“At rare intervals, there appears among us a person whose virtues are so manifest to all, who has such a capacity for relating to every sort of human being, who so subordinates his own ego drive to the concerns of others, who lives his whole life in such harmony with the surrounding community that he is revered and loved by everyone with whom he comes in contact. Such a man Dalton Trumbo was not.”
–Ring Lardner Jr., at Trumbo’s memorial service in 1976.
Back in 2006, Mark Steyn noted that “Hollywood prefers to make ‘controversial’ films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won.”
You can see that dynamic–or lack thereof–at work in the new documentary Trumbo that’s hitting the art house circuit this summer on screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. It’s a look at the Blacklist and McCarthyism of the 1950s that’s brave and daring–a cutting edge triumph of dissent and free speech! …As long as you’re willing to discount the dozen-plus movies on the topic that Hollywood has made since the mid-1960s.
In contrast, did Hollywood produce or distribute any anti-Soviet Union films during that same time period? Not too many, needless to say; but we’ll also look at the few that qualify–if only tangentially. Along the way, we also look at the convoluted real-life history of Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun novel, which as Orrin Judd described in his review, is as byzantine a story as anything Trumbo wrote for the silver screen.
Those are the topics we explore in the latest edition of our Silicon Graffiti video blog. It takes its title from an earlier article by Steyn, back when he reviewed the play that toured a few years ago starring Nathan Lane as Trumbo for the New Criterion. For our previous forays in videoblogging, tune in here.