The fate of the so-called ‘Hollywood Ten’ – blacklisted entertainment industry figures, consigned to the margins due to their supposed (and actual) Communist leanings – has made easy drama for a number of big screen adaptations. But the life of Dalton Trumbo justifies repeated adaptation.
The screenwriter of many Hollywood classics (some written openly, mostly under pseudonyms after he was excluded by the studios) including Spartacus, Gun Crazy, Roman Holiday and Exodus, he refused to be cowed by the indictment that blighted his career.
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Drive) plays Trumbo with all of the necessary verve of a man who did the majority of his composition inside the bath, cigarette in hand and Scotch within reach. But the supporting cast are more than his match, especially Helen Mirren’s gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, one of the chief collaborators with the Communist witchhunt. A wry story of resilience that has pace and wit, Trumbo also has historical heft and resonance on its side.