Friday, October 12, 2007
If you've seen Roman Holiday, then you're familiar with screenwriter Dalton Trumbo's work. The name's not ringing a bell? Perhaps you have an older version of the film, then, before it was digitally remastered an re-released in 2002. For Dalton Trumbo was one of the Hollywood Ten -- ten screenwriters and directors who were blacklisted from work in the film industry for refusing to testify against their peers during the McCarthy hearings in the anti-Communist craze. Trumbo was the real writer of the Oscar-winning screenplay for Roman Holiday, but since he was banned from any and all work in Hollywood at the time, he used friend Ian McLellan Hunter as a front. Hunter accepted the award on Trumbo's behalf, and it wasn't until 1992 that the Academy Award records were revised and Trumbo's widow was presented with the award, and another ten years after that until the film was changed to give him the credit he deserved. Now, over 30 years after his death, his son and various well-known Hollywood names have made a documentary about Trumbo's outcast years. Trumbo has played recently at the Toronto Film Festival and is slowly snowballing into a bigger and bigger deal. The producers are being urged to seek a wide distribution deal so that everyone has a chance to see what really happened during Hollywood's "Golden Years," when enormously talented men were shut out from their livelihood because they refused to speculate, gossip, and lie over their comrade's political affiliations. There was even a film in the 70s about this, and how most screenwriters tried to use fronts to still be able to sell their work and make some money for their families. It's a brilliant film called The Front and it stars Woody Allen, and it'll really break your heart. If you can, watch both films. You can read more about Trumbo here, it's an excellent read.