Why is Trumbo R rare


"Trumbo" is the story of the once highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood, who became a pariah as a communist. Director Jay Roach does not ideologically exaggerate his protagonist, but understands the events as a game of power. A beautiful, overdue time picture from the fifties.

The neighbor dumps animal carcasses and rubbish into Dalton Trumbo's swimming pool, while millions of Americans in the cinema are touched by his romantic comedy Roman Holiday (1953) see. One might think that public esteem and ostracism are so closely related, but of course no one in the audience suspected that Trumbo, whom Hollywood had rejected and the US House of Representatives interrogated like a criminal, wrote the screenplay for this film. Hailed as a star author in the 1940s, author Dalton Trumbo fell into the mills of the witch hunter Senator Joseph McCarthy at the beginning of the Cold War and was publicly branded as a “communist” and “traitor”. Trumbo ends up with other colleagues on the blacklist of the film industry, which is supposed to ruin those affected economically and morally. There is an almost paranoid fear of infiltration by Moscow-controlled agents in the USA. In addition to the US nuclear weapons program, Hollywood becomes a quasi-administrative unit for the spread of the American way of life. Interrogations and purges take place, there is discussion about internment camps for people with leftist attitudes. Walt Disney calls on the House Un-American Activities Committee: "Smoke them out!" And of course he means the "Commies" and their sympathizers.

Gossip columnist as an opponent

It's not a glorious chapter in US history that director Jay Roach has with Trumbo hits. But Roach, actually a specialist in high-pitched comedies like Brüno (2009, as a producer), Austin Powers (1997) and Dinner for jewelry (2010), would do well not to make fun of the subject. In this film adaptation, humor serves more as a means of distancing than it is to exaggerate. When Trumbo is asked what he is actually fighting for, he replies: Say, it's for peace and a long life. His companion believes that this is not a slogan that will convince the Americans. Then just for sex and money, Trumbo says succinctly. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) puts on a face that emphasizes less the extravagant side of its real role model than the rational one. Cranston, with his worry lines and mischievous look, is not the kind of combative hero that one had to expect or fear when looking back at this time that was neglected in cinematic terms. Not a figure from the repertoire of canvas-eating characters carried by the pathos that Sean Penn likes to play.

Trumbo is a man with a sense of proportion who, and that is what is remarkable about the point of view of Trumbo, nevertheless brings his family and himself into considerable economic difficulties, because he wants above all to remain true to his own attitude. The Cold War with its ideological overload and its tempting division into good and bad takes place in Trumbo his trench warfare less on a political than on a private level. Trumbo's greatest opponent, a nice idea, is Hedda Hopper, of all things, a gossip columnist. Helen Mirren equips her with punch and a stupid sophistication that makes her opponent seem very thoughtful. Dramaturgically agile is interested Trumbo so for the varieties of power and especially the attempt to resist it. The big duel between the House Committee and the "Hollywood Ten", that is, the colleagues and comrades-in-arms from Trumbo, who all risked going to jail innocently, takes a back seat as a framework plot. Roach is interested in the poison that is created here and slowly decomposes family life. Wife Cleo (Diane Lane), who is reported to have unconditionally supported her husband, vacillates between withdrawal and mediation. Their daughter's birthday takes place without their father. Trumbo has bunkered in the bathroom, where he sits and works in the bathtub with cigarettes, schnapps and his typewriter. The cynicism he has towards his family is the seeds of the communist hunters, the corrosion of private life that arises here.

