture it for the purpose of serving the USSR, to shut up, shut down, and eradicate their ideological opposition, and use Hollywood as their vehicle for Communist propaganda. This practice would, of course, come back to bite them in the balls, as the HUAC would do the exact same thing to them.
Serves Trumbo and his cronies right.
While the HUAC was correct in its decision to call Trumbo to testify, it was quite stupid. But it was not without reason. And reactions from the general public had absolutely no business whatsoever in making him look like a champion of Americanism.
But what in God’s holy name was the HUAC supposed to do, if not step forward and tell the truth? What were they to do, if not expose ideological treason? What were they to do, if not expose Trumbo and his cronies for what they truly were, traitors to America, with their true allegiance being to our then-mortal-enemy? What were they to do, if not say truthfully that these Communists were providing aid and comfort to, at that time, the greatest enemies that free speech and freedom of the press had ever had?
Had Trumbo and his cronies been a rebellious political party in the USSR at the time, there’s no telling what would have happened to them.
By being a criminal conspiracy designed to 1. overthrow the government designed to protect our freedoms as Americans and 2. impose Communist tyranny, the Hollywood Ten got their righteous comeuppance.
By committing straight-up, unmitigated treason, they caused their blacklisting themselves.
They deserved it.
Unfortunately, Hollywood has spent much of its history since then praising and venerating the Hollywood Ten. In 1997, on the fiftieth anniversary of the blacklist, at Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, Hollywood honored many long-time Communists, including Hollywood Ten member Ring Lardner, Jr., and former CPUSA head in Hollywood Paul Jarrico. The Writers Guild of America bestowed First Amendment Awards on them because of what they did in response to the blacklist, for refusing to testify to the HUAC that they were CPUSA members conspiring with the Kremlin to depose capitalist America and replace it with a Soviet-like government. It is amazingly insulting to Americans, as each of the Hollywood Ten were full-blown Reds and only one, Edward Dmytryk, actually broke with his party. Why in the sacred names of God, Jesus Christ, and America would Hollywood bestow these First Amendment awards on Communists, whose very ideology is the antithesis of free speech?
Ultimately, Dalton Trumbo won. And America lost
I was actually kind of surprised to learn that Trumbo is only the latest film in a line of films praising Communism and doing their best to obliterate the political Right. These films always say the same thing: that Communists are martyrs, champions of liberty, and victims of right-wing tyranny, oppression, and censorship. These films conveniently forget to mention just what Communism actually is. This group of films includes, but is not limited to, The Front, Guilty by Suspicion, The Majestic, Good Night, and Good Luck, and a 2007 documentary also known as Trumbo, made by Trumbo’s son, Christopher. These films have been doing this for the last forty years, while stopping short of outright murdering people who disagree, thereby keeping Hollywood free of non-radically-liberal voices.
Now, in 2015, we have this biopic of Trumbo’s blacklisting. Directed by Jay Roach, the same schmuck that directed Recount, a petty, fraught little movie that claims that Republicans stole the 2000 Bush/Gore presidential election and portrays Republicans as ghoulish with the real Warren Christopher and James Baker dismissing it as hopelessly untrue, and Game Change, a movie made purely to bash Sarah Palin, a desperate presentation of many debunked controversies about her as fact, and described by John McCain and his wife and Sarah Palin as fiction, I can only assume that Trumbo will flat-out whitewash Dalton Trumbo, portraying him as a poor, innocent victim of a right-wing extremist conspiracy targeting him.
Is it going to be obvious Communist propaganda? Yes. Is it going to be any more than that? Hell no.
Reports from my friends and my like-minded brothers in conservatism have confirmed that Dalton Trumbo has, in Trumbo, been portrayed as a free-speech hero. And Hollywood conservatives like John Wayne are seen as, essentially, liberals’ interpretation of the Thought Police. While Trumbo is depicted as having beliefs that could be considered Marxist, he is depicted as a figure not unlike Pope Francis, rather than a figure like Vladimir Lenin.
All of Trumbo and the CPUSA’s heavy-duty, bloated Soviet propaganda and activities are omitted from the film. So is his support of Lenin, Hitler during the Nazi-Soviet pact, Kim Il-Sung, and, of course, Stalin.
