The successful career of 1940s screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) comes to a crushing end when he and other Hollywood figures are blacklisted for their political beliefs. TRUMBO (directed by Jay Roach) tells the story of his fight against the U.S. government and studio bosses in a war over words and freedom, which entangled everyone in Hollywood from Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) and John Wayne to Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger.

The story of Washington DC senator Joe Mc Carthy’s hunt for communists in Hollywood during the late 40's and early 50's is pretty well known to film buffs however it might not be so well known to the casual cinema goer.

America at the time was paranoid about "the red menace" and sought to root out the evil within. Many American members of the communist party were blacklisted resulting in them finding it difficult to get and keep a job.

Hollywood was no different from the rest of the country and in order to flush out the communists in their midst they set up the Motion Picture Alliance of America for the Preservation of American Ideals, the president being none other than John Wayne himself.(played by David James Elliot).

One person who came to the alliance's attention was Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston), a left wing sympathiser and member of the communist party, Trumbo at the time just happened to be the world’s highest paid screenwriter. Brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee he, unlike some others, refused to name other communists, most of who were his friends, and he was sent to jail.

After his jail term Trumbo, like the other writers on the blacklist, the so called Hollywood ten, found that he was unable to use his real name on any of the scripts that he penned.

Choosing at first to pass his work off as another's he won an Oscar in 1953 for his screenplay for the Audrey Hepburn classic, Roman Holiday. He again won an Oscar in 1956, this time under the pseudonym Robert Rich, for best screenplay for the film The Brave One. On both occasions no one walked up to collect the award at the Oscar ceremony.

However it's not all classic scripts and Oscar wins as, to keep food on the family table, he has to churn out B movie scripts for Frank King (John Goodman), a larger than life showman who doesn't mind chasing communist witch hunters out of his office with a baseball bat. King's B movie factory "needs scripts like an army needs toilet paper" so Trumbo organises his team of blacklist writers into a script writing production factory.

However his work doesn't go unnoticed and it raises the suspicions of Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren), a former actress who is now the most powerful gossip columnist in the USA. As Trumbo's work gets him more and more attention she makes it her life's ambition to expose him as the real writer of some of the most popular movies of the time.

To Hopper's fury Kirk Douglas (Dean O'Gorman) hires him, under his own name, to write Spartacus whilst director Otto Preminger (Christian Berkel) restores his name to the credits of his epic film Exodus making a mockery of the blacklist.

It's interesting to see how, in the 21st century, the actions of some within the Hollywood community in the 50's now seem rather self-interesting and narrow minded. Trumbo is a fantastic story that's filled with some sparkling performances, however special mention has to go to Bryan Cranston as Trumbo as he's nothing short of a revelation in the lead role and well worthy of his best actor nomination at the 2016 Oscars. The period detail is exquisite in what is an excellent piece of cinema both for cinema-buffs and casual viewers alike. Don't miss.

Trumbo (15)

2h 4m

Director: Jay Roach
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Helen Mirren, John Goodman, Louis C.K.

UK Release: Friday 5th February 2016