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Go see it.

Movies TrumboGood, straight-ahead story, mixed fabulously well with archival footage of the era – the ’40s and ’50s.  You’ll get to boo Joseph McCarthy all over again if you missed the opportunity the first time around.  Excellent portrayal of Dalton Trumbo by Bryan Cranston, and sympathetic wife Cleo, by Diane LaneEven the kids get into the act, and quite well, especially as they’ve grown after Trumbo’s 11 months in Federal prison, Ashland, Kentucky;  the oldest, Niki [Elle Fanningtakes after her dad and joins the early sit-in civil rights actions.

Type casting is excellently done with John Wayne [David James Elliott], Edward G Robinson [Michael Stuhlbargand Kirk Douglas [Dean O’Gorman] look-alikes.  John Goodman plays a role we’ve seen him in before, a sleazy low budget movie producer, the quintessential capitalist who won’t brook politics interfering with his right to make money.  And Helen Mirren plays a deliciously evil Hedda Hopper, the right wing movie gossip columnist who was making and breaking careers, with a  lot of visceral enjoyment.

Much of the material for the script comes from Bruce Cook’s 1977 Trumbo, an authorized biography, so of course the warts show less brightly than the good qualities, but the film is not a fawning adoration.  Folks who take their principles seriously are usually more prickly than others.  He did have a sense of humor and the self confidence and talent to make it through a very tough long decade of scraping by.  He was one of the best film writers we’ve had and his small production of novels shows he knew how to yield that pen as well.  His 1939 [NBA for fiction]  Johnny Got His Gun [on-line copy] was the first war-revelation novel this military-raised kid ever read and it had an impact on my sensibility; enormous in fact.

So go and get some history, biography and Hollywood insider views.  You’ll be surprised at the films he is credited with, Spartacus and Exodus at the top of the list, Roman Holiday right close. [Here’s a list of 69.] You’ll come away celebrating one of the good guys in a spiraling world, and be reminded that the toxic spew of current presidential candidates has an unlovely past.  To my ear, at least now, there is more push back from voices of decency.  Keep pushing.