BUFS PREVIEW: Trumbo

This week, BUFS is pleased to present Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane and Helen Mirren. Directed by Jay Roach.

Trumbo is a compelling drama based on a true story about the fascinating life of Dalton Trumbo, one of Hollywood’s most successful screenwriters and responsible for some of the greatest screen credits ranging from Kitty Foyle to Exodus. He was also, to his detriment, a member of the communist party. The film starring Bryan Cranston as the witty and insightful Trumbo, focuses on Trumbo’s life and roller-coaster career during the 1940’s and 50’s in America.

Written by John McNamara and directed by Jay Roach, the film opens in 1947 with Trumbo and nine other prominent Hollywood players testifying in front of the House of UnAmerican Activities committee for their membership to the communist party. Out of principle and standing up for what he believed in, Trumbo refused to give any information during his testimony. His silence resulted in him being convicted of contempt of congress landing him an eleven-month prison sentence and being black listed in Hollywood. The film follows the struggles he faces to find work after his release. The audience is introduced to some quirky Hollywood characters that influenced how his life played out during this period, like Hollywood’s gossip queen Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren), the deceitful Edward G. Robinson (Michael Stuhlbarg) and brothers Frank King (John Goodman) and Hymie (Stephen Root) who give Trumbo work when the establishment refuses to.

Director Jay Roach effectively balances humor and solemnness while lightly scratching the surface of the complexities that took place during the unfortunate black listing period in American history. Roach successfully captures Trumbo’s idealistic nature, wit and humor in this must see film.

Trumbo screens Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Landmark Theatres, Pen Centre. Visit brocku.ca/bufs for details.

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One thought on “BUFS PREVIEW: Trumbo

  1. Trumbo the film, I do not judge the fine actors nor their performance in this make-believe film, but I take exception that there is value or a substantive message learned from untold truth, innuendo and the manipulation of facts by the producers and director of this film.
    Aside from the political debate, the movie Trumbo misrepresents the avarice conniving men that Trumbo and the King Bros were. Trumbo and the King Bros were all about the money and getting attention to that end.

    Trumbo was not a hero, he was a grandstander who mislead and toyed with the media about many things and the most important among them, to me, was his plagiarism of my father’s work.

    Trumbo lied about being the original author of the screenplay that the 1956 film, “The Brave One” was based.

    My father, Juan Duval, was the author of the original screenplay which the film “The Brave One” was based and awarded the Oscar for “Best Original Story”. My father died before film production and the King Bros and Trumbo unashamedly took advantage of it.

    Trumbo was a prodigious writer and during the Blacklist period he wrote and rewrote scripts for less money for low-life producers like the King Bros and anyone else who paid him under the table. Frank King’s nephew by marriage, Robert Rich, was the fourth person listed as the author of “the Brave One” (after the King Bros removed the title page of the original script) and was an afterthought and not initially intended to be a front for Trumbo. Per the FBI report, Rich was an office errand boy and bag man who picked up scripts and delivered cash to Trumbo.

    Roman Holiday may be Trumbo’s original story for all I know (and I love the film), but Trumbo was not in Italy during the shooting where much of the script was re-written by Director William Wyler and screenwriter Ian McLellan Hunter. They wrote script on set day to day and the nights before shooting the film, as was Wyler’s method of film making. After Hunter’s death, his son would not return the Oscar (and rightly so) when asked by the Academy so the Academy could then issue the Oscar to Trumbo decades later. In my opinion, the success of the film was due to Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn’s splendid performance of romance against the background of post WWII Italy.

    Proof that Trumbo plagiarized my father’s original screenplay is revealed in Trumbo’s book of letters, “Additional Dialogue”, page 270/271 wherein he explains to the King Bros that he, “ruthlessly cut all extraneous material and scenes, and kept rigidly the simple story of the boy and the bull”. Trumbo cut 50 pages from the original screenplay.