From star author to assembly line worker

But Roach also brings a man to the screen who makes himself vulnerable. A victim, but also an ambiguous figure. Even in his group of like-minded colleagues who like to invite Marcuse, the co-founder of the Frankfurt School, for an afternoon, Trumbo is not portrayed as inviolable. Is the star author really a communist or a kind of "swimming pool soviet" as he is jokingly called at a pool party at the beginning of the film? I don't think anyone should own land, not even a pond, says Trumbo's financially ill-off colleague Arlen Hird (Louis C.K.) as they stand on the farm next to the Trumbo pond. Hollywood's success-based gratuity system is featured in Trumbo by the way, it is an engine for examinations of conscience that continue into private life. Roach and his screenwriter John McNamara are not looking for an answer in their character, but interpret Trumbo's biography itself as a tragicomic response to considerations such as these. The once highly paid author loses his studio contracts and has to sell the farm, horses and pond after he is blacklisted. From now on he can only offer his books under pseudonyms, or a colleague will lend him his name for the credits. That means: a lot of work for little money and trouble in the family, that apparently results in a double alienation.

Jay Roach reformats his hero, however, and it is precisely in this paradox that existing contradictions are eliminated. The star becomes an assembly line worker who now carries out his political labor dispute in a very authentic way. It's not glamorous, but it is funny, with the help of John Goodman. He plays Frank King, part of a notorious brother couple who specializes in producing the cheapest B-movies in the early forties (including Joseph H. Lewis' canonical work Gun crazy, 1949). Six days of shooting result in a film and a script is written practically overnight in the bathtub of the Dalton Trumbo. When he enters King's office with a script, he says there is only one problem: that the book is really good. The Oscar that someone else wrote for Trumbo's screenplay The Brave One in 1956 and the rumors that are gushing immediately let into the era of the red scare and detect noticeable cracks on the blacklist. Not much later, the namesake of McCarthyism dies of the effects of his alcohol consumption, and a daring actor named Kirk Douglas asks Trumbo for his new project. The film about the hero of a slave revolt with the title Spartacus is supposed to have Dalton Trumbo appear as the author in the credits.

Even if you don't immediately recognize the distinctive face of Kirk Douglas in Dean O’Gorman, take a seat Trumbo With this rehabilitation a coherent conclusion without having made a Spartacus out of Dalton Trumbo himself. In real life, Trumbo was fully rehabilitated by the late 1950s. His first Oscar for Roman Holiday was given to him afterwards. In 1971, five years before his death, the member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) directed his own novel from 1939 and thus one of the most radical "anti-war films" ever. Johnny Got His Gun is about 21-year-old Joe, who volunteered for the front in World War I and returned seriously injured. Arms and legs amputated, blind, deaf and without the ability to speak, Johnny lives on without articulate contact with his environment. The medal that is pinned to this person's torso is Trumbo's sarcastic commentary on patriotism and war, following on from his own experience with the Committee on Un-American Activities. The film, which was initially rejected in Cannes, eventually entered the official program through the advocacy of Otto Preminger, Luis Buñuel, Jean Renoir and others. Johnny Got His Gun received the Grand Jury Prize. With Preminger, who at the end of Trumbo Trumbo also collaborated on a somewhat artificial appearance as a bald-headed eccentric. He wrote for Preminger's Israel epic Exodus (1960) the script, with which Trumbo was finally re-accepted as an American member.

I'd rather call room service

A conversation with Bryan Cranston about his work on "Trumbo",
about the
Consequences of fame and his trust in series guru Vince Gilligan.

Interview ~ Dieter Oßwald

As ex-chemistry teacher and clever, cool drug chef Walter White in the TV series Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston advanced to become a great cult figure. In the year 2000 he was already a desperate father in the series Malcolm in the Middle for a sensation that ran across the screens in 151 episodes for six years. His movies include Little Miss Sunshine, Drive, Argo and Godzilla. In Trumbo Cranston plays the title role of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted as a communist in Hollywood in the 1950s and was banned from his profession.

Hand on heart: Would you have remained as consistent as Dalton Trumbo back then and would you have gone to jail for your convictions? Or would you have given in to the pressure, as did actor Edward G. Robinson?
You have to distinguish between two aspects. On the one hand, whether one surrenders to this committee and says: “Yes, I am a member of the Communist Party! I was young, I was stupid, and it was a mistake. ”I would do that to avoid going to jail. The other thing is whether you become a traitor and reveal the names of your comrades. For me the red line would be crossed.

