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TRUMBO (review)


Directed by Jay Roach / Written by John McNamara / Starring Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren, Louis C.K. and John Goodman

Arlen Hird: You talk like a radical but you live like a rich guy.

At one point, Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, was the highest paid writer in the world. Whereas he was responsible for penning many hits for MGM, his lucrative career came to a screeching halt when, as a self-identified Communist, he refused to name names when interrogated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, was cited for contempt and jailed for a year. Upon release and blackballed by Hollywood studios, Trumbo continued to write screenplays under a pseudonym and even won Oscars for ROMAN HOLIDAY and THE BRAVE ONE. Relegated to write schlock for D-list studios, everything changed when Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger fought to have Trumbo’s name on the credits for SPARTACUS and EXODUS respectively.


I salivate over Hollywood themed movies and TRUMBO had me drooling profusely throughout its 124 minutes. Bryan Cranston brings intelligence, humour and a world weariness in his depiction of Trumbo. Helen Mirren sizzles as the racist and conniving gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. Relative unknown, Christian Berkel, is triumphant as Preminger and I hope he steals roles in the future from the highly overrated Christoph Waltz. I have never seen Louis C.K. give a more fully realized solid performance as he does here. And will the Academy Awards finally recognize John Goodman with a nomination? As Frank King, a movie producer who would commission scripts because “we bought a gorilla suit and gotta use it”, Goodman not only steals every scene he is in, he obliterates them.

Best known for directing comedies, who knew Jay Roach had it in him to fashion a practically flawless Hollywood biography. The only thing that could have made TRUMBO exceed its stratospheric heights is if Dalton Trumbo himself had written it.

4.5 sheep


Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Trumbo?


  1. Who knew about Jay Roach? You’ve never seen ReCount I suspect. Otherwise, I’m in total agreement.

    • Roach’s directorial efforts for HBO (Game Change and Recount) were both excellent and I am thrilled that he was able to direct a movie along those lines…and still throw in some funny zingers that he is known for with his theatrical releases.

  2. It’s “The Brave One” — not “The Brave Ones.”

    I’d recommend drooling and salivating a little less, and fact-checking a little more.

    • It’s one letter. I will correct it. Perhaps you could spend a little less time being negative and try being nicer to people in the future.

  3. Calling Waltz ‘highly overrated’ made this whole review very questionable…

    But I’m still going to see this film – ‘love movies about Old Hollywood too.

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