    No matter, it was my father’s original story and not Trumbo’s, which was the category the Oscar was awarded. The Academy should issue a posthumous Oscar to my father, as they did for Trumbo for Roman Holiday.

    If you read the screenplay marked #1 and the redacted letters in Trumbo’s book, “Additional Dialogue, Letters of Dalton Trumbo, 1942-1962” and compare them to the rewritten scripts and un-redacted letters archived at the University of Wisconsin Library, it’s obvious that Trumbo didn’t write the original screenplay, otherwise, why would he criticize and complain to the King Bros in so many letters about the original screenplay.

    “The Brave One” script marked “#1” with 170 pages is archived in the University of Wisconsin Library where Trumbo donated all his work. The “#1” script’s Title page was removed and no author was mentioned.

    The “first version” (133 pages) and “second version” (119 pages) of the scripts listed “Screenplay by: Arthur J. Henley”.

    The last two scripts listed “Screenplay by Merrill G. White and Harry S Franklin on the early movie posters and “Original Story by Robert L. Rich” was added to scripts later.

    When the King Bros listed their nephew Robert Rich as author they had no idea that “The Brave One” would be nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Story. At first, Frank King said that there was no such person as Robert Rich and later he said that they bought a 6-page script from a Robert Rich who was away in Germany or Spain.

    Robert Rich (the nephew) did not attend the Oscar awards because he turned informant for the FBI who were watching Trumbo and Rich didn’t want to be publicly humiliated when the truth came out. And Trumbo used the excuse for not being able to produce the original screenplay for The Brave One on his residence being burgled while intimating that it was the FBI who tossed his residence (FBI File Number: 100-1338754; Serial: 1118; Part: 13 of 15). The FBI did in fact toss his residence but had no interest in scripts.

    White and Franklin were editors and acting as fronts for Trumbo before and after “The Brave One” movie. The King Bros did not initially intend that their nephew Robert Rich be a front for Trumbo as White and Franklin were first listed as the screenwriters on the movie posters of The Brave One. It was only after the media played up the no-show at the Oscars that the King Bros and Trumbo saw an opportunity to play the media and sell tickets (per Trumbo’s letters to the King Bros).

    Juan Duval, poet, dancer, choreographer, composer and director of stage and film was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1897. He matriculated from the Monastery at Monserrat and moved to Paris in 1913 where he studied with his uncle M Duval. Juan Duval was renowned as a Classical Spanish and Apache dancer and performed in France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain. Juan was fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and English.

    In 1915, Juan Duval was conscripted into the French Army and fought in Tunis and Verdun, where he suffered head wounds and was partially gassed. He came to the US in 1918 and joined the US Army and was then stationed with the 50th Infantry in occupied Germany for two years before immigrating to the US where he directed live theater and taught dancing and acting at his Studio of Spanish Dancing on Hollywood Blvd across from the Warner Bros Theatre. Juan produced Cave of Sorrow (Play); Lila (Musical Comedy); Spanish Love (Drama); Café Madrid; Spanish Revue; Night In Paris (Drama) and choreographed “One Mad Kiss” (musical) and at least one sword fighting scene with Rudolf Valentino. He directed movies in Mexico and Cuba including the 1935 highest grossing Spanish speaking film, “El Diablo Del Mar” starring Movita (Marlon Brando’s second wife).
    Mizi Trumbo refused to talk to me about The Brave One original screenplay.

    Before former Director of the Academy of Arts and Sciences Bruce Davis retired, he told me that because of the documentation that I provided him, he was inclined to believe that my father wrote the original screenplay which the movie, “The Brave One” was based.

    The Academy gave Trumbo an Oscar for “The Brave One” 20 years after the Oscars and posthumously gave him another Oscar for the Roman Holiday in 2011.

    The Academy of Arts and Sciences should recognize my father’s original story and posthumously awarded him the Oscar for “Best Original Story” for “The Brave One”.

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