How well known is this dark chapter of US history in America today?
I'm afraid most people don't know it, especially not the younger generation. I hope our film can change that. Whereby Hollywood only offers the backdrop. In fact, it's really about what happens when our civil liberties are restricted. This not only affects the individual, but also affects friends and family members. When children are bullied and threatened at school, it becomes a tragedy.

What did your research look like?
Dalton Trumbo's daughters were very helpful. Her view of things was extremely valuable, as were the autobiographies of people who knew him. The more I learned, the closer I got to the heart of the matter. Trumbo wanted to give the "invisible" people a voice, that's what made him so special. At the same time, it was important to us to show him as a person. The pressures he was under almost destroyed his family, and it is thanks in large part to the strength of his wife Cleo that that didn't happen.

Have you spoken to people whose names were on the blacklist?
I have met some people who have been affected, but they are now very old. We didn't talk explicitly about how great the suffering was that they went through. During our research, however, we learned of the dramatic consequences of these events: houses had to be sold, families were destroyed, and there were desperate suicides.

Is there still such a thing as blacklists today?
There are probably such lists that are determined by social judgments. A guy like Bill Cosby wrote his own blacklist. The media are more transparent today than they were then. How many US presidents had affairs, and which ones went public?

How do you make the jump after the end of a successful TV series like “Breaking Bad”, which has become a mega-cult?
It was clear to me that I didn't want to appear in any other series after that. I looked for roles that mattered to me and took a break from the theater on Broadway. Then the script came too Trumbothat I immediately liked. If only my role had been convincing, that would not have been enough for me, it is important to me that the story is good.

How much has “Breaking Bad” changed your life?
The series completely changed my life! It became a phenomenon that rarely occurs. It was like an avalanche in entertainment culture, in a way the show became an icon. For me, this has resulted in an incredible number of opportunities, for which I will be forever grateful. You can't plan something like that, and nobody can hope for such success. We just wanted to have a good series with a strong story - what comes out of it is in the hands of the audience.

What it would take to get you to appear in Better Call Saul to persuade?
One phone call from Vince Gilligan would be enough! (Laughs.) With Vince, I would be absolutely sure that he wouldn't just take advantage of that for a cheap cameo because he respects the character Walter White far too much. But this is a whole new chapter now, I don't know if a gig would be a good idea. However, I could well imagine directing a few episodes to show my solidarity.

Leonard Nimoy has titled his autobiography "I Am Not Spock". Have you never had moments when you feared you would become the eternal Walter White?
It is also up to you whether you let yourself be committed to a certain image. You have to look for new challenges and rigorously reject those roles that have similarities with the character who has become a success. That happened to me at the time Malcolm in the Middle like when I was constantly offered comparable projects. I refused all of this because I didn't want to be a copy of myself. Such cancellations are very easy for me because I prefer to try new things.

What are the consequences of fame on personality?
Fame changes every personality and I'm no exception. I am much more withdrawn today than I was before. At the hotel, I'd rather call room service than eat in the restaurant. I withdraw from the public as much as possible. At the same time, it's important to have the right friends. I don't want to have conversations that are all about me, I get bored easily. I want to talk about all kinds of topics and have as much fun as possible.

Then Halloween would probably be the day on which you can move around undisturbed in public because many fans are wearing the Walter masks ...
That's right, I've even tried it once. We were shooting in New Orleans for Halloween and then I went to the French Quarter in my movie costume. But all the reactions were disapproving looks and comments like “very nice”! (Laughs.)

What are you doing next
I play in Wakefield, a very small independent film that has a tiny budget, but whose story really excites me. The story is about a successful lawyer who is completely in the hamster wheel and simply presses the pause button. That is why he hides in his garage, from where he can watch the rest of his life - without him being there himself.