The villains in the movie are not Trumbo and his Communist cronies that were covertly working to turn Hollywood over to the Kremlin. The villains are the anti-Communists fighting the Red conspiracy in the film industry, with special interest placed on columnist Hedda Hopper, John Wayne, Robert Taylor, labor leader Roy Brewer, the HUAC, the MPA, and various other opponents of Communism. And they are thrashed in this movie. In Trumbo, they are literally portrayed as the epitome of evil. They are dragged into the movie, have all their money sucked out of their wallets, get the holy crap beaten out of them, and are tossed out.
In fact, Trumbo gives us little to no idea of what it means to be a CPUSA member or why this blacklist was imposed.
As I expected: Trumbo stoops to such lows as rewriting history to benefit evil.
But you should have heard what Bryan Cranston (yes, Walter White – and now Dalton Trumbo himself) said when Howard Stern interviewed him. He dropped two particular ideas that not only made it clear that he was 1. simply saying the same line fed to him by somebody involved with the film, 2. attempting to rewrite history, 3. showing his own complete and total ignorance of the CPUSA’s ideals, Trumbo’s beliefs, and what would have happened to him had he been rebellious in Russia, but 4. he was desperately trying to whitewash Communism in general.
- “Stalin wasn’t a communist; he was a fascist dictator.”
- Trumbo wasn’t really a Communist; he was just one of many guys trying to fix the US’s Cold-War-Era economy.
Oh, and he never actually elaborated on either of these statements, again proving his complete and utter ignorance.
And guess what? Cranston repeated the first statement word for word in his interview with The Daily Beast the very next day, and claimed that the American government lashed out at Trumbo and the CPUSA only (only) because they had the word “Communist” in their party’s title, without mentioning or even considering the other reasons. Not only that, but he whitewashed Trumbo and the CPUSA, saying that they were only trying to create more jobs for American workers.
What typical, regurgitated bilge.
And Trumbo’s and Trumbo‘s final bit of obvious hypocrisy is exposed by Cranston’s interviews.
Cranston’s responses are the exact same shameless lies and deception that Trumbo and every other Communist screenwriter shoehorned into Hollywood through their Stalinist slurry-filled scripts.
When I was a child, and my father had seen a movie like Trumbo coming out, and briefly complained about it, I would have brushed it off and eventually forgotten about it.
I’m a bitter old man now. And I’m not going to let something like this fly idly by without me doing my research on it and setting the record straight.
But does Trumbo, a pile of Communist garbage, have a right to exist? Of course. It’s free speech, I guess, just so long as it doesn’t actually portray the right of free speech as having directly influenced the Holocaust, as that would be screwed up.
But is it worth portraying this hateful but admittedly talented man as a poor, innocent victim? No. Of course not. And if Americans are as good and smart as I know they are, then Trumbo‘s Communist propaganda will backfire. Kind of like how Brokeback Mountain and Capote had the rug pulled out from under them by giving their Best Picture Oscars to Crash.
But here’s the thing with Trumbo’s release that makes the movie overall self-defeating.
First. It has only been released to a few theaters, and it is rated R. Children, who are particularly impressionable, will not be able to see it, unless their parents take them.
Second: the case involving White House Down. Jamie Foxx starred in it as a Barack Obama wannabe that is somehow successful and beloved despite seriously flawed liberal policies and was attacked by a rogue group of right-wing extremist white supremacist terrorists. Foxx had, prior to the film’s release, referred to Barack Obama as “our lord and savior”. This caused much annoyance if not anger with much of American audiences, and they intentionally boycotted White House Down. I personally still avoid movies with Foxx in them, like Django Unchained and Annie. And no, this boycott was not out of racism. This boycott of White House Down was successful enough that the movie barely broke even, and caused Sony a loss of $197 million. We can do the same with Trumbo.
Third: Parenting. If you parents don’t want your children exposed to Communist propaganda, don’t let them see Trumbo!
Am I going to see Trumbo?
At least, not for a good long while. I may review it in the future. But I will only access it through sites where I can watch it for free.
And if people who know that they’re being force-fed Communist dreck want to see it, I don’t give a crap! Have at it, hoss!
Much of the American people do not want pro-Communism and anti-conservatism movies to be around. They consider them to be anti-American. They consider them to be part of the modern liberal agenda to indoctrinate children and adults alike to accept socialism and in turn communism with open arms.
I am one of those people.
Call me paranoid, delusional, or straight up idiotic if you like, but I have this to say to Communism.
Communism, keep your filthy, bloody hands off of my America.